The pressure got to Tranmere in the Wembley Stadium final of last season’s English National League play-offs but Rovers have the personnel to win this term’s championship and secure promotion to the English Football League.
Hartlepool and Leyton Orient have dropped into the English National League but neither team makes more appeal than Tranmere. If any side is going to stand between Tranmere and the English National League title then it is likely to be one of the sides that did not change divisions during the off season and, in all honesty, it is impossible to make a strong case for any team other than Micky Mellon’s Rovers.
Mellon, who had a couple of spells on Tranmere’s books as a player, making nearly 200 appearances for Rovers, had two full-time managerial jobs before accepting the challenge of getting the Prenton Park side back into the English Football League and he was successful in both of those positions.
Fleetwood became the first team to entrust its fortunes to Mellon when, in 2009, he became the first full-time boss of the Cod Army. Fleetwood were bottom of the English Football Conference North ladder when Mellon succeeded Tony Greenwood but the Cod Army ended the campaign in eighth place, closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone. In 2010, Fleetwood missed out on automatic promotion by one point but the Cod Army overcame Droylsden and Alfreton in the English Football Conference North play-offs to reach England’s fifth tier. In 2011, Fleetwood finished fifth on the English Football Conference ladder but bombing out in the play-offs, losing 1-8 on aggregate to Wimbledon. In 2012, Fleetwood won the English Football Conference to achieve English Football League status for the first time and a striker named Jamie Vardy was its top goal scorer. Fleetwood made a more than acceptable beginning to its maiden English League Two season but the Cod Army removed Mellon amid rumours that he had applied to fill the Blackpool and Burnley vacancies.
Mellon assisted David Flitcroft at Barnsley before he took his second main gig, joining Shrewsbury after its relegation to English League Two in 2014. Mellon made 16 signings to build a new Shrewsbury side from scratch and his transfer activity paid dividends because the Shrews were runners-up to Burton in the championship. Shrewsbury maintained its regained English League One status under Mellon and the Shrews reached the English FA Cup fifth round for the first time since 1991, eventually falling victim to Manchester United. Mellon left Shrewsbury to link up with Tranmere.
Tranmere was nine points better than every team other than Lincoln in last term’s English National League and no side earned more points than Rovers in either the last 10 or the last 15 rounds. Lincoln and Tranmere have a lot in common, in particular being under the stewardship of managers who have yet to fail. Tranmere went out of its way to recruit Mellon from two levels higher up the English pyramid for good reason and one thinks that he will reward Rovers.
Several bookmakers, including 32Red, 888Sport and Unibet, are quoting odds of +350 about Tranmere taking out the English National League title. Tranmere could turn the English National League into a procession and one thinks that 22.22 per cent underplays the probability of Rovers winning the division and securing automatic promotion.
Tranmere to win the English National League