Apr 26 2012 by Nick Hilton, The Liverpool Post
RONNIE MOORE is drawing encouragement from his own back catalogue of experience, as well as the examples of Carlisle United and Stevenage, as he sets about assembling a Tranmere squad that can compete in the top half of League One next season.
Moore, whose appointment as manager for the next campaign was confirmed this week, says Rovers must build for 2012/13 with the ambition of pursuing a top six spot, even though the budget is most likely to put them in the bottom four of investors in playing talent.
“People will look at the size of this club and look at our budget and will probably say that is why we were fifth from bottom when I arrived here,” said Moore, who signed a one year contract on Monday. “We are not on a multi-million pound budget. We have to work within the scope we had this season.”
Those same people might also point out that Tranmere’s success in fighting off the threat of relegation in 2009/10 and 2010/11 on budgets that were equally low, was an achievement that puts previous manager Les Parry in some credit.
Moore is raising the bar of expectations in the knowledge that Parry did exactly the same last summer – and paid the price when the wheels came off after a bright start to the season.
“Last time I was here, we did not have a big budget but we had a right go and just missed out on the play-offs at the death in 2008/09,” Moore said.
“That’s the kind of season we are aiming for next term. It will be a fantastic achievement to get into the play-offs and realistically, it is going to be very difficult.
“You know what the budget is.
“Previous managers here worked within the same budget. We should not get into the top six on that budget but it’s got to be our goal. Every manager at every level will be setting targets at the start of next season. I don’t want to sit here and say we want to finish 14th. We want to go as high as we can.
“Last time I was here we almost did, so let’s be positive. It will be difficult next year and that is what we are relishing.”
Tranmere were a couple of minutes away from making the play-offs in 2009. A late equaliser by Scunthorpe in the final game of the campaign saw Rovers edged out into seventh place. A few weeks later, Moore lost his job.
He went on: “Look at Carlisle this season. They have a similar budget to ourselves and you can see what a wonderful season they have had.
“That is the benchmark for us. Carlisle don’t have a £3 million budget but they have been up there, fighting and scrapping to get into the top six. It’s a good challenge to try and follow them.”
Carlisle look as if they might be pipped to the last play-off spot by Stevenage, another club on a modest budget, or Notts County.
Moore can look back on his own record in management with some confidence. Most of his career has been spent in the top half of whatever division he was managing in, save for a few years when he kept Rotherham in the Championship on a pittance.
Managing teams that punch above their financial weight is a speciality. “We will try to build a squad here that supporters will get behind,” he said.
“And one thing is sure, we will be a hard-working team.”
“If we can just get the icing on the cake we will not fear any one next season, especially at Prenton Park.”
The icing on the cake Moore refers to is attacking players of a quality good enough to improve Tranmere’s modest goalscoring record in 2011/12.
Moore concedes that this season, League One has been dominated by five of the big six clubs with support and budgets significantly greater than the rest.
Charlton, together with one of the two Sheffield clubs will be taking the automatic promotion tickets to the Championship.
However, at least two from Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and MK Dons will be in League One again next season, as will Preston, whose struggle to keep spending in line with income this season resulted in two controversial appointments midterm, Peter Ridsdale to run the financial side of the club and Graham Westley to manage the team.
Even after cuts of £750,000 per month are being made at Deepdale, Tranmere, with a likely spend around £1 million for the whole of next season, will have to rely on picking up a bargain or two this summer.
They will enjoy the benefits of picking from a large pool of talent coming onto the market. “There are a lot of players coming out of contract in the summer so we will have to be sharpish,” Moore said.
Tranmere have not made formal offers to players they would like to keep at Prenton Park who have contracts that are due to run out.
There are 16 in all, Moore says, and Rovers have options on extending the terms of four of them. The rest have the choice of all free agents to go elsewhere if they can get a better offer.
Tranmere were not in a position to make early offers of contracts to players this season because of the change in manager on March 4.
It is likely that decisions about the players to be made contract offers and who is to be released, will be made after the final game of the campaign, at home to Scunthorpe United on Saturday, May 5.
Moore acknowledges that he has yet to take a look at several members of the squad in a first-team game, largely because he is stuck with a small core of players while Rovers were piling up the points that pulled them clear of the relegation dogfight during March and April.
Moore says he will be discussing the future of the backroom staff with chairman Peter Johnson. Coaches Kevin Summerfield and John McMahon, who were appointed by Parry, continued working to Moore’s instructions over the last two months.
The appointment of a new goalkeeping coach, to replace Dave Timmins, is also on the agenda. Timmins departed Prenton Park to work with the Academy goalkeepers at Premier League club Stoke City.