Greenwich Gull

A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias

League 2 Season Preview: Plymouth Argyle

Recap of last season

The less said about Argyle’s horrendous situation the better – suffice to say that the club is still teetering on the brink of financial collapse. The commitment and self-sacrifice of players and staff alike have staved off the worst so far, and they would have maintained their League 1 status if not for the regrettably all-too-common 10 point penalty for entering administration.

Personnel in

Free transfers are the only realistic option, with Jake Cole joining as backup for Romain Larrieu in goal, while elsewhere the Pilgrims have done well to recruit cast-offs from higher division sides. These include defenders Durrell Berry and Robbie Williams from Aston Villa and Rochdale respectively, midfielder Luke Daley from Norwich and striker Tom Hitchcock on loan from Blackburn.

Personnel out

Winger Yannick Bolasie has joined Bristol City for an undisclosed fee, while cost-cutting has necessitated the release of many players who would have been an asset at this level, including Rory Fallon, Karl Duguid, Chris Clark, Anton Peterlin, Kristian Timar, Luke Summerfield, Jim Paterson, Marcel Seip, Bondz N’Gala, Kári Árnason and Steve MacLean.

Strengths

Peter Reid led by example under torrid conditions last season and his tenacity and experience will be an asset once again as the club attempt to avoid the second successive relegation that befell Stockport last season. Even under duress Argyle created plenty of chances last season, so expect a similarly spirited approach this time around.

Weaknesses

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first: they’re utterly skint and at the time of writing, wrangles over their existence continue. This is an obvious disruption and it will take all of Reid’s wiles plus sufficient focus from his threadbare squad to keep the football side of things running smoothly.

Focusing on the aformentioned football side, their worries include discipline: the 12 red cards they received was a joint high in the Football League. They also need to sharpen their profligate attack: only 2 other League 1 sides took a higher average number of shots to score each goal. Things at the back weren’t much better either: they only managed 7 clean sheets in the league last season.

Key man

The squad is understandably taking a while to shape given the limitations Reid is working under, and any player yet to sign a new deal could still be spirited away while the club remains in administration. Veteran ‘keeper Roman Larrieu, club captain and longest-serving player, will provide a calming and unifying presence where his team will need it most.

One to watch

At the time of writing, the front line still looks light, but young forward Tom Hitchcock, on loan from Blackburn, could be the answer. He’s already scored against Bristol City in pre-season and is looking to impress his way into the first team at his parent club. If he hits the ground running then Argyle could find themselves with some early points on the board.

Outlook

Despite falling into the division in similarly dire financial straits, the Pilgrims are probably too good to be this season’s Stockport, but the continued ownership wranglings may yet result in the club folding altogether. Assuming that they survive, a respectable mid-table finish looks likely.

Predictions

Ben: A season of consolidation culminating in a solid mid-table finish looks to be on the cards.

Danny: A great club, but I can’t see anything more than a stable finish in the lower reaches.

Maxi: Hard to pick, so I’ll go with lower-mid table.

Links to other teams in this preview can be found here

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4 comments on “League 2 Season Preview: Plymouth Argyle

  1. ohwhatcanitmean
    July 29, 2011

    Seems fair enough – the saga of our administration is even more byzantine than what preceded it. The rumours get more extraordinary by the day. As far as personnel is concerned, Carl Fletcher is likely to be the hub that keeps the side together: we’re excited by the prospect of (very) new signing Conor Hourihane in central midfield and youth product Jared Sims up front. There are probably one or two more to come. One of the joys of L2 is the unpredictability from season to season – big budgets don’t always dictate – so who knows: if the club is saved and the squad respond to Reidy’s expressed desire to knock it about a bit more, we could be knocking on the play-off door. But we’d all settle for midtable mediocrity and staying in business, without a doubt.

    • GreenwichGull
      July 29, 2011

      Thanks for the comment Jim and sorry I missed a few of the newer signings. Although I’m a Torquay fan I’m not the partisan sort and it’d be great to see Argyle come out of this intact.

  2. Lloyd
    July 29, 2011

    Good assessment and a sensible comment from ohwhatcanitmean. Obviously the continued wrangling at the top of the club tree persists in dampening spirits, and I still worry about a further points deduction somewhere down the line, but we seem to have brought in a cluster of decent players (‘with legs’ as Reid would say).

    Throw in Larrieu and Fletcher and perhaps another more experienced head and we will hopefully be able to achieve the mid-table finish you predict. Oh, and another striker (or two).

  3. Pingback: League 2 Season Preview 2011/12: Round-up « Greenwich Gull

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This entry was posted on July 29, 2011 by in Season Preview.
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