Plymouth Argyle - Not To Be Underestimated
If I was to pick 3 things that come to mind when I hear the name Plymouth argyle, I would say sunny Devonshire, Paul Wotton, and the comical AVIVA insurance advert which has given Plymouth a brand new stereotype.
But despite the comical stereotypes that accompany Plymouth Argyle, this club from the quaint county of Devonshire are not to be taken lightly, as we have learnt to our peril in recent seasons.
Plymouth have had many ups and downs over the last few years, under the stewardship of Holloway they looked like a possible promotion side, with a flurry of Eastern European acquisitions such as Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar, who went on to play for Hull and Cardiff respectively. As well as the acquisition of Rory Fallon, who is currently playing for New Zealand in the world cup.
Perhaps the highlight of the clubs accolades under Ian Holloway was in the summer of 2006, one of Holloways first matches was a pre-season friendly against Spanish giants Real Madrid, a glowing performance by the 'green army` led to them being narrowly defeated 1-0 by the European giants.
A fantastic result considering they were playing against the likes of Thomas Gravesen, with Fabio Capello as the manager of Real at that time.
In November 2007 however, Ian Holloway left the club to join up with the enigmatic former Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric (famous for an ongoing spat with Rupert Lowe). Something that was considered a setback for the club after the progress made the year before when a dip in form halted a strong playoff push by the pilgrims.
The loss of Holloway paved the return of a man who will be familiar to Southampton fans, Plymouth legend Paul Sturrock, who had been at the pilgrims between 2000 and 2004 before being appointed as Gordon Strachans successor at Saints.
Of course we will all remember him for being the manager seemingly out of his depth, but is held in high regard at Home Park.
Shortly after his arrival the club lost key players such as Ebanks-Blake and David Norris. Norris was subject to a £1 million bid from Saints boss George Burley during the 06/07 season beforehand, a rumour confirmed when Ian Holloway made a scathing attack towards the Saints management.
Norris eventually joined Ipswich town.
After the January losses the club finished mid table in league 1, a 10th placed finish was still a good result for a side ravaged by other clubs, as well as losing they`re manager so early in the season. They were also the only team to score against Portsmouth in they`re 07/08 cup triumph.
The next season proved to be less than successful for Plymouth, as a poor run saw them finish 15th in the 08/09 season. With the budget limited at the club and players departing in the transfer windows, it was to be a tough campaign.
The clubs loss of key players and the effect of that was evident last season when they saw themselves relegated from the championship, some 6 years after gaining promotion.
7 consecutive losses saw Paul Sturrock move into a management role, with club legend Paul Mariner being appointed at the struggling side. Unfortunately for Plymouth, he was unable to save them from relegation as head coach.
So do Plymouth have a competitive side?
The current squad is a product of 2 different managers over 3 years, a mix of different signings has seen Plymouth become a mix of different abilities and styles of play, but it is a team that should certainly be pushing for promotion.
The team boasts of Experience, with the likes of Carl Fletcher (will be well known to Pardew from his West Ham days), seasoned defender Krizstian Timar, as well as New Zealand international and world cup participant Rory Fallon.
Former Birmingham midfielder Damien Johnson alongside Steve Maclean (formerly of Cardiff) completes the list of experienced stars in Plymouths line up.
Saints fans will be familiar with Bradley Wright-Phillips as well, the striker who joined as part of a competition prize flattered to deceive during his time at SMS. And although his time at Plymouth hasn't been much of a success either, with a new manager he may find his way into the team and regain the form he once had for us.
They don't however have a player named ''Dick van Nostrilboy'' as the AVIVA car insurance advert would have you believe.
This game will be important for all our players but perhaps none so more than Paul Wotton, the experienced midfielder is one of Plymouths most capped players in they`re history, and spent 10 years on the Devonshire coast before moving to the Saints. It is hoped that he will receive a good welcome from the travelling crowd.
Plymouth fans may also rue the loss of 2 youngsters in Jason Puncheon and Ryan Dickson, 2 players who did not make it into the Plymouth first team as regulars who will surely be keen to show they`re former club what they missed out on.
Perhaps another bad omen for us is that Plymouth have appointed a new manager, Peter Reid who briefly played for the Saints during the Branfoot era went on to manage Sunderland and Leeds, with mixed success. He has left Stoke city to become manager at Plymouth, and will be hoping to put a dent in our promotion hopes.
This is a team who we managed to steal a win against from a Rasiak scrambled goal in 06, the same season where we almost lost the away match which ended in a 1-1 draw. Plymouth have become something of a bogy team for us over recent years and beat us the following season.
Plymouth Argyle then - despite the stereotypes, should not be underestimated.
Written by Red Army Comrade for Vital Southampton.