A pre-season of mixed signals for Argyle fans

As I stood inside the Tesco in Dorchester, paying for the energy drink that I hoped would pull me out of the bewilderment that came with just watching Plymouth Argyle lose 5-0 in a pre-season friendly to Yeovil Town, I was tapped on the back. I turned around to see a middle-aged man dressed in Yeovil colours, he had not come to gloat though.

Instead he said “I reckon your (Argyle) mid-table at best this season mate”. I agreed with him before he continued to say “It’s funny, I was watching BBC South West the other day and your chairman was promising a big wage budget for you to spend, but it doesn’t look like you are using it!”.

And with that the man left, having just unknowingly echoed the feelings of many an Argyle fan.

There are now only 25 days until the 2012/13 season kicks off, and with each day that passes the Green Army are becoming increasingly worried. The signings we have made so far in Paris Cowan-Hall, Jamie Lowry and Rene Gilmartin point to little more than a season of mid-table obscurity, which would be fine with large parts of our fan base after the last few seasons. But why promise such things as ‘a competitive budget’ and ‘going for promotion’ when so far our actions in the transfer market have not mirrored what is being said by the Chairman? It is becoming increasingly frustrating to believe some of the statements coming out of the club.

What really worries me though is that we might actually have a weaker squad now than the one that we ended the 2011/12 season with. The loanees we had, Ashley Hemmings, Juvhel Tsoumou, Alex MacDonald and Steven Fletcher will not be returning to the club whilst captain Simon Walton was released by mutual consent to move back up to his native North of England to sign for Hartlepool. Controversy was never far from Walton in his time with Argyle and some fans will be glad to see the back of him, but he was a key cog in our survival in the football league last season, finishing as top goalscorer – a statistic which includes some dramatic last minute penalties to win us a couple of vital games.

The last thing that Argyle fans want in the coming season is another relegation battle, but with the performance against Yeovil being so poor and the decent striker that our squad is crying out for still not with us, some are already beginning to dread the approaching campaign. It is not as if Carl Fletcher is not trying though, he revealed a few weeks ago he had missed out on transfer targets as they have gone to clubs higher up the football pyramid who could offer bigger wages to the players in question.

Despite the dismal display against Yeovil I still think we are going to be a mid-table team. The Glovers already had two pre-season games under their belt before they faced us, whilst it was our first outing of the summer. They are of course also a division higher than us. Going on that showing they will not be involved in the League One relegation battle this season, something which they have seemed to taken part in every season now for what seems like forever.

If we want to lift ourselves away from mid-table and towards the play-offs this season then we are in dire need of a striker or two, and a winger. Our current main strikers, Warren Feeney and Nick Chadwick, work hard but won’t score more than 15 between them in a season. We will have to wait and see if Paris Cowan-Hall will find his feet at this level whilst young Matt Lecointe is unlikely to start more than a quarter of our games unless he becomes the next Nick Powell.

It’s just a shame that James Brent has been making noises about promotion because it looks unlikely. Had he said nothing about it then the majority of Argyle fans would be happy heading into a blissful, relaxing season of mid-table ‘mediocrity’. As it is there are parts of the fanbase that are, to put it politely, far from pleased.

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