Hello and welcome to a new season of An Argyle Journey. It took me just 8 posts to get through the 2018/19 season finishing in a very respectable 10th place after we were tipped for a relegation fight.
But now that’s all in the past and we have a very busy summer of recruitment to get through.
The first piece of transfer news is the new contract given to Alex Fletcher. He finished the season with 8 goals in 25 appearances. 6 of those goals on loan at Barnet. He’s still a player with decent potential.
Cameron Sangster also joins him after a fairly successful loan at Kidderminster.
I was struggling to find a decent goalkeeper close to Macey’s level who was available and weren’t trying to rip us off in wages so I extended Macey’s loan for another season.
Now here is the interesting thing. When I had got this message from the chairman outlying we had £2.36m pounds to play with I had already agreed deals with a number of players nearing the end of their contracts.
I was wayyyyyy too eager and did a lot of business early thinking I only had around £100k to spend. I was not expecting so much money to come my way.
And well, I kinda went crazy with it…
Pre-season training camp. Austria? America? Marbella?
No we are going to Bristol.
It was that or Scotland.
A mixture of players on free transfers and actual players we bought. I’ll go through them all one by one in a minute.
Ryan wanted to go and I let him. I kind of regret it now. But to be honest, I’m still having flashbacks to that missed penalty and first half performance against Watford.
I have no idea why Steve Evans stormed out a press conference unveiling Ryan Taylor.
But it’s Steve Evans.
Something that didn’t make the previous episode. Just a basic rundown.
And before we know it, the fixture list is revealed.
Sunderland at home to kick off the season. Ideal.
QPR at home in the league Cup.
And in the Checkatrade trophy gro-… nah who cares.
I arranged some money-spinning friendlies in our fancy freshly renovated stadium.
And Bristol City.
I tried earlier in the summer to bring back Curtis. He didn’t even want to talk.
But then later on he got off his high horse and I offered him a huge deal to bring him back and he goes and signs for Bolton for FOUR GRAND LESS than what I offered him.
Centre-backs were a big issue for me all summer.
He would have been perfect.
So here we are then. This really hurt.
But I was brave and I decided against offering contracts to 15 players, a few of whom may surprise you.
Lionel Ainsworth – Wanted to get rid in January but he got an injury. Was always going to leave.
David Fox – Was past his best. One of the ones who hurt the most. I’d love to have kept him and then integrated him into a coaching position. But ultimately I let him go. He has signed for Livingston in Scotland.
Gary Sawyer – Exactly the same as Fox. Writing this now I’m actually really mad I didn’t sign him on for his experience. I didn’t make a decision until his contract finally ran out and by that point I had already signed a LB and had another one on the way. But Gary managed to stay in League One, by joining Fleetwood.
Joel Grant – Another player I was really torn about giving another deal. He had a good season, but I was constantly looking at his stats and thinking that there were better options out there. He ended up signing for Fleetwood, joining Gary.
Joe Riley – Was pushed out of the first team by the impressive Tafari Moore. Never really impressed when given a chance. Another case of there being better players available in the summer. He has dropped down to the Vanarama National with Salford.
Peter Grant – Did his ACL in pre-season, made one appearance as a last choice back up during an injury crisis. He has 4 acceleration and 5 pace at 25 years old. A shame really. Not League One standard. He has signed for Mansfield in League Two.
Jordan Bentley – Wish he had higher potential in the game. Could have kept him and developed him and sold him on. He has signed for Truro where he is currently on loan at in real life.
Daniel Rooney – Wish he was as good in the game as he is in real life. Still a free agent.
Luke Jephcott – He may have just made his full first team debut in real life, but not rated high enough in FM19. The same story as the previous two. Signed for Vanarama South Basingstoke.
Rio Garside is the only other player with a club currently. All the others are free agents.
After his stand-out season with us and his contract expiring at Cardiff was only natural for me to see if he was interested. Nope. He was on £15k at Cardiff!!!
At the time of writing he has ended up at Kilmarnock and is on £2.9k.
What a wage drop. I could have paid him way more.
Suit yourself Stu. You got too many red cards anyway.
Ryan Taylor was a very popular boy in the dressing room.
Graham’s not happy.
He told me I was a weak manager for selling a player who didn’t want to be here and should have kept him anyway.
As mentioned last episode, our new signing Lawrence Shankland can score goals and he is one of the favourites for top scorer this season.
Remember Sam Gallagher? Instead of waiting for Southampton to sell him, which may never happen. I just asked them to sell us the clause instead.
We have got a lot more money to play with now.
I’m on a spending spree and need to be stopped.
So going into the start of the new season it’s time to show you what our squad was looking like and run through the new signings.
Matt Macey, back on loan another year.
Mike Cooper, good enough to be back up and start the odd game. Need for his development to continue.
Ryan Edwards stays. Portsmouth were interested in signing him. But he was solid for most of last season and has room to improve. A one-year contract extension.
I needed to replace Brandon Galloway who was looking unlikely to rejoin either permantley or on loan. A ball playing centre back. Downsides are he is only 6ft, he doesn’t know the league. He’s hardly played any professional football.
But, if we can get him developing, he can be a star at a good level.
Started his career at Benfica, actually was signed by Stoke, never made an appearance went back to Portugal with Belenenses. Made one appearance last season, and I’ve gone and splashed £140k on the 20-year-old. But looking at his stats and potential he could be worth millions. ( please work out ).
As you can see I’ve gone very continental and I’ve targeted defenders who can play more than defend. But at 6″4 inches, he can win a header but still has work to do to improve.
At 24 years old, another gamble. Started his career at Real Madrid, joined Liverpool on a free, went on loan in Italy and at multiple clubs in Spain before signing for a French lower league team last season. Cost me just £53k and like Luis Silva needs to settle at a club and kick on.
Meet energetic wing-back, Daniel Harvie. One of 3 Scotsmen we signed from Scottish Championship side Ayr United.
A very promising wee guy who can attack and get forward. Signed for £95k with rising add-ons.
I didn’t really need to buy him as we already had signed a LB on a free transfer. But once the £2 million popped in my bank account I went for him as he’s much better on paper than what we had.
Young player of the season Tafari Moore has developed nicely and will have tougher competition this season as he enters the final year of his contract.
And this is who Tafari Moore will be looking to keep out of the team. Liam Smith.
Another fullback from Ayr United. Good dribbling and delivery, but could be better defensively. Signed for £120k.
MJ Williams. I like this guy a lot. A really versatile and well-rounded boy. Relegated from League One with Rochdale last season. At 6ft maybe lacks a bit of height to play centre-back but can fill in there naturally and also play as a deep-lying playmaker. This is my David Fox replacement. Signed for £300k.
Another young Scotsman. Highlighted in January as a player out of contract in the summer, McGhee is a much better Scott Wooton and will be back up and look to get into the starting line up when he can. A free transfer when his contract with Falkirk ended.
Still has a year left on his deal. Got into the first team last season but will find it much harder this year with 2 new LB’s signed. Someone who could find themselves being moved on in January unless he can prove his worth.
This is Harvie and Smith-Brown’s competition at LB. Connor Oglive who joins after his contract expired with Tottenham. Spent the last 2 years on loan at Gillingham so has experience of this league. Not remarkable. Signed on a free transfer before my £2 million pound budget was revealed. Otherwise would have been overlooked.
Here is an interesting one. Matt Grimes. Former Exeter starlet previously signed for Swansea for nearly £2 million pounds joins Plymouth Argyle on a free transfer. More than good enough for this level.
One of the first new signings who agreed a pre-contract agreement in January joins from Motherwell on a free transfer. Jack of all trades master of none kind of midfielder. Energetic box to box type.
As much as Jamie Ness and his injuries have become somewhat of a meme on this series. I gave him a one-year contract extension. I was worried I was going to run out of money and not have enough players, but then the £2 million pounds appeared. He is still really good for this level. If he stays fit.
Conor Grant is still here.
I don’t have much to say. I’m a bit bias against playing him for some reason. He’s actually not that bad. He needs to kick on if he is to reach that potential.
And I’m bias towards playing Sarcevic who never really set’s games alight but I love his work rate. One year left on his deal.
The boy himself, Graham Carey. Didn’t expect him to still be here this time last season, but here we are. I want him to step up and be more consistent.
Still the best player at the club.
Ruben, big year for him and his career.
A creative playmaker who joins from Everton on a free transfer.
A lot of clubs wanted him so I thought why not.
And from the red side of Liverpool is Liam Millar.
Highly promising inside forward who has a lot to prove and make a name for himself.
We needed depth on the wings. Free transfer.
Here he is then. Shankland by name, Goalscorer by nature. The 3rd and final young Scotsman from Ayr United. 21 goals in all competitions last season. Currently on fire in real life. He can finish, he can create and he cost me nothing. Free transfer. How will he adapt to English football?
Dario Guti. Another player signed in January who finally arrives from Spain. Great pace, great flair. Don’t really know how he’s going to get into the team. Bit of a wild card really. Free transfer.
Freddie still has a year left on his contract. Last season’s top scorer. Unfortunately for him will he be second choice this year. But he does offer us something different.
And before we know it the season is about to kick off. ( pre season results will be further down, was too caught up signing players to take screenshots)
No pressure then. Probably shouldn’t have negotiated that as part of his new deal.
Sunderland at home. 2019/20 is about to kick off. Will Sunderland rob us of points once more?
I start with an entirely new back four, midfield three and striker. Just Macey, Carey and Lameiras start from last year’s team.
And in the televised friday night kick-off it was the Derek Adams signing who saves the day with a last minute goal to snatch a point.
Once more, we were more positive with the ball but don’t get the result.
But early signs are encouraging for our new look team.
With the transfer window open for yet another week, I still have millions of pounds left to spend.
I needed a 3rd choice goalkeeper. I probably should have gone for an experienced older pro on the cheap, but when a keeper this young and good becomes available for so little I had to sign him.
Edwards comes in for Luis Silva who had a shocking debut against Sunderland. We need experience right now.
Two of our new signings scored the most unfortunate own goals within 10 minutes of each other. Liam Millar came off the bench and scored what was only a consolation. I’ve never seen a game like it.
Two own goals. That’s really good for their confidence.
It’s deadline day!
An early analysis of our first couple of games suggests a lack of experience and know-how in central defence.
So what do I do? I sign a 17-year-old centre back from Bolton of course.
He’ll go into the under 23’s, but he’s actually so good for his age.
More deadline day madness. David Wheeler was available so I did it.
I have too much money.
Good player. 2 ex Grecians who will hopefully take us to the Championship.
I’ve been after another striker for a while, for some reason.
Lyle Taylor, Omar Bogle, both available but didn’t happen.
So I brought back Joe Mason for a lot of money.
But who cares we can afford it.
And it also shut Graham Carey up.
And the transfer window shuts.
And for my own good, I would have just kept signing more and more.
I still have £1.25 million to spend in January.
We signed a whopping 19 players.
Nobody in the whole of England signed more.
We have too many players.
I’ve changed too much.
I also sold Calum Dyson to Walsall for £28k. Peanuts.
We spent £1.6m.
I’m concerned that the team will take a long time to gel and click.
Burton at home and I chop and change the back 2 again. Also Tafari Moore deserved to be starting the season, I shouldn’t have chucked the scot straight in. Mason leads the line.
Ruben scores again but it’s not enough. Omar Bogle mocks me for not signing him and our winless start stretches to 3 games.
And we lose our man in form.
More seats that I forgot I asked for.
21 thousand fans can now watch us at Home Park.
You know from last year how much I hate the first round of the league cup.
But not this year.
We were winning 2-0 for 84 minutes. But we won the penalty shootout. Thank god we did.
The new goalkeeper saved a penalty during ninety minutes and then a further 3 in the shootout. Hero.
Newly promoted Yeovil. This should be a doddle.
Ok yeah, I signed too many players.
More chopping and changing to starting 11. I have too many options and it’s killing us.
Not a win though is it.
As if I need telling.
Trying to stay positive It’s only 5 games.
Recently relegated Reading and their good players up against this ever-changing starting eleven.
Ok, that could have been worse.
Come on then Curtis Nelson’s Bolton.
Ruben is back.
We won a bloody league game.
Our predicted finish is 11th btw.
But I’m not going to even go through every game in September.
Just look at the results
19 new signings says it all.
This team cost us over £1 million pounds.
I’m going to be sick.
oH wAit thats just the food poisoning the chef has given us all.
ok now im being sick.
The Sack Race. I can’t be sacked before Pardew f**k off.
I’ve got one month to save my job.
One bloody month.
I’m in a pickle.
Find out next time whether I survive.
Place your bets now.
Sorry for the long update today! Had a lot of new faces to meet didn’t we…