25 conversation starters for Tranmere Rovers vs Manchester United
At once, there is so much and so little to write about the impending tussle between Tranmere Rovers and Manchester United. When the fixture was first confirmed, my mind raced with historical trinkets linking the two clubs, but fleshing them out into full stories has been difficult.
Sparse in places and apocryphal in others, the connections sit better in a listicle than they do in flowing prose. I was keen to explore United’s contribution to our Save the Rovers fund in greater detail, but finding a home for the other yarns and half-baked anecdotes did not quite work.
Accordingly, as the butterflies flutter through the stomach of Prentonia tonight, I decided to sit down and commit these bizarre, random and decidedly inconsequential notes to paper. Or screen. Whatever - you get my drift.
So, without further ado, here are 25 pointless conversation starters ahead of Tranmere Rovers vs Manchester United. You are welcome.
- According to Forbes, Manchester United are the third-most valuable football club in the world, after Real Madrid and Barcelona. United are reportedly valued at £2.9 billion. You could probably buy Tranmere about 700 times for that money.
- According to Spotrac, United goalkeeper David De Gea earns £375,000 per week, or £19.5 million annually. The entire Tranmere payroll hovers around £3.5 million per year. They could therefore afford to pay De Gea for 67 days, so long as they employed nobody else. Sound, that.
- Tranmere are likely to earn around £500,000 in extra revenue from tomorrow’s match, a huge difference-maker for the club. In 2017, Manchester United star Wayne Rooney lost £500,000 in a two-hour casino session, according to tabloid reports. Please gamble responsibly on Manny Monthe to score first, people.
- This season, United's annual wage bill is £332 million, the largest in Premier League history. Since 2010, Wirral Council has seen its budget slashed by more than £250 million. Let that sink in. Wow.
- In 1932-33, Bill Ridding was top scorer for Manchester United. Ridding was born in Heswall and began his career with Tranmere. He later managed Rovers, too, serving as a vital linchpin during World War II.
- A number of Manchester United players guested for Tranmere during the war. Charlie Mitten was perhaps the most famous.
- Steve Coppell is perhaps the best player to play for both Tranmere Rovers and Manchester United. A keen student, Coppell went to the same Liverpool school as John Lennon before studying economic history at the University of Liverpool. He made his professional debut with Rovers in 1973 before playing 322 times for United after a £60,000 transfer. Steve also earned 42 England caps, scoring 7 international goals. It would be nice to see him honoured tomorrow.
- Coppell played against Rovers at Old Trafford in a 1976 League Cup tie. The only senior meeting between Tranmere and Manchester United ended in a 5-0 defeat for Johnny King’s men, but Rovers’ share of the revenue from a crowd of 37,586 was greatly appreciated.
- When Tranmere faced bankruptcy and liquidation in 1982, Ron Atkinson brought his Manchester United team to Prenton Park for a goodwill fundraiser. Rovers won 2-0 against a strong United lineup. Atkinson then ruined our lives as manager of Aston Villa.
- If Tranmere beat Big Ron’s Villa in the 1994 League Cup semi-final, they would have played Manchester United at Wembley in the final. Rovers took a 3-1 lead into the second leg, only to lose on penalties. Do not get me started on Bosnich again. Jesus Christ.
- Liam O’Brien missed one of Tranmere’s spot-kicks against Villa. Randomly, he was Atkinson’s last signing as Manchester United manager. O’Brien’s main contribution at Old Trafford was earning the fastest red card in club history before his career went rapidly downhill.
- Another Irishman, Paddy Sloan, occupies an obscure place in Rovers and United history. A talented right-half, Sloan joined Tranmere from United in 1939. He later signed for AC Milan and became the first Irishman to play in Serie A. I do not know where I find half of this shit, either.
- Tranmere played United at Old Trafford in the fifth round of the 1991-92 FA Youth Cup. The so-called Class of ’92 beat Rovers 2-0 with both goals scored by Ryan Giggs. Gary Neville and Nicky Butt played for United, while David Beckham was on the bench. Robbie Savage played up front for some reason. I have got no idea why.
- At Euro 2000, current Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in the same Norway squad as goalkeeper Thomas Myhre, who played three games on loan at Rovers a few months after the tournament. This may be the most tenuous link to Tranmere I have ever made. It is so ridiculous that I do not know how it made the final edit, but here we are.
- Solskjaer has been classy in his media briefings ahead of the game. Big name managers have ridiculed the FA Cup in recent times, resenting fixture congestion. Meanwhile, our pitch has been a prime target for moaning, but Ole takes a refreshing approach. “The pitch is not great, but it is the same for both of us,” he said. “This generation coming through with AstroTurf and nice pitches, they get lazier in their heads. The players just have to be focused.”
- In 2008, legendary United manager Sir Alex Ferguson randomly appeared at Prenton Park to watch Rovers play Peterborough. Nerds joked about him replacing Ronnie Moore in the dugout, but Sir Alex was only there because his son was Posh manager.
- Former Rovers physio and manager Les Parry is currently the player performance manager within Manchester United’s academy. Les is essentially responsible for monitoring the players United loan out. It is unclear whether he still wears shorts in the office.
- Parry was Tranmere boss in July 2011 when United sent a mixed squad to Prenton Park for a friendly. The final score was 1-1. A young Paul Pogba featured for the visitors, and this legendary photograph fuelled fictional talk of Les signing the star on loan.
- In December 2012, Pogba - then a Juventus star - attended a glamorous contest between Tranmere and Crewe Alexandra at Prenton Park. Again, rumours of a January transfer were quashed when people realised that Pogba’s brother, Mathias, played for Crewe.
- Parry did manage to sign one player from Manchester United, though. Birkenhead-born Scott Wootton famously scored a late equaliser against Brighton and subsequently faded into the abyss of lower league humdrum.
- Nice one for lending us Cameron Borthwick-Jackson this season, by the way, Les. He made Liam Ridehalgh look like Roberto Carlos.
- Micky Mellon has faced Manchester United before as a manager. In February 2016, Mellon’s Shrewsbury Town lost 3-0 at home to the Red Devils.
- Larnell Cole was once a star of the Manchester United academy, playing alongside Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Ravel Morrison. However, he is most fondly remembered in these parts for an important goal against Ebbsfleet in the 2018 League Two playoff semi-final. Oh, and who can forget Larnell getting lashed in The Beach celebrating Rovers’ promotion and then crashing in a random supporter’s bed overnight? Iconic.
- Tranmere won 3-2 against Manchester United U21s in the Football League Trophy earlier this season. Nobody gives a fuck.
- What is more useful, Tyg Tickets or a chocolate teapot? Rovers fans queued around the block and around the clock to grab tickets for this tie. In the most predictable event of the year so far, the club’s ticket website imploded within minutes as 19,000 users flooded the server. God bless anybody working on the turnstiles tomorrow. Yikes.
If you are taking friends, family and colleagues to Prenton Park for the first time tomorrow, use these nuggets as educational tools. If you are commentating or reporting on the match for a large media outlet, feel free to pepper them into your research. And if you are just teetering on the brink of insanity waiting for kick-off to finally arrive, I hope you enjoyed the inanest array of pre-match information known to man. Sit tight, folks. Not long to wait now.