NEW manager Ronnie Moore believes he must take the fear factor out of Tranmere’s football as he sets out on a 13-game mission to fight off the threat of relegation.
Moore begins his third spell as the boss at Prenton Park with a home game against Notts County tonight, after being chosen as the successor to Les Parry on Sunday.
By pure coincidence, Moore was at the B2net Stadium last Saturday doing media work, and witnessed Tranmere’s anxious, nervy performance in a 1-0 defeat to Chesterfield that marked the end of Parry’s 2½ years in charge of team affairs.
The result also left Tranmere just a point above the drop zone after winning one of the last 18 League One games and prompted chairman Peter Johnson to make the managerial change.
Moore said: “I watched the game on Saturday and it showed the team is playing with a little bit of fear. We need to work with the players, get rid of the fear factor and get their spirits up so we can get out of this position. It is a massive challenge and a challenge I am looking forward to it.
“We have some quality players here who are probably underachieving at present. So we want to get into their ribs and see what we can produce from them.
“I’m sure the squad is good enough and big enough to get us out of the position we’re in. I’m looking forward to working with the players from day-to-day, lifting their spirits and getting them into the winning habit.
“Once you start winning games, it is surprising how quickly it snowballs.”
Moore signed a short-term contract that runs until the end of the season.
A former player, captain, coach and assistant manager at Prenton Park, he was given a brief taste of management on a caretaker basis in 1987.
He returned for a three-year spell in charge between 2006 and 2009 in which Rovers finished ninth, 11th and seventh in League One.
His contract was terminated after Tranmere narrowly missed the play-offs in May 2009.
Moore, 59, has been out of the game since he was sacked by Rotherham a year ago and points out that at the time, the Millers were in a play-off spot.
He said: “The challenge is a little bit different to the last time I was here at Tranmere, when we were looking at the other end of the table. Fifty points is the target everyone aims for and the question is how quickly we can get there. Then, can we push on and see how many points we can get?
“Notts County is the start of a run of three home games. That means we are looking at nine points. We need to make Prenton Park a fortress.
“In my last season here we lost only three home games in the league. The fans can play their part. There’s no doubt they can be a massive influence when they get behind the team.”
Moore is certain to make a change in the playing pattern, preferring a 4-4-2 set up to the 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 formations favoured by Parry.
“I have always been a stickler for 4-4-2 and that won’t change,” Moore said. “I will be looking to try to get our wingers into games, trying to get the strikers working together. I want to see how many crosses we can get into the box, how many shots we can have at goal.
“I want us to be entertaining, going forward and trying to win games, not sitting back trying to counter attack.”
Moore added: “From what I saw on Saturday, things don’t look too bad defensively. It is going the other way where we need to improve.
“Whichever 11 players start against Notts County, we will be asking them to give their all. If they give their all and we lose then that is life. But I think if you have 11 players giving blood sweat and tears, you win more than you lose.
“I want to get some smiling faces back in the team. If you are a footballer and you can’t enjoy what you’re doing for a living, there is something wrong.”
Of the current squad, only veteran centre-back Ian Goodison and right-back Danny Holmes survive from Moore’s last spell in charge.
Moore says he will be picking the brains of coaches Kevin Summerfield and John McMahon, who remain in their positions, before selecting a side to face Notts County.
Winger Martin Devaney picked up a hamstring injury in the Chesterfield game and could be ruled out while defender Mark McChrystal is due to undergo a hernia operation this week.
Moore said: “Kevin and John know the lads well so I will have a chat with them. I will be telling the players what direction I want to go in.
“I will soon get to know the players. This is an opportunity for players who have not been in the team who think they should be in the team. Players are funny creatures. Some will be made up Les has gone, some will be upset that he has gone. That’s football.
“I have 13 games to lift their spirits, treat them right and give everyone an opportunity. We want to get onto the front foot.”
Notts County, who dismissed Martin Allen last month, have enjoyed four straight wins under new manager Keith Curle.