LES PARRY can call on an intimate understanding of the challenges facing rival manager Chris Beech when Rochdale visit Prenton Park on Boxing Day.
The Tranmere boss is keen to wish Beech well – but only after the youth coach’s first game in charge of Dale’s senior team is done and dusted.
The points are much too important to Rovers for any kind of generous sentiment to intrude into the first of the festive fixtures.
Tranmere urgently need a victory after suffering four successive League One defeats. Rochdale have been doing so badly that they sacked manager Steve Eyre and assistant Frank Bunn earlier this week and turned to Beech to fill the role on a caretaker basis with backup from former Barnsley coach Ryan Kidd.
The circumstances have several parallels to those in place when long serving physiotherapist Parry was asked to take charge of team affairs at Prenton Park in October 2009 after Tranmere lost seven out of 11 League One games under John Barnes.
Parry said: “I can see the similarities between Chris’s situation and mine just over two years ago. I think we were probably in a slightly worse position here in the league, because Rochdale have won four games this season.
“When I took over here I had no intention at first of wanting to do the job permanently. Nor do I think I had a chance of getting the job.
“Chris, I think, has made it quite clear he wants the job and that can have a positive effect. The players are playing for someone they know could end up as manager. They focus that little bit more than if it is someone who is just standing in. In that situation they don’t really care that much because they know another manager is going to come in and he is the one they want to impress.”
Parry’s view about taking the manager’s post permanently changed as he grew into the job – and did it well enough to guide Tranmere clear of the threat of relegation at the end of the 2009/10 campaign. He reckons the first of Beech’s big challenges will come when he selects a team for Monday’s game. “Chris, like myself, is used to dealing with players, in his case the youth team at Rochdale,” Parry said.
“I think the biggest thing he has to do is handle the changes he wants to make to the side. If he does not make changes people will scratch their heads and think things are going to stay the same.
“So we will make changes. It will be difficult to handle because he will be dropping players he has known for a long time. As he knows quite well, probably better than I did at the time, you just have to get on with the job, make the decisions and stand by them.”
Parry added: “I don’t think that becomes any easier but hopefully as time goes on, you make fewer mistakes.
“No-one likes sitting down with a player and telling him: listen, you are on the bench on Saturday. It is just a necessary evil.
“What other managers have done is give the coach the team sheet at 1.30pm on a Saturday afternoon and go missing. I’m a little bit more upfront than that but these things never get any easier.”
The potential for Parry to change the line-up for Monday’s game is likely depend on whether players currently on the casualty list can put themselves back into contention.
Centre back Ian Goodison, who missed two games with a hamstring injury and right back David Raven, sidelined for two games with a thigh strain, will be given every opportunity to return to the selection frame.
Zoumana Bakayogo, fighting off a knee injury and Michael Kay, who suffered a broken rib in the 2-1 defeat at Stevenage last Saturday, may take a little longer.
Parry said: “Both Ian and David had a run in training and are still a little bit unsure. We will leave it until after the weekend.
“Zoum is still feeling his knee when he strikes the ball. If needed, I think he could be persuaded to play. Michael Kay’s ribs are sore. It’s a question of when he can put up with the level of pain he gets from playing.”
No player can be entirely sure this place in a team that has not won in six League One games.
Parry said: “We need to score a goal and we need to win to get us going.
“We’ve got two home games coming up over Christmas and it does not matter who they are against. The players, like myself, see this as a decent opportunity.”