The Green Army are becoming increasingly used to seeing their team make a horrendous start to the football season, only to turn things around come Christmas. This rally has been enough to keep Plymouth Argyle in Football League One for the last couple of seasons. But will it be enough this time around, with Argyle one of eleven (yes, eleven) teams still involved in a relegation dogfight like no other?
The problem with the Pilgrims
The reason behind Plymouth’s slow starts is not clear, with fans speculating that poor summer preparation, high player turnover and even psychological issues are contributory factors. All we know for sure is that you are likely to see Plymouth in the lower reaches of the table between August and December. At this point, Derek Adams’ side tend to turn things around by going on a spectacular run. This season, however, that run appears to have stalled, with no wins in their last four league games.
Christmas is usually a time for Argyle fans to celebrate their club becoming bankers for league wins, whereas the start of the league season in August is a time where the Green Army would be better off playing the ‘Footy Frenzy’ slot game on Paddy Power Games rather than following the team’s progress. This annual struggle sees a huge number of potential league points go to waste, and in the 2018/19 season that has left the club in a relegation scrap with five games still to play, despite an upturn in fortunes in the New Year.
What are their chances of survival?
Games are running out fast and with the Easter rush around the corner, it is time for Argyle to turn a corner if they want to stay in the division. Leading scorer Freddie Ladapo will be key to keeping Plymouth up and he has stressed the importance of the Green Army in backing the side, especially with league-leaders Luton Town still to play.
There have been clear limitations in Argyle’s squad this season, what with a high turnover of players in the summer, which could be the result of budget constraints. But this does not account for the startling drop-off in playmaker Graham Carey’s goal-scoring form this season. The emergence of Ruben Lameiras as a source of goals from midfield has perhaps papered over the cracks, but Carey seems to be more set on sitting deeper and adding to his impressive tally of assists (10), than striding forward himself. This is putting pressure on Argyle’s goalscorers and the lack of natural finishers in the squad is plain for all to see.
Derek Adams has a knack for building momentum in the team and going on impressive runs of results, which is usually enough to get Plymouth to a mid-table finish. However, the run seems to have petered out prematurely this time around and it could well be a frenetic end to what has been a familiarly up-and-down (or should I say, ‘down-and-up’) season for The Pilgrims.