Argyle’s recent form continues after a positive showing against Portsmouth on Saturday. The Home Park faithful might have felt 3 points would have been a fair outcome, but it was not meant to be as Pompey held on for the point they came for. Many teams in League One won’t want to play us at the moment, and going in to the final third of the season we are looking strong and fearless.
The form of Ruben Lamerias has certainly played a big part in the upturn of form. His ability to conjure up something from nothing has captured the imagination of the supporters and the playmaker has notched 6 times since Christmas resulting in him being awarded PFA League 1 fans player of the month for January.
Following his development at Tottenham, Ruben signed for Coventry City after being released. After two seasons with the Sky Blues and relegation to League 2, he signed for The Pilgrims on a free in the summer of 2017. He struggled to hold down a regular slot in Adams’ side that season and ended up on trial at Oldham Athletic. After what was described by the playmaker himself as a ‘shambolic’ experience, perhaps it was the motivation he needed to establish himself at Home Park.
Players who are truly technically gifted are few and far between in this part of the world. Over the years we have been blessed with the likes of Peter Halmosi and Akos Buszaky, who earned themselves an iconic status at the club, with their flair and ability. Argyle’s number 11 has two brilliant feet, a quick turn of pace and fantastic vision in the final third, and at 5ft 9, his low centre of gravity and his control makes him dangerous in and around the penalty box. Lamerias is well on the way to earning the same iconic status and no doubt will surpass what some Pilgrims past have achieved, should he stay at Argyle for the foreseeable future. No doubt clubs will come in over the summer should his form continue, but we’ve proved recently we can stave off interest from elsewhere for our prized assets (keeping Graham Carey in the summer of 2017, for example).
The Portuguese has reached double figures on the scoring chart, second only to front man Freddie Ladapo who is leading the way with 13; although Lameiras is averaging 153 minutes per goal – a fantastic return. Criticism was aimed at Derek Adams earlier in the season for the lack of playing time given to Ruben, even though the in-form man has racked up 31 appearances this term. I can understand why – the Green Army want to see their favourite players week in week out and when results aren’t going our way it is only natural to ask why certain players aren’t playing. Adams seemed to be using Lameires sparingly.
It is easy to criticise in hindsight, however. Joel Grant has had a very good season up until his recent injury and this no doubt contributed to the former taking a back seat. But now, given the turnaround in form, it will be hard to leave a fit Lameires out of the starting line-up for the rest of this season at least. Perhaps keeping Ruben under wraps for the first half of the season was a stroke of genius…would we be seeing the same form now if he had started every game prior?
Going forward though, if his form continues, I will be interested to see how, or if Adams will adjust the system. There is no doubt that Carey and Lameires can play together in the same team, though I would very much like to see them play with Taylor up top. The front man was instrumental in Argyle’s turnaround last season and although we’ve seen little of him this year he is definitely breathing over the shoulder of Ladapo. The latter is struggling to keep his goal scoring form up and I feel a return to the starting 11 for Taylor would be hugely beneficial to Ruben and the rest of the team. The space he generates up front is so important for the attackers to operate in as we saw so often last season.
After many false dawns, Argyle can feel they have finally signed a gem who can capture the imagination of fans in the same way that the likes of Halmosi did in the past. There is, perhapsm always a certain romance when a foreign playmaker joins the club. Everyone immediately gets excited. I remember a player called Andres Gurrieri, a tricky midfielder who signed under the Carl Fletcher era – he was young and Argentine, so we just ‘expected’ him to be good! He went on to make 50 plus appearances for the Greens before moving away. Perhaps it was a case of right player, wrong time. One thing is for certain though; we have a player in Ruben Lameires. To have someone who gets the fans on the edge of their seats whenever he’s on the ball is worth its weight in gold.
This Saturday we travel to Bradford City who are right in the thick of it down in 23rd place. Anything but a defeat for Argyle will be a good result as we aim to continue the good form and keep breathing space between ourselves and the relegation battle.