Football Manager 2020 ‘The Pilgrimage’ #20 – Monday Night Argyle

In the last part of The Pilgrimage, we prepared ourselves for a new season in the Premier League by perfecting our 3-1-4-2 tactic and making plenty of signings to boost our prospects of pushing for continental qualification.

This time, there is a special focus on three matches shown on Sky Sports’ popular football programme, ‘Monday Night Football’.

Plymouth Argyle v Norwich City – Monday 30th September 2024

“Good evening and welcome to Monday Night Football. I’m David Jones and as usual I am joined by Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville for tonight’s Premier League match between The Pilgrims, Plymouth Argyle, and The Canaries, Norwich City. Carra, how do you think this one will go?”

“Well, Dave, Norwich have done well to get promoted from the Championship last season, what with it being one of the toughest leagues in the world to get out of, and I think it’s gonna take them a bit of time to get used to the physicality and quality of the Premier League.” Carragher replied.

Gary Neville then added, “I agree; although we’re just getting used to Plymouth as a regular club in the Premier League they did well to finish 8th last season. They haven’t pulled up any roots this season but I would be surprised to see Norwich go back to Carrow Road with all 3 points tonight.”

“Let’s take a look at how both teams have done so far after 5 games of the season.” David flashed the stats up on the interactive whiteboard-style screen:

Neville started, “As you can see, Norwich are yet to pick up a win yet this season but picked up creditable draws at home to Arsenal and Brighton before just saving a point during the 4-4 thriller at Goodison Park.”

“Arian Kalantari has been their saviour so far this season, with the young English striker bagging important goals to try and get The Canaries out of the drop zone.”

Carragher then carried on the analysis. “On the other hand, Plymouth have shown they are no pushovers, despite being handed a very tough opening six matches. Not many teams go to Old Trafford and come away with 3 points, and The Pilgrims gave Liverpool and Chelsea a scare during very tight fixtures. Dawid Kownacki and new signing Alan Carlos have led the way in RPW FM’s newly attacking side this season, although they need to find a way to shut up shop at the end of games to stop conceding late goals.”

“Thank you, Jamie. Now, the Plymouth Argyle lineup is in, and before we head to Martin Tyler and Alan Smith for tonight’s match, let’s see how they set up tonight…”

David Smith continued, “Well, for a side that is one of the youngest on average in the league, Plymouth have a number of their U23 team featuring in the match-day squad: Northern Irish defensive midfielder Craig Boyle makes his first start of the season and other academy members Enea Romagnoli and strikers Francisco Javier and Adam Holmes make the bench. Argyle have suffered a number of injuries recently – do you think it’s the right decision to give their youngsters a chance, Gary?”

“Sir Alex gave us a chance when we were youngsters and we went on and won the treble: it can only be good that these younger players are getting chances in the Premier League.” Gary Neville added, earnestly.

“Ok thanks guys, now let’s hand over to our commentators for tonight’s match: Martin Tyler and Alan Smith.”

“Thank you, David! Up next, it’s live! Plymouth Argyle vs Norwich City!”

“The whistle blows, and Alan Carlos kicks off for Plymouth Argyle, shooting right to left towards the Barn Park end. Straight away we have sustained pressure from Plymouth…Ronan passes to Teze on the right win, who makes a mazy run but Elneny knocks the ball out of play for a throw in just short of the corner flag. Jordan Teze takes the throw-in to the feet of Franganillo, however it’s Josh Tymon who is there to make the clearance, hoofing it long. It looks like the youngster Craig Boyle will intercept that one first – oh that is cynical. Norwich top goalscorer Arian Kalantari goes through Boyle and that’ll be a free kick and a telling off from the referee.”

“It’ll be Connor Ronan who will take this free kick from just inside the Norwich half as the Canaries defence makes a line just outside of the penalty box. Ronan floats a ball in, Franganillo jumps the highest – OH WHAT A HEADER! Juan Diego Franganillo bags his second goal of the season with a mighty header from the left hand-side of the box to the bottom right corner, past a flailing Radu. After just 3 minutes, it’s Plymouth Argyle 1, Norwich City 0.”

“Now it’s time to see how Norwich respond. Radu is on the ball now and passes it forward to Ismaël Bennacer, who takes a touch and gives it to Xavi Simons, on loan from PSG, to his right. Simons looks up and has seen the run of Arian Kalantari, who has got in between Delap and Vagner…takes a touch and lets fly…Mike Cooper does well to get down to his right and block the shot as Plymouth concede the corner. 20 minutes gone and it is still Plymouth Argyle in the lead here at Home Park. The corner is floated in but headed out by Joey Hermans but it is Emi Buendía who picks it up on the left and sends a fantastic ball across to the box…BEN GODFREY ON THE VOLLEY! The ball is in the back of the Plymouth Argyle net, but the assistant referee is flagging for offside….I think it may have been Buendía who was a fraction offside. No goal. It’s a shame really, Ben Godfrey is denied probably the goal of the season so far.”

“Jordan Teze now just inside the Norwich half…Elneny blocks the cross and Simons intercepts the ball – another look up – and Xavi Simons decides to run into space, making his way into the Plymouth half. That’s a lovely through ball to Jarrod Bowen who is now one-on-one with Cooper…what a block that is! Plymouth Argyle captain Noah Delap putting his body on the line to block Bowen’s shot. The half-time whistle blows, and here at Home Park it is Plymouth Argyle 1, Norwich City 0.”

“As the two teams come out for the second half, it is the visitors who have made one change: Bruno Petkovic comes on for Jarrod Bowen, who must have taken a knock in the first half. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a goal from The Canaries in this half – they played with swagger and confidence in the first half and Argyle will be very grateful for the excellent defending of Mike Cooper and Noah Delap who stopped sure-fire goals from being conceded.”

“We’re approaching the hour mark here at Home Park and it looks like the home side are going more attacking: young midfielder Craig Boyle comes off to applause and Pedro Diaz takes his place. It looks like Nathaniel Chalobah will now operate in a slightly deeper position like Boyle did in the first half. Jordan Teze is going to take this throw-in now as Argyle shoot towards the home fans in the Devonport End, however Godfrey gets a foot to the throw and hoofs it clear. It’s Chalobah who picks it up just inside the Norwich half and switches play to Jonathan on the left wing. The Brazilian picks it up and dribbles into the box – looks up – and that was not far off. Jonathan’s shot gets tipped over the crossbar as it starts to look like Plymouth are starting to find their groove.”

“It looks like Plymouth Argyle are going to make their second change of the evening: it’s ex-Liverpool defender Adam Lewis coming on for Jonathan, who has looked like one of The Pilgrims’ most dangerous assets this season. Alan Carlos now takes the corner but it is Elneny again who clears, however Vagner gets there first, back to goal on the edge of the area. The Czech international exchanges passes with Chalobah before sending the ball to his right into the feet of Adam Lewis, who is involved straight away…he turns Frédéric Guilbert and gets into the box…and that’s a shame – a fairly tame cross is collected by Radu.”

“Norwich now build from the back and are on the attack but their cross is headed away by Joey Hermans, who I must say has won everything in the air today. Teze picks the ball up and drives forward – like he has all evening – but it is Elneny who gets across and fouls the wing-back to halt the Plymouth counter-attack. It’ll be a free kick to The Pilgrims, and it is in a similar position to how the first goal was scored. It is Spanish playmaker Diaz who steps up to take this one though, and he whips the cross into the box…Kalantari gets to it before Delap and heads away…but it’s Alan Carlos who intercepts the clearance at the far post, hits it on the volley and smashes it past Radu! 2-0! With just 10 minutes left to play, it looks like The Pilgrims will go marching on up the Premier League!”

“Both teams make their final changes following that goal as Joey Hermans is subbed off for vice-captain Joel Latibeaudier for Plymouth and Mateusz Bogusz and Ainsley Maitland-Niles come on for Holgate and Guilbert. Lewis now takes the throw in just inside the Norwich half as The Canaries press the young Pilgrims to find a way back into the match. He passes it inside to Ronan, who attempts to float a cross to Franganillo but it is Tymon for Norwich who heads it away. Teze picks up the loose ball and switches play, floating a cross to the far post to Adam Lewis – on the volley – AND HE HITS THE UPRIGHT – but gets another chance on the deflection…GOAL! Adam Lewis gets his first goal of the season as surely this wraps up the points for Plymouth Argyle.”

Plymouth Argyle v Southampton – Monday 4th November 2024

“Welcome back to Monday Night Football. Before the break we were looking at the Plymouth’s last match, a 2-1 away win against Brighton. Since we last featured The Pilgrims on Monday Night Football, they were brought back down to earth against Eddie Howe’s Manchester City before two vicious displays of attacking football against West Ham and as already mentioned, Brighton. Argyle find themselves in 6th, but it has been the rise of the Saints that has impressed us in the studio recently.”

“That’s right, Dave,” Carragher started, “Southampton have picked up their form over the past run of games and both south-coast clubs have shown a lot of attacking nous. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both clubs pushing the ‘big six’ by the end of the season if they can both keep this form up.”

Neville picked up where Carragher left off, “Michael Obafemi has been the main source of goals for The Saints so far this season and is their top scorer with 6 goals to his name. He’ll miss out on tonight’s match due to injury and it’ll be interesting to see if Southampton can keep up with their attacking threat without their prime marksman.”

“We’ll now hand over to our esteemed commentary team to run through the home team’s starting lineup.”

“Thank you, David! We’re back at Home Park and we have just the one change to the starting lineup from the last time The Pilgrims featured on Monday Night Football as Luke Amos comes in at defensive midfield for Craig Boyle who drops to the bench. The goal-scoring duo of Franganillo and Carlos retain their places while the very capable Kownacki and Hee-Chan are fit enough to make the bench. As the referee puts the whistle to his lips, we’re off and we’re live!”

“Well, it’s safe to say it’s been a bit of an edgy first half so far, with neither team really getting into their groove yet with 10 minutes left to play before half time. The only action has seen Plymouth midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah replaced with Pedro Diaz due to injury. The hosts have a free kick on the right wing, just in front of the halfway line now and it is Pedro Diaz who is going to take it. The ball is floated into the Southampton box but Luca Connell gets to it first, however it’s Franganillo who intercepts the clearance…on the volley…what a save by David Raya as the ball rolls along the goal line before being cleared by Marc Bola.”

“Teze collects the clearance though, and threads a ball through to Juan Diego Franganillo who drives into the Saints box before Svetozar Markovic challenges the Spaniard…who goes down! The referee is going to have to check VAR for a potential penalty here…it’s confirmed – Plymouth penalty! Diaz will take it…and scores! With 43 minutes played, it’s Plymouth Argyle 1, Southampton 0. Maio is going to kick off here for Southampton and passes it back to Connell, who finds the feet of Markovic. Markovic hits a long ball back towards Maio who lays it off for Moussa Djenepo on the right wing…Djenepo gets into the box and rolls a ball across the face of goal which Chiquinho runs onto and SHOOTS! It’s parried by Cooper but Alexis Claude-Maurice will get to the ball before Hermans…GOAL! Claude-Maurice pounces on the rebound to level it up! 1-1 at Home Park!”

“The Pilgrims will kick off again, and Alan Carlos passes back to Connor Ronan who finds Jordan Teze. Teze lays it back to Hermans. Joey Hermans looks for options before passing back to ‘keeper Mike Cooper, who lets it run across his body before passing it to Argyle captain Noah Delap. Delap passes to Ronan, who takes a touch and passes back to Vagner. Vagner now takes it long towards Franganillo on the halfway line who controls it and runs towards the Southampton box. He sends a through ball towards the run of Alan Carlos who evades the tackle of Çağlar Söyüncü and OH MY! Alan Carlos has just leathered it past the outstretched hand of David Raya straight into the top corner of the Southampton goal! It’s 2-1 to the hosts, and suddenly this game has hotted up!”

“Now, in the 3rd minute of additional time, Adam Lewis floats a cross into the Saints’ penalty area but it is headed away by Söyüncü. Pedro Diaz gets to the ball first but takes too long and Claude-Maurice robs him in possession! The French winger sends a long pass forward to Maio who holds the ball up and brings Claude-Maurice back into play again…passes it to Kayne Ramsey on the edge of the Plymouth box, who sends it back to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. Højbjerg now dinks a ball into the box for Ramsey to run onto, he crosses it…and Claude-Maurice is there to nod in at the back post to level it up again! Alexis Claude-Maurice is having a fantastic game here at Home Park just as the half time whistle blows! It’s Plymouth Argyle 2, Southampton 2.”

“Only 1 change at the break and it was for the visitors: it’s a straight swap as Marc Bola comes off for Scottish international Greg Taylor. It has been the home team however that have dominated the opening stages of the second half at Home Park tonight on Monday Night Football. Taylor is involved straight away as a superb sliding tackle puts the ball behind for a corner to stop another Jordan Teze mazy run. Alan Carlos steps up and whips an in-swinging cross to the far post and Delap is there if he can beat Højbjerg – GOAL! Argyle captain Noah Delap leaps like a salmon and nods the ball through the legs of Southampton ‘keeper David Raya! It’s Plymouth Argyle 3, Southampton 2!”

“It’s a change for both sides now as Joel Latibeaudiere replaces Marek Vagner for Plymouth Argyle and Callum Slattery comes on for Chiquinho. Argyle have the lion’s share of the chances again as a Connor Ronan volley fizzes past the post, and now Argyle have the ball again and Franganillo stings Raya’s gloves with a powerful shot that is parried away! It looks like Plymouth could extend their lead, as they make their final change with a straight swap as Iñigo Lekue comes on for Jordan Teze, who has had another good game. Alan Carlos goes close now, with another shot on target being tipped onto the crossbar by Raya, who is being peppered with shots now!”

“As we approach the 90th minute, Southampton are going to make their final change, with Moussa Djenepo being withdrawn for Edward Harker. Play restarts, and Connell is shoulder-barged off the ball by Pedro Diaz – free kick to Saints just inside the Plymouth half. Maurizio Maio will take it, sends a ball straight into the penalty box…GOAL! Maio’s stunning ball meets the head of Kayne Ramsey who nods it past Mike Cooper in the 91st minute! It’s 3-3, so late on as well! Plymouth are throwing everything forward now but it looks like that might be it! A thrilling game here at Home Park – and I have to say – a fair result between two very good, attacking sides that play good football.”

Plymouth Argyle v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Monday 23rd December 2024

“Merry Christmas football fans! We’re back with Monday Night Football for another night under the lights at Home Park for a wintery clash between the might of a Pilgrims side that have returned to form and a torrid Wolves defence that have shut out many a team this season. Gary, talk us through the form of our hosts tonight.”

“Cheers David – Plymouth went through a bit of a sticky patch after we last met for MNF: they lost to a Leeds United side still flying high before a bigger loss against runaway league leaders Arsenal.”

“It’s rare to see the Greens not score in a game, let alone two, and the last four matches have shown a return to their potent strikeforce; a massive 12 goals in 4 games can strike fear into even the most fierce defence.”

“A defence a bit like the one Jesse Marsch has built at Wolves, Gary?” Carragher picked up where Neville finished, “You can see a lot of zeros there on the form chart – Wolves aren’t scoring many, no, but they have kept 5 clean sheets in the past 6 matches.”

“Now for the last time in 2024, we hand over to Martin Tyler and Alan Smith, sat in a very cold Mayflower Stand, to run down the Argyle lineup for tonight’s match!”

“It’s unchanged from last time we met the Pilgrims on Monday Night Football, with lead goalscorer Alan Carlos partnering Juan Diego Franganillo at the spearhead of the Argyle attack. Miguel Arias comes onto the bench as a substitute goalkeeper due to the injury to Josep Martinez and Didier Ndong has come back from a bad injury which he sustained at the start of the season to pass his fitness test and make the bench. Wolves kick us off tonight, and instantly are trying to take it slow and pass it around it their 5-3-2 formation, taking their time with building the play up. Phillips whips a long ball up top for their striker to run onto, but Delap intercepts and heads it down to Adam Lewis. He lays it off to Luke Amos who finds the run of Alan Carlos down the left channel…he gets into the box…evades the tackle from Anderson and floats a cross across the face of goal…FRANGANILLO! Juan Diego Franganillo nods it in from close range to make it 1-0 to the hosts after four minutes played! There was nothing Marek Rodák could do about that – fantastic header from the Spaniard after the breakaway by Alan Carlos!”

“It’s a throw in for Plymouth now, Lewis takes it and finds Connor Ronan just inside his own half. The Irish international runs forward into the Wolves half, evades the tackle from Palhinha and sends a through ball into the heart of the Wolves defence for Franganillo to run on to…Juan Diego Franganillo takes a touch and lets fly…GOAL! He’s scored again! Juan Diego Franganillo slides the ball into the Wolves goal and Marek Rodák could not get down to his left quick enough to stop it! It’s Plymouth Argyle 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0!”

“As Wolves block the shot by Jordan Teze, the referee decides that is enough and calls time on the first half. What a performance we’ve seen from the young Pilgrims so far tonight! Jamie and Gary spoke about the tenacity of Wolves’ defence before kick-off tonight but we’re seeing a completely different side here tonight. They are being carved apart far too easily and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more goals from Plymouth in the second half.”

“Wolves are on the attack straight away in this second half, and it looks like their manager’s team talk has worked. Zaha gets a ball in the box which is just-about cleared by Delap. Jonny picks it up and switches play back to Zaha, who runs into the box and – ooooh! Cooper makes the save but Zaha gets a second chance on the deflection and hits the side netting. Plymouth need to stay switched on here. It looks like both sides are going to make a change now, with the hosts sending on Didier Ndong on for Chalobah and Wolves making two changes: Raúl Jiménez is on for Paco Alcácer and David Brooks surprisingly comes on for Wilfried Zaha, who has looked dangerous so far.”

“After a shaky start, Marek Rodák is having a brilliant game in goal and has saved his side from being on the end of a hiding here. Alan Carlos and Fraganillo could have had 2 or 3 each tonight, and Lewis has looked threatening coming off of the left wing too. Both teams are making their last change now, with Alan Carlos coming off to a rapturous applause for South Korea international Hwang Hee-Chan and and Jordan Teze being swapped for Iñigo Lekue. Wolves sub off the very experienced Jordan Henderson for the Croatian international Duje Caleta-Car. With 5 minutes of the 90 left to play, it’s Wolves on the ball again, searching for a way back into the game. Anderson sends it forward but Amos intercepts, passes it to Ndong and he sends it to the left wing where Adam Lewis is now running inside towards the box. He takes on Caleta-Car, runs past him, and…SAVED! Marek makes another fantastic save, but there will be no time left to take the corner as the referee blows up for full time! Here at Home Park, it’s Plymouth Argyle 2, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.

So there you have it, our trilogy of MNF games looked at in depth. So that you can get a proper feel for how we did in the first half of the season, you can check out the images below:

As we go into the new year, we’re in 4th and are continuing to massively over-achieve: Alan Carlos is probably the best striker we have ever had and with other players like Connor Ronan and Jordan Teze having the form of their life, we could be in for a season to remember…

Next time, we finish off the 2024/25 season and try and secure our place in Europe next year.

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