Sheffield United: Why the heat is on Rovers

Promotion battle: United boss Danny Wilson, foreground, and Ronnie Moore, manager of today's opponents, Tranmere

Promotion battle: United boss Danny Wilson, foreground, and Ronnie Moore, manager of today's opponents, Tranmere

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Geographically, only 37 miles separate Manchester United and Tranmere Rovers, writes James Shield. In footballing terms, however, they are worlds apart.

While Old Trafford’s superstars strut their stuff on a pitch boasting its own state-of-the-art irrigation system, Ronnie Moore’s promotion hopefuls go to work on a surface where equipment seized from local drug dealers is now being put to much better use.

“We’ve got some heat lamps which apparently came from a cannabis factory the police raided,” Moore told The Star. “I’m not too sure of the exact story or how they eventually made their way to us but, apparently, it’s not that uncommon and quite a few clubs have benefited from the same thing.”

The differences do not end there. With only seven points separating its top six clubs, the outcome of this season’s battle for League One supremacy is still impossible to call.

A stark contrast with the state of play two division’s higher where Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are already out of sight.

“It must be lovely being Fergie,” Moore, previously of Rotherham, Oldham and Southport said. “He can go to bed and wake up in the morning knowing which of his teams is going to turn-up. The rest of us only get to know 20 minutes into a game!

“Seriously, though, this season has been so unpredictable it’s untrue. We all know where we’d like to finish but it’s just too tight to call.”

Rovers and Sheffield United, who meet at Prenton Park today, have been more consistent than most.

The visitors, sixth in the table after seeing bad weather wreak havoc with their fixture schedule, head to Prenton Park beaten only once in eight outings. Rovers, a place higher in fifth, previously led the table for long periods and still hope to reclaim top spot.

“This could be a tremendous game with a brilliant atmosphere.” Moore said. “Sheffield United will travel in force and, in fairness, they probably could have sold the ground out themselves.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Danny and I like him a lot so I hope United go up. Alongside us of course.”

*Twitter: JamesShield1