When I first wrote about Ryan Lowe coming to Home Park back in June, I made a comment about Argyle breaking League 2’s record points tally and Freddie Ladapo scoring 35 goals in the season. Little did I know that, a couple months on, maybe the points tally comment might end up being right. And that 35 goal season would go to Callum McFadzean, not the now departed Ladapo.
Of course, in all seriousness, we are very much in the early stages. Three games in, six goals scored, no goals conceded, top of League 2 and into the second round of the EFL Cup. It would be fair to say that Ryan Lowe’s regime is very literally off to the perfect start.
And for me, that’s what is so exciting. Because as of yet, we look like we have not hit our highest gear. The performance in the 3-0 win against Crewe saw an excellent first half of football but some spectacular goalkeeping by new signing Alex Palmer was what would keep us ahead in parts. Following this, the 1-0 win over Colchester was bitty and uninspiring and yet Argyle still looked in complete control of the game.
All round, the win over Orient seemed to present the best overall performance, and yet EFL Cup games at this stage are not really played to the same intensity as league matches even if both sides do want to progress. This is evident in team selection of course, as Lowe used the game to give opportunities to Cooper, Taylor, Conor Grant and Telford among others throughout the game. Orient boss Ross Embleton said himself that Argyle would take some stopping when playing in the way we did so to beat them, and that’s with me sat here behind a computer saying we are still only firing on some cylinders, not all.
We are yet to play at our best, that much is clear. You do wonder, in fact, if Ryan Lowe’s philosophy has changed somewhat from last season whereby Bury played what was – on the basis of what we have seen so far – a more attacking style. With the personnel difference of course, Lowe may see us playing in a slightly more cautious way, given the fact that Joe Riley and Antoni Sarcevic in RWB and CM are substantially less attacking than Nicky Adams and Jay O’Shea who had their exact roles the year previous.
Bury only won one of their opening five games last season, and it took a while before they were playing in full swing. Thus far we have shown no signs of making a slow start albeit we are in an extremely early stage as things stand. Nothing has been won yet and there is a long way to go before we can deem this appointment to be a success.
It is worth remembering that this is only Lowe’s second full season in professional management. You wouldn’t guess it, what with the aura of the man and how he seems to connect with the club and its fans. I enjoyed the Jürgen Klopp style fist punch at the end of the Colchester game too – without even requiring any cameras on him! He is enjoying himself, that much is clear.
So there are a number of reasons to be positive then ahead of the rest of the season. Saturday’s game against Newport will be a tough test against a difficult side to beat and on what has been an atrocious pitch every time I have had the joys of visiting. I can remember in 2014 when Argyle won 2-1 there and John Sheridan started Nathan Thomas and Andres Gurrieri at wing back.. A similar tactical masterclass that Ryan Lowe would be also be credited for as his Bury team got promoted from League 2 at the first attempt.
On a personal note, I thankfully won’t have to put up with a stand that would be more fitting for scaffolding at somebody’s house than a football stadium. I will be fortunate enough to be co-commentating for BBC Radio Devon this weekend, so if you’re wondering who the bloke with the needlessly controversial opinions is on the radio this weekend, now you know!