11th January 2017
SOME, if they were the manager of a Sky Bet League Two side that had just drawn with a Premier League giant, would be spouting rhetoric about trying to be normal.
Not Derek Adams.
It is not that Derek would not like normalcy to reign over Home Park this week. It is just that he is too pragmatic to believe such a state is possible.
Argyle have just drawn 0-0 at Liverpool in the Emirates FA Cup, and are still the talk of the land in many ways. The eyes of the footballing planet will return to the Pilgrims and the Reds on Wednesday, January 18, when they battle out a replay game. Meanwhile, locally, there is much clamour for tickets for the game.
It would be easy to forget Argyle continue their League Two promotion push this Saturday, when Stevenage are the visitors to the Theatre of Greens, such is the continued hype on Liverpool.
Derek will steer his players back to the duty required of them, but it not pretending for a second that all is as it always has been.
“We can’t,” said Derek “It’s impossible. There’s so much happening around the football club, everybody sees the queues in the car park. We sit and have our lunch and see the amount of people that are here, we hear the phones ringing all the time. It’s not going to be easy.
“We know, as a team, we have done very well in the league. We know that Stevenage are coming here and we have to play this game – Wednesday will look after itself.
“When we played in the Premier League every game was the same, we had publicity. When we got to the Scottish Cup final we had publicity. You’ve just got to try and keep it as normal as possible. I know it isn’t possible.
“It’s not normal. We’ve got a whole city with people talking to you [about it]. You see billboards; the television screen in the city centre said ‘Good luck’; there is media coverage sin local press, and the nationals as well.
“It’s a big result we’ve had.”
Big for Argyle, big for Plymouth, big for the Westcountry. When Argyle ticks, thus goes the city and the area.
The draw with Liverpool has caught the imagination; it can be felt walking down a Plymouth street, or frequently a local hostelry. “See the match?” they say, then talk about Argyle is a positive way. There was a time when that did not happen for years.
“There’s a buzz around the city,” said Derek. “and it’s going to be a very good night next Wednesday.
“A draw at Anfield has helped the football club. It’s generated some publicity for Argyle and the whole of Plymouth.
“I’m delighted about it. The city is awakening again. It’s important that press, on the world stage, has looked at Plymouth Argyle: who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done, how we’ve been able to draw 0-0 at Anfield.
“It helps tourism and everything else in this part of Devon.
“The game on Sunday was beamed all over the world. There were so many television outlets. That’s beneficial to the club. The supporters, on Sunday, nearly 9,000 of them, made a great impression on Liverpool and for the TV audience, because they sang and supported their team for 90 minutes.
“Last year we got to the play-off final at Wembley and it was a terrific occasion. This time we’ve been able to take our team to Anfield, get a draw and take them back to Home Park. We’ve given them the best of both worlds, because usualy you get the draw at home and then go away from home. We’ve done it the other way around.
“We’ve got a very good core following, and I think a lot of people will start to jump on the Plymouth Argyle story, because of how well they’ve seen us play and defend in the first game.”
In some quarters, including those commentating on the game live on BT Sport, there was a belief that Argyle, in attempting to contain a match day squad that saw seven internationals enter the pitch, as well as many future stars of the game, did not ‘come to play’.
In their opinion, Argyle should have tried to attack more, to take the game to Liverpool, to put on a spectacle.
Derek is not buying their logic.
He said: “You go to Anfield and play against a squad worth over £100m and set up in the best way for your football club. The best way for us to set up was to allow Liverpool to have the majority of the ball and to ask them if they could get the better of us.
“People are entitled to their opinion, but I am the manager of this football club, and going to Anfield in front of 54,000 people, you’ve got to realise the tactics and how you are going to get a result at the end of the day.”
Was there another way of going about it and achieveing a result?
“Not really, no. I think the way we went about it, we created two very good opportunities in the match, but they have got players that have played international football; played in the World Cup, in the heart of midfield; a goalkeeper that is worth £5m.
“You don’t go toe to toe with a £100m side if you are worth zero.”