Key Player: Toumani Diagouraga
It’s become a bit of a Twitter joke that Derek Adams is someone who simply signs from his former clubs rather than someone who does any meaningful scouting. Whilst it isn’t entirely unfair, you can’t really argue with its results.
Diagouraga’s career was in the doldrums until he was offered a new chance at Morecambe. Here, he was re-vitalised as the dynamic box to box midfielder that we saw at Home Park, controlling games and making crunching tackles in equal measure. He thrived in the 4-2-3-1 system and it will be interesting to see how Robinson uses him in the coming campaign.
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Manager: Stephen Robinson
Is anyone really capable of replacing Derek Adams? The Scotsman, well known to all Argyle fans reading this, managed to pull off his most remarkable achievement in football yet, getting the side with the lowest budget in the entire football league promoted to League One. Adams left three days after promotion for allure of a better budget at Bradford City, despite the necessity of dropping back into League One.
Whilst nobody can match the job the Scotsman did, Robinson is really about as good an appointment as they could have hoped for in the circumstances. After a poor spell at troubled Oldham, he really made his name in Scottish football, taking Motherwell to two domestic cup finals in the same season before eventually standing down on the last day of 2020. If he can once again manage to get a small club punching above its weight, maybe he might be the man to help them achieve the impossible.
Rock: Sam Lavelle
Lavelle is undoubtedly a player who has grown alongside his club. He joined as a boy in 2017 with no professional appearances to his name but has very much grown into a man who is now the captain of the club who gave him the chance. As well as this, he has become their man defensive asset.
At only 24, with 195 professional games now to his name and 6 foot 3 in stature, Lavelle may end up leaving Morecambe behind as his career progresses. For now though, he will need to one at his very best to keep up their slender chances of survival.
Key departure: Carlos Mendes Gomes
Even if Adams had not been tempted by the bright lights of Bradford, Morecambe would have surely had to price in the inevitable loss of last season’s key player. The Senegalise-Spanish wizard won the player of the season award with 16 goals backing up a set of spectacular skills that made him both the top creator and the best scorer for the Shrimps.
The Derek Adams formula for success is tried and tested. Assemble a well-organised, structured squad that primarily protects the defence and add a sprinkling of one or two quality players that will do much of the attacking work by sheer force of skill. Of course it’s far more complicated than that, but that’s the essence of it. For Argyle it was Graham Carey (and later Ruben Lameiras). For Morecambe, it was Carlos Mendes Gomes who has now joined Nathan Jones’ Luton.
Losing the man at the heart of this means it’s extremely difficult to replicate the Adams stratagem, even if the new manager wanted to and was able to.
Target: Avoid relegation
Frankly, avoiding bottom spot is probably a fair and realistic target in itself for a team who have been stripped of the man who is their best ever manager and the man who’s arguably their best ever player in one bittersweet summer. This is all not to mention the array of other players who’ve also departed, including Yann Songo’o and Nathaniel Knight-Percival.
They have bought in some capable players with Anthony O’Connor and Jonathan Obika probably the pick of the bunch. But it’s too little in the way of real quality and too much gelling to do. It would require another Morecambe miracle for League One football to be assured.
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