November was a perfect month for Plymouth Argyle, at least in terms of wins, with three from three propelling us up to 8th in the league and into the second round of the cup. Our month started a lot later than planned, with damage to Home Park’s roof causing the game at home to Grimsby to be postponed. A double punch of 1-0 victories at Bolton and Forest Green was followed by a home victory against Bradford. Argyle maintained a largely territorial style of play with more long balls than we were used to seeing in the early part of the season but nobody can argue with the end product.
Player of the Month: Scott Wootton (10.76)
The clear winner for Argyle’s player of the month award is that man at centre-back. As the fans say, he used to be…well, let’s just say now he’s alright. In all seriousness, his performances in November’s three games were much more than alright. He had a domineering role in the win at Bolton, his much improved aerial prowess being critical to the victory. He won almost everything in the air as well as marking his men superbly throughout.
He showed similar aptitude in the games against Forest Green and Bradford, being a crucial reason why Argyle only conceded one goal in the month. Another point of improvement for him in his passing ability. Too often in previous games (Swindon in the league is a big one), he panicked and hit needless long balls into touch that resulted in our continual surrender of possession. There was virtually no sign of this this month. Even when long balls were made, they were targeted at a certain player rather than just hopeful punts down the line or into touch. Long may the improvement continue!
2. Antoni Sarcevic (10.42)
Last month’s winner just missed out this month, but that’s no slight at all on the Northerner who is fast becoming an Argyle cult hero in midfield. As we have mentioned, a shift to a style that is less about keeping the ball and more about getting up the pitch is very suited to Sarcevic. His dynamic and energetic style keeps the play moving at lightning speed. He has shown the same pressing and movement both off the ball and on it that saw him take the October gong and he can feel a little unfortunate that Scott Wootton’s brilliant display saw him miss out on this month’s.
He took the plaudits in the Bradford game where he was heavily involved in our opening goal and at The New Lawn where his fine 25 yard strike was the matchwinning goal. Arguably though, his best display of the month was at Bolton in the cup where he seemed to cover every blade of grass twice and then some. He’s a vital cog in the new Argyle machine and is seen by many as a future captain in the making.
3. Josh Grant (9.65)
Wow…after his dismal performance in the 4-0 loss at Exeter City, few people would have thought the Chelsea loanee had any chance of sustaining his career at Argyle, still less making this list and still less grabbing a podium spot. His efforts as a centre-back were less than inspiring to say the least. He left many fans extremely underwhelmed and Argyle had a record of haemorrhaging goals with the youngster in the side.
Something changed in November: namely, his position. Defensive central midfield has been something of a problem area for Argyle this season. Joe Edwards has all the defensive acumen terrier but isn’t the best on the ball. Jose Baxter, in his spell there, had the opposite issue. Grant has combined a cool head defensively with an ability to play the ball out from the deepest role. Possession isn’t as important now as it once was but Grant has still impressed with his ability to coolly pass the ball to the creative midfielders under pressure – as well as the odd crunching tackle when it’s needed.
4. Joe Edwards (9.43)
After a series of performances in the DM role that were very much categorised as so-so, Edwards has seen a bit of a renaissance since moving back out to the wing-back role in which he excelled at Walsall among other clubs. Again, his use of the ball isn’t exquisite but in a style based more around getting the ball into the right areas, it doesn’t really need to be. His end product is still, whilst imperfect, a lot better than Joe Riley’s with a lovely dummy and finish to extend the margin against Bradford.
Where he really excels is in the defensive side of the role. He provides brilliant cover to Scott Wootton, getting back down the line very well to defend and stop counter-attacks. His levels of energy and endeavour are really impressive considering he isn’t one for pure pace. He’s made this spot in the team his own, for now. His best of a trio of good performances was probably at Forest Green, where he dealt with a heavy overload in the first half and adapted well to having to switch positions in the second.
5. Danny Mayor (9.32)
Mayor is an enigma wrapped inside a riddle for Argyle this season. When he’s played, his performances have normally been pretty good. As in, he’s rarely given less than a 7/10. Yet, strangely, there’s still a general sense around the club that he’s not yet lived up to expectations so far. As has been mentioned in the article linked above, he has had to adapt to a style much less suited to him than in September (where he had an inarguably very strong month). That and a few teething issues have meant we haven’t yet seen the Mayor Bury fans saw last season.
That said, November was still a good month for him. As well as assisting Sarcevic’s goal at Forest Green, he was heavily involved in McFadzean and Moore’s openers at Bolton and home to Bradford respectively. Even when his quality doesn’t shine through over 90 minutes, he’s a good enough player that he will still have the odd moment of magic that will win us games and those moments can really be the difference between going up or staying down this season. His performance against Bradford was his best of the month, a solid and sustained display where he covered lots of ground.
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. Players who played fewer than 15 minutes of a match do not receive a match rating unless they made a significant impact. The players are scored by a variety 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. In this way, we are ranking the impact of a player across the season. The more often they have played and the better they have performed, the more of an impact they have made on the team’s season, and therefore the higher they rank.
This way of ranking players enables us to be more impartial when speaking of the impact made by each player across a season, as it significantly reduces:
- recency bias (players who hit a spell of form often have their season-wide impact overstated because of their recent performances).
- statistical bias (players with lots of goals or assists relative to their position tend to be rated above those whose performance levels have been consistently superior but are not involved in goal-scoring, often because it is hard to visualise a player’s impact across a season without resorting to these stats. It explains why attackers, or defenders involved in a high-number of goals, predominantly receive most recognition throughout a season – we’re looking at you, Garth Crooks).
- conformation bias (fans who favour some players tend to fixate on their positive performances while neglecting to factor in their bad performances when ranking them across a season).