Ahead of Plymouth Argyle’s opening match of the League Two’s season against Crewe Alexandra, we spoke to Alex fan Chris Jones to find more about the opposition.
How did you get into supporting Crewe?
My Mum and Dad learned from an early age that I would just watch and play football whenever possible. Being from Crewe and having taken me to watch my Dad’s team Everton, they weren’t too keen on dragging me round a big city or forking out for a family day in the Premier League. This left Crewe as the easier and cheaper option. The first game I went was a 1-0 win over Stockport back in 2003. 16 years later, Gresty Road and travelling the country to watch the Railwaymen has become a habit.
What are your hopes for the season ahead?
I think we have to look to build on the second half of last season. Getting a top half finish for the first time since 2012 was a good building block. As the Chairman said at the end of last season, we have to be play-off contenders this year. Keeping the bulk of the squad from last season should allow us to get off to a much better start and hopefully we’ll be playing football into May this year.
Any new signings at Crewe that people should look out for?
With only two new signings at the club, it’s not been a busy one. Olly Lancashire has had fitness issues all pre-season so that leaves us with Daniel Powell. Signed from Northampton, he’s a more natural wide player to replace Jordan Bowery. He’ll give us some much needed pace going forward and judging by his pre-season he’ll be a physical presence that Crewe haven’t had much of in recent years.
And how about any existing players to keep an eye on?
You are probably going to want to keep an eye out for Perry Ng at right-back. Linked away from the club all Summer, I’m surprised he is still here. He loves to get in opposition heads and has got a few red cards from doing so. All while winning last season’s Player of the Season award. I expect he’ll be back at again this season. There is also Charlie Kirk. He blows hot and cold but when he’s on it he is a massive handful for defenders. With a decent year under his belt from last season he’ll be key to our creativity this season.
What sort of tactical style do you think Crewe will set up in on Saturday?
It will be a 4-3-3. We changed from a 4-4-2 midway through the season and by no coincidence our fortunes improved massively. We’ll always look to play out of trouble which can provide some heart attack defending but when we pull it off in can be excellent. We’ll also be looking to get the ball wide to try and play into the strengths of Chris Porter up top.
And any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
Goalkeeping is a concern, losing Ben Garratt means we have to establish a new number one. Will Jaaskelainen was handed the job for the final 4 games and has been given the number 1 shirt for the season. I expect it will be him between the sticks on Saturday. He has looked competent in 3 games but a very hit and miss showing on the final day shows he has got a lot to learn.
Who or what comes to mind when you think of Plymouth Argyle?
A club who when I first started watching football were a Championship side but fell on hard times and never quite managed to piece it back together again.
Which Argyle player, if any, would you like to sign?
Danny Mayor, he absolutely tore us to pieces at Gigg Lane last season. Having that on your side would be a dangerous weapon.
Who do you think will finish in the top 3 this season?
Mansfield, Plymouth & Northampton. All have made very good acquisitions over the summer and I expect them all to be fighting at the top this season. Tough one however as there are plenty of teams who, if it falls right, could put it together and win promotion this season
And who are your picks to go down?
Macclesfield & Cambridge. Sol Campbell performed a miracle to keep them up last season. He’d have to produce an even bigger one with everything going on off the pitch there. Cambridge on the other hand just seem to lack quality all over the pitch. A poor end to last season and they seem to have just got weaker.
And finally, a prediction for the game?
I have got to stay positive and go for a 2-1 win to the Alex.