Welcome to One Team In Devon. I’m writing this from a portacabin off the A303 as I go into hiding from my own family after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Leeds.
Leeds at Elland Road was always going to be something of a free hit. A side full of talent, most of whom plied their trade in the Premier League last season, was a tough test for our young Greens, who are still getting up to speed in the Championship.
Make no mistake, Leeds were a class above. But it will still frustrate that we could have taken something from the game, save for errors and another non-penalty decision.
There are a number of takeaways, some positive, some just head-scratchingly bewildering.
Switch in system
Schumacher opted to play a 3-4-3/5-2-3 for this game. The system generally made sense, with the aim obviously to be counter-attacking and have an extra man back to help deal with Leeds’ multitude of threats.
Cundle through the middle of a front three wasn’t the setup I expected, and it wasn’t hugely effective.
Anyone that reads these rambles every week will know that I don’t really favour large changes in the system.
We looked fairly comfortable for the first 20 minutes – but after a KKH error for the first goal it was one-way traffic for much of the first half, with waves of Leeds attacks. We looked nervous and in-decisive on the ball, and Leeds sensed blood in the water.
The lack of a focal striker meant also we were also reticent to be direct. This game was crying out for a Hardie or Bundu to stretch play.
We looked far better after reverting to our 4-3-3 when we really took the game to Leeds, when perhaps their minds were already on the next game.
Feed Waine and he will score
Waine was back warming the bench after getting a start in the draw against Middlesbrough last week – yet came on in the 58th minute and got a much-needed goal and his first at Championship level.
But the manner of the goal stood out. It was a cross into the box which he finished with aplomb. Waine has a real goal scorers’ knack, gambles on balls into the box, and plays on the shoulder of the last man – and he allowed us to be more direct when he came on.
He didn’t get much of that service in the Boro game, so I’m glad he got his goal and proved some of his doubters wrong. I’m certain he can score goals at this level, but perhaps a square peg in this system.
Decision-making on the pitch was yet again our downfall.
A decision that will likely have kept Schuey awake on Saturday night was to play KKH on the left, with Mumba on the right. After a comfortable opening 20 minutes, Schumacher swapped them over – the rationale not being totally clear. Presumably, he felt that Leeds were having too much joy down our right.
Within 20 seconds of appearing on that side, KKH had spooned a clearance to Dan James and Leeds were 1-0 up.
Unusually, the right-hand side seemed to be the cause of concern, with KKH and Pleguezuelo both enduring their worst games in an Argyle shirt.
It was a Pleguezuelo error for the second goal, carrying the ball out through the middle and being easily dispossessed when a simple pass would have done. That was despite Schumacher urging Argyle to move the ball through the wide positions.
So for all Leeds’ openings and big chances, it was two preventable errors that led to their goals.
Yes, individual errors cost Argyle against Leeds – even if you can’t argue too much with the result.
In some statistical quirk, Argyle managed an xG of 1.39 to Leeds’ 1.49 – which perhaps proves how unreliable these stats can be across 90 minutes.
But there were some more revealing numbers.
It was clearly far from Kesler-Haydon’s best game in an Argyle shirt, but also a statistical shocker from Pleguezuelo.
Pass success rates of 64% for Pleguezuelo and 57% KKH were well below their peers – and there’s no evidence that they attempted more passes.