Feb 14 2013 The Liverpool Post
JUST over a couple of weeks ago a video clip on YouTube went viral among Tranmere fans and the 1970s Neil Diamond hit "Forever in Blue Jeans" looked as if it might become the theme tune of the team's unlikely promotion challenge this season.
The clip, recorded on goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams' phone, showed the players singing their heads off as they travelled home on the bus from a 2-1 win at Brentford.
Andy Robinson, the elder statesman of the side, also played lead singer, putting a touch of raunchy Birkenhead blues into Diamond's pop melody.
The victory at Griffin Park, the eighth on the road in the League One campaign, kept Rovers at the top of the table that night and showcased the resilience and enterprise running through the team.
The scenes on the bus left on-line viewers with no doubt about the spirit and cameraderie between the players.
There's not been much to sing about since. Back-to-back defeats to Carlisle United and Leyton Orient cost Tranmere pole position in the table and the race for the two automatic tickets to the Championship and the four play-off places looks like it is opening out to include up to a dozen clubs.
Tranmere should by no means be discounted as leading contenders after heading the division through most of the past four and a half months.
They have points on the board and influential players such as James Wallace and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro due to return to action at the end of the month.
However, manager Ronnie Moore is having to pay more attention to problem solving in recent days than he's needed to do through most of the campaign.
The spirit and the passion is still strong within his young squad - most of whom were not born when "Forever in Blue Jeans" hit the charts.
But Moore suspects he detected a whiff of nervousness in the performance at Orient, where Tranmere were second best throughout the contest and particularly vulnerable at set plays.
Without the financial resources to strengthen the squad with highly paid loan players, Moore must ease anxieties and restore focus to the dressing room while working on the nuts and bolts of improving the defending from free kicks and corners.
Moore said: "For some reason we have hit a wobble at the wrong time, although I don't suppose there is a right time to hit a wobble.
"We are looking nervous, which surprises me. I cannot put a finger on why we should be nervous. We have some young players and a blend of youth and experience.
"The side has not changed that much in the past few weeks."
Moore reckons that with 15 games of the League One programme still to play, starting with tomorrow night's televised home game against Shrewsbury Town at Prenton Park, it is a little early for his team to tighten up with anxiety.
"If you have a wobble now, then you are in trouble," Moore said. "There's still a long way to go and many twists and turns to come.
"There should be nothing wrong confidence wise. We've just had back-to-back defeats but only for the second time this season. That in itself shows how well we've done."
Moore says his players have only to take stock of their performances over the first two thirds of the campaign and calculate the kind of points return required to finish in the top two or the top six to see that their position still looks like a golden opportunity to move up a division.
He added: "We have been lucky that the team's closest to us have been dropping points as well.
“Those below the top group have been closing the gap. I said recently that there's 10 to 12 teams who think they have a chance of not only getting into the play-offs but finishing in the top two.
"A team that puts four wins together could find themselves six points clear. If we have a couple more defeats we could drop down to eighth or ninth.
"I just hope our lads can go out and do what they've been doing for most of the season. It would be a crying shame if we did not achieve what we want after leading the way for so long.
"Opportunities like this don't come along that often. I said to the lads: let's have no regrets. If it is there for you, take it."
A team change or two may be on the cards for the Shrewsbury game but don't expect a major shake-up. Moore said: "We have a great bunch of lads here. They know they have let us down in the last couple of games but they have not done it on purpose. These things happen. They do stick together and that's what we have to do now - for the next 15 games."