Plymouth Argyle among relegation candidates says Sky Sports' EFL pundit

Sky Sports' EFL expert Don Goodman has named Plymouth Argyle as one of the clubs he would be 'concerned about' when it comes to being relegated from the Championship in 2024/25.

He also suggested League One Play-Off Final winners Oxford United, another of the newly-promoted sides Derby County, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland could struggle to stay up. Argyle finished one position and a point above the drop zone last season and have since appointed Wayne Rooney as their new head coach.

Goodman believes the England legend will have learned valuable lessons from his difficult time at Birmingham City, when he was sacked after 15 games and just two wins.

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In an interview with OLBG, Goodman gave his assessment about the teams who he thought would be under threat of relegation in the forthcoming Championship campaign.

He said: "Des Buckingham has a huge job on his hands at Oxford as play-off winners are notoriously the teams that struggle the most. It's just brilliant that they're in the Championship.

"Derby County remind me of Sheffield Wednesday last season as they have one of the oldest teams in the division. Wednesday struggled with the physical side of things early on last year, so it's interesting to see Paul Warne move on a number of 30-plus-year-olds and bring pace and energy into the club. That gap still needs to be bridged, though.

"I would expect Portsmouth to be the strongest of the relegated clubs and, therefore, I'm looking at the clubs that just about survived.

"John Eustace has a big job on his hands at Blackburn after they relied so heavily on Sammie Szmodics, it would be some achievement if he could replicate such performances. I'm not sure about Plymouth, and that's not because of Wayne Rooney, it's just the nature of them being in the Championship.

"Even Sunderland finished the season winning just two of their last 15 games. They've got a new manager in Regis Les Bris, whose background is in developing young footballers but this is the Championship.

"It's very difficult for a whole group of young players to succeed and they didn't have any strikers capable of performing at that level and struggled for goals. Those would be the clubs I’d be concerned about."

On the appointment of Rooney by Argyle, and whether the 38-year-old was fortunate to get the job, Goodman commented: "I've said many times that I do not blame Wayne Rooney for what happened and the failings at Birmingham City. The buck stops with what was possibly an overly enthusiastic new ownership group, who appointed him with good intentions.

"Ultimately, Birmingham got 50 points, which is usually enough to survive. But the big thing for me was the nature of the fixtures Birmingham faced when Wayne Rooney was appointed. I remember thinking 'Oh my goodness, the next five or six fixtures are against teams in good form.'

"The timing of the appointment was not great. Of course, they lost most of them and drew against Ipswich after being 2-0 up with about 10 minutes to go.

"He failed to connect with the fans after those first few games and it proved to be a tough gig from thereon. You could argue, yes, he is fortunate to get the job, but this is Wayne Rooney and the Plymouth Argyle hierarchy may have delved deeper, like taking those opening fixtures into consideration, giving him a bit of leeway.

"Like his former team-mate Michael Carrick learning lessons at Middlesbrough, Wayne Rooney will be doing the same. He's gone on record to say he tried to change too much, too soon at Birmingham. He will have learned from that.

"We know he wants to play a possession-based, front-foot style as it's the way he was as a player. But there's one thing for sure, this needs to go well for him. If it doesn't go well for Wayne at Plymouth, then it's hard to see where he goes in management."