Adam McGurk is determined to race up the goalscoring charts for Tranmere
ADAM McGURK does not believe in setting himself easy targets. The Irish front man may have waited until the second week of November to score his first Tranmere goal of the season but in spite of the slow start, he says he aims to catch leading marksman Jake Cassidy.
No matter that Cassidy had notched 10 goals before McGurk struck Rovers’ winner in the 1-0 victory at Oldham Athletic last Saturday.
“Getting that goal was a big weight off my chest,” McGurk said. “I want to keep it going now and try to catch Cassidy. I do feel I should be scoring more goals.”
McGurk regards himself as an out and out striker although his two managers at Tranmere, Les Parry and now Ronnie Moore, have deployed the 23-year-old in a wide midfield role more often than up front.
“I see myself as a centre forward,” McGurk said. “When I was at Aston Villa, that was the position I played. I’d like to see myself scoring 10, 15 or 20 goals a season.”
The quality of McGurk’s finish against Oldham – he stole into space beyond the far post and dispatched Jake Jervis’s long cross from the left into the bottom corner on the volley – suggests he has the skills to score more goals.
A career total of nine goals from 70 league and cup games (ahead of last night’s League One game against MK Dons) isn’t exceptional but close to half of those appearances were as a substitute.
He added: “I don’t know why I have not scored the goals I was hoping for. I think my performances have been good but in front of the net I could do better. I will stick at it and the one against Oldham will give me a bit of confidence.”
McGurk is yet to benefit from regular first-team football in the same way Cassidy has this season. Only seven of McGurk’s 11 appearances in 2012/13 have been in the starting line-up, his opportunities limited by the success of the group of players who started the campaign with a 12-game unbeaten run in the league.
He was unable to challenge for a place in those early line-ups because of injury. Once fit and available, he quickly pushed himself into contention just as the casualties and suspensions began to pile up.
The Irishman said: “The start of the season was very frustrating for me. I picked up a little injury in pre-season which bothered me for the first few weeks. But I’m fine now.”
Personal considerations aside, McGurk is relishing the experience of being in a dressing room with a winning habit. He said: “It is probably the best scene I have been involved in since I joined the club. That is natural when you have been winning games.
“I’m not surprised by how well we started. Since pre-season the manager has been brilliant. I can’t praise him enough. He’s been top-notch and so has everyone on the staff, John McMahon, Greg Blundell (physio) and Dave Timmins (keeper coach).
“They encouraged us to play football from day one. A lot of hard work has gone in on the training ground. People don’t see what happens behind the scenes, they just see the 90 minutes but we put a lot of effort in.
“I think we have some very good players here and we’ve just been given the freedom to pass and move.”
He added: “Freedom is the best way to describe the way we are playing.
“We are not tensed up. We are not worried about moving out of position because we will always cover for each other and get back into shape.
“It does make it a lot easier and gives you a lot of confidence when the manager and the coach are telling you to do these things.
“Quite a few of the lads were here from last season but from day one the new lads bonded straight away. There are no cliques and everyone gets along with each other.
“The spirit is a big factor.
“We want to do well for each other and work for each other and that’s half the battle.”
McGurk can often perform more effectively in away games than he does at Prenton Park. Moore acknowledges: “I thought Adam was one of our better players at Oldham. I think there is some pressure at home. I think the crowd have got to look at the things he gives the team.
“I know one or two little cheers went up when he came off against Preston in the last home game and really, you can do without that.
“I know people pay their money and they are entitled to say what they want but we don’t have 40 players available for selection, we have a small squad and we need everyone with their confidence high. Adam is certainly a confidence player.”
McGurk said: “It’s a different ball game home and away.
“When we are playing at home, teams do like to sit back and you don’t find a lot of space.
“Away from home you get a bit more space and I try to exploit that.”