A Change Of Tactics For League One?
Will Argyle manager Derek Adams change his tactics for playing in League One next season?
Since arriving at Home Park in the summer of 2015 Adams has adopted a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 formation, with either one or two sitting midfielders in each formation giving the attacking players the freedom to get forward.
During the early stages of last season it was David Fox and Yann Songo'o who anchored the midfield, while the later games of the campaign saw just Fox sitting deep, these formations got the best out of playmaker Graham Carey and ultimately led to a successful season.
Several fans commented that these two formations had just one striker but Adams countered this by explaining that there were actually three strikers with the two widemen contributing to the attack by scoring goals, although in fairness the games that Argyle attempted to stifle the opposition the two wide players would play defensively and operate just a few yards in front of the full backs.
Over the season Jake Jervis, Jordan Slew, Craig Tanner and Matty Kennedy played in the wide positions and all scored goals.
It seemed the two formations were perfect for away games, as highlighted by the club record 13 away wins, but not so entertaining for games at Home Park where the opposition defence would sit deep and dominate Argyle's supposedly lone striker.
So will Adams change tactics and formations for life in League One?
Adams has shown that he can change because over the course of last season he would play three defenders and pack the midfield when defending a lead or switch to two strikers when chasing a game.
He also crucially switched to a zonal marking system when defending corners two-thirds of the way through the season. Up until that point the Greens employed a man-marking system when defending opposition corners and regularly shipped goals, in fact in the first seven games of 2017 Argyle conceded five goals from corners.
Adams used the warm weather training camp in Spain during February to train the players on how to use the zonal marking system; the result was that Argyle never conceded a goal from a corner for 15 successive games after the zonal marking system was introduced against Exeter City.
Unfortunately, two goals were scored from corners in the last two games of the season and crucially one was against Grimsby Town, a goal that stopped Argyle from winning the League Two title.
Nevertheless, the zonal marking system was a success and without it Argyle may have continued to leak goals and missed out on automatic promotion. Not many managers would make such a change during a season and it will be interesting to see if Adams uses that system in League One or reverts back to man-marking at corners.
A higher standard of football will mean that Adams and his team will need to work on several different formations.
The one player that has been lacking in the Argyle team is a second striker, a smaller, more pacy and creative player than the big strikers we currently have in the squad, a striker that is a goal poacher and can partner a taller frontman and feed off him.
Is Adams looking in the transfer market for such a player?
Adams also likes his wide players to play on the side of their less favoured foot. Kennedy is a good example of a right footed player playing on the left wing, this was used to good effect when he would cut inside and score; so will we see a change in direction in League One and a left-footed winger actually play on the left?
Will we also see a left wing-back sign for Argyle? We currently have a very good right wing-back in Oscar Threlkeld (who can also play right and left back), a good solid right-back in Gary Miller and likewise for Gary Sawyer at left-back but we don't yet have a left wing-back. This would make a big difference if Adams wanted to switch to three centre-backs plus wing-backs, it would add another string to the tactics bow.
The pre-season friendlies and early games of the new league season will give a good indication of Adams' tactics and formations but if ain't broke, why fix it!