Steven Schumacher

Schumacher's Oxford Preview

Sync Fixtures

The postponement of Saturday’s scheduled game against Sheffield Wednesday following the death of Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, meant an unusual few days for the players and staff at Argyle.

The decision to call the game off occurred late on Friday morning, while Argyle were on Harper’s Park, doing their final training ahead of the fixtures.

Manager Steven Schumacher explained to Argyle TV how adaptations were quickly made to the schedule, in order to get preparations right for the next game, which is at home to Oxford United on Tuesday evening.

“From a footballing point of view, from our perspective, it was quite difficult because we had to change plans right at the last minute,” Schumacher said. “We were on the training pitch on Friday, going through the set-plays for Sheffield Wednesday when we got the call that the game would be off. We had to cut that short. We had to adapt.

“Fortunately, we have a group of players who are adaptable, who don’t moan about things, they get on with it, and everyone understood the sentiment behind the games being called off.

“It was quite difficult on Saturday to get the players up for a training session, to get going at the tempo we wanted. We had an in-house game that was a bit slow to start with, but it got better. It felt weird because it should have been against Sheffield Wednesday. We rested on Sunday as we would normally do, and Monday was planned as normal for Oxford.

“There was a subdued atmosphere over the weekend, but Monday it was ok. It didn’t feel like a Monday, coming into the car park, because we didn’t play at the weekend, everyone was a bit off kilter. It’s something we adapt to, and we are now fully focused on what will be a really hard game against Oxford.”

Argyle won 3-1 and 1-0 in the two games against Oxford last season, but the sides finished just one place and four points apart in the final Sky Bet League One table, with Argyle in seventh and United eighth.

Oxford have consisted finished in the top half of the table, and despite a relatively slow start to the season, have won their last three, including two in the league.

“They’ve got top quality players with bag and bags of talent through the squad,” Schumacher observed. “They play loads of good football and they’ve got an experienced manager in Karl Robinson who knows what it is like at the top end of League One.

“We always have tough games against them. Last year we came out on top in both of them, but they were hard-fought victories. The styles of the two teams blend quite well, it’s always a good entertaining game of football.  I’m sure this will be no different.

“They’ve changed shape a little bit. They’ve had a few injuries in the squad so that might be one of the reasons. They are in good form; they’ve won their last three. We know that coming here they are going to be motivated, and will be ready to go. We know it won’t be an easy game. They are always up there challenging at the end of the season. We are going to have to put in a good performance and be at our best.”

For Argyle’s part, they too have been in excellent form, winning the straight league games and rising to third in the league table at this relatively early stage.

Last time out, a 3-2 win against Derby caught the eye, in particular for the fact that The Pilgrims were 2-0 down at half-time at Pride Park.

Schumacher has been keen to pick ‘horses for courses’, tailoring team selection for the situation and opponents, then using the depth in the squad to affect the game with substitutions.

“It’s really hard to pick the team at the moment,” he said. “There are a lot of disappointed people feeling as though they are playing well. I then have to explain why I have picked the team, but I am confident whatever team we pick, the starting 11 will do the best they can, and that the subs will come on and change the game if necessary or secure the game and see it out.

“We are in good form; we’ve been playing well. The performance against Derby was really good, and we need to get to those levels as often as we can. That’s what it takes to get wins against these top teams in the division.

“Training since the Derby game has been top class, everyone seems in a groove. Everyone understands their roles, people starting the game are doing really well and subs coming off the bench are making big impacts.

“We’re in a decent place; we need to keep it going as long as we can.”

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