Sunday, October 18, 2009

18 October 2009: Coach

And it's confirmed: Paul Mariner is the new 'Head Coach' of Plymouth Argyle.

Following yesterday's defeat at Blackpool (and given the speed of the announcement this morning, you have to imagine the decisions were all made beforehand, irrespective of yesterday's result), Argyle have announced that 56-year-old legend Mariner is coming back.

Question is, of course, what exactly is his role?

Because the problem is this: Sturrock remains at the club. The official statement says that Sturrock will now be 'assisted' in his duties by Mariner (who, by the way, was a legendary player but as a coach has only risen to the dizzying heights of assistant coach to a Major League Soccer side), which at least explains Kevin Summerfield's departure earlier this week. But can it work? Will Mariner be coach/almost manager and Sturrock as Director of Football with less of a hands-on role? It hasn't exactly been a successful model in English football in the past, although it works ok in Europe.

Beyond the Mariner appointment, it seems there's been some kind of relationship built between Argyle and Mariner's former club, the New England Revolution. Argyle chairman Sir Roy Gardner said:

The two clubs have agreed a first step of a potential ongoing relationship with a plan that a number of the New England Revolution younger stars will join Plymouth for a few weeks for joint-training sessions later in the season.

So maybe it'll be a wonderful thing and Argyle will rocket up the league. But given that yesterday's first goal conceded was scored for Blackpool by Marcel Seip, there might still be a problem. Seip is an excellent defender who fell out with Sturrock recently - as a result he was sent on loan to Blackpool, and he was allowed to play against Argyle yesterday, and probably enjoyed scoring against us. Add to that names like Stack, Walton, Easter and several others I can't think of this early in the morning - the problem right now (at least, the reason for the problem, if you define the problem as being 8 points from 12 matches) is Sturrock.

Put simply, if Sturrock stays - in whatever capacity - Seip isn't coming back.

And maybe this is a long term plan to slowly replace Sturrock with Mariner but right now what Argyle need isn't a legend from the past (unless, possibly, he's going to get his boots on and play up front), and they don't need a youth feeder arrangement with an MLS side, and they don't need a reshuffle of coaching titles. They need points, they need clean sheets, they need confidence. And while I respect the board and think they actually do have both the ambition and the resources to match the ambition, this whole approach smacks of amateurism, or at least missing the point.

When you look at the hard facts, Kevin Summerfield has been replaced by Paul Mariner as Sturrock's assistant. That's the sum total of what has happened. And now everything's fixed and solved, right?

That's what I thought.

1 comment:

Gareth said...

But at least Saints are off the bottom of League One - you've got to be happy about that surely Dunc!