IF you were to attend a match that involved Ryan Lowe’s side last season, it is likely that you would have experienced a range of emotions. Boredom, though, would not have been one of them.
In his first full season in management, Lowe’s Bury side stormed to promotion in Sky Bet League Two, outscoring every other side in the division by a considerable margin. Employing a bold 3-1-4-2 formation, Lowe set his side out to attack, presenting opposition managers with a tactical quandary – go toe-to-toe with Bury’s considerable firepower, or shut up shop and hope to blunt the Shakers’ swords?
As you might expect with this gung-ho approach, the season threw up its fair share of topsy-turvy games. With 18 minutes to go in a clash against promotion rivals MK Dons, Lowe’s side found themselves 3-1 down – but the Liverpudlian’s never-say-die attitude was reflected equally in his players, who netted three times in the closing stages to seal a remarkable 4-3 victory.
That 4-3 scoreline did not occur in isolation. In fact, there was a pattern of similar results all campaign. Bury put four past Accrington, and five past another League One side, Oxford, on their run to the Checkatrade Trophy semi-finals, where they eventually fell to well-resourced Portsmouth. In league football, meanwhile, you were as likely to see Bury score four goals as you were to see them fail to score, with each eventuality occurring six times in 46 games.
It is not hard to see where Lowe inherited his all-out-attack methodology from. A long and distinguished career as an EFL striker, in which he notched 172 goals in all competitions, tells only a fraction of the story. As a junior, he rubbed shoulders with goalscoring greats like Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool youth set-up – and has remained close friends with the Rangers manager and Merseyside hero ever since.
His attacking philosophy has drawn praise from some of the best-regarded managers in world football – including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Premier League champion Pep Guardiola. Argyle’s new gaffer used these introductions as an opportunity to imbibe their wisdom and has since visited both the Melwood and Etihad training grounds to learn from two of the greatest Premier League sides of all time.
At the very beginning of the recruitment process, Argyle Chairman Simon Hallett suggested that the club would seek to appoint a “forward-thinking, modern football manager.”
They do not come any more forward-thinking than Ryan Lowe.