A new era is upon us at Home Park, as Plymouth Argyle close in on their new manager. An appointment seems imminent and Simon Hallett has been making all the right noises throughout the selection process. He seems determined to get it right, which bodes well going forward. As we move on from the Derek Adams regime, I’m taking a look back at his top 10 worst signings during his time, going back to his first transfer window in 2015.
10. Peter Grant
Peter Grant signed last summer after playing over 100 times for Falkirk in the Scottish Championship. The defender has only managed a disappointing 9 appearances this season which were all mainly down to injuries to other players. Although it may be slightly harsh to consider Grant in the top 10 worst signings, his inclusion is more a reflection of Derek Adams’ poor decision making. Grant showed glimpses of talent during his brief spell. He is now at Carlisle United.
9. Scott Wootton
Wootton is a product of the Manchester United academy and has since moved around the EFL wirh increasing regularity. His most successful period has been with Leeds where he made 66 apps between 2013 and 2016. He signed for Argyle on a free from MK Dons in 2018 and only played 8 times this season. He looks set to stay and the jury will still be out whether he can make an impact in League 2.
8. Ryan Donaldson
The Newcastle-born ‘winger’ was signed on a free from Cambridge United. Although he went on to make 26 appearances during his 1 season, he was released following a fairly underwhelming campaign. He is now turning out for Hartlepool in the National League where he seems to have found his level, so far making 63 appearances.
7. Lionel Ainsworth
Having signed in the summer of 2017, Ainsworth has only ever been a bit-part player for Adams managing just 20 appearances over 2 seasons. The winger showed a lot of promise during his time in Scotland at Motherwell, where he played over 100 times in the SPL. His move to Plymouth didn’t work out as well as many had hoped and he has left the club following his release.
6. David Goodwillie
David Goodwillie was something of a coup for Plymouth Argyle at the time. The Scotsman has had a career full of ups and downs, the highest undoubtedly a £2m move to then Premier League Blackburn Rovers. He only managed 2 goals in 28 appearances for Rovers and after loan spells at Crystal Palace, Dundee Utd and Blackpool, he made the permanent move back North of the border to Aberdeen.
Following another loan to Ross County, he followed Derek Adams to Plymouth in 2016. He managed 1 goal in 22 appearances but his time at Home Park came to an abrupt end after his contract was mutually terminated, as Goodwillie and a former team-mate were judged by a civil court to have committed rape. The striker is now back in Scotland playing for Clyde in the Scottish League 2.
5. David Ijaha
Having only played non-league football his career, Ijaha was given a trial at Home Park during pre-season in 2016. Then assistant manager Craig Brewster had knowledge of the player during his time at Whitehawk who were playing the the National League South. Ijaha made his debut in a 3-0 loss against Luton and went on to make 2 more appearances in an injury plagued season. He was subsequently released and is now back in non-league football.
4. Karleigh Osborne
Osborne was signed on a free transfer from Bristol City in 2016, following a decent spell on loan at Wimbledon. He was a part of the squad that triumphed over Argyle in the playoff final, although a knee injury ended his season early. He signed for Argyle the following summer and made just 2 appearances under Derek Adams. He was released the following January and is now the manager of Brentford Women’s FC.
3. Daniel Nardiello
A somewhat odd signing from Derek Adams back in January 2016, although only a loan deal. The striker made a handful of substitute appearance before heading back to his parent club Bury. On paper it seemed a good deal, with the nomadic frontman having a good goalscoring record throughout his career. The Welshman now plays for Bangor City in the Welsh Premier League and has scored 13 times in 32 apps.
2. Robbert te Loeke
The dutchman signed for Argyle in June 2017 after being relegated with Dutch side Achilles 29. He went on to make only 2 appearances between the sticks for The Greens, once in the 5-0 drubbing to Bristol City in the League Cup and the other a 2-2 draw to Chelsea u23’s in the Checkatrade Trophy. Although injuries didn’t help, te Loeke looked like a poor piece of business and was released in 2018. He has now retired.
1. Nadir Ciftci
Another loan signing, this time from Scottish giants Celtic. Ciftci’s arrival excited the Green Army – he had the makings of a big powerful front man who knew where the back of the net was – proven during his time with Dundee United where he bagged 25 goals in 68 apps. Unfortunately the player that arrived at Home Park more resembled a pack mule. He made 8 appearances without a goal and his all round play was nothing short of dreadful. Whether he lacked quality or perhaps he just didn’t fancy it, his loan was cancelled in January.
A common theme with many of these signings is the obvious injury records. Many called Derek Adams out on this and were proved to be right, especially during the 2017-2018 season which was blighted by injuries before Christmas. It is also worth mentioning the level of difficulty when finding players on a shoe string budget with little resources, but that said Adams made some questionable signings during his time. Ciftci takes the biscuit for me, an absolute waste of time and I dread to think how much of his wages the club were covering.
In contrast, Derek Adams did make some superb signings. I will be covering that in my next piece, listing his top 10 best during his tenure.