Plymouth Argyle enjoyed their best month yet, amassing three wins and lifting themselves off the bottom of the table in the process. At the heart of their improvement, this player deserved the Player of the Month Award.

Player of the month archive

How we calculate the score

Each player receives a match rating from 1-10 and one player from each match receives a man of the match bonus. The players are scored by a variety of of individuals who have witnessed every match this season. The scores are aggregated and weighted against the number of appearances, before the man of the match bonus is added.

Player of the Month: David Fox (10.52)

October was far from Fox’s best month with the club, but he edged out Matt Macey – winner of the award in August and September – because his return to the side was absolutely key to the team actually delivering a better quality of performances and subsequently picking up ten points. Though he was not started in his best position (at the base of midfield, flanked by two stronger, more mobile players) his return did allow Argyle to finally generate some controlled spells of possession and convert these spells into meaningful attacks.

Whereas Songo’o has averaged 24.6 completed passes per-90 from midfield this season – at a success rate of 63.3% – Fox returned to the team to average 38.1 per-90 at 79.7% in October, a massive increase in both regards. Therefore, his re-introduction allowed Argyle to begin controlling some matches from midfield. Indeed, by returning Fox to the side, the midfield found that they gained a greater stranglehold of matches, which in turn increased the midfield’s protection of the defence. The impact was noticeable: the team only conceded three league goals from open play.

Key to increasing the involvement of Argyle’s attackers in the side was his precise passing from deep to break opposition midfield lines, finding players like Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras in space and providing them with the ball at their feet.  Fox’s total of 20 was the second highest number of successful high-risk passes in the league throughout the month, behind Carey.

All in all, Fox was instrumental in beginning to turn around the fortunes of the team. His calm passing style returned and finally boosted performances after a shocking September.

2nd: Matt Macey (10.48)

Macey’s season continues to trend downward, though the decline appears to have plateaued, yet he still claimed second place. That tells you a lot about the state of the team this season. His kicking accuracy dropped a further five-percentage-points to 15.7%, along with his catch success which fell from 62.5% to 60.0%, compared to 80.0% in August.

A major plus was that he only committed one goalkeeping error all month, more than halving the rate at which he had previously committed them, and he produced a series of good saves against Scunthorpe and Barnsley to ensure Argyle didn’t drop further points in those games.

There is little more to say about Macey that hasn’t already been covered in the two previous player of the month awards. Ultimately, he remains a player who has many areas for improvement, but because of tactical, managerial and individual failures, he is currently Argyle’s most influential player this season by a significant margin.

3rd: Freddie Ladapo (10.07)

Just edging out Ruben Lameiras (10.06) and Niall Canavan (10.00) is the League One player of the Month Freddie Ladapo. Though he won plaudits among judges who watched brief highlights of his performances, scratch a little beneath the surface and it’s clear that his overall performances didn’t really merit the award compared to others in the league. It was just another case of the player who is involved in the most goals wins – as it always is with these awards.

Though his six goals in the month were enough to propel him into third place, his finishing was far from perfect. He missed two one-on-ones against Barnsley, one against Wimbledon and another – that would have probably handed Argyle victory – against Burton. Profiting from a side more adept at controlling midfield – he can thank Fox’s return for that – the team was more able to utilise his fantastic attacking movement and put him in good goal-scoring positions.

Additionally, his poor all-round performances limited the side, leaving them reliant on his finishing. His aerial duel success dropped from it’s all-season average of 31.0% to 27.2% – taking Macey’s kicking accuracy down with it – increasing the team’s dependancy on the midfield to push Argyle further forward. Against Oxford and Wimbledon, this was hugely detrimental to the team’s performances; had it not been for a moment of inspiration from Carey to drop the ball on Ladapo’s head a yard from goal against Wimbledon, then Argyle would have been looking at two points from the opening those three games, in which Ladapo had missed three one-on-ones.

Yes, he scored the goals, but he benefited from the team, rather than leading it. Enough to come in third, yet far from a player of the month candidate. There is much more improvement required in his all round game before he will reach that stage.

Young Player of the Month: Dan Rooney (19, CM)

The young player of the month award goes to a player who only started one match for Argyle’s reserves, but with good reason. From the 10th of October, Rooney has been on loan at Truro and has performed consistently well. Well enough, in fact, to win their player of the month award. Indeed, Rooney has been instrumental in turning around Truro City’s fortunes.

Aside from that, Rooney also played in Argyle’s inaugural Premier League Cup group stage match, a 0-0 draw against Derby. Starting from the right hand-side of a midfield three, he performed very well alongside Cameron Sangster as the Greens limited their better funded and more experienced opposition. Indeed, had Argyle put away one of a couple of fantastic chances, they would have come away with a victory that would not have been undeserved.

Other nominees:

Mike Cooper (18, GK)

October was the month in which Cooper made his first start for Argyle – though it did not exactly go to plan. Nevertheless, this marked an important milestone in his development and he experienced a good October overall. He conceded just one goal in six matches, making a fantastic save to win Argyle a point against Derby County in the process.

Mike Peck (17, CB)

Previously a defensive midfielder at every level of Argyle’s youth set up, Peck was forced to start the season as a makeshift centre-back following injuries to Oliver Tomlinson, Isaac Burdon and Andrew Burn. Yet, despite their returns (except Burn, who is set to return in November), Peck has retained his place. Indeed, Peck has even graduated to partnering reserve Jordan Bentley in the biggest games of the season. This included a solid performance against Derby and his contribution was impressive as Argyle kept a clean sheet.