Argyle Early Season Review
It hasn't been the best of starts for Plymouth Argyle, although there have, undoubtedly been indications of improvement.
Results in the league thus far:
Plymouth 0 - 2 Aldershot
Dag & Red 0 - 0 Plymouth
Oxford 2 - 1 Plymouth
Plymouth 3 - 2 Northampton
Torquay 0 - 0 Plymouth
Plymouth 1 - 3 Port Vale
These results have left Plymouth in 19th position in the league, with 5 points from 6 games played.
There was much of the proverbial 'buzz' around Home Park in the build up to the start of the 2012-2013 campaign. However, such feelings were quickly quashed by a resolute Aldershot side, with Plymouth losing 2-0 to Dean Holdsworth's men at Home Park on the first weekend of the season.
Argyle would then go on to, admittedly, scrape a point against a relegation-favourites in Dagenham & Redbridge, prior to a humbling defeat to Oxford United.
It wasn't until the fourth game of the season that Plymouth would get their first win on the board, with a Rhys Griffiths-inspired 3-2 win over Northampton Town.
The team then carried on their half-decent form into the Devon Derby at Plainmoor, against Torquay United, where it finished 0-0 in a closely-fought encounter.
And finally, in the most recent outing, Argyle let slip a 1-0 lead after a very encouraging first half display, to succumb to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Port Vale.
Reasons to be optimistic:
It's only rational to expect that it will take time for the players to understand and adopt Carl Fletcher's views on how we should play. Carl has been keen on the team playing a passing brand of football, with three central mid-fielders, two wingers and one recognised striker, often referred to as the 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 system. In my view, this style of play only works if the team plays quick, expansive football, where the wingers play a key role in attack.
It's also imperative that the midfield players aren't afraid to link-up with the striker and make late runs in to the box, Frank Lampard-esque.
In the early stages of this season, Argyle have been the culprits of sitting back and allowing the opponents on to them. This means that when we do win the ball back, it's often the case that, because we're so deep, we don't have sufficient options to pass to, and result to lofting the ball high up the pitch.
Now this can be seen as a definitive tactic for teams with a rangy, strong target man. However, in Plymouth's and Warren Feeney's case, we don't (until Rhys Griffiths is injury-exempt).
You may be wondering where I'm going with this, as none of the aforesaid has given cause for optimism. However, in the first half of our most recent game, against Port Vale, we ticked all the sufficient criteria in order for the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation to work. We were confident on the ball, we moved it around quickly and incisively, and most importantly, we took the lead.
After a riveting first 45 minutes, Argyle were in control. Disappointingly, only a few minutes had passed in the next 45, when Paul Wotton was forced off with an ever-worsening groin injury. This totally threw the momentum of the game, and Plymouth never regained the initiative.
This does fill me with hope, though. We took on a good Port Vale side, who are this season's League Two top scorers, and we more-than matched them for 45 minutes.
We need to take all the positives from that game into the Bristol Rovers match on Tuesday, and increase the longevity of our dominance. If we do so, I'm confident that we'll get the win that we so badly need.
My score prediction:
Plymouth Argyle 3 - 1 Bristol Rovers.
Thank you for reading,
Harley Hannan-Mattock (@PafcHarl on Twitter)