Johnson busts on his gamble
PETER JOHNSON called a halt this week to his big Tranmere gamble. The Wirral multimillionaire businessman is a veteran among football club chairman with 22 years of experience behind him, so he knew he was taking a leap into the unknown when he put John Barnes in charge of team affairs at Prenton Park this summer.
Dismissing the former Liverpool and England midfielder little more than four months into a two-year contract, Johnson lost confidence in his wager – and his man's ability to deliver results on the pitch.
The stakes were growing uncomfortably high after Rovers lost eight of their opening 11 League One games under Barnes' control.
The prospect of relegation to the Football League's basement division became a bigger mark on the horizon with every passing defeat.
A 5-0 hammering at Millwall on October 3 may have been the blow that tipped the balance of the argument for Johnson, whose enthusiasm for “taking the club in a new direction” was so apparent in his jaunty step during the sunny days of June.
Johnson's decision to dispense with seasoned campaigner Ronnie Moore in order to install Barnes and assistant Jason McAteer caught everyone outside the Prenton Park boardroom by complete surprise.
Not least because Moore had just taken Rovers to within a whisker of the League One play-offs on a modest budget.
Barnes, in spite of his huge store of experience as a top-flight player with Liverpool and England, was a novice to English domestic club management.