After a run of eleven games without a win, collecting just five points out of a possible 33, Tranmere Rovers finally parted company with Les Parry on Sunday. The ex-physio hadn’t won a game in 2012 and it was perhaps the stale league performances that made his tenure insecure.
His last match in charge of the club, who now sit nineteenth in the league after a promising start, was against 22nd placed Chesterfield. Tranmere lost this game which even at this point of the season Rovers needed to win to ease the tensions for the players and of course, fans.
This loss added to the number of games that we failed to win against sides that we should be beating routinely in order to avoid the drop. Playing well against the top sides (drawing against Huddersfield and Charlton) is negligible when we can’t impose dominance over the lesser teams in the league.
Perhaps it was Les Parry’s persistent use of a restricted 4-5-1 cum 4-3-3 that allowed dogged performances to frustrate opponents with more quality, yet lacked any edge against teams we should be scoring against. This would explain Rovers’ solid defensive record, only conceding 39 in the league, yet their meagre scoring record of 31.
The man brought in to stop the rot and help Tranmere avoid League Two is a Tranmere favourite. Ronnie Moore has previously taken charge of Tranmere and his management of the team in the 2008/09 season took the side to within two minutes of the play-offs before – bizarrely – he was given the boot in favour of John Barnes, the failure of which resulted in Les Parry’s caretaker and resultant full management position.
In a statement, Chairman Peter Johnson – criticised by many fans for sticking with Parry – said “Parting company with Les was a very difficult decision to make but we have had to act in the best interests of the Club.” His position is understandable, with Les being keeping us in League 1 for two years despite a very limited playing budget.
Ronnie Moore’s first task will be trying to overcome Notts County who are 2 points clear in 6th spot having played two games more than 7th placed Stevenage. Home advantage could help Tranmere, as fans will no doubt get behind the manager in order to lift the team and results.
Many fans have aired their sympathies towards Les Parry, yet understand that he needed to go in order to bring change and a fresh face to the club. Fan @aussierover said “I do feel sympathy for the service he has given but after three years of a club in limbo, we needed stability and we have Ronnie Moore.” However @ninabeano claimed that we should be looking forward, not backwards, and said “Les [was] tactically naïve, and Ronnie tends to play football that sends me to sleep. Should have gone with a new man.” Both views are understandable. Ronnie’s style of play is tiring, but reliable. Playing pretty football isn’t easy in League 1, as John Barnes found out to his – and Tranmere’s – cost.
Tonight will show us a lot that we are merely speculating about presently. How will Ronnie Moore adapt his style of play to the players Parry brought in, will they adapt effectively, and is Ronnie Moore Prenton Park’s new messiah? Peter Johnson brought in Moore as he expects him to hit the ground running, given his experience at this level and with the club, but he may need time to bring in his own players and they in turn may need time to adapt as well. However patience isn’t a virtue that a team 19th in League One can afford.
It was a bold move by the chairman to replace a manager this close to the end of the season and replace him with a manager he sacked previously but his hand was pushed by poor results. Tranmere fans will be hoping for an obvious change in direction in the thirteen games left, and Ronnie Moore and his team have that pressure to work with.
Written by George Powell, We Are Going Up’s Tranmere Rovers Blogger
George tweets at @george_powell