Derek Adams accomplished greatness at Ross County by guiding them from the third tier of Scottish football to the Scottish Premier League. He’s in pole position to achieve similar success at Plymouth Argyle, as his previously relegation-threatened club have climbed from bottom-place to within three points of the play-offs in just three months.
Adams arrived at Plymouth Argyle on 11 June 2015, after spending the majority of the previous season without a club. He’d been sacked by Ross County in August 2014, after failing to record a single point in any of his opening four matches.
His dismissal was abrupt and incredibly controversial but he patiently awaited the perfect opportunity to re-launch his career. Plymouth Argyle was the first job during his playing and managerial career that he’d taken outside of his native Scotland.
The Glaswegian made an immediate impact at Home Park by successfully reaching the play-offs in his debut season. 57,956 spectators were dotted around the 90,000 capacitated Wembley Stadium, but The Pilgrims fans left disappointed and with the dismay of having to spend another season in the fourth tier of English football.
Their defeat to AFC Wimbledon was a tough pill to swallow but Derek Adams reassembled his troops and prepared them for another season of battle. Reuben Reid left for Exeter City during the summer transfer window, but Jake Jervis and Graham Carey combined to fill the void left by their former talisman.
Plymouth Argyle’s Response to Failure
Supporters could’ve been forgiven for doubting Derek Adams at the beginning of his second season, as they slumped to two successive defeats. However, a run of fourteen league games without defeat soon guided them to the top of the League Two table by mid-November.
Again, in typical fashion, they suffered three consecutive defeats to plummet into third place. Plymouth remained in contention for the League Two title until the final day, with the form chart resembling a rainbow as they fought their way to promotion amidst an inconsistent run of results.
Unfortunately, a draw at Grimsby Town confirmed their title hopes were over, but few were disheartened by their failure to secure the title, as they’d finally marked their return to League One after a six-year absence. Plymouth Argyle were elated but could how would they fare in a higher division?
Plymouth Argyle retained the services of their most-prized players during the summer transfer window. They also attracted numerous new signings, including centre-back Ryan Edwards from Morecambe and Joel Grant from Exeter City.
The Pilgrims couldn’t have envisaged a much worse start to their first season in League One since 2011. Mood was low amongst staff, players and supporters, as a run of just one win from their opening twelve league games condemned them to the foot of the league table.
The Pilgrims’ Revival
In October, Toumani Diagouraga arrived on a short-term deal from Championship club Leeds United. Very few identified him as the saviour to their issues, but the Frenchman played an essential role in revival. It would have to wait, however, with another defeat at Portsmouth in November resending them into bottom place.
Then it began! Diagouraga scored a last-gasp winner against Gillingham at Home Park on 9 December to record just their fifth league win of the campaign. The Pilgrims would spend the next eight matches unbeaten and score the same amount of goals during that period that they’d managed in all of their opening 20 league fixtures.
Diagouraga would quickly depart Home Park to join Fleetwood Town in January but Plymouth’s rampant form continued. They suffered a minor blip against league leaders Wigan Athletic, but responded with victories over Oldham Athletic and AFC Wimbledon and promotion-chasing Blackburn Rovers and Shrewsbury Town.
Plymouth can’t afford room for complacency with a difficult home tie against sixth-place Bradford City awaiting them in late-February. Derek Adam’s men have defied the odds by accumulating six points against promotion-chasing Wigan Athletic, Blackburn Rovers and Shrewsbury Town.
The next test will be to continue their consistent run of form against the bottom-half clubs, such as Rochdale, Fleetwood Town and Southend United in March. Of course, let’s also remember the clashes against fellow play-off candidates Scunthorpe United, Portsmouth, Peterborough and Rotherham United in April.
Overall, Plymouth have a steady run-in towards the end of the season and they’re currently 10/1 on Sky Bet to reach the play-offs. I’m not a betting man, but I would suggest placing a bet on Plymouth, because The Pilgrims are undoubtedly a club on the rise…