Plymouth Argyle seemed a rejuvenated side throughout last season under Erwin van Dijk. After a tricky start under the Dutchman, in which they struggled to a mid-table finish in his first year, Plymouth then excelled in season two, finishing in 3rd place and narrowly missing out on promotion through the playoffs. Van Dijk was credited for turning the fortunes around through deploying an impressive playing style with a young, vibrant squad of players blended with the right amount of experienced heads.
If you read our five-year plan with Plymouth, you’ll know that van Dijk is targetting promotion to the Championship this season and having come so close last year, promotion is certainly attainable.
In this post, we’ll see how Erwin van Dijk has performed in his third season with Plymouth. Can the club achieve the targets set out in the five-year plan?
Year Two of the Five-Year Plan | Plymouth Argyle #3
One of the main factors behind our impressive season last year was the link up between left-back Adam Lewis and target-man Keiffer Moore. Unfortunately, and despite van Dijk’s best efforts, Plymouth were unable to extend Moore’s loan for another season with Brentford choosing to give the player some game time. As such, another target man was needed.
Ryan Edmondson was the player we chose as our replacement for Moore, though he doesn’t look as capable as the Brentford forward. Bradley Johnson was signed on loan to act as competition for our strikers.
One area of weakness last season was our defence – as such we decided to bring in two new central defenders. Using our VIVA Rating system helped ensure that our new CB’s were mentally capable of performing well for us.
Teden Mengi and Tim Odusina will become our main centre-back pairing for the season.
Early Season Form
Erwin van Dijk and his Plymouth side started the season in incredible form, topping the table after 9 games having gone unbeaten. By mid-October we were 5 points clear on 2nd place.
Sadly, this form subsided and was replaced by a run of form that could not have been predicted at any point in our opening matches.
Shocking drop in form
3 wins in 21 matches saw Plymouth drop down to 12th after 36 matches.
The run of form saw us drop from 1st place to 12th in a matter of months. This fall from grace put a serious dent in Plymouth’s promotion ambitions as well as abolishing squad morale.
In January, Erwin van Dijk decided to bring in two experienced heads in order to attempt to turn around our form. Sergio Aguero and Marouane Fellaini came to the club with high expectations, yet neither man made an impact since their arrival at the club.
For the third time in four seasons, van Dijk was called in for a board meeting to discuss his job and for the first time van Dijk new that he would not be able to achieve the target set. 9 points from five games would save van Dijk’s job, yet Plymouth had only managed to win three games in the past 21 matches.
Plymouth lost the first two matches of the five-game spell, meaning that they would need to win all three remaining matches for van Dijk to save his job. As such, van Dijk made a difficult call, a call that he would never have thought he’d be making at the beginning of the season. He resigned from Plymouth after two-and-a-half years in charge.
Resignation – What’s next for Erwin van Dijk?
I’m not one to rant at Football Manager, there is always usually a reason behind poor form. But the results shown in the above screenshot are the results after the most recent FM update, where the results from the opening matches came pre-update. I can’t help but blame the latest update for our shocking drop in form. Since the update there have been so many goals from long shots, sometimes as many as three in a game. A large proportion of these goals look slow and easily stoppable, yet they go past the keeper with ease.
I’ve found playing FM near unplayable since the update and as such I’ve barely touched my save since the update. I have, however, found a new club for Erwin van Dijk!
Van Dijk remained without a club for the rest of the 2023/24 season as he chose to take time away from the game to recharge. A lot of thought was put into his next destination and there was interest from several English League Two clubs. But after two failures in England, van Dijk chose to move back to his home country of Holland.
Van Dijk takes charge of MVV Maastricht in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie, the second tier in Dutch football. The hard work starts now.
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