Pre-season: Good, bad or ugly? Plymouth Argyle's pre-season got off to a rocky start as our 2012/13 player of the season, Onimor Bhasera, chucked the trophy in our face as he seemingly fell off of the face of the Earth. The hint was duly taken. John Sheridan, whose iron fist and no nonsense approach to management saved our season last year, wasted little time with the petulant idiot and focused on building/fixing the makeshift squad he inherited from Carl Fletcher. The club’s potential is clear for all to see as we were able to attract CEO Martyn Starnes from Championship newbies Yeovil Town. Out of our five fixtures there were three wins, 365 minutes without conceding and even a goal of the season contender from our 16 year old midfielder Ryan Lane. Finally the sunshine may be returning to the south of Devon.
Hopes for the season: The dream of course is promotion, but personally I’d love to see a positive cup run finishing at Wembley.
Fears for the season: Not many Pilgrims could handle another relegation battle. There’s always the lingering nightmare that things haven’t changed and the snowball deterioration of the club over the last five years will never come to an end. The sheer thought of relegation sends shivers down to my nether regions.
Absolute bare minimum you’ll accept: League survival. Despite an aura of optimism, there is no mistaking the competitive nature of League 2 or the whole of the Football League for that matter. If push came to shove, and we were *shudders* in another relegation scrap then we have to survive plain and simple. I can’t see that the club would stay afloat outside of the Football League.
Fixture you’re most looking forward to? With the three Devon clubs plying their trade in League 2, there’s no lack of derby days throughout the season. If the Premier League is predominantly full of London clubs, then League 2 is for the West-Country. This season also sees the return of the dockyard derby, a fixture scheduled to be live on Sky Sports on October 12th as Pompey visit the Pilgrims. The reverse fixture of this tie falls on the final day of the season, and the stakes could be huge! But, my most anticipated fixture of the season has to be at home to E*%&er. It’s a crying shame the Football League organised this one to be a midweek evening game, but it’s always satisfying whatever time or day to smash your rivals at the Theatre of Greens.
Got the right manager?Absolutely! Sheridan took us from bottom of the league to play off form and that ultimately saved us. I’d hate to work under him, he seems a real hard nut, but it’s apparent he strives for the best from his players. For any footballer wishing to seek their potential, you need a manager to drive you to that and take anything less as a disappointment. Hard, but fair - finally the man to do the job.
By Christmas you’ll be… Somewhere between 1st and 24th.
Player you’d most like to sign? David Norris. A fan favourite from 2002 until he became a transfer market casualty in order to balance the books in 2008, Norris is the all-round midfielder we have lacked since his departure. He’s shamefully out of favour at Leeds currently too, so if you’re reading Norris give Sheridan a ring, please.
Which player should we look out for? It’s difficult to say with so many new players coming in. Lewis Alessandra sent the travelling Pilgrims at St Andrews in the League Cup mental, Romauld Boco was a fan favourite at Accrington and Marvin Morgan a tall striker with plenty of goals alongside his experience. Instead, however, I’ll pick a player from our bench, but he’s one of our own. Having risen through the ranks since joining Argyle’s centre of excellence aged 9, Tyler Harvey is already a fan favourite after only 11 appearances. His senior debut was as a second half substitute against Torquay on Boxing Day 2012. The passion he showed that day, chasing every ball was encouraging, but he put the icing on the cake with a stoppage time equaliser to grab a much needed draw. He may be third choice striker behind Reid (League 2’s Emile Heskey) and Morgan, but I’m confident he’ll be effective as an impact player.
Which player would you love to ditch? One of the reasons I love Sheridan so much already is that he has ditched the players I had begun to loathe. Bewilderingly, Nick Chadwick is still a player we can’t give away.
Opposition hate figure? This one will spark controversy. Luke McCormick. His shameful actions will haunt him forever, and perhaps he does deserve the stick he’s bound to receive. He appears to show full remorse and he did serve his time, so why shouldn’t he do his job? However, the past cannot be undone or altered; he’s responsible for the loss of two children and the destruction of two families. It’ll be a debate among many. Although no one should be taking joy from the fact they can shout abuse and have a sing song at him over what happened.
Tell us something we don’t know about your club? In 1973 Brazilian giants Santos FC arrived at Home Park for a friendly match, along with a 5’ 8” Brazilian giant among their ranks. The one and only Pelé did tuck a penalty away against us, but it was futile as we, in the Third Division, beat one of the greatest sides in the world 3 – 2!
What won’t happen this season? One thing I can guarantee won’t happen is a repeat of what Bradford achieved last year in the League Cup, having already been knocked out by Birmingham. There’s always the JPT though…
Favourite chant? I love Molly Malone. A traditional Argyle chant adapted from a Dubliners’ classic to fit Britain’s Ocean city instead. “In Plymouth's Fair City, Where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone, She wheels her wheel barrow, through streets wide and narrow, Singing *clap**clap*, *clap**clap**clap*, *clap**clap**clap**clap* ARGYLE! *clap**clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* ARGYLE!”
Where will you finish? I’m confident of a top half finish. I doubt we’ll challenge for automatic promotion, but we’ll be there or thereabouts around the playoffs.
Any other news? Thursday 15th August sees the planning committee in Plymouth meet to hopefully green light a £50million development at the club; which includes building a brand new stand to replace our beloved, but admittedly dated grandstand. The area surrounding the ground will see further commercial development also, including a ten screen cinema (including IMAX), an ice rink and hotel. A Nando's and dentists are set to be put in there somewhere also. So there’s always somewhere to slump off if we’re 4 nil down at half time, but if it means money, stability and growth for the club then I’m keen and they have my vote. Exciting times wait around the corner, watch this space.