Plymouth Argyle will head into the festive season 22nd in League 1, 5 points from safety, following a lacklustre performance at mid-table Shrewsbury. The result sees an end to a week of more ups and downs, compounded by the departure of Argyle’s chief scout Greg Strong last week, which leaves us all wondering what January will bring…if anything.
Fleetwood came to Home Park in decent form and 12th in the table. The performance against Joey Barton’s side was good; a solid showing, more possession and strength going forward even without the suspended Graham Carey. In contrast, Argyle were everything but solid in Shropshire, mustering 1 shot on target all game and they were still shaky at the back. This said, there are some areas in which it is important to remain positive – League 1 player of the month Freddie Ladapo has hit 10 goals for the campaign following his brace on Saturday. Although his finishing leaves a lot to be desired (once again highlighted at Salop) his all round movement is making him Argyle’s main threat whilst Graham Carey struggles to find last season’s form and his spark, which was capable of turning a game on its head.
However, the Irishman did make something of a positive impact after his second half introduction against Shrewsbury. The opposition players seemed fully aware of what he is capable of and marked him accordingly. Unfortunately for The Pilgrims, his performance was that of a player who seemed frustrated and balked. We all know what he can do, he just isn’t doing it right now. But then again no one else is. The back line is still looking unsettled, and with just 2 clean sheets in the league this season, the areas in need of improvement are obvious.
The departure of Argyle’s chief scout Greg Strong is sure to be widely criticised by the Green Army, especially so close to what is becoming a very important January for the club. We all rate the players and judge them based on form. If we were to do the same for Strong, surely his departure is something we should be pleased with? Yes, Adams has the final say on the players he signs. There too is always the chance that Strong’s other recommendations have been rebutted. Yet, Strong was brought to Plymouth by Adams along with his good reputation, which seemingly has not held up this season. The influx of players brought in are either under-performing or, simply put, are not good enough. I personally hope it is not the latter and the team are yet to ‘gel’ but we are fast approaching the half way stage and although there have been positive points, they have been few and far between and we sit deep in the relegation zone.
This all leaves Adams with a predicament. Should he bolster the squad in the transfer window or stick with what he has and trust that the previous 26 games – which come January will be the amount of games played, not including the friendlies – has been one big bedding in period. It’s difficult to not ask why Strong has left though, along with Craig Brewster earlier in the year. We all know Adams is as much of the archetypal stubborn Scottish manager as they come. Perhaps an unwillingness to change his ways in his tactically parallel to what goes on behind closed doors which is a factor, but without knowledge of the goings on behind said door, we can only speculate.
December could define Argyle’s season with the visit of Bradford and a boxing day trip to Wimbledon, either side of winnable games against Rochdale and Accrington. 12 big points are up for grabs and we can hope to finally turn this rather long corner. Next up its Oxford in the cup, which gives Argyle a chance to gather some momentum and perhaps rotate the team. Let’s hope the former Pilgrims have much less success at Home Park that they did at The Kassam last month.
Author: Andy Bartlett
Andy writes Final Whistle, one of our opinion columns.