It’s two for the price of one at One Team In Devon this week – and after the glory of six goals against Norwich, it’s now just one point from a possible six.
In a way, it feels like we’ve entered a new phase of our Championship life. From the rollercoaster of the first few games, it feels like we’re now settled into our rhythm.
Escaping the MKM with a point didn’t feel as noteworthy as the one against Watford back in August.
And getting beaten at home against a
good effective Millwall side, while frustrating for several reasons, also doesn’t feel like such a big deal. We learn and move on.
Read on for our learnings from another week in this crazy league they call The Championship.
(Nearly) Mauled by the Janners
Every game this season feels like it’s been so full of events and drama, every issue of One Team In Devon has been full of learning.
The game against Hull felt like something of a turning point, in the sense that Argyle managed to weather a late storm to escape the MKM with a point, where before they had crumbled.
Argyle were often expansive in attack at times, but the 3-4-2-1, which was retained from the Norwich game, seemed to offer more resilience than in previous away games under the 4-3-3.
It’s only natural that away from home, holding the game against a good team, Argyle would have to weather a late storm. But unlike against Southampton and Birmingham, Argyle held firm.
That was mainly due to the excellence of Conor Hazard, who pulled off three saves in injury time to keep the scores level. Two of the three were regulation, but the second stop, with his feet, was a world-class save.
Backs to the Millwall
Back in the previous issue wrapping up Norwich, we wrote that Schuey might revert to the 4-3-3 in the face of teams that wanted to sit back at Home Park.
With Millwall the first Championship team to come and offer enough respect to be happy with a draw, and injuries in the third centre-back position, it wasn’t a huge surprise that he chose to go back to a back four.
It’s a bold move ditch the 3-4-2-1 that had previously yielded four points from a possible six. And in hindsight, it felt like the wrong decision.
Slipping back into the 4-3-3, it was stark how stale and unsuited we felt to the system.
Whittaker didn’t have a great game and didn’t look comfortable with his boots back on the touchline. Millwall easily played him out of the game for the most part, doubling up and relentlessly refusing to let him cut onto his left foot.
And on the other side, Mumba was fouled on sight whenever he cut in.
So Schumacher’s aim to use 4-3-3 to bring more attacking bodies into the mix didn’t pay off, with Azaz and Hardie doing most of the attacking work.
Azaz started the game strongly, without scoring. But once Millwall were ahead after Argyle switched off from a break in play, breaking them down was near impossible.
Would stretching play with wingbacks, and having Whittaker and Azaz in the #10 position have made up more creative? Who knows, but it would be brave of him to line up the same way again against Swansea.
It was another lesson in Championship football from Millwall. Again, that it’s better to be effective than easy on the eye – and they schooled a slightly naive Argyle in how to set up away from home.
In a way the ultimate away performance – not as easy on the eye as Argyle – but far more likely to bring home three points. Would you want to watch that every week? Answers on a postcard.
Bundu looks good
If there’s one bright spark from a muted and under-par Millwall game it was the appearance of Bundu.
Far from the big man up top, Bundu started on the wing, picking up from the ineffective Whittaker, and showed a silky touch and a turn of pace that got Argyle ticking in combination with Cundle.
A rocket from a tight angle forced a save that could easily have fallen to an Argyle player.
And as he moved alongside Hardie, his quality touch excellent movement of the ball, and awareness of space showed the attributes that took him to Anderlecht.
He looks like a really good pick-up, and we’d love to see some more game time in the coming weeks
Ian ‘Bomber’ Harris – RIP to a true green
I had a spot in this week’s episode carved out for Ian ‘Bomber’ Harris, a true Green, who was raising money for life-extending cancer treatment.
Sadly, Bomber lost his battle this week, and was honoured with an emotional minute’s applause at Home Park on Tuesday night, with play stopping to observe what was a truly poignant moment.
I didn’t know Bomber, but my heart goes out to his family and friends.
A group of fans and Bomber’s friends marched 26 miles to Home Park on Tuesday, to raise money for Bomber’s cause. You can still donate here.