Jan 30 2014 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
TRANMERE are under-performing as a squad and in danger of falling short in the battle to secure League One survival, warns Ronnie Moore.
The experienced manager made his stark assessment after Rovers, seeking to post back-to-back victories for the first time this season, were comprehensively outplayed in the 2-1 home defeat to Rotherham United on Tuesday.
Tranmere’s poor performance highlighted the inconsistency which has been the hallmark of a difficult League One campaign.
Moore said: “We have a decent squad of players who should be doing better.”
Results elsewhere in midweek ensured Tranmere remain two points above the drop zone in 18th place but they are 22 points short of the 50 point mark – often regarded as the safety line for League One survival – with 18 games remaining.
Moore admitted: “Fifty points looks a long way off at the moment. We have not had back-to-back wins all season.
“Where is it going to come from? What is going to change? We’ve got to try and lift the players. They showed some spirit last Saturday but when you are playing against decent teams, you have to be rock solid and defend better than we did on Tuesday.”
Moore was disappointed Tranmere could not repeat the hard-working performance that earned them a first win in five games at the expense of Crewe Alexandra last weekend. He also lamented the poor quality of their passing.
A late strike from substitute Andy Robinson produced a scoreline that failed to reflect Rotherham’s superiority.
“I’m gutted with the way we played on Tuesday,” Moore said. “You look at it and ask: who is coaching them? Who is in charge?
“Last Saturday was a different game and we rolled our sleeves up and put up a fight. That’s all we had to do against Rotherham, and pass the ball from A to B. It’s not hard.”
This weekend, Tranmere take the survival fight to MK Dons, where they have lost on their last five visits, without scoring a goal. They were beaten 3-0 last season and in the 2011/12 campaign.
Moore said: “MK Dons lost at Carlisle on Tuesday and at Crewe last week. They are not unbeatable. But we have got to go and conjure up a performance that is full of guts and determination. We can’t go down with a whimper like we did against Rotherham.
“It is down to us. If we continue to play the way we are playing, there’s only one way we are going to go.”
Moore said he did not regret leaving Jason Koumas out of the side on Tuesday to make way for the return of skipper James Wallace from a three match suspension.
“Wallace had to come back and he was a bit rusty,” Moore said. “He gave the ball away at times and he needs game time. So he has to play.
“When Jason came on he got on the ball and sprayed it all over the place. We did not have Rotherham in a panic until the last five minutes. But it would have been unjust to get anything out of the game because we were second best all over the park.”
Moore said his senior players have to take responsibility and the younger ones “have to learn and learn sharpish.”
He admitted that the demands of playing a second League One game in four days showed in the performances of the younger players in the side, including teenage loan signings such as Matthew Pennington, Matt Kennedy and Stephen Arthurworrey.