A lot has happened since Sunday 28th April – the day Derek Adams was relieved of his duty as Argyle manager. We’ve been relegated, James Brent has moved on, we’ve got a new boss and the team is being massively overhauled. The grim events on final day last season which saw us condemned to League Two have become a part of the history books, but the doom and gloom did not last for long.
Although the appointment took what seemed an eternity, we finally got our man. The announcement came 37 days after the sacking of Adams. The appointment of Ryan Lowe has instilled an air of optimism and excitement around the club and is a strong show of ambition from the board: something which previous regimes may have lacked. Despite relegation and the prospect of spending the forthcoming campaign in the basement league, there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the near future. Ryan Lowe said it himself- sometimes you have to take one step back to move two steps forward.
Like every book though, starting a new chapter means another must end. With several first team players out of contract and the likelihood of Ruben Lameiras following Graham Carey to pastures new, Lowe takes over with just thirteen first team professionals on the books, one of whom is Tom Purrington, fresh out of the academy. In most other circumstances, losing our two stand out players would be disastrous but the new gaffer seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
He has stated he has ‘players from up and down the country’ wanting to come and play under him and his right hand man Stephen Schumacher, which is no doubt partly down to the reputation he has built for himself in adopting such a fluid attacking tactical system. Bury bagged over 100 goals on course to winning promotion from League 2 and Lowe looks set to apply the same fundamentals at Argyle, so an overhaul of the team will suit the Liverpudlian. This, combined with the standard of players we are being linked with in the transfer market, makes the exodus of players from Home Park easier to digest.
One of the most exciting aspects of this appointment is the calibre of players being linked. The two most substantive rumours so far have been: Danny Mayor – who was an integral piece of the Bury promotion winning puzzle last season, with 8 goals and 9 assists from 39 appearances in League Two He knows the league, works well under Lowe’s system and would be a more than capable replacement for Graham Carey. Lowe has played this rumour down though, recognising Mayor’s talents as a League 1 standard at the very least. The other being Jamie Devitt who has recently left Carlisle after his contract has run down. Argyle face strong competition from Blackpool for his services though and the difference in location could be the deciding factor.
Jordan Rossiter is another name which has been banded around, with the Rangers man seemingly not ready to feature in Steven Gerrard’s plans, so a loan move could be on the cards and with the strong Liverpool connection, this is a very viable option. Priorities for the new manager though, will have to be defence – with Argyle shipping 80 plus goals last season, huge improvements will be needed, especially with a change in tactics as Lowe will most likely adopt a shape comprising of 3 at the back.
A new goalkeeper will be on the agenda also, with Mike Cooper and Kyle Letheren at opposite ends of their respective careers, it will be interesting to see if Lowe will put his faith in either shot-stopper or look to bring his own in. Should, and its a big ‘should’, Ruben Lamieras stay on, that would be as much of a boost as a new signing. Butm with strong interest from abroad in the shape of French side Bordeaux, as well as Swansea, it looks increasingly unlikely the Portuguese will remain a Pilgrim.
My only irk with the new appointment, is the longevity. Ryan Lowe epitomises modern football and has a rapidly growing reputation. His friendship with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will put him in a network with some of English footballs big timers, and i would deem him a ‘wonderkid’ of the management world. Needless to say he will undoubtedly move on to bigger things at some point in the future, unless Argyle can match his growth – much like Eddie Howe at Bournemouth. They won promotion from this league in 2010, then went on to win the Championship in 2015 and are now an established premier league side.
Albeit backed by a Russian Millionaire, their rise through the leagues at a steady rate is something we should look to emulate, especially if we want Lowe to stay with us for many years to come. For now though, a 3 year deal is what’s in place and the vision for the next 36 months has to be to finish as high up in League One as possible. Lowe has made it clear he wants to be in the Championship in the very near future. I believe, if come the end of his 3 year contract, we are close (say, League One promotion contenders/playoffs at least), an extension would be a strong possibility.
Chairman Simon Hallett has done well capturing the new boss, some would even call it a coup for Argyle. Yet, it is equally important to maintain this momentum by backing him in the transfer market this season and beyond – easier said than done i know, especially when trying to run a football club without accumulating hige debt. The boardroom/management relationship seems to have started on the right foot, with Lowe having stated he’s very happy with what he has available to him in terms of budget. With Hallett now in full control of the club following James Brent’s sale of his remaining shares, the ship seems much more steady and at the same time has a much fresher feel to it.
It is important to remember all that Brent done for the club – he stayed true to his word when he took over, steering us clear of trouble and leaving us in very capable hands. There’s no denying though: it makes it that bit more sweet when those hands are one of our own with the Chairman having roots in Plymouth and having himself been a boyhood fan. Although his first season at the helm may not have gone to plan, the redevelopment of the Grandstand is coming on well and remains on course to be ready this side of Christmas which will be a huge boost for the club. It should help ensure we continue to be a financially stable, well run club which is becoming more and more uncommon in these times of crisis for other sides.
We’ve all had a vested interest in the goings on at Bury recently for obvious reasons, as players and staff continue to go unpaid as the threat of administration, which we know all too well, looms- not to mention the impending raid on their players following Ryan Lowe’s departure, that looks set to commence. Bolton and Coventry also having off field crisis’ of their own we should be thankful our club is being managed in the way it currently is.
Football is a strange old business. We’ve just been relegated yet I haven’t felt this much positivity around Argyle for years. With so much to look forward to, on and off the field, the feel good factor seems to be back at Home Park, and hopefully it is here to stay. We’ve all bought into the Ryan Lowe vision and confidence around the club is sky high – as are expectations. This is a crucial season for Plymouth Argyle and anything short of promotion will be seen as a failure.