Plymouth Argyle FC

Key player: Danny Mayor

See, when Danny Mayor signed for Argyle at the start of July 2019 the majority of the Green Army would’ve seen this pick as the most obvious one after a career best twelve goal and assist season for Bury under Lowe the previous campaign. After being converted into a left-sided centre midfielder by Lowe at the start of the 18/19 season to fit into his favoured 3-5-2 system, Mayor didn’t once look back, becoming a talismanic figure in their side. So, it’s no surprise that Mayor raised eyebrows by staying at a level that he could’ve easily left behind, when the previous season brought such scintillating form.

With form comes pressure and expectation, particularly after the departure of fan favourite creatives Ruben Lamieras and Graham Carey following a bitterly disappointing relegation to League Two. Expectation quickly turned to frustration amongst much of the Green Army as Mayor was stuck on just the one goal (all be it a scorcher), and a string of poor results meaning a tweak to a more territorial style, rather than a possession based one that Mayor favours. This limited Mayor’s goals to one and assists to six, bringing expected scrutiny, but that does little to reflect his importance to the side a whole.

Mayor was high up on the list for key passes and completed dribbles in League Two last season, and his link up play in particular on the left side of midfield with the likes of George Cooper and Callum McFadzean, created space for others to flourish. Not to mention Mayor was often double marked by teams looking to sit back against Argyle last season, limiting the opportunity for him to get shots off. Now in a higher division against more progressive teams, he will likely have more space to get on the stat charts as demonstrated in the game against QPR.

An undoubtedly talented individual, once again Argyle’s overall attacking output will be greatly affected by the form Mayor.

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Manager: Ryan Lowe

Arguably one of the brightest young managerial prospects in English football at this moment in time after two successive promotions with Bury and Argyle from League Two, I’m sure Lowe will be looking forward to the opportunity to test himself at a higher level at the second time of asking.

The aforementioned alternative attacking style that Lowe prefers has only brought success for the Liverpudlian so far, gaining plaudits from the likes of Jurgen Klopp in the process. Lowe has no need to question his attacking style, and if executed properly I have no doubts it will continue to produce positive results.

If it does though, he is sure to have admirers from a higher level, obviously becoming a double-edged sword for Argyle in the process. For the time being though, backing from the fanbase and Chairman Simon Hallett means that Lowe and Argyle should look forward to another successful season under his tutelage.

Creator: George Cooper

Creator, Dangerman. Whatever you want to call him, alongside key player Danny Mayor and key transfer Ryan Hardie, George Cooper is set to ensure it is raining goals once again for Plymouth Argyle this season.

Sending Argyle twitter into meltdown last week after a permanent transfer from Peterborough United, the recently converted wing-back was able to demonstrate his importance to the creative prospects of Argyle last season, with a consistently accurate left-foot delivery from almost anywhere on the pitch. Cooper bagged three goals and twelve assists in just over three months of regular first team football from the left flank for Argyle. 

Such is the creative impact of Cooper on this Argyle side, when he wasn’t on the pitch for The Greens last time round, they created almost half of the goalscoring opportunities. His quality, particularly from set piece delivery, was once again demonstrated against QPR hitting the post from one free kick, and scoring an unfortunately disallowed goal from a second. With the prospect of a full season in the team presented to Cooper at Argyle this time round, green faithful far and wide will be hoping for more of the same from the man they hail the ‘Assist King’.

Last season: 3rd in League Two

Argyle were able to bounce back at the first attempt with a third-place finish last time around. After a mixed start to the campaign the Pilgrims fell as low as 14th in the table in November, before a run of just two losses in 14 after the New Year’s Day loss at home to eventual winners Swindon Town meant pipping rivals Exeter City to automatic promotion, on a points-per-game basis, a week before the Coronavirus pandemic curtailed the season.

Key transfer: Ryan Hardie

Had George Cooper not been mentioned in this article previously he would have been here but although not on a permanent deal, the capture of Ryan Hardie on loan from Blackpool is arguably as important.

Initially joining Argyle last January to bolster the attacking ranks for one big push towards automatic promotion, Hardie scored seven goals in thirteen appearances, once every 81 minutes, as Lowe and Argyle achieved their goal.

Remarkably, just four of Hardie’s appearances were starts, as he was especially effective using his pace to run at tired defences, becoming an instant favourite with Argyle fans and in particular for a late and crucial winner against Salford City in February. Crucially, he added the clinical edge in front of goal that Argyle had been missing for the most part before his arrival.

It might be just a loan once again, but goal scorers are often the most sought after at any level and should Hardie and Argyle capture the similar kinds of form they found themselves in last season, they can be hopeful of securing a permanent move in the future with just one year left on his current deal, albeit clause permitting.

Target: Top-half

This is a reserved prediction by myself going into the season, for an Argyle squad that in my opinion has the ability to achieve a top half finish, especially after the recent additions of George Cooper and Ben Reeves to an exciting crop of transfers this summer. Taking into account the possibility of having to bed in at a higher level, and a largely attack minded squad which could sometimes be caught out by smarter opposition, Argyle can look forward to a comfortable finish with great potential to do more.

 

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League One Season Preview 2020/21