Are Plymouth Argyle a one-man team?
That is a question that has been asked in several quarters in recent weeks as the Pilgrims’ run of improved results has coincided with an upturn in form for last season’s top goalscorer Graham Carey.
The 28-year-old Irishman has been pretty much back to his brilliant best in the past few games, either scoring or assisting in Argyle’s last five goals heading into yesterday’s very difficult trip to Bradford City, who the Pilgrims face twice in under a month at Valley Parade after drawing them in the second round of the FA Cup.
Carey had netted three of them, with spectacular strikes against Shrewsbury, Blackburn and Grimsby, and set up the other two to help Argyle to two wins and three draws, but he was missing for yesterday’s trip to Yorkshire, having picked up a fifth yellow card and a one-match ban in last weekend’s cup triumph over Grimsby Town.
However, despite his absence, the Pilgrims triumphed 1-0, thanks to a Jake Jervis goal and a superb penalty save by Remi Matthews, making it six games unbeaten and seeing them climb off the foot of the League One table.
I did highlight in this column last week that Bradford had the worst home league record of any of the top-eight sides, and the Pilgrims capitalised on that in front of a superb turn-out of 770 travelling fans.
That should put to bed any fears that Argyle cannot cope without Carey, but he is still a very important player for them, and such has been his form that he has been named the Sky Bet League One Player of the Month for October.
Plymouth manager Derek Adams said: “He’s had very good form in October, and into November as well.
“He’s had a good number of assists in the matches, and also a few goals as well. He has come back into form at the right time. He’s been a big player for me at this club, and I’m delighted he has won the award.
“His overall game is improving all the time. He has a very good work rate; he works very hard in training and takes it into games. He wants to create chances for other players, and he has a very good goalscoring ability as well.”
Carey said: “It’s a testament to the form we’ve been showing as a team and me individually as well, so I’m really happy.
“I’m not afraid to shoot really, the manager gives me the green light to take on shots and recently they’ve gone in so long may that continue.
“Everyone in the team is important, we’ve started slowly, including me, my form at the start of the season wasn’t great but now we’re starting to pick up and I’m playing a bit more of a wider position, with a bit more freedom and licence to attack.”
Sky Sports’ EFL pundit Don Goodman said: “Carey is going to be so vital to everything that Plymouth do this season, and his goals and assists have gained some crucial points for the Pilgrims. With a knack for scoring incredible goals, keeping him fit and firing for the remainder of the season will be one of Derek Adams’ number one priorities.”
Sky Bet EFL trader Mikey Mumford said: “The Pilgrims have picked up valuable points in October and while Carey’s sublime strikes against Shrewsbury and Blackburn hit all the headlines, his three assists mustn’t go unnoticed.”
It is deeply insulting to the other players to suggest that Argyle are a one-man team. For example, the upturn in form has also coincided with the arrival of central midfielder Toumani Diagouraga, who is yet to appear in a losing Argyle side. He has been a calming presence in the centre of the pitch, breaking up play and keeping things simple, while Yann Songo’o, be it at centre-back or in midfield, has been magnificent.