Aug 17 2013 Sat WIR
Moore tempted to rip up Tranmere’s defence
Ronnie Moore has warned his Tranmere defenders that they have one last chance to tighten up their act in the visit to Crewe Alexandra this afternoon.
A repeat of the shaky defending that caused Rovers to concede three times in each of their opening two League One games is liable to send the manager into the loan market next week to address the problem with a new signing or two.
Moore is concerned that a back line which includes new signings Stephen Foster and Evan Horwood as well as Danny Holmes and Ash Taylor is taking too long to develop an understanding.
Said Moore: "If we don't get the defending right at Crewe then I'll change it, get one or two players in on loan and do it that way.
"I can't wait forever for them. If they are not ready after all the pre-season games and three league games, we will get someone in and they will have to fight for their places.
"Everyone knows we don't have cover for the two fullbacks and we have Ian Goodison to cover the two centre backs. When you have a squad of our size that's what happens.
"If they are not quite up to it and their form is not right then I will speak to the chairman and we'll get something done about it."
The defensive problems were not so apparent during the pre-season friendlies. "We did not see anything like what we are seeing at this present time," Moore said. "As a back four we are not together. We've had one of them playing well and the other three off and its different individuals each time."
Rovers focused on defending in training this week, working on set plays, which have been responsible for three of the six goals conceded.
"It is not just set plays that are a problem," Moore said. "In general play the opposition are getting at our back four too easily and the defending of the back four is leaving a lot to be desired.
"One problem is we have two right sided centre backs who don't really look comfortable playing on the left hand side. When the ball is on their left foot they are trying to bring it back onto the right. We are telling them: when the ball is on your left you have to play it.
"Stephen Foster has been a right sided centre back all his life and Ash Taylor has always played on the right. We tried to get a left-footed centre back in during the summer but there was no-one the clubs were willing to let go."
Moore added: "Ian Goodison plays on the left and does it all right so I don't see why Ash or Foster can't do it."
Goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams must also play a part in helping the team defend better, Moore says. He went on: "The goalkeeper has got to be more dominant. He needs to talk a lot more, come off his line and boss the area.
"The fullbacks are allowing too many crosses to come into the box and it put us under pressure.
"We are faced with a combination of things not being quite right and it can become an Achilles heel if we're not careful.
"The lads know we've got to get back to keeping clean sheets because I honestly believe that going forward, we would do okay."
The manager may be forced into making a change to the attack today because target man Akpo Sodje is doubtful with a knock sustained in training.
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro is lined up for a recall alongside Ryan Lowe, having started in the opening day at Walsall as a left winger.
Moore said: "Jean-Louis has not found the form he showed in the first few months of last season but he's looked a bit sharper since the summer."
Jason Koumas will probably have to wait a little longer to win a place in the starting XI.
The 33-year-old passed up on an opportunity to add to his match fitness by pulling out of a midweek reserve game because of a tight groin.
Moore says he does not think Koumas is ready to face 90 minutes, having given the former Wales international half hour run outs as a substitute in Tranmere's three competitive games so far.
"The reserve game in midweek would have been ideal but Jason said he felt a little bit tight and he did not want to play in case he aggravated it," Moore said.
"We don't want to force things. He's done so much graft and if he pulls a muscle he could be out for six to eight weeks. As soon as I think Jason is ready then he will play and I think he has to be sure in his own mind that his body is right.
"If I'd been out of football for two years I would be nervous but if I was him I would be champing at the bit."
Crewe, making a similar start to Tranmere, are also looking to post their first League One victory at the third attempt.
Moore said: "They will be sharp and bright going forward and I can guarantee it will be a good footballing game. It's a question of what team of ours turns up.”