What Wayne Rooney has to make his top Plymouth Argyle priority

New Plymouth Argyle head coach Wayne Rooney
-Credit: (Image: Plymouth Argyle FC)

As a record-breaking goalscorer himself, new Plymouth Argyle head coach Wayne Rooney knows all about the importance of strikers to any team.

It was an area of the Pilgrims' squad last season which clearly did not have enough depth or quality, and it has to be Rooney's top priority after taking charge to correct that. There was far too much reliance on Ryan Hardie and in the end the heavy workload seemed to take its toll on strong-running forward, although he still ended up with a very creditable total of 13 goals in all competitions.

The only other striker options as it stands are Mustapha Bundu, who started for Sierra Leone when they beat Djibouti 2-1 in a 2026 World Cup qualifier last Friday, and Ben Waine, soon to be on international duty with New Zealand at the OFC Nations Cup in Fiji and Vanuatu.

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Waine's involvement with the All Whites in the OFC Nations Cup, and probably also the Olympic Games next month, means he will likely miss most of Argyle's first pre-season under Rooney. That only heightens the need for the new Pilgrims' boss to add a couple of new strikers to his squad.

That is also a case to argue that Waine, who celebrates his 23rd birthday tomorrow, would benefit from a loan spell with a League One club next season where he could look to get regular first team football and get a good goal tally.

Argyle will surely look to avoid a repeat of last summer when they did not bring in any forwards before their first Championship campaign in 13 years began despite Niall Ennis leaving for Blackburn Rovers and Sam Cosgrove returning to Birmingham City after a loan spell.

It meant Hardie and Waine, both newcomers to that level of football, had to share the responsibility up front for the opening weeks.

Then Argyle manager Steven Schumacher had been holding out hope of signing Josh Coburn on loan from Middlesbrough but that eventually fell through shortly before the summer transfer window closed when the Teesside club decided to keep him.

As a result, the Pilgrims had to scramble to make a signing in the final hours before the deadline, and physio Gareth Law was hastily sent to Belgium to carry out on a medical on Bundu as his move from Anderlecht on a two-year contract was rushed through.

Bundu did go on to play as a striker for Argyle but is probably better suited to a wide attacking role on the left of a front three, using his pace and power, rather than being a more traditional 'number nine' type of centre-forward.

That is why Rooney might look to add two strikers to his squad, to give him different options and flexibility when it comes to team selection.

Had Hardie not almost literally run himself into the ground towards the end of last season he could well have earned selection in the Scotland squad for Euro 2024 in Germany this summer, especially given the injury issues his country have had.

Instead, he is getting the chance to have a break and recharge his batteries so he can be ready to show Rooney what he is capable of come pre-season and then beyond.

You would imagine Hardie would be excited to work under the guidance of Manchester United's record goalscorer, and equally some strikers who might not have otherwise considered a move to Argyle could be tempted by the opportunity to learn from Rooney and play for him.

The appointment of Rooney was widely criticised by the Green Army and across the wider football community, when it was announced given his very disappointing three-month stint at Birmingham City last term.

However, as time has gone on there has been a definite sense that the mood is now generally supportive of him, and if he can get Argyle's strikers firing on all cylinders then that will be a big boost.