PILGRIMS vice-captain Gary Sawyer’s Home Park knowledge is helping him understand early Green Army jitters over Argyle’s winless start to the new season.
The 2016-17 campaign is not yet a week – and only two games – old but already panic buttons are being mentioned, if only to advise people to avoid pushing them at this stage.
The expectations that follow a season in which Argyle reached the Sky Bet League Two Play-off Final come with the Pilgrims’ territory, says Gary, who was assigned the club’s vice-captaincy, to Luke McCormick skippership, on the eve of the campaign.
“It is something we are both really proud of,” said Gary. “It is a great honour to be involved. Luke deserves the captaincy and I am really happy to be the vice behind him. Between the both of us, we know the club inside out; we have the feeling with the fans.
“We are probably the best suited to help the boys out, especially since we have got such a new squad and a lot of players. We know the ins and outs of the club and it’s a good thing, when you are captain.
“Playing for this football club and knowing it as well as I do, there is always going to be expectation, because we are a big club. At whatever level we are, we’re a good side, and especially at this level, we’re a big club that people want to come down and beat.
“We know there are expectations; we did really well last year and you know there is going to be that optimism with everyone thinking we can get out of this league. We all believe we can get out of this league.”
Argyle make the long-haul to Carlisle United this weekend having lost 3-0 to Luton Town in the season-opener at Home Park and been knocked out of the EFL Cup at Championship side Reading in midweek, going down 2-0. There was enough in both games, thinks Gary, to suggest that the expectations may not be misplaced.
“If you take the first half of Luton, everyone did well,” he said. “It was a bit lax in the second half, which cost us the game. I don’t think, when we look back at the stats of the game, that it was a 3-0 game. We were happy with the first half, and felt like we had one or two chances that maybe we should have converted; then it is a completely different game.
“Reading was completely different. They were a very, very good side and we struggled to deal with them, especially in the first half. Then, after they scored the two goals, the boys had to dig in and managed not to concede again – that was the bonus to take out of the game.
“It was a tough game for us, a tough draw. I think Reading could do a bit this year. We don’t come up against the movement and players they have got every week, so it will stand us in good stead. You have to be really on your game at that level.
“We got to grips with it and we had chances that, had we put in, would have made the game very close for a game that, in the first half, we were really far apart. They blew us away a bit in the first 30 minutes; there’s no hiding from that.
“You are not going to come up against that calibre of player every week so, if you can do it against them – and we managed to stop their goal-threat in the second half – we can do that at our level and we will have a lot more chance.
“Obviously, you want to get off to a running start in the league, like we did last year, but it’s the first game of the season; there are 45 league games left.
“We are confident that we can find what we need. I don’t think we are miles off; if we could have cut out the bad goals we conceded against Luton, they would not have got a goal and I felt we were the team that might have nicked a goal. It just went the other way; unfortunately, football is like that sometimes.”