When I got the call-up to do this particular MFW preview, I knew that Ashley Barnes would feature prominently in the content, but had no idea that the context would change – and for all the wrong reasons.
Plymouth Argyle surely became the club every true citizen of East Anglia fell in some form of unknowing but blissful love with as the Pilgrims as they went toe-to-toe with both the Binmen and the Owls throughout the first five months of 2023 and produced, yes I’ll say it, a major shockwave by beating both to the EFL League One Trophy.
Wednesday fell away to let the Binners in but Plymouth had done their job by us – with apologies to some readers, who I know consider the Derby a necessity, more because of its recent history than anything else
Interestingly the Pilgrims managed a points total of 101, which gallant little Ipswich matched in terms of goals scored.
Barnes unfortunately picked up what looked very much like a serious knee ligament injury against the Foxes of Leicester on Wednesday evening and certainly will not be fit enough for tomorrow [Saturday].
We’re left in serious hot water with a chronic lack of available strikers
This leaves Norwich in serious hot water with a chronic lack of available strikers for what might be loosely called the medium term.
Head coach David Wagner plays seriously hard to get over injury issues. Indeed we have yet to hear what I would call a definitive picture regarding the position of Marcelino Nunez and when he might return from an ankle ligament injury, and that happened while he was playing for Chile against Uruguay fully a fortnight ago now. Nunez is thought to be back after the next international break, btw.
Returning to Barnes and adding the ankle ligament injury Josh Sargent sustained against Huddersfield, there can be no denying our form is suffering a bit and will continue to do so until both are back in tandem on the grass.
And now what would have been nice had our Ashley been able to play tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll be at Home Park in one way or another as Plymouth was his very first Football League club where he scored his very first league goal and he recently notched his 100th against Millwall at Carrow Road in August.
All Wagner is prepared to say at the moment came in a brief chat with BBC Radio Norfolk after Wednesday’s defeat to Leicester:
“It looks like a ligament injury, He needs a scan. I can’t say much more until after that. I won’t worry about it until I know more details.”.
At this point I really ought to say a few words about Bali Mumba but now I have seen how Dimi Giannoulis and Jack Stacey are operating between Shane Duffy and Ben Gibson in what is adventurous for a flat back four I’ll freely admit that my MFW colleague Stewart Lewis is spot on after all – this is the way Wagner wants to do it and it seems to work really rather well.
The only issue for me is that we might have got a bit more for Mumba than we did but I’ve always found it tres difficile to estimate a transfer from the Championship or even the PL to League One. There are loads of them but they don’t grab the public eye enough by which to form a primitive personal database, I guess
In the Championship Plymouth have been like a very confusing Curate’s egg
So how have Plymouth fared on their return to the Championship?
Well, they’ve been like the proverbial Curate’s egg I suppose, as with some extra, incredibly bad things thrown in along the line for good measure if that offers any perspective at all.
The defeats so far have been quite predictable, including a defeat against Southampton back in August before Russell Martin had his side truly stuttering:
- Huddersfield Town [H], 3-0, Win.
- Watford [A], 0-0, Draw.
- Southampton [H], 1-2, Defeat.
- Birmingham City [A], 1-2, Defeat.
- Blackburn Rovers [H], 3-0, Win.
- Preston North End [A], 1-2, Defeat.
- Bristol City [A], 1-4, Defeat.
Mind you, that win over Blackburn makes me think Plymouth must have something about them at this level. I’m not sure exactly what that something is, but they are not an easy side to beat as we know all too well.
So that gives Plymouth Argyle a less-than-fabulous total of seven points from seven games and a not-so-lofty perch of 18th place at the end of September.
At Carrow Road, the ground was filled with various forms of expression of negative thought delivered by a choir of highly-charged larynxes last season. Not so far this season because the faith is being kept. As it flippin’ well should be the way we’ve been playing, what with one of our two most influential players on the missing list and the other one about to join him on it.
And even though we will be left down to the “bare bones” of Adam Idah and Hwang Jo-Ui on Saturday, our supporters were not despondent after Leicester and most far from it. Plymouth followers are anything than happy following their shellacking by Bristol City on Tuesday evening, as reported in PlymouthLive.
“Steven Schumacher’s 21-month tenure as Plymouth Argyle manager has been full of highs, most obviously the magnificent 2022/23 League One title triumph with 101 points. However, on the occasions when it has not gone according to plan for the Pilgrims, it has gone wrong quite badly at times.
“The latest example of that was the 4-1 Championship defeat by Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Tuesday night when Argyle conceded two goals in the opening eight minutes.
Clearly there is never a good way to lose a game of football, but this is embarrassing
“Later in the first half, with the visitors trailing 3-1, there were cries of ‘this is embarrassing’ from sections of the 3,000-strong travelling Green Army, and Schumacher did not disagree when asked about those songs in his post-match Press conference.
“Clearly, there is never a good way to lose a game of football, and Argyle under Schumacher always look to play an attacking style, but more heavy defeats like the one against Bristol City will do their goal difference in the Championship no good at all.
“Schumacher has a superb 58.2 win percentage as Argyle manager in league games, with 46 victories out of 79, and there have also been 14 draws. There have been just 19 defeats, but in five of them the Pilgrims have conceded four goals or more.”
And do you know what? I reckon our travelling supporters might just give us the edge in this one!
Morale cannot be very good at all at Home Park and this will be the first meeting between their players and their fans since Tuesday in Bristol.
I hope the atmosphere gets openly frostier by the moment because we all know what that will mean.
I’m going to let myself off for this one because they did write some good pop songs until they completely sold out and this is what the travelling Y’Army simply have to do on behalf of the rest of us on Saturday: