Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Hero to Zero

Plymouth Argyle 0 - 2 Bristol City (McIndoe 62, Fontaine 86)

Back when Sturrock was appointed I said that you should never go back, and that he risks damaging his heroic status at the club, and that's precisely what has happened.
Back in September when we were really in the relegation zone Luggy managed to pull off a wonder stroke that silenced his critics, however since that time things have been steadily going down hill with a catalogue of wrongs: his signings have proved poor - they're either permanently injured or were never picked or have 'attitude problems'; his tactics have become more and more negative and more and more absent; team moral seems to have gone through the floor and the displays of apathy by the players getting more frequent; his press interviews have become more negative ("I hope that player is not here by the end of the window"); his passion has gone.

Now we can blame this on his Parkinsons, that as his illness progresses he is becoming a weaker person, but why persevere if you're not up to it? Unfortunately the negativity has transferred to the fans who are not bothered any more, for many the 'sparkle' has gone. This in turn reflects in the lower gates and poor atmosphere and is used as an excuse by the board to cut spending and apportion blame.


Last night's rain played match was pathetic, though it may be something that City were held out for so long, but at 1-0 down did anyone really expect a come back or was 2,3,4-0 a more realistic possibility. It's certainly what I texted by new QPR fan friend in his mid-match ribbing. The team last night and whatever tactics there should have been were all wrong. But there's going to be no change, the transfer window slams closed in a few days and there is no sign of anything coming in whilst our flare players are clambering to squeeze out. It's a make do and mend situation.

Sturrock does have a pedigree, he's got 4 promotions and no relegations to his name, so he has the ability background to turn it around, many are convinced that we will survive but only because there are worse teams in these 10 bad games we have not moved from 15/16th in the table. But that is not good enough. There is no way Sturrock will be sacked by his bum chums so he has every opportunity to return from Zero to Hero.

Just be quick about it please. Or I'll join my mate at QPR. It sounds much more fun.

Monday, 26 January 2009

My musings on the bottom end of the Championship

It's been a little while since my last post on To be a Pilgrim and unfortunately things didn't go too well in the Forest game. I thought Forest might have a bit about them, Billy Davies is still a good manager in my eyes despite that spell at Derby (though to be fair, any manager would have found keeping that side in the Premier League).

Next up though come Bristol City. They're only a couple of points above Argyle in the league and a win would see the Pilgrims leap-frog them. Last season they had a great one obviously, but I always thought they were punching above their weight a bit I have to admit. They've got a few decent players like Nicky Maynard, Bradley Orr and Marvin Elliot but they haven't looked as good as they did last season and are a beatable side.

I know Argyle have been on a bad run of late, stretching back to that defeat against Blackpool. I don't think relegation talk is necessary just yet. Before the weekend I thought Blackpool were going to slip down into it because they lost so many players that had been there on loan but then they go and beat Birmingham 2-0! That ruined my betting picks anyway, probably ruined a few other peoples selections as well. In truth Birmingham were pretty poor in that game from what I've seen and did not look like a side pushing for promotion.

Another football betting tip for relegation candidates are Norwich City. They look pretty poor and just don't seem to pick up results. They might have battered Barnsley last time out but those kind of score-lines are few and far between for the Canaries and they will be lucky to stay in the league with the way they have been playing lately.

Charlton look gone, probably not much point even discussing them to be honest. When I have watched them play they look like they've been unlucky in some encounters but you can't blame luck all the time. I watched Forest beat them and Charlton were all over them before Forest scored but as soon as they did their heads dropped and it was all over.

Jeff Stelling presents countdown now, brilliant move from Channel 4 - not sure about his co-host though, she's no Carol. Anyway, the point I was going to make was Jeff introduced a contestant and said 'he likes football.... He also likes watching Southampton,' which leads me on to my next point. Southampton are prime candidates for the drop, they've got a young squad, no money and they've only won once in their last ten games - prime relegation material.

Doncaster have won their last three games and held Villa to a credible 0-0 draw in the FA Cup. I didn't see that one coming to be honest! Still, they might fight their way out of it now and as long as it's not at Plymouth's expense then good stuff I suppose, I always have liked to follow the underdog.

There are a couple of other teams I haven't mentioned yet, Watford, Barnsley, Derby and Forest. I think Derby and Forest will probably stay out of it now, along with Barnsley. As I said earlier I think Plymouth will stay out of it, this run won't go on forever. Watford don't look particularly good and could go down though. I'm going too leave it there anyway, I've waffled on enough already! Good luck to the Pilgrims at the weekend and let me know what you think about relegation candidates.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

It's That Time Again

For the Football Fanzine Awards 2009.

FFC Banner

Thursday, 22 January 2009

FFS

Footballers.

What is it about them that turns them into complete idiots. Well we all know that the 'jocks' are not the academic ones at schools, which is probably why many of our countries footballers appear as thick as shit.

And you cannot get much thicker than Shane-White this week who decided to turn the clock back to last summer and emulate Luke McCormick when he was
caught driving under the influence. To happen once in a club is a tragedy, twice is incomprehensible. McCormick was sentenced to imprisonment for his role in the death of two young children when his Landrover crashed into the car carrying them on the M6 last summer, killing the two boys and severely injuring their father. Do we never learn?

History has shown that the human race are perpetual failures and 'lessons will be learnt' are never fulfilled, yet for such a tragedy to happen on our door steps, and a colleague of McCormick to be in similar circumstances is beyond words. Argyle players have done nothing to give the club any good publicity in recent years - from Seip's Union Street brawl to Shane-White. This once 'family run club' has been tarnished by such ill discipline. And goes towards showing that footballers think they are above the common people. OK, you can argue that Shane-White is not a First XI player but are we (as a club) trying to produce our versions of Gerrard or Ronaldo or Barton? If they are the type of players we want our children to idolise then it's yet another reason to be out of the 'football la-la land' that the Beautiful Game has built around itself.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Green or Brown

Nottingham Forest 2 (Earnshaw 24, Anderson 51) - 0 Plymouth Argyle

To follow Argyle you can be one of two people: a green tint or a brown turd. Apparently there's no in between (a clear crystal??). From today's game a brown turd will be complaining about Sturrock's tactics, the players inability, the board's lack of money and signings and worrying about relegation. A green tint will shrug it off as one of those football things and believe that this level is the best Argyle have ever been, that the board are keeping the club solvant and Sturrock won is 2 championships. I suppose I fall more into the shit.

After today Argyle have won 1 in 9 league games with 2 draws. So a total of 5 points out of a potential of 27. Well is that really good enough? Not really, it's statistically worse that the start of the season with 5 defeats and people were really starting to howl from the roof tops. Yet because we have some points in the bag, everything's ok. Well it's not. There are only 6 points to the drop zone. Well they're going to be filled by Southampton, Watford and Charlton so we're safe. Are we? Who knows what will happen in the next 3 months. You cannot rely on the misfortunes of others, which is what Argyle really have made their forte in the last few years. There's no movement on the transfer market, there's players sat round that Sturrock publically says he doesn't want, which doesn't do their saleability any good - who would by something the salesman says is shite and doesn't want? There's no money to buy anyone and Sturrock has no clue what to do with who is here at the moment.

But hey ho, everything's going to be fine. Even if we go down we'll be a big fish in a little pond and will be in the runing to come back up again. Will we?!?! Doesn't that logic seem slightly flawed? If we can't compete at this level now, why should we want to come back up again and go through the debacle all over again? The third tier of football has probably changed since we left and it might not be the easy ride some people expect.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Forest at the weekend and a few Championship picks!

This is my first post on 'To be a Pilgrim' and I'm delighted to be here. It would be foolish of me too start writing about Argyle too their die hard fans so I thought I'd concentrate on this weekend's opponents Nottingham Forest and see if I can offer any football betting tips along the way.

I watched the highlights of their game with Charlton last week and although they won 2-0 that score-line really did not reflect the game. Charlton wasted so many chances to open the scoring it was ridiculous. They had at least four decent opportunities to take the lead but somehow missed when it would have been easier to score! The only way to describe that game was a mugging. In terms of attacking threat they rely heavily on Rob Earnshaw and if the Plymouth defence can keep him out they should keep Forest out.

They are a strange animal to predict at the moment though Forest. They've just got a new manager in Billy Davies and even though he was sacked as Derby manager when they were at the foot of the Premiership I still rate him as a boss. No one could have done anything with that woeful Derby side, as Paul Jewell showed, and Davies surely has a point too prove. They also beat Man City in the FA cup, which should give them a boost but I still feel this Forest side is very beatable.

I don't think there is any point underestimating the importance of this tie. A win would put more distance between the Pilgrims and the bottom three. However, a loss would bring Forest to within three points of Argyle and I expect Forest to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season - so the further Argyle are from them the better!

I'm going to leave this game well alone in terms of my football betting tips this weekend, purely for the fact Forest are so unpredictable. My home picks from the Championship this weekend are Coventry and Crystal Palace and I'll go for Barnsley and Sheffield United away - not the bankers perhaps but should have some decent odds. I hope you all have a profitable weekend and the Pilgrims get a result.

Fame at Last

I had the honour of being contacted by the owner of Manchester United's blog to give the Pilgrim's view on 'boy wonder' Craig Cathcart's stay at Argyle.
Using choice quotes from the members of Argyle Talk.

Craig Cathcart. A Pilgrim's View.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

You say Hello, I say Goodbye

Transfer window time again and it's half way through. So what has happened at the good ship Mayflower?

Well most obviously that Stack is no longer welcome at Home Park by the frank statement issued by Sturrock (Stack For Sale) in which he says he hopes that Graham will no longer be here by the end of the month. Stack started as first choice keeper before being dropped following the run of defeats that saw the Greens relegation fodder in September. And that's where he stayed. Unlike any other player who was dropped, Stack has never appeared again - even on the bench. What has gone so badly wrong? Some online forum members publicly brand him a 'Twat' following unsubstantiated rumours that he is a bad influence in the changing room.

Then there's Walton, the latest dudd "big signing" wheeled out in the summer to appease the fan's annoyance at there being no transfer movement for the biggest deal ever, and then nothing. Taribo West anyone? Unlike West Walton at least featured in some games culminating in his red card at Barnsley which saw him transfer listed for, effectively, insubordination.

And the Mpenza, another dudd flash signing who has features very little since his unveiling due to injury and then in the main just a 10 minutes here or there. This is a pivotal month says Sturrock in order to prove his worth (well, Paul pick him first) or it's the door. Again.

And not forgetting Marin who left by 'mutual agreement' to return to France who couldn't cope with Championship style football. Another waste of time, effort and money.

Sturrock says he's be very disappointed if no one came knocking for any players. Well we are a selling club after all and he does seem to have a lot of players he wants to get rid of.

And at the other end of the scale what have we got? Another loanee from Manchester United, Gray, who if hopefully is on the same scale as Cathcart can only be a good thing. Well he did get straight in the team for the Arsenal game, but then he did score an own goal.

The excuses however have come out as early as the 6th January that it's too cold to see any games. Instead Sturrock has resorted to the old fashioned telephone apparently. So will there be some panic buys in the next few weeks? Why are we so crap at this?

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Off!

Plymouth Argyle - Crystal Palace, Saturday 10 January, 15.00
Postponed due to frozen pitch

Due to the recent ongoing subzero temperatures the pitch at Home Park has frozen to significant depth for the referee to delare it unplayable at today's morning pitch inspection.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Two Heads Better than One

Not a new operation to make Rory Fallon a better striker, but a change to To be a Pilgrim. This blog has been running for just over 2 years (really?) and at times I've not been able to devote as much time or interest in it as I would like and thus it can get a bit stale. However, I am pleased to welcome a new guest author onto the team in the form of Gareth Freeman, who is an Online Sports Writer for Betfair. Betfair's sports blogs (betting.betfair.com) have been described by Soccerlens.com (another big football blog) as "head and shoulders above the rest in terms of providing useful betting advice to their readers". Gareth will be posting his views on Argyle and the Championship a couple of times each month and I'm sure he will be giving us a good insight into what the country think of the Pilgrims.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Arse

Arsenal 3 (van Persie 46, Gray 50 og, van Persie 84) - 1 Plymouth Argyle (Duguid 53) FAC3

Well it's over, no more than was expected but a great day out for Plucky Plymouth.

9,000 Green Army members made the mass exodus journey to The Emirates, the largest away crowd to grace the new stadium, proven by the lack of facilities - the Gunners had to open parts of the ground that had not been used before, and the lack of sufficient toilets caused a talking point and a bone of contention when many fans missed three goals due to queuing. As were the travel arrangements of coaches littering the surrounding streets and Tube stations closures, London were not prepared for 48 coaches, 1 official train, 1 extra express train provided by First Great Western plus numerous other regular service trains and countless other vehicles converging from across the country.

The Arsenal were expecting to totally run roughshod over the small club and were very annoyed to be drawing 0-0 going into the break due to the remarkable skills of keeper Larrieu. They soon turned that round by scoring 2 within minutes of restart, one being an own goal by new loanee and d├ębutante, Gray. Whatever mistake he made, he immediately took the ball up the other end and allowed the skipper to start the Green come back. Much to the angry annoyance of the Gooners supporters. Things started to come apart for the Pilgrims in the second half as Arsenal went on to stick the knife in with a third, ending the game. But it was more than anyone expected.

Sturrock made 6 changes to the team that he fielded against Cardiff, including his newest player, Gray along with McNamee, Gallagher (who picked up an injury forcing his substitution) with Folly and MacLean warming the bench, and it worked fairly well.

But now the magic is over. Time to concentrate on the league. (Ha!)

Friday, 2 January 2009

All Aboard

Due to demand, First Great Western are supply an extra train tomorrow departing Plymouth at 7.30 and Paddington at 19.45. All seats are unreserved.

http://www.pafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10364~1506276,00.html

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Babylon

Argyle are set to kick off the new year by signing another loanee youngster, David Gray from Manchester United. The 20 year old is due to complete formalities this week in order to stay till the end of the season. 'Greyhound', Gray's nickname due to his speed, has been mainly playing in a full back position has an attacking instinct and is available for selection at this Saturday's FA Cup match.

In related new as we say hello to Gray, we say goodbye to Marin who has had his contract terminated by mutual consent having only played half an hour and made one start since August.