AKPO SODJE is asking fans to show some patience as Tranmere attempt to build a winning rhythm after a hesitant start to the new season.
The experienced and well travelled striker is confident Rovers have the quality in the squad to challenge in the top half of the division.
But he acknowledges players are taking time to settle, in contrast to 12 months ago when the young group brought together by manager Ronnie Moore gelled quickly and made a flying start.
Tranmere play host to Brentford on Saturday hoping a first home win of the League One campaign will arrive at the fourth attempt, following draws with Crawley and Stevenage and a heavy defeat to Peterborough.
Sodje said: “I would ask the fans to be a little patient while we try to get our season going.
“There’s been some ups and downs and you can tell from the results that we have not been consistent. But I think we are getting better. I think we can kick on and challenge this season.”
Sodje hopes Tranmere turned a corner with a 1-0 win at Oldham Athletic 12 days ago, which was followed by an encouraging performance in the goalless draw with Stevenage last Saturday.
The 33-year-old is amongst a group of senior players signed in the summer.
He said: “We have a few older players here, together with players from last season. I think we have a good squad. Give us a bit of time and we will definitely get there.”
Sodje became Tranmere’s 10th Football League club when he signed a one-year contract in the summer. The target man spent the first part of last season on a succession of month-long contracts with Preston North End, then joined Scunthorpe United on a deal that ran until the end of the season.
He scored 13 goals in a total of 33 league and cup appearances for the two League One clubs during 2012/13 but his contract with Scunthorpe was not renewed in May after the Iron were relegated.
Sodje explained: “I was on the month-to-month contract at Preston and I was playing every game. I left to join Scunthorpe to get some security because as a player you want to be settled and not thinking about whether you will be signed again at the end of the month. When you are starting every game and scoring goals, you don’t want to be sitting down and worrying about whether you might be out of work the next day.”
Earlier in 2012, Sodje spent just over four months playing in the Chinese Super League for Tianjin Teda.
Sodje described his 10-game adventure in China as “a really good experience” though not one that taught him anything as a player.
He said: “The football wasn’t the best standard but the experience of life I had while I was there was worthwhile. There were big crowds for every game. The lowest crowd we played in front of was 20,000.
“I think when you have the opportunity to go to different countries, you should take it. In life you have to try things. If they don’t work out then so be it.
“I’m not saying the China experience developed my game but it gave me experience in life and I saw things completely different to playing and living in England. Living in different countries opens your mind.”
Born Greenwich, January 31, 1980
2000/2001 Queens Park Rangers. No senior appearances (3 games and 1 goal on loan to Stevenage Borough).
2001/2002 Margate. 18 games, 3 goals.
2002 Gravesend and Northfleet. 7 games, 2 goals.
2002/2003 Heybridge Swifts. 31 games, 7 goals.
2003/2004 Erith and Belvedere. 21 games, 18 goals.
2004/2005 Huddersfield Town. 7 games, no goals. (Plus, 7 games and 1 goal on loan to Darlington).
2005/2006 Darlington. 39 games, 8 goals.
2006/2007 Port Vale. 50 games, 16 goals.
2007/2010 Sheffield Wednesday. 44 games, 9 goals (+25 games and 5 goals on loan to Charlton Athletic).
2010/2011 Charlton Athletic. 21 games, 1 goal.
2011/2012 Hibernian. 31 games, 7 goals.
2012 Tianjin Teda (China). 10 games, 1 goal.
2012 Preston North End. 17 games, 7 goals.
2013 Scunthorpe United. 16 games, 6 goals.