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Steven Schumacher hopes Keith Downing will continue Plymouth Argyle coaching role

Steven Schumacher is hoping that Keith Downing will continue as Plymouth Argyle’s first team head coach next season.

Downing, 56, signed a short-term contract when he was appointed by Schumacher in December after his promotion to the role of Pilgrims’ boss from assistant manager following the departure of Ryan Lowe to Preston North End.

Talks are now taking place about whether Downing will return for the 2022/23 League One campaign, with Schumacher admitting that his experience and knowledge had been a big help for him.

Read more: Argyle defender Brendan Galloway set to be fit for start of pre-season

Downing had not previously come across 38-year-old Schumacher during his career but the connection between the two of them came through Rob Kelly, the former Leicester City manager.

Kelly had worked with Lowe and Schumacher at Bury, and is also good friends with Downing.

Schumacher said: “Keith only signed a short-term deal when he first came in but he has loved it, and we have loved having him.

“He’s a character, he’s a brilliant coach and he has been such a help to me. We are having conversations.

“Where he lives, and his situation with his family and whatever, he needs to make sure all that’s right, but hopefully he will be here next year.”

Downing worked alongside Kevin Nancekivell, Mark Hughes and Darren Behcet as the coaching staff for Schumacher.

Hughes, 35, retired as a player at Bristol Rovers to take up his role at Home Park in January and he, too, has benefited from having Downing around.

Schumacher continued: “It’s Keith’s experience, just his knowledge, the things he has seen and done, and his little bits of advice.

“He’s like how I worked when I coached, there is nothing too scientific or anything about it. It’s just good, and it’s structured and it’s planned.

“It’s exactly how he is. He’s methodical with how he works, and that’s how I like to work.

“He was brilliant for me, he took a lot of the stress off because obviously my role changed pretty quickly and I was getting dragged in different directions.

“I just felt it was important to have Keith there, knowing that things were getting taken care of the way I like to do them. He was amazing.

“Mark has come in as well and has learned off him. Nance and Darren have all enjoyed working in that office together – it gets a bit rowdy next door sometimes!”

Downing was always able to carry out the planning for each training session, allowing Schumacher to concentrate on another part of his job as manager.

Schumacher said: “I was always on the training ground but it’s just that hour, the lead in, the prep, making sure the numbers are right, the pitch sizes, the teams, the messages.

“You have got to plan and if the plan isn’t done right then the players see right through it.

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“One thing I would say about our team and probably the reason why we did so well throughout the whole season is we are organised.

“Everybody knows what they are doing, their roles and responsibilities when we have got the ball clear.

“The information that they get on the opposition is to the finest detail, and that’s something Keith hadn’t seen before. He was ‘I quite like the way you do these meetings’ so he learned something off us.

“It was part of the reason why we had a successful year. If we stick to that plan next year and add a bit more quality then hopefully we will have another good one.”

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