Dec 6 2012 by Nick Hilton, The Liverpool Post
SUPPORTERS and players should ‘take a reality check’ as Tranmere approach the halfway point of the League One campaign holding top spot in the table, insists assistant manager John McMahon.
Rovers’ performance over the first 20 league games is remarkable, given the club’s limited resources, argues McMahon. But it should not be regarded as a benchmark for what the team is capable of achieving over the course of a full season, he says.
“I think is important for everyone to take a reality check, not just the fans but also the players,” McMahon said.
“They can get carried away with our league position. They see where we are and think we are done now, we have arrived – and we’re far from it.
“Where we are is a bonus. If you look at the situation where we are going into December at the top of the league and through to the third round of the FA Cup, you would say that is a successful first half of the season. It only becomes a successful season if you’re still doing well at the end of it. We have a long way to go.”
McMahon boasts long experience in coaching at youth, reserve and senior level. He is in his second spell at Tranmere, having also worked at Shrewsbury Town and managing the Liverpool reserve team during the Rafa Benitez years at Anfield.
He returned to Prenton Park to work with Les Parry last season and became assistant to Ronnie Moore at the start of the current campaign.
McMahon says he is not surprised by the way a squad put together on one of the lowest budgets in the division has stayed ahead of the big spenders over the last four months.
He said: “Right from the start I got a vibe from the way this group of players worked on the training pitch. You can see there was a spark when we asked them to do work in patterns of play and shape.
“We play with quality and we play with intensity. We are asking that from them every day – and they are responding well.”
As Tranmere prepare to face Portsmouth at Prenton Park this weekend, their lead at the head of the table is down to the fine margin of goal difference ahead of second placed Doncaster.
Injuries are beginning to bite into the small squad. This week Tranmere heard confirmation that skipper James Wallace will be out for six weeks with medial ligament damage, joining Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Abdulai Bell-Baggie on the long-term injury list.
McMahon said: “To lose one of your most influential players is a big blow, especially when it comes on top of the fact that we have lost Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Abdulai Bell-Baggie.
“You just have to get on with these things. Other clubs will have the same problems, I would assume. Some have bigger squads than us. We will feel the impact of losing influential players.
“On the other side of the coin it is an opportunity for other players to come in and take their chances.”