MANAGER Ronnie Moore has hailed the Frenchman who is putting Zoum into Tranmere’s drive to the top of the League One table.
Moore is happy to concede the form of Zoumana Bakayogo is exceeding his expectations, with the pacey left-back creating and scoring goals as well as delivering a succession of strong performances.
“Zoum has surprised me to be fair,” Moore said. “His defending last season, well, I worried about it a bit. But this season he has been fantastic.
“He’s been doing the correct things, making the right decisions in our box, and getting up into the opposition box where he’s scored a couple of goals and created a lot of chances.
“I’m pleased with him. He’s had an excellent start to the season and his pace will always be a threat.”
Bakayogo often found it difficult to hold down the left back spot during his first three seasons at Prenton Park, facing stiff competition from first Aaron Cresswell and then David Buchanan. His 90 League One appearances since joining Rovers from Millwall in 2009 include 30 as a substitute.
However, Bakayogo also played a number of games on the left of midfield. This season he had a clear run in the left back spot after summer signing Paul Black suffered a thigh injury and the 26-year-old from Paris seized the opportunity with both hands.
Moore said: “Zoum is going to make it hard for Paul Black when he comes back to fitness. The beauty of Zoum’s game is he gives me the option of pushing him up into midfield, so I can then move Andy Robinson to the right or in behind the strikers.”
Moore believes having an alternative approach in formation and tactics up his sleeve will prove valuable as the season develops.
“We need to have more flexibility than just having a rigid 4-4-2,” Moore said. “Teams get used to your 4-4-2. Having the variety is important. Last Saturday, Crawley brought an extra striker on so we took off a winger brought on Danny Harrison. He sat tight in midfield and made it difficult for the opposition.”
That flexibility could also prove important if Tranmere’s small squad takes a heavy hit from injuries and suspensions. So far Moore has kept team changes to a minimum during a run of eight unbeaten games that have taken Rovers three points clear at the top of the League One table ahead of the weekend home fixture against Brentford. But he knows he can’t continue to enjoy the luxury of saying the same again to a winning team.
Moore said: “When I say we are short in strength I do not mean that in a disrespectful way to the players here. I’m talking about numbers. We have 18 senior pros of our own, plus the players on loan so we don’t have the depth of the likes of Sheffield United and MK Dons.”
Moore reports every member of the squad is in training, with the exception of Ian Goodison, who is due to step up his comeback from knee surgery with a game in the reserves next week.