IT has been a very happy return to Home Park so far for Craig Tanner.
Since his return for a second season at Argyle on loan, Craig has made one substitute appearance, at Blackpool, followed by three starts. The Pilgrims have won all of those games.
Craig was heavily involved in the two goals that saw off Exeter on Saturday. He drifted to the left to race down the wing and cross to Paul-Arnold Garita, who teed up Graham Carey for the opening goal, before Tanner slid Garita through to double the Pilgrims’ advantage.
This followed Tanner’s cross for Jordan Slew to smash home Argyle’s second the previous weekend, when Argyle saw off Cambridge United, and a goal scored in an earlier start, in a 4-1 win over Newport County in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Patience and hard work seems to be paying off. Not only did Tanner have wait for his chance – which he seems to be taking – but he admitted that he had identified some of his weaker areas of his game, and diligently worked to improve them.
“I came back here and I knew I had to work on my end product,” said Craig. “There’s always things to work on; hopefully my stats show that I’ve worked hard and analysed about my game. I’ve had three starts, three assists, a second assist and a goal, so I think I’ve started the season off alright, and there’s hopefully more to build on.
“I don’t think anyone can expect to walk into a team straight away. I have to prove myself not only to the lads, but also to the gaffer, Wottsy and Brew that I deserve to play. Hopefully I’m doing that now.
“The most positive thing to take is that I didn’t miss a match day squad throughout [last season]. For a young player to have the wear and tear of a long season, and to be available for every selection was massive for me. I didn’t miss a day of training. That’s something I can take away, knowing that my body has adapted to mens’ football.
“I think it’s put me in good stead for this year. I went away with some things I knew I needed to work on, and some things I tried to get better at, and I think it’s showed in my early games. More maturity, and more of an end product.”
When thrust back into the starting 11 for the game against Cambridge, Craig was tasked with forming a partnership with Garita, playing off the shoulder of the big Cameroonian.
Tanner’s inclusion in what is often termed the ‘number 10 role’ meant a shift for Argyle’s actual number 10. Carey, so often the Pilgrims’ talisman, has been operating off of the right flank, but the switch has not had a negative effect. He has proved equally effective from his new positions, scoring in each of the last two games.
“My favourite position, where I think I am best, is behind the striker,” said Tanner. “I can get on the ball, turn dribble and pass. I can get more involved in the game and not drift out of it at times. It’s the position I enjoy the most.
“Graham and I are both capable of playing those positions. My natural position is at number 10, and that’s where I’m playing at the moment, but if he wants me to play on the right, the left, at left-back, I’ll play anywhere. I’m not really fussed.”