Calmness is a virtue admired and, indeed, practised by Tranmere Rovers Manager Les Parry. His team may be in the npower League 1 relegation zone but, 12 months after taking charge with Rovers in a similar predicament following the departure of previous boss John Barnes, Parry is taking the situation in his stride.

"I'm not a panicker, I'm a realist," says the Manager as he assesses his team's first quarter of the season. "I look at things and situations, and so far this season I've had every opportunity to go on about injuries and the age of our side but I haven't because that's the hand you're dealt.

"I didn't panic last season because I have confidence in my own ability, and I haven't panicked at all this season. The players have been through it before and hopefully, by the time we get to Christmas we'll be looking upwards not downwards."

By the time they got to Christmas last year Rovers, two months after Parry had taken over, were still in the drop zone. They then stayed at the bottom end of the table but clinched their survival with a last-day-of-the-season win against Stockport County.

Whether the same scenario is to be followed in the current campaign remains to be seen, but Parry admits that it could be an even harder battle this time round.

"What's going to make it more difficult this season," he says, "is that even if you pull away from (the relegation zone), the division is so concertina'd that with a couple of wins you can get into the middle of the division but, by the same token, a couple of defeats and you can be dragged back into it. That's going to be the difference this year - you're going to have to produce consistent results to stay out of it.

"What we were particularly keen not to happen was to get more than a win away from the fifth-from-bottom team. I think that's important because once you're five or six points from safety, I know how hard it is to get out of that position because that's the one we were in last season. It's a very, very tight division and although we are still in the bottom four, the gap between us and the middle of the division is very small."

Rovers are currently six points below mid-table but, more pertinently after beating fellow strugglers Walsall 4-1 on Saturday - the first time that four goals have been netted in a game under Parry - they are just one point away from the safety places.

Parry will accept that for the time being. And he will calmly guide his team towards what he hopes will be a happy Christmas - and an even happier end to the season.

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