The new season is well and truly underway and Argyle have hit the ground running with an emphatic 3-0 win at Crewe. A brace from new boy Callum McFadzean either side of a tidy Joel Grant strike ensured victory: Ryan Lowe will be satisfied to start off with 3 points.
The starting lineup saw 5 debutants in green, and although McFadzean claimed the headlines, the most impressive display was from Alex Palmer in the Argyle goal. His Man of the Match performance told a more accurate story of the game than the scoreline would suggest, with the West Brom loanee proving a formidable obstacle in which Alexandra could not beat.
Jose Baxter was introduced in the second half as he looks to get back to peak fitness and Ryan Taylor was also given game time. A dream start for the Pilgrims: far from a complete performance but everybody would have snapped your hand off to start the season with a 3-0 away victory.
A noticeable difference in the performance on Saturday was the fitness levels. Argyle never stopped and were rewarded with a 93rd minute goal – something which we are used to being on the wrong end of in recent years. Pre season was pretty uninspiring results wise, but the work that had been put in on the training ground as well as the Spanish heat, looks to be paying off.
An important 3 points on the board, but there is still work to be done, especially defensively if Argyle are to make a swift return to League 1. Crewe dominated possession, taking 63% of the spoils and managed to carve out several good chances. On another day, against a more clinical side, would have no doubt seen a tighter result. No doubt Lowe will be well aware of these weaknesses.
With an array of attacking talent in the squad, evident from Saturdays display, surely the manager must be considering his options in defence. Wootton, Sawyer, Canavan and Aimson are the only recognised centre backs in the squad and whilst Lowe enjoys using 3 at the back, more depth and quality will be needed to get through the next 45+ games. Lowe has hinted at one or two loan targets, one of whom believed to be Zac Rudden, a striker from Scottish giants Rangers. He is clearly looking for a defender after Ben Hall’s trial but no names have been linked as yet.
It will be interesting to see who else comes in – the new manager has already raised the bar when it comes to new signings. The clear step up in quality is something we have craved as fans for the past 10 years. We seem to have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for the leftovers during transfer windows, with average player after average player being signed – there are of course exceptions, with several initially underwhelming signings proving to be good servants for the club.
Though, the fact remains Plymouth Argyle has rarelly been the first choice of many. This more than anything seems to have changed. Ryan Lowe is a very popular man, players now want to come here and play for him and his brand of football is very desirable.
The likes of Danny Mayor and Jose Baxter would have not been likely signings under a different manager in League 1, let alone League 2. His relationship with his staff is outstanding, he sees himself as one of players still and is a true leader – he was even participating in the hill climbs during the pre season trip to Alicante, which must be great to see as a player. From my own experience, you do not want to be beaten by your own gaffer at anything!
There is of course a long way to go, and the opening day result will only raise the already heightened expectation. We won’t be beating every team 3-0, there will be games where it doesn’t go our way, but the most important thing to remember is we need to return to League One as soon as possible. For the first time in a while, we will be going into most games as the favourite which adds pressure before a ball has even been kicked. The feel good factor is there, and it’s an exciting time to be an Argyle fan.
A full house will be expected on Saturday as Colchester come to visit, who opened their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Port Vale, and consider themselves promotion hopefuls. It is important to keep the momentum from the opening day going as we look to maintain the top spot.
Although, if you offered me 2nd place today, I’d take it.