Plymouth Argyle completed their pre-season tour of Holland with nothing but positives coming from it.
The team’s week was spent at the Papendal National Sport Centre, near Arnhem, a top facility used by many national and international teams. The complex had the latest training equipment and sports medical centre, and provided the players with everything they needed to help them gain full match fitness.
The three games that the Pilgrims had planned were against top-quality opposition, including AZ Alkmaar who had featured in the Champions League only just last season. The other two, NAC Breda and SC Cambuur would also provide stern challenges with Breda playing its trade in the Eredivise and Cambuur only just missing out on a place in Holland’s top division this season.
And stern challenges they were. A win a loss and a draw not sounding like much, but it was the hard working performances that showed great promise ahead of this season in League One. The loss to Alkmaar was only by a single goal, a very dubious penalty.
But Argyle did well throughout the match with the defence of Krisztian Timar, Kari Arnason, Karl Duguid and returning trialist Tony Capaldigiving a committed performance, keeping AZ’s constant attacking threat at bay for the majority of the match.
The win in the first game against was also a battling affair with Plymouth doing well to deal with Breda’s strong possession approach before youngster Joe Mason got the only goal. The striker’s performances during the tour being a definite highlight, scoring three of the five goals Argyle did score whilst in the Netherlands.
And then to the final game staged in the SC Franeker ground where injury to defender Bondz N’Gala and tiredness from a long tour stopped Argyle from getting their second win.
But it wasn’t just on the pitch that benefited the Pilgrims. Spending a week in a hotel allowed the team to spend a lot of time together which for new signing Rory Patterson was just what he and the rest of the team needed:
“It's probably the best way you could think of because you are with the lads all day and night.
"You have breakfast and dinner together, so you get to know each other a lot easier.”
So with the team gelling on and off the pitch, new manager Peter Reid will have been nothing short of ecstatic with the outcome of the tour.
And with Reid’s philosophy of “play it on the deck” beginning to filter through the team, hopefully continuing in to the last two friendlies of pre-season against Hereford United and Queen Park Rangers coming up, the Green Army have “Dutch” to look forward to.
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.