It’s been a strange few weeks at Plymouth Argyle.
First the club announced that it would be looking to appoint a Director of Football to aid manager Carl Fletcher. At the time Argyle had not won in nine games and most Argyle fans were calling for Fletcher’s head. The news of the club wanting to appoint a DoF was met by a mixed bag of reactions. Some were unhappy and just wanted Fletcher to get the boot, others agreed it was the second best option behind removing the manager while a few saw it is a way of nudging the manager out the door with a replacement ready to step into the job there and then. A DoF has yet to be installed, but if news reports are to be believed, John Ward will take the role in the next few days.
The next bit of news from the club that split opinions was that of Darren Purse being placed on the transfer list for ‘financial reasons’. We don’t know if finance is the real reason for attempting to move our captain on, many seem to think it is likely that Purse has said something to Fletcher or had a bust-up with another team mate. What we can be certain about though, is Purse did not request to be transfer-listed. He tweeted that he ‘still cares’ for the club.
Purse is amongst the high-earners at the club, but his importance to the team is there for all to see. During his three match suspension we looked prone to errors at the back, but upon his return against York City Argyle kept a clean sheet for the first time in nearly three months.
Coincidentally the performance against York was another odd thing to add to the list. Argyle were without a win in nine games and heading into the match against the Minstermen with confidence amongst the fan-base was at an all time low, so it was pleasantly surprising to see the Pilgrims put in a great performance and run out 2-0 winners.
However, if Fletcher wants to win back the fan-base he needs to build on the three points, and what better way to do it with victory over local rivals Exeter City on Saturday.
Understandably, Argyle’s local pride has taken a hit in the last few seasons. The Green’s are used to being the top club in Devon but due to the financial meltdown they have seen themselves slip down the leagues and below Devon rivals Exeter and Torquay, being beaten by both along the way. This is the first real chance in a while for Argyle to give their fans something to cheer on Derby day as they go to St James Park on level pegging with their hosts, a team that is being paid and not one made up of youth players and free transfers nobody else wanted.
Obviously Exeter fans will expect their side to triumph as they sit in seventh place with Argyle 13 places behind in 20th, but the Grecians home form is amonsgt the worst in the league and their mid-season play-off place is almost solely down to strong away form.
If Fletcher takes his Argyle side into the derby with the same mentality that saw them defeat York there is no reason why they cannot get at least a point against their rivals. The more I think about it the more this match becomes a turning point in Fletcher’s career in charge of Argyle. Win and the Greens have bragging rights for the next few months, two wins on the spin and head into the busy christmas period in fine form. Lose and not only is it another defeat but it is one against our bitter rivals, fans will call for his removal with even more gusto and you struggle to see how, baring a miracle run of form, he can repay the fanbase.
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