We’re already nearly a third of the way through Argyle’s return season in the Championship. It’s been an interesting start, and many Argyle fans will feel that the team should have picked up more points than the 15 currently attained. Argyle sit 19th at present, six points above the bottom three but only eight away from the play-offs. The Championship is a competitive league, and there’s much to be optimistic about still.
With that in mind, I’ve taken the time to review all the new summer signings so far. Today, it’s the turn of the midfielders so I’ll be discussing Lewis Warrington, Luke Cundle and Finn Azaz’s start to the season. This includes players who were here last season but have either moved back on loan or permanently. I’ve weighed up each player’s season so far and included some base information about their performances, followed by a rating out of 10. All statistics are solely for Championship games.
Lewis Warrington – CM – Loan from Everton – 2 Appearances – 0G – 0A
I think that the less said about this one, the better, unfortunately. In the Championship he has played just 55 minutes across two games, starting only the infamous 4-1 defeat at Bristol City. Aside from that, Warrington has made the bench for every single other Championship game and not played at all. Unfortunately, that says rather a lot for his future at the club. Do not expect his loan to be renewed.
This means that we have very little to judge him on. In the EFL game against Crystal Palace (the best sample size we have to judge him) he played well as a DM. Though, so did Ben Waine and Tyreik Wright and neither of those look like Championship footballers either. It was a bad sign when, in the recent game away to West Brom, Schumacher opted to move Adam Randell to the deeper role when Jordan Houghton went off and brought on Luke Cundle instead. That Schuey prefers to mess about with the structure than play Warrington should tell you a lot. Perhaps underwhelming loan spells at Fleetwood Town do not make you competent second tier footballers. Who knew, eh? A waste of a loan spot. Expect him to be back at Everton by January. 2/10
Luke Cundle – CM – Loan from Wolves – 12 Appearances – 3G – 2A
Luke Cundle was one of Argyle’s more promising loan signings as he arrived late in pre-season from Wolves. This followed a promising spell on loan at Swansea City, a competent Championship team known for playing good football under now Southampton boss Russell Martin. In the Championship this season he has played in 12 of 13 games, though only started five. Despite his variance in minutes, his three goals and two assists make him Argyle’s third best contributor behind Morgan Whittaker and Ryan Hardie.
Technically, Cundle looks extremely comfortable at this level and it’s easy to see why a team wanting to play good football would want him. Another youngster, aged only 21, it’s easy to see why Wolves would be high on his future. He is a high-volume high-success passer of the ball who connects well in all phases of the pitch, his versatility has been particularly useful. Able to play in a more advanced attacking midfield position despite being somewhat limited athletically or a deeper, more standard central midfield role alongside either Houghton or Randell. His consistency and variability have made him a useful signing to boost the squad this season. 7/10
Finn Azaz – AM – Loan from Aston Villa – 14 Appearances – 2G – 2A
Azaz returned on loan again for the season from Villa following his successful spell in Argyle’s title winning League One team. In League One, Azaz averaged a goal or assist every 127 minutes (18G/A in 2294 minutes) and looks just as dangerous at a higher level. Capable of match-winning magic, Azaz is a player who looks as good as any player in the league when things are going well. When he’s having a rough game, he’s one you wonder how he gets selected so much.
I always think of Azaz as a high-risk, high-reward player. He is going to make decisions that will either infuriate you or make you leave your seat with excitement. It is easy to say that a player of his nature needs to iron out his inconsistency when the reason for that inconsistency makes him so great. In this sense, he’s a player who has gone out of fashion in recent years as managers prefer players who are more safe and able to retain the ball. A throwback to the more maverick players of the last few decades, he’s a player I often thoroughly enjoy watching play. I would imagine his value and asking price from Villa has increased based on his second loan spell at Home Park. A very positive addition to the team. 8/10
The Verdict – 7/10
This rating might have been even higher if one third of the midfield signings had not been complete duds. You might think the rating of 2/10 to be harsh, but if Schuey isn’t giving you any minutes even when the guy you are understudying is injured, it’s time to be concerned. Thankfully, the success of Cundle and Azaz means the midfield additions have been mostly beneficial to the strength of the squad. To quote Meat Loaf, two out of three ain’t bad.