The fixture against Preston sees Argyle and Schuey pit their wits against Ryan Lowe for the first time.
It’s added focus back onto Ryan Lowe’s legacy with the fan base – and the words and feelings associated with that time.
Football runs on pantomime villains and acrimony, with former players and managers either given the round of applause mark of respect – or near total derision to the point of abuse. In football, there’s no in-between.
In this post, we look at the Ryan Lowe legacy at Argyle – and argue that whatever went on after his departure – he should still command the respect of the Green Army. He came – and he moved up the leagues – and he brought Steven Schumacher.
But ultimately, we should stop caring (and singing) about Ryan Lowe.
The ultimate PR manager
It’s hard to think back to how bleak things were post-Adams – but that relegation was a low point in our history. It wasn’t just the relegation, but how unnecessary it was – with some of the most talented players the club has seen on the pitch. It was a sad end to the Adams and Carey eras.
I was on the terraces for the opening fixture of the 19/20 season – the first Lowe game in charge. It was remarkable for the fantastic atmosphere and the limbs for Callum McFadzean’s overhead kick opener will forever stick in my memory.
We were back, and we were good. And we savaged Crewe in the opening 45 minutes.
It was curious that Lowe’s name was being sung before his first game had even kicked off. He’d come in, changed the narrative, and lifted a club and a fan base. He was the antithesis of Adams – and it was just what we needed.
A couple of games were excellent, albeit followed by a sticky patch after the honeymoon period – and he misjudged the mood around the Exeter derby badly.
But the football was so much better than under Adams. It was free-flowing, exciting, and forward-thinking – he brought a new philosophy and identity to Argyle – which would later become the aspect that turned fans against him.
There was, of course, was so much talk. Comments about Danny Mayor being better than Carey were early warnings for the fans. Lowe had a habit of making big statements, even if they bore little resemblance to the truth.
An acrimonious exit
It all came tumbling down in a rather chaotic exit.
We should point out that Argyle wasn’t blameless in the manner of his exit – and the club showed a ruthlessness that could in some way explain Lowe’s terse comments afterward.
Hallett immediately employed Schuey as Lowe’s replacement. Before Lowe had even formally resigned.
The club statement is a work of art. It barely mentioned Lowe’s departure, focusing on Schuey as the new manager. There was no post to say Lowe had left. And to some extent Lowe and his achievements were written out of the narrative.
“I couldn’t go out and say what I wanted to say in terms of thanking the fans or whatever. I was advised to come off social media. They announced him on the Tuesday before I had even resigned,” Lowe said after the dust had settled.
Lowe hadn’t even been unveiled as Preston manager and Argyle had already moved on. Part and parcel of football yes, but utterly ruthless from the Argyle board and PR teams. The ultimate PR manager had been outplayed.
If Lowe was as good at reacting to in-game situations as he was at giving soundbites, he’d be managing in the Premier League by now.
The manner of the exit
So Lowe heads to Preston and in turn, releases a load of quotes that seals his fate with the Green Army.
It’s full of inaccuracies and self-congratulatory statements that border on the delusional – but I do think some of his comments have been misunderstood.
The main quote that sticks in the craw of most fans is that Argyle had “no identity” before his tenure. An insane thing to say.
“I’m always proud to win promotions, proud to bring a style of football and an identity.
“Plymouth didn’t have an identity until we turned up there. Now I’ve got to bring that style and identity to Preston, which is my main focus.”
But in terms of *football identity* he’s not wrong. What was our footballing identity under Adams? Sh*thousing away wins and grinding out goalless draws to Liverpool? What was it under Sheridan? Do we look back to Luggy for identity? The football was crap and had been for years.
But there’s no question that Lowe was (and is) ego-driven. He made the success at Argyle about himself.
And he can’t help himself. The comments he made about crowd sizes were incorrect (that Argyle averaged 7000 before he arrived, when it was nearly 10,000), and he made up what league we were in before he arrived.
“What I did, and as you well know I love the place down there, I brought it up from rock bottom of League Two, me and the staff not just me, I brought it to the levels of where we wanted to get to,” he told Preston club media.
“I’d like to think I’ve turned the football club around from on its knees to the levels it’s at now. That’s not just me, it’s the staff and board of directors, and everyone associated.
Even in the most recent press interviews, he managed to slide something in: “They’re a good little outfit,” he said. Even in a gracious interview, he adds a little needle.
And that’s because Lowe is a modern football fan – as well as a manager. He’s regularly spotted following Liverpool, and he understands the relationships between fans, managers, and rivals.
He understands how fickle we football fans are. The same people cheering the fist pumps at the Devonport when we were winning, are those who sneer when he does the same at Preston.
Lowe was the ultimate PR manager – whose tactical thinking and ability on the pitch was never as sharp as his actions on the sidelines.
The fist pumps, the semi-choreographed bust-ups with Bristol Rovers’ Joe Dunne. If Lowe was as good at reacting to in-game situations as he was at giving soundbites, he’d be managing in the Premier League by now.
But he brought the good times back – and best of all – he brought us Steven Thomas Schumacher.
Lowe will get a full-throated vociferous reception from the Argyle away end at Deepdale on Saturday – and he’ll love every minute of it.
We’ll sing that song – but perhaps, afterward, we can finally move on.