First of all, how have things been at Rovers since we last spoke?
From memory the last game we had was the FA cup came at Argyle where we fluked a win with Anssi Jaakkola pulling off one of the best saves I’ve ever seen live!
Since then Rovers have hired and sacked Ben Garner, sold our best player, turned over half the squad and hired a certain Paul Tisdale. I’m sure he’s looking forward to seeing you at the Mem on Saturday! As usual never a dull moment at Rovers.
More specifically, how have the club dealt with the disruption caused by COVID?
Oddly we have weathered it pretty well. Our board were working on measures to make us more sustainable before the pandemic that have softened the blow. Also, our owner writing off the debt the club had is absolutely huge. We’ve also completed phase 1 of the training ground (this is a much bigger deal to us than to other clubs) so we should come out of the other side in decent shape. We’ll certainly have weathered it better than a lot of clubs.
On the field, what have you made of your season so far?
Up until last Saturday I would have said it was an unmitigated disaster. Garner brought in a lot of signings that on paper looked like would really improve us. Names like Ehmer, Baldwin, Oztumer, Westbrooke got fans really excited for the season.
Unfortunately the results didn’t follow and he was sacked after we lost at home to Fleetwood which left us just above the relegation zone.
Tisdale was swiftly appointed and we lost against Swindon and then drew to Wigan in our next two league games which for a new manager bounce wasn’t the best.
We then battered Darlington 6-0 in the FA cup and last week demolished Wimbledon 4-2 at Plough Lane. Hopefully that is a corner turned as against Dons we played some really positive attacking football that Garner was brought in to provide.
And what would you say your ambitions are for the rest of the campaign?
Fans expectations have been up and down, but I’d say we’d be happy with mid table at this point. If we play like we did against Swindon and Wigan we’ll be down there struggling, if we play like we did against Dons then we could be right up there.
What sort of tactical style do you expect to set up with on Saturday?
Tisdale has been struggling to find his best team and system with every game having something slightly different. He’s also made tons of changes during games to try things out as he’s only had two weeks at the helm and something like 5 games. It’s been a bit mad for him.
I expect us to line up as we did against Dons. Flat back 4 with 2 holding midfielders. Then a fairly fluid front 4 diamond with Hanlon at the tip, Westbrooke at the base and Oztumer and Nichoson on either side. They will switch around a lot, but we’ll look to attack through those 4 primarily.
Mostly on the deck, mostly trying to get those front 4 in the game. Width to be provided by Leahy at left back and Ehmer at right back.
And are there any real weak links in the side you’re worried about?
Set pieces are our Achilles heel this season. I don’t have the stats, but it feels like at least once every other game we concede from a set piece.
We are vulnerable on the counter as our defenders aren’t the quickest and Ehmer is a centre back playing at right back.
What have you made of Argyle’s progress since we met in the FA Cup last year?
I went to uni in Plymouth and they are my second team so I keep an eye out for your results and progress. I’m chuffed you got promoted as a Plymouth away day is always my favourite!
I think Argyle are a championship club. They should be anyway. Now you have hospitality facilities in the Mayflower stand you should be pushing on.
Bear in mind when I was going 2007-09ish you were in the Championship and pushing to try and get up. Those were the days of Sturrock, Ebanks-Blake beating up a bouncer outside of the candy club on union street with his mrs’ handbag. You know the good times!
What are your predictions for League One in general this year?
Looks like the expected teams will be up there, Hull, Pompey, Posh, Ipswich, etc. Lincoln being up there has put the cat amongst the pigeons. I’m gunna stick my neck out a little and say Fleetwood could go under the radar this season. I like the look of them.
At the other end, the usual suspects plus us and Oxford at the moment. I think we’ll pull clear so will Oxford. Wigan are in a sorry state and might not even see out the season. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that!
I can’t see any real shocks this season. Sunderland to bottle promotion again is on the cards.
And finally, what is your prediction for the game itself?
I’m going confident for the first time this season and saying Rovers will win. You’re in a horrible run of form and I think we can take advantage. Rovers 2-1 for me.