Doncaster Rovers: ‘They are good enough to stay up’ – the opposition view on Plymouth Argyle
Locked in the battle for survival that has engulfed the entireity of the bottom half of League One, Plymouth Argyle head to the Keepmoat this weekend.
The second half of the campaign has been much stronger than the first but they remain in danger of the drop.
We spoke to Plymouth Live’s chief football editor Chris Errington to get the lowdown on the Pilgrims and their survival hopes.
Q: Though the season picked up after that difficult start, it’s not been as strong as recent years for Argyle? What do you put that down to?
CE: Argyle are finding it hard to compete financially with other sides in League One.
While they are averaging close to 10,000 crowds in League One this season they do not have a benefactor to provide the sums of money that many of their rivals have to spend on players - either signing them in the first place and then retaining them when they have performed well.
Simon Hallett, who has become the club's majority shareholder and chairman this season, has injected around £6.5m into the redevelopment of the Mayflower Grandstand at Home Park.
Once that is completed, and it is scheduled to be in the fourth quarter of 2019, there should be significantly more revenue from the new banqueting, conference and hospitality facilities which can be put towards the first team budget.
Q: Has Derek Adams come under any real pressure this season?
CE: There was a period, not long after Rovers' won 3-2 at Home Park at the end of September, when some fans started to turn on Derek Adams, but they were very much in the minority, and the board of directors have always had a lot of faith in him.
For example, they gave him a new five-year contract last summer and also handed the title of head of football, so he has a very large say in all football decisions at Home Park.
Q: Are you confident of survival at this point?
CE: They have got good enough players to do so, particularly the attacking trio of Graham Carey, 17-goal top scorer Freddie Ladapo and Ruben Lameiras but they need to tighten up defensively after conceding eight goals in the last four games.
The bottom half of the table is so congested I don't think anyone can say with total confidence that they will definitely stay up.
Argyle have tough games coming up against Doncaster and Barnsley, at Home Park on Easter Monday, so they will have to raise to the challenge of playing two of the top teams in the division.
Otherwise, the final couple of games of the season, away to Accrington Stanley and at home to Scunthorpe United, could be hugely important.
Q: What system and style of play does Adams currently favour?
CE: Throughout his time as Argyle manager - and he is the ninth longest-serving boss out of the 92 Premier League and EFL clubs after being appointed in June 2015 - Derek Adams has always played with one central striker.
Last season it was Ryan Taylor. This term it has been Freddie Ladapo, with Carey and Lameiras either side of him, often but not exclusively in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
However, Adams has shown more of a willingness to match up to opposing sides recently.
For example, Argyle played a midfield diamond in their game against Charlton Athletic at Home Park last Saturday.
It worked well for a while as Argyle had the better of the first half but they conceded a goal against the run of play as half-time approached.
Charlton then added a second soon after the interval and, despite trying a couple of different systems, Adams could not find a way to get Argyle back into the game.
Q: Who are the danger men for Plymouth?
CE: Rovers fans will, I am sure, remember Graham Carey from the 2016/17 League Two promotion race, when he was outstanding for the Pilgrims. He remains a catalyst behind a lot of their best attacking play.
However, Ruben Lameiras has really come to the fore this term, in his second season at Home Park. Argyle's dramatic upturn in results post-Christmas came about when he got a regular run in the team and went on a goalscoring spree.
Lameiras is technically very good on the ball, always tries to be positive in everything he does and can weave his way past opposing players with some amazing surging runs.