- Nobody is infallible. Nobody can deny that Derek Adams managerial stock is sky high at the moment. He has taken Argyle to a position where they could be able to get promoted to the Championship this season with a budget that is surely amongst the lowest in the league. However, he is capable of making mistakes and that showed itself on Saturday.During the first 55 minutes or so of the game, Argyle’s performance was competent. Yes, they were losing 2-0 but they were having their fair share of the performance and the play. Charlton did not have a great many chanced aside their two goals and Argyle had a Ryan Taylor shot tipped onto the post as well as Graham Carey going close. Of coruse, we weren’t playing brilliantly. But it was firmly in ‘could be worse’ territory. Adams however, switched to a diamond 4-4-2, bringing on Alex Fletcher up front.
As industrious as Fletcher was, going to the diamond system limited Argyle. A diamond can work if it is played correctly but it’s a difficult system to get right. Argyle had next to no width and Charlton were resultantly able to dominate on both sides. In addition, Fox was rather deep and Carey rather high up as base and tip of the diamond respectively, leaving space in the middle as well as that out wide. As such, Argyle barely had any chances after this stage and Charlton had a fair few in spite of not converting any.
- Sometimes, you just have to give credit. Charlton were very good, it was not purely a case of bemoaning Argyle’s inadequacies. Lee Bowyer had his first game as caretaker manager and as predicted in our pre-match preview, he was determined to put his own stamp on things with a switch to a 4-4-2 formation. The Charlton players seemed to be just as fed up of Robinson as their fans were, coming out and starting like a train with their high line and purposeful use of the ball.In addition to this, their opening goal by full-back Page (the first of his career, no less) was amongst the finest I have ever seen scored against Argyle, slammed high into the top right corner of the net. Remi Matthews (who largely had a good game, his one risky foul outside the area aside) could do nothing to keep it out of the net.
- Argyle are badly missing Sonny Bradley. After being involved in goals conceded and having generally iffy games against Fleetwood and Bristol Rovers, Argyle were in need of a big performance from Yann Songo’o at The Valley. Songo’o however was at fault for letting Michal Zyro run completely unmarked into the 6 yard box to easily convert their second. You simply can’t lose your man that close to goal. He was again the weakest link in Argyle’s back four generally with a few lapses in concentration allowing his man to pull away from him on other occasions which luckily did not lead to goals.Songo’o is perfectly adequate in central midfield and he can do a job at right-centre-back. He can even do a job to some extent at left-centre-back next to an experienced head like Ryan Edwards. Zak Vyner, as good as he is, does not command quite the same presence.
Songo’o inarguably had a good first half of the season but an aspect of panic seems to have snuck into his game in recent weeks. That, coupled with the fact that it is perhaps somewhat easier for a player of his committed yet limited style to thrive in a struggling team than a successful one, is an argument to drop him for Friday’s home match against Southend in favour of Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.
- Argyle are badly missing Antoni Sarcevic. Like Bradley, the absence of industrious midfielder Sarcevic cannot be understated. His has been one of the quickest and most dramatic turnarounds in fan opinion in recent times. In the last game of 2017, he had a disastrous cameo off the bench as Argyle threw away a lead to draw at Blackpool. 2018 though, has seen him well and truly come of age as an Argyle player in dramatic fashion with a series of performances that are as exquisite with distribution as they are energetic in movement.As such, it has been no surprise that he has been missed from the side. Moses Makasi’s use of the ball is smart at times and his off the ball movement is also good, regularly making himself open to receive a pass. However, he will have spells where he tends to drift in and out of the match whereas Sarcevic maintained his level of performance over the 90. In addition, where Maksi (who is by no means a bad player) falls short of Sarcevic’s excellence is his dogged pressing of the ball and the ability to steal it from opponents feet without committing a foul. This constant turnover in possession in Argyle’s favour high up the pitch is being badly missed and could have been the difference in games like Saturday’s.
- Oscar Threlkeld continues to quietly perform. Threlkeld has perhaps tended to be a little overrated in recent seasons, with his energetic and all-action style perhaps compensating for a lack of subtlety in his game. His first couple of games upon his return to the side from injury exemplified this tendency. Whether or not this criticism was fair in the past however, it absolutely has not been so in 2018.His performance against Charlton was one in a long line of late where he has continued to put in an understated, solid performance irrespective of the general level of play shown by the time. He rarely let anybody down his side and was strong in the air, as well as always looking to counter-attack and he was one of the best players for overlapping and proving forward options during a game where too few players moved off the ball.