Plymouth Argyle v Doncaster Rovers: The Opposition View

Plymouth Argyle boss Derek Adams
Plymouth Argyle boss Derek Adams

Plymouth Argyle have made a surprisingly poor start to the season and remain without a league win so far. 

As they prepare to welcome Rovers to Home Park, we spoke to Plymouth Live’s chief football editor Chris Errington for the lowdown on the Pilgrims.

Q: It’s been a very difficult start to the season for Plymouth. Why have they struggled so much?

CE: With only three points and five goals from their first nine league games, it is safe to say that Argyle have had a number of problems.

Key players such as Graham Carey, Ruben Lameiras and Ryan Taylor have not been on top form, as they were for much of last term.

Manager Derek Adams brought in 11 new players over the summer and many of those have yet to really impress and, defensively, they have made too many unforced mistakes and been punished severely.

Argyle have also been hit hard by injuries over the past couple of weeks.

At the moment there are 11 players on the casualty list after three players had to be substituted in the 2-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic last Saturday after picking up knocks. 

Q: What were the expectations heading into this season?

CE: Argyle probably over-achieved last season by finishing seventh in their first season back in League One.

They went on a superb run of results over the second half of the campaign and only missed out on the play-offs by one position and three points.

After getting so close to a top six finish then, some fans were expecting to achieve that this season.

Others thought Argyle had exceeded all expectations last season and felt a mid-table position would still be a good achievement this time around.

Q: Are supporters still behind Derek Adams?

CE: There have been no signs of supporters turning against Derek Adams, apart from the comments that you usually get on social media in circumstances such as this.

Under his management, they have finished the last three seasons in fifth, second and seventh - always outperforming their budget compared to teams around them.

He also showed last season that he could turn around a struggling side.

They were bottom of the table at the start of December 2017 but ended up coming very close to reaching the play-offs, so his credentials are excellent. 

Q: What style of play and system does Adams favour?

CE: Last season, when they were in such good form, Argyle stuck to a 4-3-3 formation, with Ryan Taylor in the central attacking position, with Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras either side of him.

That worked a treat but, as mentioned before, that trio have not been as influential this term and Derek Adams has tried out a variety of different formations.

For the last couple of games he has sent his side out in a 4-2-3-1, with Freddie Ladapo as the main attacker, with Carey, Lameiras and Joel Grant the closest to him.

Ladapo has good strength and pace to lead the attack. The other three will look to provide the invention and cutting edge to Argyle's attacking play.  

Q: Who are the dangermen for Plymouth?

CE: It has not been a season so far where any of the Argyle players have stood out. Proof of that is that the joint top scorers are Carey, Ladapo and centre-back Ryan Edwards with two goals apiece in all competitions.

However, Carey has proved since signing in 2015 what he is capable of as a playmaker, whether it be scoring spectacular goals or creating chances for his team-mates with skill and vision.

If he can return to the form we all know he is capable of on a consistent basis then Argyle will have a much better chance of moving up the table.