Plymouth Argyle Season Preview

plymouthThe Football Lab interviewed Plymouth Argyle fan Callum Scaife, ahead of the new season. You can follow him on Twitter @ScaifeyPAFC. Here, Callum discusses the club’s situation at boardroom level, the importance of keeping Luke McCormack free from injury, and why Reuben Reid will be a key player for the club next season.

The ownership situation is a topic that seems to have caused a lot of controversy at Plymouth. What do you make of things at boardroom level?

It’s fair to say that we have improved a lot in the board room. We’re a lot more stable that a few years ago, we were extremely close to liquidation so to have an owner and board that are being careful about our financial situation, is a huge relief. The only issue now is the new grandstand and the date it will be built. We have been promised a date many times, but it just keeps falling through and it’s getting the fans very impatient.

Before Luke McCormack’s injury, Plymouth were conceding 1.07 goals per game, and 1.45 after. Will it be important to get the goalkeeper fit next season?

Despite all of the controversy, Luke is a fantastic ‘keeper; possibly the best in the division. He has the ability to pull of wonder saves and keep us in many games. His replacement this season (James Bittner) seems decent but nowhere near the Luke McCormick standard. Luke is happy at the club where the majority of the fans get behind him every minute, he has been made club captain and in my opinion it is vital to keep him fit.

Defender Durrell Berry and midfielder Andres Gurrieri were almost never out of the matchday squad from April onwards. Are you surprised both have left?

I wasn’t surprised that Berry left, despite being offered a new contract I had the feeling he would leave. Rumours were that he wanted to be closer to family in the midlands. He is a decent player but Kelvin Mellor has so far been an excellent replacement. Gurrieri has lots of passion for the club and was a decent player, but Sheridan didn’t rate him as high as the fans did so I am not surprised that he left. The big shock was the releasing of Luke Young. An excellent player who loved playing for Argyle, many fans were baffled when he was on the released section of the retained list. Torquay have made a huge gain in him.

Carl McHugh, Peter Hartley, Kelvin Mellor sign from Bradford, Hartlepool and Crewe respectively. Was it necessary to add to the defence?

It was. With Berry leaving along with Branston, Blanchard, Parsons and Trotman, our defence was left extremely bare. However, since Sheridan has added to the defence, it is probably one of our strongest areas on the field. They are all proven players who will hopefully help Luke keep many clean sheets this season.

Young left-back Ben Purrington has had his contract renewed. Is he a player to get excited about?

Definitely. Since he made his debut at Oxford last Boxing Day, he has been terrific for us. Without a doubt our best left back in a while bar Onismor Bhasera. Purrington will have many scouts on him and one day I’m positive he’ll be a big name. He’s still young now, but he’s one of our most reliable and safest players who the fans love.

Swindon’s Lee Cox was the first signing of the summer, but at the same time, playmaker Conor Hourihane has gone to Barnsley. How will these changes affect the midfield?

When Cox played for us on loan two seasons ago, him and Hourihane formed an extremely dangerous partnership which most fans were excited to see again this season. However, Hourihane has since left and left the fans pondering as to what who his replacement will be. Oliver Norburn has since signed a year deal on a free transfer from Bristol Rovers and so far in pre-season, him and Cox look like a solid partnership, which is very promising for Argyle fans.

Loanee Reuben Reid netted 17 times last season, which contributed to 33% of your overall goal tally. You must be delighted he’s signed permanently?

Most definitely. He had a dodgy start at the beginning of last season, when signing on a season long loan from Yeovil, and pretty much every fan slated him and questioned why he got picked every week. But, when he scored a few, he turned into a fantastic striker who the fans now adore and chant his name even if he misses a shot. We beat many clubs including Portsmouth to get his signature and many fans, including me, are extremely delighted that we’ve got Reuben. He can be a very dangerous player and a huge asset to Argyle.

John Sheridan seems the type of manager to bring in players he’s worked with before. Is there any potential for favouritism?

Not at all. Sheridan does seem to bring in players he knows and can get the best out of, but he is also the type who knows when someone is or isn’t doing well and he won’t be afraid to mix up the team to try and get 3 points. He does whatever he feels is right for the team.

With most bookmakers, Plymouth are at around 9/2 for promotion. Where will you finish?

It’s hard to judge with other teams also bringing in quality players for League 2. However, we have a very strong side and I feel that we will be up around the play-offs this season. Who knows? We could even potentially challenge for the top 3, we’re capable enough of it.

TFL Verdict

If Plymouth can replace Conor Hourihane’s creativity, they will be competing for promotion. 4th