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Join date : 2011-12-11
Age : 68
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PostSubject: The Football Lab   Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:44 pm


Plymouth Argyle Season Preview: Carey stays
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 Gabriel

The Pilgrims have made progress in League Two for half a decade. Steady upward movement under John Sheridan saw Argyle make the play-offs in 14/15, before Derek Adams turned them into top three contenders, even if automatic promotion was secured a year later than once expected. Since James Brent took over as chairman in 2011, they have never ceased to finish a season in a healthier position than the year before. What has been the key? The Football Lab spoke to supporter Rory Drake ahead of the new season.

Our first couple of seasons in the league were always likely to be difficult with the club trying to come out of administration and be self-sustainable. The board have made some good appointments along the way in John Sheridan and Derek Adams, both have continued the progression and made the club more attractive to better players in their time.

You mystified shot data devotees by winning promotion whilst out-shooting your opponents in just 33% of your games. Is your approach to lure the other team into speculative efforts?

A lot of teams struggled to break us down last season and so tried their luck from distance, but when they weren’t blocked by Bradley or Songo’o, Luke McCormick was usually well positioned to make a comfortable save.

If so, should the team try to be more proactive in League One? Do the signings of Lionel Ainsworth and Joel Grant suggest you’ll look to play with more pace and width?

I don’t see the system changing too much from last season. In Gregg Wylde, Grant, Ainsworth and Jake Jervis we have a lot of pace out wide and it suits the counter attacking style of last season. The defensive full backs allow our wide players to stay further forward and a lot of teams struggled last season to defend against it.

Much like last summer, manager Derek Adams has left no room for sentiment with nine players leaving including forward Jordan Slew and midfielder Connor Smith. Is he right to make ruthless decisions?

I think that comes with having a big squad. We had a lot of fringe players who were decent League Two players, but we need a bit more quality this season. Derek’s an ambitious manager who will want us to push on.

Smith’s place in the squad has been taken up by Jamie Ness. Are you encouraged that the club has signed someone who started two play-off semi-final legs at this level three months ago?

His lack of games last season is a concern, but he played regularly in the run in and did a good job by most accounts. It looks a good signing on paper.

Argyle fans are delighted that key playmaker Graham Carey has signed a new deal. Does this mean new boy Ruben Lameiras will have to wait his chance?

I think Lameiras probably will have to be a bit patient at times this season, but Carey is also comfortable at left wing, so there is the potential for Ruben to force his way in.

Centre-back Sonny Bradley benefited from Carey’s set pieces last year, chipping in with seven goals. Will he be one of the first names on the teamsheet this year?

Sonny is the first name on the teamsheet for me at the moment, though that’s partially because he’s our only left sided centre back. But he was vital for us at both ends last season and if he can continue in the same form I don’t think he’ll have many worries about being replaced.

Who do you see partnering Bradley? Nauris Bulvitis and Yann Songo’o had spells last year, but now Ryan Edwards has signed from Morecambe…

I’d say it’s Jakub Sokolik’s spot to lose. The Czech started to build a good partnership with Bradley at the end of last season. Edwards won player of the season at Morecambe, but he’s coming into a promoted side and if he wants to start he’s going to have to earn it.

Gary Miller and namesake Sawyer are two conservative full-backs. If Oscar Threlkeld starts in midfield, do you worry you’ll lack pace in those areas?

It’s probably an area teams will look to exploit, but given our defensive set up I think we can get away with it. Miller started at Anfield and was doing a good job until his injury so I’m not too worried. I think Gary Sawyer can probably get away with a lack of pace if we stick to the system we used last time out, but Derek rotates his squad quite a lot and I wouldn’t be surprised if Aaron Taylor-Sinclair started against teams with fast wingers.

Luke McCormick has been one of the best goalkeepers in League Two for some time. Do you expect new signing Robbert te Loeke to be an understudy?

It would take a very good keeper to displace Luke McCormick. te Loeke didn’t have the best of seasons last year conceding 92 goals in 38 Eerste Divisie games, so I think his game time will be limited to cup games.

What are your thoughts ahead of the League One season as a whole? Any potential dark horses for you?

The last two seasons have seen most of the bigger League Two clubs promoted which has left League One looking very strong this season. Looking at the odds, I’d say Bury are the dark horse. They didn’t do too well last season, but Lee Clark has recruited well and I think they should be pushing for the play-offs at the very least.

The bookies have Argyle 6/5 to make the top half – where will you finish?

I don’t want to sound overconfident, but a lot of teams who get promoted to League One do alright the season after and none of them had Graham Carey. Keep him fit all season and I think we can push for the play-offs, but I think we’ll probably be midtable.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Plymouth will be well-organized this season, with Bradley dominating in both boxes and McCormick making key saves. Carey’s new deal provides a boost, but top half prospects depend on Argyle’s ability to find creativity and goals from alternative sources. 14th
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