Things were all rosy down on the south coast just a few weeks ago. Plymouth Argyle were flying high at the top of the League One table with Ryan Lowe starting to fully unfurl his project. However, a spanner has been thrown in the works now though following Lowe’s departure after he traded Argyle for Preston North End of the Championship.
Plymouth Argyle Without Ryan Lowe
Major Turnaround With The Pilgrims
Lowe left the trouble stricken Bury for Argyle ahead of the 2019/20 season. He guided the Pilgrims on an immediate return to the third tier of English football, where of course they currently reside. Given the stature of the club: they boast a superb fanbase and a stadium fit to go beyond their status as it stands, things are certainly on the up. Under the young and exciting Lowe, Argyle were on a path towards promotion. So why did he jump ship?
The Reasons Behind Ryan Lowe Leaving
Lowe’s departure was met by fury from the Home Park faithful due to the timing of the decision. Argyle were mixing it with the big guns at the summit despite being tipped by many to face the drop this term. It came just the day before a midweek league clash with MK Dons, a game that was showed on Sky Sports, and amidst a tough run in general.
Lowe left his backroom staff behind and didn’t do a good job of maintaining positive relationships, thanks to his first comments as Preston North End manager. ‘Plymouth Argyle didn’t have an identity until we turned up there’ was the baffling statement from Lowe upon his arrival in Lancashire.
A recent slump of results have seen Argyle lose their hold on top spot. That being said, a 2-1 win over Rochdale in front of the ITV cameras has seen them through to the third round of the FA Cup. A trip to St Andrew’s to face Birmingham City awaits in that competition. Lowe’s Preston on the other hand will cross the border to face Cardiff City. In terms of their league season, the Lilywhites currently occupy 14th spot in the Championship, with mid-table mediocrity has been the theme for them recently in all fairness.
There is no argument to be had when it comes to finances, Argyle are most likely dwarfed in terms of what Preston can offer Lowe. In League One alone, with the likes of Sunderland, Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, the Pilgrims aren’t on a level playing field in that sense. Sonny Bradley joining Luton Town comes to mind instantly when thinking about players moving on due to the pay. Besides this though and the simple fact that they’re in a higher division, the departure of Lowe has raised eyebrows down south.
With all due respect, Preston have hardly shown the ambition to take it to that next step whereas Argyle have been building towards exactly that since administration struck a decade ago now. Lowe was adored by the fans and there was a genuinely positive aura around the club. It is now time to move on for the Green Army and so, where next?
Life After Lowe
The Argyle board were swift in their decision making, replacing Ryan Lowe with his assistant Steven Schumacher. It was often perceived that whilst Lowe was the face of operations and a savvy talker, Schumacher had the tactical nous. The relationship between Lowe and his backroom staff always seemed rock solid and so for him to part ways with them out of the blue is one of the more puzzling areas of this saga.
Schumacher came through the Everton youth academy in the early 2000s but didn’t make a single senior appearance for the Toffees. He went on to run out for the likes of Bradford City, Bury and Fleetwood Town. Lowe and Schumacher are both from Liverpool and were alongside each other at the helm of Bury. Besides roles with Everton U11s and a stint at Southport as caretaker, this is the first time Schumacher will take the reins himself. The stakes are certainly as high as they’ve ever been for the 37-year-old.
It might come as a surprise to some that the powers that be at Argyle went with an internal hire when replacing Lowe. Paul Cook recently faced the chop at Ipswich Town and other attainable gaffers on the market include Chris Coleman and Neil Warnock. Simon Hallett and co entrusted Schumacher, who of course has the dressing room and supporters on his side already, with the key to the manager’s office.
Argyle are in the midst of a slump in form, especially when compared to their early-season hot streak. Lowe came out on top in his first Preston game in charge, winning 2-1 at home against Middlesbrough. Meanwhile, Schumacher led Argyle to a 1-1 draw against MK Dons before leaving the Stadium of Light empty-handed on the weekend. It will be fascinating to see how both parties fare for the rest of the season regardless of which camp you’re in.