Schumacher's Bolton Preview
It is almost impossible to think of Argyle v Bolton Wanderers without recalling last season’s encounter at Home Park, which concluded in an almighty rainstorm.
Argyle were leading 2-0 at the time when Ryan Broom swept in to score The Pilgrims’ third, lashing home in the lashing rain, after Danny Mayor and Ryan Hardie had made a hash as they made a splash.
“It threw up one of the most iconic goals of last season,” said Argyle manager Steven Schumacher. “The weather won’t be anything like that this year, but hopefully someone will score us a tap-in!”
This year’s renewal takes place at Home Park this Saturday, and while Schumacher recalled last season’s game with a smile, his recollection is that both this win, and Argyle’s 1-0 victory away to Bolton later in the campaign, were very tight affairs.
He is expecting Saturday’s game to be similar, as Bolton head to Plymouth with eight points on the board from five games, having won two, lost one and drawn two, with both of their draws coming from their two away fixtures.
“The games last season, both were tight,” Schumacher said. “I know we won 3-0 in the puddles, but we won it late on, I don’t think it was a 3-0 game. The one at their place was really tight and won on a set play.
“Games in this league, whether against teams at the top of the division or the bottom, are usually decided on small margins.
“Bolton will be one of the teams that fancy it this season. They have a settled squad. They recruited well in the summer and they have a big playing squad.
“They have some good forward players. When we go through and analyse what their strengths and weaknesses are, their front players are exciting. We’ll have to be at our best defensively, but we think we can cause them problems as well.
“It will be an entertaining game of football, and hopefully we will have a little bit more than them on the day.
“I think they are a good team. They were good last year, especially at the end of the season when they really got going. It will be a tough game. They always try to play football. They are heavily possession based. We won’t have it all our own way on Saturday.”
Argyle won 3-0 at Forest Green Rovers last Saturday, a game for which Schumacher made five changes. One – the absence of suspended James Wilson – was thrust upon him, but the others were simply selection choices. The return of Wilson, plus a positive attitude displayed across the squad, means the emergence of the kind of problem managers do not mind having.
“It’s brilliant,” said Schumacher. “It shows that the squad has good depth. We made five changes: one enforced, the others tactical. The people who stepped in did great, and that is important. It’s a long season, you need everyone. You can’t just have 11 players to get you through a 50-game season, especially at the level of intensity we want to play at.
“What’s also good is that it seems everyone is taking on the information, so when you are not in the team, they are not getting disheartened and not listening in training sessions, they are coming in and it is pretty seamless.
“It shows that they have good character, that they listen and that they are good players. We wouldn’t bring them in if they were not good players.
“When the majority are fit and playing well, there is a selection headache. It is on us to pick the right team for that game, for that opponent, and hopefully get it right.”
A large crowd is expected inside Home Park for the game, and while Schumacher has spoken about his appreciation of the travelling Green Army, he cannot hide his pleasure about being back at base after two games on the road.
He said: “The two away games that we have had, we’ve been brilliantly followed by the fans, and we needed to repay them for all the support, but there’s nothing better than being in Home Park when it is full, rocking and all the fans are behind us.
“We played well on Saturday and we fully deserved our win, but now we have to go and back it up. We need to keep the excitement going, keep the momentum going. Good teams get on little runs and put performances in week in, week out.
“We want to be a good team, so it is important we do everything right, start the game well to get the fans behind us, and go and get a good result.”