Sep 21 2013 Sat WIR
TRANMERE manager Ronnie Moore can see signs that youngster Max Power may be able to grow into a key job at the heart of his evolving team.
The 20-year-old Young Player of the Year in 2012-13 can expect to be asked to fill the midfield anchor position in Rovers’ League One encounter with Notts County today.
The role is significant because Moore has been dissatisfied through most of a bumpy start to the season with the amount of protection the midfield players are giving the back four.
Power was specifically tasked with the anchor role last Saturday. And in spite of the defensive mistakes that contributed to a 4-3 home defeat to Brentford, Moore was encouraged by the way Power applied himself.
Moore said: “I think this is a massively important role for us. The three young midfield players we have at the moment – Chris Atkinson, James Rowe and Max – are very much alike. They are all top of the ground players who want to get forward and score goals. But if you are going to play with three midfield players you need to have one who will sit deeper.
“A lot of teams this season are playing with a man in the pocket, operating just behind the striker, and to counter that you need a midfield player who knows how to defend.
“Our three have not been brilliant at it. That’s the modern generation for you. It’s like the donkey and the carrot. They love going forward for the carrot but they don’t like the donkey work of having to stay back, track and mark.
“So it is a learning curve for Max and I think he was excellent last Saturday. He got hold of the ball and made simple passes. He did not complicate things. He is a quick lad. Normally the people sitting in that role are players who can’t run. Nine times out of 10 it is a playmaker, who gets the ball and passes it. But playmakers can’t defend. That’s the problem. It is hard for younger players to adjust to what we are looking for but hopefully the penny is dropping with Max.”
Moore is looking for a disciplined and balanced performance at Meadow Lane after the errors and lapses of the Brentford defeat showed Tranmere have yet to resolve the defensive problems.
A meeting with the division’s bottom team, who have just one point on the board, looks like an opportunity to post a second win of the league campaign. But Moore can see the potential dangers of the situation. County’s 5-1 hammering at the hands of leaders Leyton Orient in midweek gave him no comfort.
“I’d rather Notts County had won 5-1 rather than lost,” he said. “I know that sounds daft but now everyone thinks we just have to turn up and it’s a given win. It does not happen like that. We have to get our minds right.
“I would imagine Notts County see this game is an opportunity, just as we do. If they beat us, it’s a lift and they can get away from the bottom.
“It is how a team performs on the day that means so much at this level. Anyone can beat anyone on the day. It’s down to how we play. If we play to the best of our ability we can win the game.”
Moore says there were a number of aspects to the performance against Brentford that gave him heart, not least in bouncing back from 2-0 and 3-2 down to draw level, before an injury time penalty sealed Tranmere’s fate.
He said: “If we start the game as we played the last 75 minutes against Brentford, and cut out the 15 minutes of unbelievable defending at the beginning, then we can be positive. The attitude, commitment and desire were excellent last Saturday. I could see things within the game that say we are improving.
“We are not where we want to be and we know where we are short.
“At the moment we are being punished for every individual error we make.
“We were getting away with those errors at the same stage of last season. When you are on a roll, things go for you.”
Tranmere could have the option of recalling Jason Koumas to the squad after the former Wales international missed three games with a groin strain. His condition is improving, Moore said.
However, the manager said here was no prospect of Andy Robinson being available after the midfielder jarred his knee during a brief appearance as a substitute against Brentford. Jake Kirby is also sidelined.