Tranmere manager Les Parry must be thankful that pre-season is over as Rovers have had more than their fair share of injuries and bad luck during the summer.
This has led to a run of poor results against lower league opposition, and they will be looking to turnaround their fortunes when they kick off the League One season against Oldham at Prenton Park this Saturday.
Rovers have suffered a number of injuries and go into the league campaign with the possibility of missing three key players in Ian Goodison, Joss Labadie and Ian Thomas-Moore. The injuries have been a major problem.
Tranmere have not been able to field their first choice side at any point during the friendly matches and will more than likely have eleven players starting on the opening day who have never all played together before.
With one of the keys to the club’s survival at the end of last season having been a settled side who all knew their defined roles within the team, it is a worry that Parry has not been able to use this policy in the friendlies.
Tranmere’s pre-season results are nothing to write home about. Defeats at Altrincham, Shrewsbury and the newly-formed Chester FC suggest that this is a team who are going to struggle in League One.
It doesn’t inspire confidence either. Winning is a habit and, unfortunately in this case, losing can be at times too.
It’s true what they say that pre-season is all about building the players’ fitness and performances are more important than results, but the fact is that Tranmere have suffered more injuries than I can ever remember and the displays on the field haven’t always been as good as one might expect.
The club has invited a great number of trialists this summer. Not even the High Court has seen so many people on trial. They’re come from near and far.
Players who have been released by local clubs such as Stephen Connor from Everton, and as far as Gambia in Bakary Bojang’s case have starred in a couple of matches.
One who has really made an impact is young central defender Nick Wood, who Parry has signed up after his release by Sheffield Wednesday.
Looking ahead to the season, the last few weeks have put a bit of a dampener on the expectations of a lot of supporters. But that can sometimes be a good thing: it’s a case of anticipate a little and hopefully the team will exceed those low initial expectations.
Victory over a strong Nottingham Forest side was the one shining light of the pre-season campaign. It was an example of how well the team can play.
If Tranmere can keep up that level of play as consistently as possible and maintain the high work rate which Les Parry demands from the players, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to improve on last season’s points tally and league position.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.