Monday, 30 March 2009

Green Arrogance

One thing that's really getting on my nerves is the sheer arrogance of Green Army supporters who believe that if the worst should happen in 6 games' time that Argyle will pulmerise League One and bound straight back up. A 6 point pasting at St James' Park being the optimum certaintly, that even if we end up losing all our best players what we have "built" in the Championship far outclasses the teams in League One.

Haven't we heard similar before? Team after team in the Championship believe it's their god given right to beat the likes of Argyle at every opportunity, that poor Plymouth are the runt of the litter and it's their right to be in the Premier League. Hmm, smacks of the same attitude really, that the likes of League One are not good enough for Argyle with their right to be in the Championship.

Notwithstanding the financial dung heap the club will be in by dropping off the bottom meaning that financially it might not cope with the lower leagues, try telling the same to Leeds fans who were just as arrogant when they left the Championship (administration aside, and that could well be Argyle on -10 points). There is however Leicester who were on 100 points by the end of winter ready to rebound following their Holloway enduced downfall. Millwall have likewise spent time in the lower doldrums. Although 2 of the league leavers have a chance of returning straight away, Colchester are languishing in Argyle's favourite place - mid table.

There are no certainties in life. It is not certain that Argyle will go down. It is not certain that they will come back up again. But it's far too early to be predicting 2009/10's table. Pride comes before a fall.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Stack-ed Off

Well, keeper Graham Stack seems to have had the last laugh as he joins League leaders Wolves on loan till the end of the season.

Stack was Argyle's first choice keeper until the run of 5 defeats back in September and some backstage politics when he disappeared off the radar altogether but has now secured a spell with the best team in the Championship rather than sitting at home with relegation hopefuls. Even if he doesn't play I'm sure he'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

An Argyle Win

Plymouth Argyle have won the Football League Family Excellence award for 2008/09. The award recognises the features that Argyle have introduced over the last two years to become more family friendly including the Family Stand in Block 1 and its associated entertainments and discounts and was judged by a team of mystery shoppers.

It makes a change for Argyle to win something, but this may rouffle a few feathers amongst those who believe football is already too sanitised. With the launch of Plymouth Argyle Disability Association earlier this year, here's hoping that overthe next two years their efforts are recognised.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Time to Say Goodbye

Plymouth Argyle 1 - 2 Burnley

Och no, Burnley didnae deserve that winning goal we wuz all over em. Tough. It's now full brown trouser time and no denying it. We'd best start preparing the place in League One, and be grateful for a skin of the teeth escape. There's no two ways about it this season Argyle have been woefully crap. From year on year improvement to plain bollocks. The omens are there: the 10th finishing team has more times than not been relegated, out of 6 relegations a team beginning with B has relegated them. Last game of the season? Barnsley.

A lot of questions will be asked, few questions will be answered. Some supporters will have got what they wanted- never mind an established Championship team, how about a high-flying League One team? Tell that to Leeds.

There's still an escape - but just like the booby traps in the pyramids - the door's closing.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Losing without even Playing

Barnsley 3 - 1 Crystal Palace

Relying on the misfortunes of others doesn't always work and tonight it proved an ill-founded idea. The win by fellow bottom leaguers, Barnsley, has meant the teams swapped places with Argyle falling 2 positions to just 2 points off the relegation zone. A win by Forest this Saturday and a loss or draw by Argyle mean that the the Greens are well in the shite (and a win the following game by Southampton would be unbearable). Let's quote the new cliche:

Saturday's game is vital!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Three - is it the magic number?

After defeat at the hands of fellow strugglers Norwich, in a pretty abysmal display, Luggy has said Plymouth need three more wins to survive, but I think it might take a little more than that. There are still seven games left and granted three victories would push the points total up to a pretty tasty 52 but Barnsley, Southampton, Forest and Norwich all look capable of picking up the points and it's tight at the bottom.

Speaking to BBC Radio Devon Luggy said: "The important thing for us is that we need to win three games,
"We need to get into the 52 point bracket if we're going to be safe.
"That puts a lot of pressure on us, but in the last three or four games we've been undefeated at home and we're going to very much have to call on the players again."

I imagine most of the Home Park faithful would be happy if the season ended now, out of the bottom three and ending a campaign that started with a lot of promise but failing to deliver. Unfortunately though, that can't happen and promotion-chasing Burnley visit on Saturday.

As a neutral (I say that but since writing on this blog I've been looking out for the Argyle scores and watching high-lights, reading match reports etc so probably not as neutral as I once was) I've had a look through the remaining fixtures to see if I can pick out where these three wins are going to come from.

The smart betting money will probably go on Burnley this Saturday but as Sturrock said, the Pilgrims have been pretty good at home lately. I don't want to jinx anything but I can see Plymouth getting a draw out of this, maybe even a win, Burnley have played nearly 50 games this season and they travel to Ipswich tomorrow night. As yet I haven't seen many signs of fatigue from Coyle's boys but all that football will catch up with them sooner or later.

The real bonus for the Pilgrims is they've got four remaining fixtures at home and three away. The away ties are against Blackpool, Birmingham andf QPR. Probably best write the games against Brum and QPR off and if they get anything there it's a bonus, but beating either is not beyond the realms of possibility. The Blackpool game in two weeks could be crucial and they have been beaten nine times at home already, this is probably the game Sturrock will want to win most but even if they are beaten there are still five games after that to salvage the season.

Home ties against Barnsley, Doncaster and Coventry all look like ties Plymouth should win on paper. Donny have impressed me this season and they've upset the sports betting odds somewhat by staying up, as they all but have. Plymouth have more quality in their side than Donny and now they've done the work they might take their foot off the pedal and be an easier side to beat. Coventry play some nice football and I'm a big fan of Coleman (anyone know why Fulham sacked him? I'm still amazed they did that), they're another mid table side and you would hope Argyle will have enough about them to beat a team with very little to play for.

The Barnsley game could be massive, it's on the last day of the season and if both teams are still in the mix it could be a real battle. The Tykes aren't a bad side and they've beaten both Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday in their derby games this season. I'm a lot happier the game is at Home Park and I think if they need too, and the fans get behind them, the Argyle should be able to see the Yorkshire side off.

I'm fairly confident the Pilgrims will be alright at the end of the season. I do think it might take a bit more than the three wins Sturrock has targeted though, but the fixture list has been fairly kind and they should be able to rack up enough points to preserve their Championship status.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

What's that Noise?

Norwich City 1 - 0 Plymouth Argyle

It's the groan that came from everyone who asked me the score today upon receiving the answer.

I was at a wedding today rather than making the godforsaken trip to mustard country and as I recived a text from the QPR fan nearing the end of the ceremony I knew it was game over. Sturrock's team has nevr come back from being behind this season, so when the news came that the greens are 1-0 down I gave up hope. And was proved right. Again.

It didnt matter to anyone who asked why or how the loss came, just that it happened and they all in some way or another said that Argyle were in the shit. Which they are. You see we can blame the ref for the Swansea defeat and gloss over the ineptitude of the team, but the black and white of it all is 3, 1 or 0 points, 1st, 2nd ... 14th, 15th ... 22nd, 23rd, 24th. Relegation dog fight? Maybe. Who really knows, but the gods are certainly not smiling on Plymouth and the very little run of wins, whom the Sturrock lovers tooks to be the greatest moment in history and burnt the doubters at the stick, is now once again far away. Argyle may not be totally in the manure, as the league position is still hovering around 17-18-19, but it is no position to look secure in.

To be frank, given Argyle's record against bottom of the league teams, who really though that today's game would be easy? And those who did were foolhardy. No game is easy. Yet another "Vital Game" has passed by making the next a "Vital Game". It's too much to take. And now Gallagher has thrown down a gauntlet to the club stating that he wishes to stay. Will certain people rise to the occasion or will the viagra be forgotten again?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Once More into the Breach

Swansea City 1 - 0 Plymouth Argyle

Yay we can blame the referee for this one, never mind that the defend deep tactics and snatch a point didn't help the situation. Swansea are a dirty team, and they played up the to referee as well as they could and they played it right - and won. A series of fouls (or dives depending on your view) saw free kicks and cards dished out like sweets, so when the referee does what you want capitalise on it. And so whenever an Argyle player got near a white shirt, down they went, out came the card and the free kick. And then there's the penalty. Williamson had already bottled a penalty a few moments before hand so when Larrieu upended the player who ran into him it was a fait accompli. It was just more surprising the there was no red card. What wasn't surprising was that the Pilgrims didn't seem to have any potential to score an equaliser (and apart from Barnes' opening attempt on goal, actaully make any attempt to get anything on target).

So with the teams around Argyle not progressing, the damage was limited. But yet again the next match is crucial. Actually, what did Luggy say? All matches are cruicial. It doesn't do much for the nerves, or the heart. Someways you can envy Charlton because they know they're fucked and any win is a bonus.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Aiming Low?

With the drastic shrinking (sorry, redesigning) of the Life Centre's facilities it appears that the Board of Plymouth Argyle are also thinking small, in a big way.

In an announcement last week at the Shareholders' meeting intent was made public of adding a cinema, restaurants and shops to the South Stand Redevelopment in order to fund it and have been seeking developers. This is great, extra revenue income for the club outside of Tuesdays and Saturdays. However, the actual ground will only gain 7,000 seats on top of the developed side (ie the Grandstand and Mayflower will be replaced by 7,000 seats). Making a ground capacity of ... about what we have now. Is this grand thinking? Showing ambition? That if Argyle ever got into the Premier League (not likely) there will be a good capacity? That Home Park could be considered as a venue for other games? Probably not. Stapleton says that "Plymouth is crying out for facilities" like shops, restaurants. Argyle might be, Plymouth is not.

Where have we come in 10 years? Not far that's for sure.

Reading Review

A thoroughly enjoyable game of football which I think we deserved to win. I know I'm biased, but we created more chances and Fallons goal didn't look offside to me. I'll caveat that by saying I'm in the middle of the Demport so I don't have the best angle.

Larry - O was solid at the back for 99% of the time. There was one incident when he could of come for a ball but chose to stay on his line. It needed Gray to put his foot through it for a corner. Larry - O would of got there easily. No blame at Larry - O for their first equaliser. Their second was down the other end, so not a great view but it looked like a 1 on 1 where you have to back the striker I suppose.

Sawyer looks a bit short of pace which surprises me as I always thought he was pretty quick. Otherwise, a good solid performance. Seip was as awesome as ever, and was well partnered by Cathcart until he had to go off. Looked like an ankle. Timar came on and was shaky at first, but grew into the game. Solid, but no more than that. Gray had a great game. Dealt with the Reading threat well enough down our right and got forward well too.

In the midfield, I thought Flether was outstanding. Nothing too fancy, but he tackled like a tiger and distributed it well. A very Nalis-esque performance. Duguid was similar but there were a few misplaced passes and some miss control from him. The absolute stand out player was Mackie. His goal was worth the entrance fee alone and I expect it to be one of the candidates for goal of the season. It was that good. The rest of the game he was fantastic as well. Didn't stop running and took off a lot of pressure by making himself available as an out ball. Judge was also superb on the other side. He caused all sorts of problems and put in some great crosses. I was surprised when he got subbed. I thought it was going to be for Barnes as he was out on his arse. Unfortunately, as soon as Paterson came on, Reading attacked down his side and scored.

Gallagher did well in the first half, played off Barnes well and made things happen. he also took his goal well which I think was set up by Barnes but I may be wrong. Fallon was out having a kick about at half time but called in by the woman who usually looks after the mascots. I wonder if Gally was still feeling the effects of whatever was making him feel ill last week? Fallon was OK, when he came on. He won more headers than he lost, so happy with that. He also showed a few good touches when laying the ball off. My only complaint is that he gives away too many fouls when in good positions.

I'm going to use a separate paragraph for Barnes. I thought he had a fantastic game. Not a MoM performance, that goes to Mackie or Fletcher, but Barnes really puts himself about, wins his fair share of aerial challenges and also has a good touch, good vision and can strike a ball too. I saw him early in the season in the Rezzies, and I thought he was OK, but nothing special. However, he has come back from his loan spell a different player. I can't see Fallon getting back into the team while Barnes is fit. My only criticism is fitness. Barnes was out on his feet at the end, he gave everything.

A definite problem is concentration at set pieces. Readings first goal was from a corner taken short which no one picked up. An unpressurised cross led to a free header on the penalty spot. Not good enough.

To summarise, an enjoyable game where we played well against a promotion chasing team. Reading did ok, and are a big side, but we made them look ordinary apart from lack of concentration at a corner, and a 1 on 1 in the second half.

A final note. We are the featured game on The Championship on ITV tomorrow morning. Make sure you watch it, or at least find Mackie's goal on the interweb. It's worth watching over and over again.

A final, final note. If we play with that attitude, commitment and performance from here on in, there is no way we will be relegated.

A very happy and proud Green tonight.

Nick (GibGreen)

Sturrock continues clawing his way out of the mire.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Scot Free

Plymouth Argyle 2 - 1 Watford

Sturrock got his get out of jail free card and the pressure is (tempoarily) off, thanks to the loan signings that the team now seems to be built around, and a referee who has friends in Plymouth. Although the match started out as the usual, the penalty decision woke the whole of Home Park up and gave the 9,000 odd spectators a treat of a game on an awful night of weather.

The second win in two games has done a lot to calm fears at Home Park, and has resecured Luggy's Messiah status amongst many of the Green Army. The Sturrock doubters have been herded up, locked in a cage and are being tortured as we speak. the pressure has been taken off, but hopefully the pressure on the players and management in regards to the game has not eased at all, because it is still all to play for and we are nowhere near safe.

In related news QPR lost - again - so yah boo sucker to James.

Tactical musings with Kevin Doyle

Its been a little while since my last post on the blog and things are looking a lot better now to say the least! The 2-2 draw with Sheffield United started something very special and the win at Wolves was just what the doctor ordered. The most important result without a doubt was the victory over Watford, bringing the two sides level on points and putting a bit more breathing space between the Pilgrims and the bottom three.

If the Wolves and Watford games were shaping up to be the start of a run it is probably a bad time to play Reading. They've drawn a lot of games recently but they ended all that with a fight-back from a goal down to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Before that though they just seemed unable to score and Reading striker Kevin Doyle said that teams had been 'frustrating' them by playing an extra man in midfield, which is exactly what Argyle will have to do. Doyle has hit the nail on the head there and I think a lot of teams have worked them out. For me Reading are easily the side with the most quality in the league and to try and match them is probably not the best idea. However, all that quality doesn't count for anything if there isn't the space to use it and getting a result out of them is not impossible. It would upset the sports betting odds but Argyle should go into this full of confidence to be fair and thanks to the last two games the pressure is off (to some degree anyway).

There probably isn't much point doing an analysis on Reading because they're pretty much the same side that got relegated last year. They do have some very good players like Doyle, Hunt, Gunnarsson etc but as Doyle said, that doesn't matter a great deal sometimes if the tactics are right and Sturrock will have to work this one out. I quite rate Leroy Lita, despite his inconsistency, but whether he'll get in the team or not is anyone's guess. I’m going to leave it there but if you're going to be doing any betting this weekend I like the look of Preston away at Palace and Swansea away at Forest, perhaps not bankers but if you’re looking for decent odds these are two to look at.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Up in Smoke

BBC Radio Devon have reported (at 14.00 today) there has been a fire at Home Park in the boiler room where the team's kit is stored. One member of staff was taken to hospital.

We can truthfully now say that ahead of tonight's match Argyle are On Fire; Luggy has lit a fire under the the players; he has ignited the flame for a win....

Any more?