Plymouth v Pompey: Opposition view
If, after the first game of the season, you had told Argyle fans their team would be top of the table in October then most would not have believed you.
The campaign opened with a 3-0 Home Park defeat to Luton – now they are five points clear at the summit.
Derek Adams’ side didn’t play that badly in the match, but perhaps it was a bit of a wake-up call following an encouraging pre-season.
The summer saw major changes at Argyle, with 14 signings arriving. Some of those who departed didn’t fit in the manager’s plans, others had better offers.
Adams ripped up his squad and put another together to create the club’s best start since 1921.
Teams can be expected to take a while to gel. The fact it was the opposite for Plymouth is testament to Adams’ managerial ability.
Of the team likely to face Pompey, the only three regulars from last season are Luke McCormick, Jake Jervis and Graham Carey, which is a massive overhaul.
Adams inherited players from the previous manager, John Sheridan, so wanted to put his mark on it this summer.
This is now very much his team – and he has been recently backed up with a new four-year deal.
Of the new recruits, Sonny Bradley has enjoyed a very good start to his Home Park career, scoring three times from defence.
He has formed an unlikely central-defensive pairing with former Latvian international Nauris Bulvitis – yet they have been a pretty good double act.
Argyle had a slow start to the season, losing their opening three games in all competitions, but it has now started to click.
I wouldn’t say the team has always played brilliantly by any stretch of imagination, but they have ground out wins along the way. That is now nine victories and one draw from the past 10 league fixtures.
A key player retained in the summer was Carey. I try to be impartial, but I have not seen anyone better than him in League Two.
He has tremendous ability and is a very talented player.
Thankfully, there was never any danger of losing him during the close season.
Promotion is definitely the ambition. However, people were a bit wary of being too confident considering the need for a new squad to gel.
Nobody knew what to expect or how the newcomers would settle. In theory, it could take a while for these players to fit in.
Remarkably, though, they have all hit the ground running – and currently sit top of League Two.