It’s been a difficult week. Let’s be honest, 4-0 against your local rivals is one of the worst things that can happen to a football fan. Whether Argyle go up this season or not, the game that took place on Saturday will forever be a stain on the 2019/20 season for the club.
What is perhaps most disturbing for many members of the Green Army is the way that Ryan Lowe attempted to downplay the significance of the Devon Derby in the weekend just gone. Whether you believe that Exeter are a small club who have different ambitions or not, you don’t say it a few days before the game. You gloat afterwards, not before. Rookie error.
Worryingly, this is not the first instance of this. It’s not that long ago that we were all informed that Danny Mayor was better than two fan favourites at Home Park in Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras. That, thus far, has not appeared to be the best call. It’s a tactic that I don’t quite understand. You wait for Mayor to have an outstanding season and THEN you gloat about how smart you are, not before. You only get cocky and big headed about Exeter City once you’ve battered them, not after you’ve given their manager a free team talk and let them walk all over you.
It was a shoddy performance for sure, and analysis of all the talk before and after the game will only get you so far. It was a questionable line-up and included a flurry of questionable in-game decisions too. As discussed on the latest podcast, Will Aimson not starting was perhaps the most criminal of these decisions what with Josh Grant having been directly at fault for the first two goals and then surely able to do better individually for the third and fourth as well.
No Danny Mayor is perhaps acceptable when you have just won a game 4-0 without him, but sometimes you should just pick your strongest side. We beat Leyton Orient without thousands of professional footballers starting that game for us – it doesn’t mean that a large number of them wouldn’t ultimately improve them. These selections, matched with this recent new territorial style of football (the game against Exeter saw the second highest number of long balls in a game this season) do not exactly bode well moving forward.
Another particular aspect of the current management that I do find strange I must admit, is the complete reluctance to change from the 3142 formation that we have employed so far this season. Don’t get me wrong, long term this could well be the shape for us. But if it isn’t working then sometimes you have to change things up. I shouldn’t need to repeat the cliche of insanity and repeating things to a man with more footballing experience than I’ve had years on planet Earth.
All this could, of course, be taken the wrong way. Even if the side have been somewhat underwhelming thus far, there is plenty of room for improvement. We have a wealth of talent in the squad with more to come from many of them and a young, hungry management team who have risked a lot in coming to Plymouth Argyle to try and make a success of their coaching careers. We are only on the cusp of November and there is an awful lot of football to be played.
It’s just that these problems look so obvious. Moving forward, if fit then Danny Mayor and Will Aimson MUST start. That and, it would be great to see some manoeuvrability moving forward regarding the formation. If it isn’t working after 60 minutes – change it! There’s plenty of formations that enable you to play the way we want to. With Nicky Law man marking Joe Edwards on Saturday, why not move to a 4231, take out the DM altogether and force Exeter to react to your changes? Something more pro-active would be a nice addition.
This result is particularly a shame because there were definitely signs that the team was moving forward, certainly in results if not performances. What a way to come crashing back down to earth, though. I just hope that the next time we have a big game, there is much less of an attempt to downplay the occasion.
Sometimes you have to accept that a game is a big game that means a lot to lots of people, and approach it with the right mentality. For now, it’s time to work hard and begin to put things right on the pitch. After all, it will take an awful lot to make people forget what they have just witnessed.