Time to Believe

ANTONI Sarcevic’s outstanding display in Argyle’s 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers epitomises the faith that manager Derek Adams has entrusted in his team, following a difficult start to the campaign.

The 25-year old played a starring role in a memorable victory for the Greens, showing all aspects of an all-action midfielder throughout the afternoon. Antoni watched on as Ruben Lameiras punched in the opening goal on 25 minutes, before kicking off the counter-attack for the second goal with a clever flick over a Rovers player and a surging run. He then gave Graham Carey the perfect ball to cross into Ryan Taylor, who slid in to score on 37 minutes.

Sarcevic said himself following the match that great displays such as this one were not always present earlier on in the season, as he struggled with injuries and confidence. Like other players in his team, though, Adams never lost faith in a player who he believes has the potential to be one of the best in his position in the league. 

“He can do whatever he wants to do,” said Derek. “He can be the complete midfield player. He can get back. He can tackle. He can pass the ball. He can score goals. He can assist goals. In my eyes, he’s a top player that needs to believe that.

“In pre-season training I gave him the captain’s armband, and that’s why I’m happy to see him doing really well. He had a couple of niggles early in the season that affected him. He’s got through that now and he’s a main part of this team.” 

Sarcevic is not the only player to now be enjoying success personally and as part of a team after struggling early on. Whilst others may have looked to rip things up and start again, Adams has simply made minor alterations to his team and trusted the core of his squad. With just one loss in eleven games and sitting closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone, Derek’s belief is now paying him back with interest. 

“At the start of the season, we had injuries and suspensions that we had to overcome,” said Adams. “That was the reason why we were where we were. There’s nothing else to it. 

“We have shown when we’re in this division that we’ve competed against the best teams. We haven’t looked like we’ve been outplayed by anybody. We’ve outplayed teams and dealt with their threats at times as well."

One of those aforementioned acquisitions to bolster Argyle is Zak Vyner, slotting into the centre of defence since joining on loan from Bristol City. The youngster comfortably dealt with Blackburn’s considerable attacking threat, including striker Danny Graham.

“He’s quick, he’s strong, he reads the game well, a very good user of the ball,” said Derek of Zak. “We weren’t actually sure that Graham was going to start today. He obviously just played 45 minutes, but we just felt that his pace could help us. 

“With Bristol City, he’s been involved in the first team throughout the season. He’s played in the FA Cup this year and he’s played in the League Cup as well. To come out and get game time is important, but physically and mentally, he’s very strong. He’s assured, and you can see that in his performances.” 

The likes of Vyner and other Argyle defenders prevented Blackburn’s second half retaliation from producing any goals, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Yann Songo’o coming off the bench to shore things up. 

“I didn’t think they created too many opportunities,” said Derek on Rovers. “I didn’t think they were in our 18-yard box or in behind us, but they’re always capable of finding that through pass. We dealt well with it, and we had to. We showed up the left-hand side for us, we showed up the midfield, and that gave us the platform to go on and win the game. 

“The full back [Ryan Nyambe] was getting forward as well, so we just had to stop that. We were winning the game 2-0 at the time, we didn’t need to get another goal, so it was just about counteracting that problem.”