We have much improved squad depth. I think you could put forward the argument that this is the greatest level of squad depth that Argyle have had since we dropped to the foot of the football league. The ability to leave such talent out of the starting eleven against Wycombe is a testament to the squad Adams has put together this season. Once again he has played the transfer window spectacularly. Ladapo may have underperformed against Coventry, leading many to call for Taylor to start, but he excelled in Tuesday’s outing, grabbing his first goal for the club with an excellent finish in the 4th minute, and will provide improved competition for Taylor. Both full-backs in Moore and Smith-Brown seem to be brimming with both confidence and their ability is beginning to show. Their ability to get up and down the flank will be crucial. Matt Macey has been phenomenal, conceding 1 goal from open play in his first five games for the club, while Ryan Edwards, arguably Argyles best centre-half through the first half of last season has been relegated to the bench. It is nice to feel confident in the ability of the majority of players we have in the squad.
Argyle’s system can be far too negative. We started very brightly against Wycombe, scoring within five minutes but it seemed to go downhill from there. It seemed that once we’d scored we had the sole intention of seeing out a 1-0 victory, which is rather ironic considering the opponents. From there, we created nothing but a few half chances, bar one Graham Carey effort which on any other day would have been tucked away and the game would have been dead. We have shown on multiple occasions that we can control games, dominating with passing football and creating chances, but all that seemed to go out the window as the game went on, as we adopted a far too direct style of play. We seem to give up with Plan A far too quickly and resort to Plan B; though I’m still not really sure what it is.
Adams makes some strange substitutions. I have seen some spectacular positional changes in my time supporting Argyle, but I will admit I would never expect to have seen Gary Sawyer being brought on late in a game to play left-wing. My first thought was that he’d go to left back and that Smith-Brown would be brought forward due to his attacking threat, but Sawyer was one of our furthest forward players. The only explanation I have for this rather outlandish substitution is that Sawyer is a good crosser of the ball, as we went with a more direct style to cater to our two taller forwards. Bringing Taylor on was an obvious change and as expected, we started to create more when he came on. But the decision to bring on a defender when the game was tied, to play as a winger is unexplainable. More so when we have two players in Wylde and Lameiras who are more tried and tested in that position, and especially with the latter who performed so well off the bench against Coventry.
An odd team selection. It is so frustrating to watch players perform so well from the bench in one game and not find themselves in the first team for the next game. Ruben Lameiras and Ryan Taylor, two of Argyle’s most talented players evident from the second half of the previous season were left of the bench against Wycombe, after having fantastic cameos against Coventry at the weekend. You could understand their omission from the side if the players picked instead were excelling but that is perhaps not the case. Most fans thought that Taylor would lead the line after his fantastic substitute performance against Coventry, which spurred the ten-man team back into life. However, Ladapo, was preferred instead despite having been very poor at the weekend. Joel Grant has also not set the league alight this season and so I’m surprised that Lameiras was not given the shout, either to start or even off the bench. Despite our improved squad depth, we need to get our best players on the pitch.
Argyle can never cope with Adebayo Akinfenwa. We seem to have trouble whenever we play against the infamous Wycombe forward. He terrorised us several times in previous years, and we couldn’t get near him on Tuesday night. His size and strength just causes defenders to bounce off him and he always commands attention from the moment he steps onto the pitch, the ball just sticks to him. I can remember just one instance in his short cameo that we actually managed to prevent him from winning a 50/50. It seemed that he created more chances in his short spell than the rest of his side did in the full 90; culminating in his contribution to Wycombe’s equaliser. Wycombe seem to have found a perfect use for the 36-year-old, restricting him to short substitute appearances to maximise his effectiveness and if he could play a full game he’d be even better. I overheard someone on Tuesday call Akinfenwa the greatest substitute option in the football league and I think there might be some truth in that.