Steven Schumacher knows how quickly football’s fortunes can change. Plymouth Argyle boss took charge of his 10th management game at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in February when he was in charge of Everton’s U11 just four years ago.
“We’ve almost shaken up the European and world champions!” Schumacher beat Ligue 1 club Sky Sports 2-1 in extra time in the fourth round of the FA Cup. “We have completely exceeded expectations this year, of course. We’ve only conceded five goals since we played Chelsea.
Plymouth’s defensive record is the key to their unlikely promotional bid, winning seven of their last eight league games, keeping a clean sheet in all seven wins.
Their form won Schumacher the Sky Bet League One Manager of the Month award in March, his first honor in just four months of his first management job.
The 37-year-old, the division’s fourth youngest manager, resigned from his role as assistant when Ryan Lowe left for the Preston North End of the Championship in December – and never looked back.
Plymouth is still in debate for the top-three finish with five games remaining, including meetings with promotion rivals Wiccombe, Sunderland, Wigan and MK Dons while Schumacher is in his fifth month of service.
“The fifth month seems crazy! It’s gone so fast, “he said. “I really enjoyed this role. The first four months were great. I couldn’t tell them to go any better.
The youngest manager in League One:
Kieran McKenna – Ipswich Town: 35
Mark Bonner – Cambridge United: 36
Liam Manning – MK Dons: 36
Steven Schumacher – Plymouth Argyle: 37
Johnny Jackson – Charlton Athletic: 39
Gary McSheffer – Doncaster Rovers: 39
“It would not have been easy for the players if Ryan Low had left. It would not have been so smooth if a completely different manager with different coaching staff had come into transition. It simply came to our notice then.
Schumacher and Low won promotions together with Bury from League Two in 2019 before repeating the feat with Plymouth the following year. The pair are best friends and remain so despite their differences.
“It was a difficult decision to talk to him directly when I was offered a job,” said Schumacher. “It was difficult to break that relationship, I think it took us a few weeks to settle down but we realized we still needed each other.
“I called her a few times and said, ‘What do you think? What would you do in this situation? ‘, And he picked up the phone to me when it didn’t go so well for him. I want her to do very well and I know she wants me to do well so in the end everyone came out well. “
When Preston was ready to hire people, Schumacher was offered a quick Plymouth job – an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.
“I knew this was the right time for me to work for a football club,” he said.
“Owner Simon Hallett and CEO Andrew Parkinson, the way they run the club is great. As a young coach or manager you will not have a good chance to make mistakes. When they hired Ryan and me from Bury, we had only one season to manage. They gave us a chance.
“In the first two and a half years, we didn’t get everything right and they were right with it. They knew we were going to get it wrong and now it’s the same with me. I knew it was the right thing to do for my own career because I knew I would never have that opportunity again. “
Plymouth have won 11 of their last 14 league games to silence skeptics who thought they would be dropped from the promotional picture after Lowe’s departure.
Striker Ryan Hardy is spending his best season with 19 League One goals, while Mike Cooper, 22, and an academy product, are considered by many to be the best goalkeepers in the division. Schumacher quickly highlighted the work of his assistant Keith Downing in their defensive improvement.
“He’s a great coach who doesn’t have a possession,” said Schumacher. “We’ve worked really hard to organize against Chelsea.
“Working with Keith and going through it taught me a few things and I really enjoyed it. The players are enjoying, we are showing them things that we are really doing well and we are also showing them things that we can still improve.
“The players were of a different class, they could no longer be asked. Auto promotion for Plymouth should be challenging for places where we are financially as a club, where we entered League One last season and secured ourselves. This is an incredible achievement where we are this year. “
Plymouth will travel to Burton this weekend before their crucial final four games that could end a 12-year absence from the championship.
Argyle fans didn’t imagine this scene at the start of the season and neither will their new guy in the dugout.
Schumacher adds, “Before, no one knew who I was.” Walking around town is a little different now, people are stopping us and talking about photographs or games. The attention you get is very different now.
“It’s going great at the moment so all the attention is good but we also know that football can change fast and when it’s not going so well the attention may not be so kind. But I think fans will see and understand that as long as I give it 100 percent and try to give my best, they will accept whatever the outcome is. “