Full backs are probably the most boring people on a football pitch. Traditionally, anyway, they’re either failed wingers or failed centre backs trying to ply a trade in a less important position. Perhaps lately there’s been a revolution in those stakes. Perhaps Roberto Carlos and Dani Alves paving the way for Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold has meant that full backs should be considered more interesting, but I still can’t help thinking of Dale Tonge and Tony Hibbert as the archetypal wide defender.
Nonetheless, we’ve signed a left back/left wing-back called Ryan Law. And while, on the face of it, it’s hard to get excited about a full back on a one-month loan, it’s possible that this addition could be crucial to us getting our season back on track. Enough of the nonsense, it’s time to lay down the Law.
He’s only 21, so don’t expect fireworks from this section or indeed this piece. Ryan Law was born in Kingsteignton and has played for Plymouth throughout his whole youth career. His only appearances for the Pilgrims have come in the “Papa Johns” Trophy, as well as a solitary minute in the League Cup.
Away from Home Park, though, he’s had loan spells at the sort of local hotspots you’d expect of an Argyle prospect: Gloucester, Truro and Chippenham. In fact, he’s played for so many rural clubs, you could say he’s the Law of the Land? No? Fair enough.
There isn’t a great deal of reliable data about football at this level (his Chippenham spell doesn’t even show on his Wikipedia) but it’s certainly true to say that he did play for those clubs, and that his most successful period came last season at Truro, scoring at least once in at least 18 appearances. His near-namesake manager, Ryan Lowe, described his spell with the Cornish side as a “great season”.
Playing Style and Where He Fits
You’ll appreciate that there’s a paucity (in fact, a complete lack) of any videos of Law’s highlights on YouTube, so all of this assessment is based on what his coaches have said. Ryan Lowe spoke highly of the youngster before the start of this season, stating “you look at him and think to yourself ‘He has got a great left foot and he’s 6ft 1’. He’s the perfect type of player you are looking for to play at left wing-back.” Certainly, quality of final ball is something we’ve lacked lately, so that has to be a bonus.
Indeed, it appears Law has been trained and moulded into a more attacking defender to fit Lowe’s system, so his signature may suggest that Gary Johnson’s move to a back five last weekend was more than just a temporary measure. In the immediate term, he can be used either as a replacement for the injured Dean Moxey in a back four, or to fill in at left-wing back for Ben Whitfield who hobbled off on Saturday and has looked worn out and possibly carrying a knock for a number of weeks.
It’s certainly true to say that the Jake Andrews experiment, which I think we all (him included) had hoped would be a short-term measure, hasn’t especially worked. Jake has a number of assets, but defending against the league’s quickest and most skilful wingers isn’t one of them and opposition sides have taken to targeting us down that flank in recent weeks. The acquisition of someone who is familiar with the concept of being a left sided defender is, in itself, a positive.
It is hoped that Law is more than that. Lowe, and a number of users on the dark web (PASOTI – Argyle’s fans forum), tipped Law to make his first-team breakthrough this season and, like his co-Scummer Adam Randell, it’s possible that a Gulls spell will be his chance to springboard his career and more importantly make us a more effective football team.
COYY – Matty