It’s been an eventful year at Plymouth Argyle. The sacking of manager Derek Adams on the penultimate week of last season was met with the feeling that the decision came too late. That was emphasised the following week when Argyle were relegated to League Two despite a 3-2 victory over Scunthorpe United.
The landscape of the club has since changed and the overall feeling is positive at Home Park. Argyle are among the favourites for promotion alongside fellow relegation victims Bradford City and EFL debutants Salford City.
New man at the helm
Ryan Lowe was appointed as the new manager at Argyle despite guiding Bury to promotion to League One last season. The financial problems at Bury meant that Lowe had no choice but to leave.
Despite Lowe only going into his second full season as a manager, his style has been complimented by some of the biggest names including Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
Lowe’s managerial style is known to be very attack-minded, with Bury being the top scorers in League Two last season with 82 goals. His theory is that the best way to win is by outscoring their opponents, which is a stark contrast to the defensive tactics of Derek Adams.
In perhaps an unusual move by the club, they announced their released list before appointing Lowe. The most notable name leaving was Scottish midfielder Jamie Ness who made 59 appearances in two seasons. Midfielders Lionel Ainsworth and Paul Anderson were also released, although neither made much of an impact on the first-team.
A released list doesn’t confirm that those will be the only players departing a club, and this was certainly the case at Argyle with five players leaving on free transfers. Midfielder Ruben Lameiras returned to his native Portugal to play top-tier football after joining Famalicao. Graham Carey was always expected to leave, but nobody would’ve predicted the 30-year-old midfielder signing for Bulgarian giants CSKA Sofia.
Top goalscorer Freddie Ladapo secured a big money move to League One Rotherham United, with the fee believed to be in the region of £500k. Defenders Ryan Edwards and Yann Songo’o would join Blackpool and Scunthorpe United respectively, while goalkeeper Kyle Letheren joined Salford City. Midfielder David Fox has also revealed that he’ll be leaving Argyle, with the 35-year-old reportedly set to join non-league Barrow.
Lowe was immediately under pressure to bring in some new faces, but he certainly hasn’t disappointed so far. The first signing was versatile midfielder Joe Edwards from Walsall. With his vision and eye for picking out great passes, this is a direct replacement for Fox.
Danny Mayor became the first player of many to join Argyle from Bury. The announcement of the 28-year-old midfielder’s arrival generated excitement at Home Park, with Lowe claiming that Mayor is ‘better than Carey and Lameiras’.
Centre back Will Aimson was Argyle’s third signing, also from Bury. The 25-year-old made 43 appearances in his only season at Gigg Lane, scoring four goals.
Striker Dom Telford, full-back Callum McFadzean and winger Byron Moore all joined on free transfers from Bury. As of writing, Argyle have made one loan signing with goalkeeper Alex Palmer joining from West Bromwich Albion.
Pre-season has been average for Argyle. Defeats away at non-league Truro City and Torquay United posed some concerns.
The 3-1 defeat to Torquay United was worrying, as Argyle were outplayed by the National League side. Lowe would play his familiar 3-5-2 formation and it was clear that the new signings were much more familiar than the crop of Argyle players that were used to the previous regime.
A dominant 2-0 win over Plymouth Parkway preceded the Torquay defeat. Another 2-0 victory, this time over League One AFC Wimbledon in Spain showed signs that Lowe’s system was working.
A 9-3 victory over Buckland Athletic followed although that was more of a run-out for Argyle’s younger players. Argyle’s pre-season concludes with a home game against League One Bristol Rovers followed by an away trip to Tavistock.
Take a chance on youth?
Each pre-season game has had a balance of experience and youth, and it’s the younger crop who have been impressive. Adam Randell, yet to play a professional game for Argyle, was named captain for multiple games and was outstanding in the heart of the midfield. His maturity and confidence could see him claim a regular spot in the first-team.
Striker Klaidi Lolos has also impressed, scoring against Torquay United and Plymouth Parkway. He can also play behind the striker, holding up the ball and using his strength to his advantage. With Argyle lacking in attacking threat from their senior players, Lolos could force his way into the first-team.
Promotion is the only goal
There is a feeling of excitement in Plymouth as the opening game against Crewe Alexandra draws closer. Lowe is starting to get his foundations across to his players, and it is starting to have a positive effect.
Argyle could be one of the most exciting teams to watch in League Two this season going forward, but that could be ruined by their leaky defence. Any mistakes made similar to pre-season will be punished in League Two.
Promotion is the aim but Argyle fans will have to be patient. Last season Bury had a poor first half under Lowe but from January they were nearly unbeatable. He’s done it before, and the Green Army will hope that he can do it again.