Ryan Lowe and His Winning Philosophy

Plymouth Argyle manager, Ryan Lowe has enjoyed an incredible start to the League One season with The Pilgrims currently top of the league after playing 18 games.

Lowe offers a fresh, attacking style of play influenced by Jurgen Klopp, Brendan Rodgers and Rafa Benitez.

The 43 year old has his heart set on promotion to the Championship, but bigger opportunities could come his way if he carries on his success.

Ryan Lowe’s career so far

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Ryan Lowe could be classed as a journeyman throughout his playing career, representing 10 clubs.

The striker started his youth career at Liverpool, where he formed a friendship with Steven Gerrard. Lowe broke his ankle at the age of 13 and left his boyhood club after his return to the first team when he was 15. 

The Plymouth manager found his feet with various non-league clubs in Liverpool before getting a move to Football League club, Shrewsbury Town in 2000.

He scored 37 goals in 194 games for Salop which earned him a move to Chester City, who were in League Two at the time.

Lowe impressed during his first stint at Chester before moving to League One side, Crewe Alexandra. The striker continued his impressive form, scoring three goals in August but he eventually lost his place in the side.

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After a return to Chester City, Ryan Lowe signed for Bury on a free transfer. Lowe would really make a name for himself after he managed to score 53 goals in 100 games.

Sheffield Wednesday jumped on the Ryan Lowe hype train by snapping up the Liverpudlian for a six-figure fee in 2011. 

Unfortunately, Lowe failed to make an impact at Hillsborough, and he went onto to sign for MK Dons and then for Tranmere Rovers.

In May 2014, Bury announced that they’d signed Ryan Lowe on a two-year deal. Lowe helped Bury achieve promotion to League One in the 2014/15 season before re-joining Crewe Alexandra on loan.

After scoring a stoppage time winner on his debut for Crewe, he signed a contract in the following summer and went onto score his third debut goal.

Lowe returned to Bury once again, but this time as a player-coach and was announced as caretaker-manager following Lee Clarks sacking in October 2017. 

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His first management role saw him take charge of six games before Chris Lucketti was appointed.

Lucketti only lasted two months in the job and Ryan Lowe took over as caretaker manager, until the end of the season.

The following summer, Bury announced that Ryan Lowe would become their permanent manager to help the club bounce back into League One following relegation during the 2017/18 season.

Lowe had to get out of the old and in with the new in order to turn the club around.

The new side struggled to find their feet at the start of the season, but they rocketed up the League Two table as they found themselves in fourth place by Christmas. 

Bury kicked on in 2019 with a 14-game unbeaten run which established The Shakers as a top three side.

Ryan Lowe finished second in League Two during his first full season in management, his third promotion with Bury from the fourth division.

All of this was achieved as Bury faced serious off the field difficulties.

Staff and players didn’t receive their March salaries on time and the club faced a winding up petition on the 10th April 2019. 

Around £1.6 million was needed to pay wages, HMRC and pensions by the end of May, with only £180,000 worth of income expected during the time period.

During all of this, Ryan Lowe left the club to become the new Plymouth Argyle manager. 

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Lowe’s first season was a successful one as he guided Plymouth to promotion from League Two in a season interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plymouth managed to survive their first season back in League One after finishing 18th, in a season played behind closed doors.

Ryan Lowe and Plymouth have surprised everyone during the current season by emerging as early promotion candidates. 

The Pilgrims have won 10 out of 17 games, losing only once as they’ve adopted an exciting, attacking style of play.

Plymouth Argyle have certainly been boosted by the return of fans to Home Park as they are yet to lose a league game at home this season.

This home form could prove to be vital if they are to go on and win promotion to the Championship.

Lowe’s style of play

Ryan Lowe has instilled a very attack-minded style of play and has previously stated that he aims for a ‘winning philosophy’ by outscoring the opponents. 

Jurgen Klopp has complimented Lowe’s strategy and has also sat down with Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers in order to learn from the best and implement that in his style of play.

Ryan Lowe’s style of play is evidence that the influence of managers coming from abroad is filtering down to the lower leagues, making them much more exciting to watch.

Plymouth have adopted the 3-5-2 formation during Ryan Lowe’s tenure, with a solid base of a back three, allowing seven players to go forward when they hit teams on the break.

The teams main strengths are counter attacks, creating chances with a through ball and attacking down the wings.

The image below shows that Ryan Lowe likes his teams to attack down the wings, rather than play down the middle.

Plymouth Argyle’s attack side percentage during the 2021/22 League One season

The wingers look to get the ball into the front two as most of the shots come from down the middle. Midfielders, Ryan Broom and Panutche Camara back up the two strikers during the counter-attack, providing goals and assists. 

Plymouth Argyle’s shot directions during the 2021/22 League One season

The strikers, Ryan Hardie and Luke Jephcott, have created a fantastic strike partnership, scoring 10 goals between them this season whilst also providing eight assists.

The two forward men don’t touch the ball very often throughout the game as most of the work is done in midfield. This shows that Plymouth only look to get the ball to the front two when the time is right.

Ryan Lowe wants his teams to build up the pitch with a series of short passes. 79% of all passes that Plymouth make, per game, are short ones.

Again, this shows the influence of Klopp, Benitez and Rodgers on Lowe’s style of play, ditching the stereotypical, English, route one.

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During Ryan’s time at Bury, he asked why The Shakers can’t play like Liverpool and Manchester City. Ensuring that it was the best way to play football, however risky it may be.

Ryan Lowe and his team have successfully outscored the opposition 10 times so far this season, putting them in the running for promotion to the Championship. 

Lowe’s five in midfield is an interesting one, and very rare to see in today’s game.

Joe Edwards and Conor Grant are the typical wide players in midfield, with Jordan Houghton sitting in the middle of the five.

Ryan Broom and Panutche Camara sit in-between the wide players and the middleman, with no use of a number 10.

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Ryan Broom, on loan from Peterborough, has impressed in this role. Providing four assists, the joint-second highest in League One.

This season, Plymouth have had the second most shots on target per match (5.2) and the third lowest goals conceded per match in League One

This proves that Ryan Lowe has the ability to maintain solidness at the back whilst playing an open and expressive brand of attacking football.

What could the future hold for Ryan Lowe?

Promotion to the Championship will be on the agenda for Ryan Lowe after Plymouth’s fantastic start to their 2021/22 League One campaign.

Reaching the Championship would be a huge feat for Plymouth Argyle after last being in the division during the 2009/10 season.

Argyle finished 23rd and were seven points adrift from safety after losing their last five games in a late push to ensure their Championship status.

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Since then, The Pilgrims have spent seven out their last ten seasons in League Two. 

Many managers have failed to take Plymouth to the next level, but Ryan Lowe could be the man to change this.

Should Plymouth win promotion, staying up in the Championship would be a huge success for the club given the ever increasing quality of the Championship.

However, Lowe’s unique style of play gives the club every chance of achieving this.

Ryan Lowe is only 43 years old which is very young for a football manager, offering incredible potential of how much he can still achieve as a manager.

His progress so far won’t have gone unnoticed by Championship clubs and even Premier League clubs

It wouldn’t take much for a club in the Championship to take a chance on the current Plymouth Argyle manager, if he continues to succeed.

For now though, Lowe is contracted at Home Park until the summer of 2024, giving him plenty of time to reach new heights with Plymouth Argyle.

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