Schumacher's Exeter Preview
On Monday night, Steven Schumacher will take charge of a Devon derby – any derby – for the first time as a manager.
He is, though, no stranger to them. As an Everton fan, and as a player with around 500 appearances under his belt, he knows what they are all about.
When Exeter City come to visit on Monday night, at a sold-out Home Park where Argyle have won all eight games this season, nothing about the occasion will be a surprise to the Argyle boss, who is trying to balance excitement for the fixture with his usual level-headedness when it comes to preparations.
“Local derbies always bring that little bit of excitement,” said Schumacher. “We’ve been in good form here and we need to try to keep it going, but there will be a little bit more on this one. It’s not just a normal league game. It’s a local derby and we need to make sure that we’re up for it.
“I loved them as a player. You didn’t need any motivation for it. This will be my first one as a manager. I experienced it once as a number two, and that wasn’t a good experience, so we want to try to get a better one on Monday night.
“When the fixtures came out, I said how it was the first fixture we looked for. Everyone is excited for it. The build-up on derby week is a little bit different. The fans will be edgy, which is what normally happens on derby day.
“As an Everton fan I was always like that when we had to play Liverpool. Our fans will be the same. We want the atmosphere at Home Park to be hostile and noisy, and to get right behind the team and make it as hard [for Exeter] as possible.
“It is important that we, as a coaching staff, give the players the same amount of information as we do for any game. We have to prepare the same; speak about their strengths, their weaknesses – that can’t change. That preparation will be normal.
“The closer it gets to the game, there’s a few players who have experienced it, who know what this game is all about, so we’ll be leaning on them to let the other lads who don’t know what it is about know how important it is.
“The young lads, the new players, who have been around the city for a short space of time, they will understand because I’m sure they speak to fans about how important this game is.”
City, who were promoted last season from Sky Bet League Two, are in seventh place in League One, with six wins, four draws and six defeats form their 16 games so far.
Matt Taylor, the manager who took them to that promotion last season, recently left for Rotherham United after four years at the Grecians’ helm. His replacement, Gary Caldwell, has only had one game as boss thus far, as he took charge of a goalless draw at Derby County on Tuesday night.
The recency of the managerial change poses a question to Schumacher and his staff, but the boss is more than aware that in derby matches, logic often takes a holiday.
“They’ve had a great start coming up from League Two last year,” he said. “Matt did a great job getting them to where he got them to; he’s moved on and Gary Caldwell comes in to take over.
“That’s another challenge for us. He’s only had one game in charge, so we have to figure out how they are going to play. I’m sure they are happy with their start but in a local derby form and position in the table sort of goes out of the window.
“I get nervous and excited with the adrenaline going for every game. This might just be a little bit more because of what’s at stake.
“It’s game on, on Monday night.”