The Numbers Game

FOR Derek Adams, there is safety in numbers – although the same cannot necessarily be said for his players.

Argyle manager Derek has used 21 players, across three competitions, so far this season. This does not include Louis Rooney, Karleigh Osborne or Jordan Bentley, who have all been unused substitutes, or Ryan Brunt, who is not expected back to fitness until December at the earliest. 

The numbers are probably not that unusual, if analysed against other teams. What may be more singular is the fact that one fancies that any 11 of those players could be used on Saturday, when Argyle meet Colchester United at Home Park on Saturday. 

There is general consensus that last season’s Argyle first 11 would be as strong as any played this season, but as a squad, this year’s crop’s quality runs deeper, and more numerous. 

To that end, the friendly competition means that few, if any, players are untouchable although the contests seem to be generating a high level of performance all round. 

“We change the team about to give us competition for places,” said Derek. “The players in the team don’t necessarily believe they are going to play every week, because there are players in the background that can take their jersey. 

“We didn’t have that competition for places last season because when I took over the football club I was only allowed to change so many things. This season I have been able to take in a better squad of players because I have been able to work the budget in a better way. 

“You have to get the mix right. You can have too many players, or the right number of players. When players see that they have an opportunity of playing, are getting that opportunity, then they can push the players that are in the side.”

EFL clubs are allowed, at this stage of the season, to add to their squad with unattached free agents, but loan or permanent transfers between teams are not allowed at this stage. Should Adams wish to augment his division-leading squad, he will have to wait until 2017 dawns. 

This is the first season with these restrictions in place, after alterations to the transfer system came into force at the start of the campaign. For some it is alien; for Derek, it is a system he is familiar with, and approves of. 

“Going into the season, having worked in Scotland for many years, the system was in place there in the top flight,” he said. “We weren’t allowed to take in loan players; you’ve got to have your squad ready at the start of the season, have cover in different areas of the team, and go for nearly four months without being able to take in players. I think it’s beneficial for the league and for the clubs because it gives a wee bit of stability. 

“People were allowed to take in players for 28 days, and to call in favours from other managers. It might have been a free loan, or not costing them a lot of money. Yes, we did exactly the same, but I think it is more professional and beneficial for the league [that they do not happen].

“Some clubs down the bottom are struggling financially. We’re not one of the wealthier clubs in the league, but we use our budget accordingly to get the best quality under the budget we have. 

“We will use the January market when it comes along. We’ve got eight or nine weeks until it opens. We’re assessing things at this moment in time. We can look at players, but clubs aren’t sure what they are doing. We have an idea of what we want to try and do, but we’ve got a very good squad, so I don’t see it being dramatic. It will be something we might just tinker with.”

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