Tranmere manager Ronnie Moore is urging Joe Thompson to take the chance to show his best form
JOE THOMPSON will be given the opportunity to find his elusive best form in a Tranmere shirt over the coming weeks.
But manager Ronnie Moore warns that if the young wide man can’t show the quality that prompted him to invest £20,000 in a summer transfer from Rochdale, then he will be looking for alternatives in the loan market.
“Joe Thompson is yet to produce for us,” Moore said. “He has to show that confidence in games because he’s got great pace, great ability and can deliver a brilliant final ball. We have not seen them yet.”
Thompson is likely to find his name in the starting line-up for the League One game at Oldham Athletic this afternoon after Abdulai Bell-Baggie sustained a medial ligament injury in the 2-0 win at Hartlepool on Wednesday.
Rovers fear the injury could take longer to clear – up to six weeks – than at first thought, opening a window of opportunity in Moore’s table topping team.
Moore said: “Joe’s form is way off what he can do. He knows that. I have told him that and I’ve told him what I expect from him.
“I spent £20,000 on him and I expect him to come and produce what he is capable of producing. So he is going to get a chance. Bell-Baggie looks like he could be out for four to six weeks rather than two to three weeks.
“We are not short of players and if those who come into the side don’t produce and do what we want them to, then I will bring someone in on loan who will do it.”
Moore acknowledges Thompson is taking time to adjust after moving away from Rochdale, where he spent the first six years of his professional career. Moore reckons settling into a happy squad leading the division after a third of the campaign should not be so difficult.
“It could be Joe is having trouble settling in,” Moore said. “But really, if you can’t settle in our dressing room, you can’t settle anywhere. You should be enjoying it. The atmosphere is great.
“I know he and his girlfriend have just had their first baby and maybe he is not sleeping well.
“We have had a chat and we are hopeful Joe will start to show the form we know he is capable of. There’s only one person can put it right. We can talk to him and work with him on the training ground but he has to show that confidence in games.”
Adam McGurk is likely to replace the suspended Andy Robinson on the opposite flank as Tranmere attempt to build on the momentum of the victory at Hartlepool that put them back in pole position and ended a run of three games without a victory.
A change to the tactical approach – 4-4-2 – that has brought Rovers five wins in eight away games so far is not on the cards, in spite of the disruption caused by injuries and suspension.
Moore said: “We have contingency plans for other formations but I don’t really want to be changing the shape. We are going to try and win the game at Oldham, so I’m not going to play 4-5-1 and try to hang on for a point. We are going to attack Oldham and let them worry about us.”
The pass and move football that has kept Rovers ahead of the division’s big spenders does not square with the label Oldham supporters like to stick on Moore as Mr Hoof Ball.
Moore did not establish a positive rapport with the Oldham fans during a spell of just over a year as manager at Boundary Park between 2005 and 2006 and has run a gauntlet of verbal stick – mostly good-natured – on every visit since.
Moore said: “I don’t know what it is about Oldham. I thought I did all right when I was there as manager. The fans said my team played hoof ball.
“I can guarantee that as soon as one of our lads plays a long ball the “hoof” chant is going to go all over the ground.
“We will pass and play but in football you do occasion-ally have to play a long ball. So sometime during the day it’s going to come out.
“It will be a bit of fun but I would really like us to play as well as we can. We will have a good following and it will be a tight game.”
Oldham lost for the second time in eight games when they were beaten by Bury at Boundary Park in midweek and chairman Simon Corney was not impressed by the performance of Paul Dickov’s team.
“It was abysmal,” he said. “And the worst thing was that there was no hurt on their faces. They need to know that was not acceptable.”
Corney, the last man standing after his two New York-based business partners decided to take a back seat, says he won’t hold back on voicing disappointment.
He said: “From now on, every time they don’t put in the effort I am going to say so.
“I pay the wages and I am entitled to ask questions and get answers.”