A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Scott Laird captained the Scotland Under-17's against Austria yesterday and scored in their 3-1 victory. The team are taking part in a four-nation tournament in Northern Ireland and will also face the United States and Belgium. John James said: "It's a great achievement for Craig to be made captain. It's also very pleasing for the club, especially as we have got a Scottish manager!"
Jason Bent had an operation on Tuesday to cure a persistent knee injury and will not play again this season. Bent wants to be fit in time to play for Canada in two World Cup qualifiers in June and looks like he has now played his last game for Argyle. Bobby Williamson said: "It will be difficult for me to make a judgment on him, which is disappointing. Jason has been feeling it for a while and has never been comfortable with it so he made the decision to have the operation sooner rather than later. He could have waited a couple of weeks and tried to force his way into the team but maybe he couldn't have done himself justice anyway, playing with this in the back of his mind. He has got sorted it now, and he needs to think about himself, I suppose. Jason decided to have the operation sooner rather than later so he could make himself available for Canada. He has made that decision, but he has ruled himself out for us and, as I said, I would have liked to see him before the end of the season. If he's not going to get a contract here, he has got to make sure he's fit enough to get a contract elsewhere. I will just be taking it on a daily basis and talking to people before I make a judgment. I spoke to Jason and told him what the situation is and he's okay with that."
Stewart Yetton and Ryan Dickson could be part of the first-team squad at Hartlepool. Both are poised to travel to the Victoria Ground and may make the bench. Stuart Gibson said: "It's a big fillip for the whole of Argyle's youth development programme. Both of them have come through the ranks. For Yetton, it's recognition for the goals he's been getting and of the fact that his game has improved over the last 12 months. As for Dickson, it's been a fantastic first year for him. His attitude has been phenomenal and he's just kept on going. Full credit to them both." Bobby Williamson said: "Stuarts goal on Wednesday came from the spot, but he created it himself. He won a penalty and stuck it away well. He's a busy wee striker. I like strikers who can put themselves about and work defenders. He does that, and he has got an eye for the back of the net as well so it augurs well for him. I will give him every encouragement to stake a claim and it's up to the guys in the team to try to keep him out of it. He will be disappointed he never managed to stake a claim in the team this season, but we have got a decent bunch of strikers at the club. If the boy can force his way in past these guys he has done really well. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, he has not done that this season. I'm hoping if he can get a good pre-season under his belt and get stronger again and if he works on his upper body then he can maybe play in the first division, but time will tell. Dickson did well the other day and I was impressed with his contribution. I will give him every encouragement as well."
Marino Keith has promised the fans that the team will not be taking it easy in their final away game of the season. "It's an important game," he said. "We've got a fax in the office from Port Vale saying congratulations on winning the title but please do a job against Hartlepool, because there's a lot riding on it for them, obviously. We've been really professional right the way through the season and we've just got to see that through. It would be very easy for us to say that it wouldn't matter what the result is, but that wouldn't be right. The fans deserve it as they have been fantastic. They've played such a big part in our success this season. The travelling support has been phenomenal, especially when you consider the distances they travel. It's an incredible sacrifice to make, and they do it week in, week out."
David Friio is already looking ahead to next season. He said: "It's great to think what we have done in the last three years but we must be ambitious and look ahead to next season. It's another challenge for us coming up and we must make sure that we consolidate our position. We have worked hard to get where we are and we must not lose it now. We will be meeting teams like West Ham, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, who have all had Premiership experience. And that's without the clubs who are coming down. People say we will struggle next season - maybe so - but teams like Crewe have shown you don't have to be a big club to survive in the first division. Yes, it will be tough at times for sure but it's also another challenge for us, and a good one I think." Friio attended last weekends PFA dinner accompanied by Phill Gill. Friio said: "It's great to be honoured by my fellow players and I really enjoyed the evening. It was very nice but the credit must go to my team-mates. It's because of what we have achieved this season that I was included. Cocko couldn't make it, which was a shame, but he had his family over from Ireland for the weekend. We were on a top table and I saw Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira." Friio is hoping to score at least one more goal before the end of the season to take his tally to 15. "Although the gaffer might make changes for those matches, in order to give other players a chance, we will be looking to win both. I'm hoping to score at least one more goal. I don't think it's impossible to do that from midfield."
Bobby Williamson has revealed that Mickey Evans and David Friio have slight injuries and both may miss tomorrows game. "It's nothing major, but after a long journey and playing a match it may take its toll on them," he said. "I would like these guys available for the last game of the season because they have contributed so much."
Argyle have offered new deals to Marino Keith and Lee Hodges. "Lee and Marino are close to settling with the club," said Bobby Williamson. "I've not had a chance to speak to Martin Phillips and Jason Bent had surgery on Tuesday and is out for the season. I'll just have to see if there's any players who can take his position. I'm not closing the door on Jason, but it's just not possible to assess him."
Tony Capaldi played the full 90 minutes last night as Northern Ireland drew 1-1 at home to Serbia & Montenegro. Bobby Williamson will decide tomorrow whether to include him in the squad for Hartlepool. He said: "I will speak to him and see how he's feeling. I'm sure he will be desperate to travel so I will gauge his reaction."
Argyle's reserves lost 2-1 at Cardiff City, Stuart Yetton scoring Argyle's goal. Argyle: Larrieu, Parish, Sawyer, O'Sullivan, Villis, Routledge, Coxon, Evans, Yetton, Hoyles, Dickson. Subs – Summerfield, Zebrowski (not used - Martin, Bulley, Schofield)
Argyle have confirmed that they will once again be travelling to Austria in the summer. Exact dates for the tour have not been finalised, but like last year there will be places available for supporters to travel with the club party. Further information can be obtained from commercial manager Andy Budge
Bobby Williamson has refused to comment on recent transfer speculation but did say: "We will be looking to strengthen the team going into the first division, to complement the squad we have already got. It's not to their detriment and they shouldn't fear that. All big clubs have got squads of players who are capable of competing for positions. If you are at a club like Argyle you should be well aware of that and look on it as a challenge. It's not a threat to any player who is already here that we have got to add to the squad in the summer. I think I will be linked with quite a lot of players, especially those who I took to Hibs or have been associated with me in the past. I certainly couldn't speculate on anything because these guys are contracted to clubs at this moment in time and it would be wrong of me to actually identify individuals."
Bobby Williamson could make several changes to the team for this weekends game at Hartlepool as he wants to take a look at all the players in his squad. Romain Larrieu, David Worrell, Jason Bent and Ian Stonebridge could all play and Mickey Evans is likely to be rested. The squad returned to training on Tuesday after being given Sunday and Monday off to celebrate. "The players have really enjoyed themselves over the last few days and I'm sure the supporters have too," said Williamson. "Now we look forward to the Hartlepool game. It might give me an opportunity to have a look at the other players in the squad. I know exactly what Mickey Evans is capable of doing, so he might be rested, but I haven't really made my mind up about anybody else yet. We will see how they do over the next few days." He insisted, however, he would not be taking the game lightly. "Other teams are trying to get into the play-off spots so we will put out a team that's capable of winning the match."
Argyle's board of directors are busy thrashing out financial details ahead of next season. Paul Stapleton said: "We're in the middle of working out prices for next year, but until we know where we are in that area, we can't really make fixed plans. For example, we haven't heard from the Football League just how much money we'll be receiving for being in Division One next season. But I do know that Bobby, who has only been in the job for just over a week, is already busy looking at possible players for next season. I know Bobby's a great believer in Bosman-type signings, but that doesn't mean there won't be money for transfers if necessary. There'll be a budget for players, obviously, and if it needs to be used to pay a transfer fee, then that's the way it will have to be."
Argyle are hoping to have championship merchandise available at the club shop by the end of the week. Phill Gill said: "There will be just about anything you can think of. I'm sure that the fans will be want to have a keepsake or two to commemorate our brilliant season."
Argyle's players are being rewarded for winning the Second Division title with a trip to Spain. The squad will fly out to Magaluf after the final game on May 8th. Paul Stapleton gave his blessing to the treat: "The players definitely deserve their holiday - it'll allow them to relax and enjoy themselves," he said. "We did the same thing two years ago and the players and the officials enjoyed their time there immensely. And the younger players can enjoy themselves in a well-controlled environment."
Bobby Williamsons first transfer target is rumoured to be centre-back Gary Caldwell. The Scotland international was signed by Williamson for Hibs from Newcastle United in January but is available for nothing again in the summer. Another rumoured target is Hibs French defender Matthias Doumbe whose deal also expires at the end of the season
Marino Keith believes that the timing of Bobby Williamson's arrival as manager was a crucial factor in helping Argyle clinch promotion. "I think the board did well and appointed the gaffer at the right time," said Keith. "I think we'd all become a wee bit nervous in the previous weeks and the gaffer's calmness has rubbed off on everybody in here. It's kind of hard to explain, but like the rest of the boys, my head was buzzing and I couldn't focus on the job at hand and I think it showed in our performances. So, having the gaffer here has settled us down this week and, hopefully, we can go on from here." Keith admitted his joy at winning the title had been mixed with relief at getting the job done. "I think everybody was just so happy to get over the finishing line," he said. "The atmosphere out there was just incredible from start to finish. I don't think you could write a scenario like it - I don't think it could get any better. Those memories will live with me forever, no doubt about that. It was fantastic. The crowd never got on our backs once, which was great. And I think we deserved the win as in the first-half, particularly, I think we outplayed them. I honestly thought it was only going to be a matter of time before we scored. I think at the end of the day, it showed how everybody carried out their responsibilities, everybody did their job. The players, the staff, everybody's done their bit in pulling it all together. And although it went down to the last 10 minutes in the end, I think we deserved the victory."
Graham Coughlan celebrated his fourth championship medal in six seasons and admitted he was hungry for more. "I'm a winner, I always have been, and I'm in the game to win things," he said. "The medals have been flooding in over the last few years and long may it continue. I might not show it at times but I'm as proud as punch. I take a lot of pride in my work and it's always nice when you work hard and you get rewarded in some way. I would like another one or two medals before I finish my career." Coughlan was named in the PFA second division select side along with David Friio. He said: "To not only win the league as champions but to get into a team which has been voted on by your peers is a great honour. I'm absolutely chuffed. There were four of us in the team after we won the third division and it's a pity there are only two of us this time. If I had my way, I would have taken all the boys. Anybody who knows me will tell you I'm not into individual praise. Without the rest of the boys, this would not have been possible. It's a great achievement for me and David but I certainly would have had others in the team. The league table doesn't lie, I wouldn't swap any of our lads with any other players in the league. That's not just the 11, but all 18-20."
Argyle have set a target of selling 10,000 season tickets next season. Membership details will be announced before the last game of the season and prices are set to increase following promotion. Peter Jones insisted that was essential so the club could re-invest in the squad. "The first division is a far more attractive proposition and, therefore, has to attract a more premium price," he said. "We have to be able to pay our way at that level. Now we know where we are going to be next season we can start to get things moving. The memberships will definitely be launched before the game against Colchester." Tickets on matchdays will also increase, with adult seats possibly increasing from £15 to £20. Jones said: "The prices have to go up to reflect the quality of the product and, more importantly, to invest back in the team. The worst thing that could happen would be for us to go up and then come straight back down. The prices will be competitive in respect of the rest of the first division. We are hoping the fans will really get behind the players and the management team," said Jones. "We have come a long way in the last three years. A lot of supporters will start to worry about not getting tickets for games, like on Saturday for example. I think we could have sold 30,000 tickets quite easily for that one. I would like to get 10,000 members next season, and if we do that we would have a wonderful situation as far as the finances of the club are concerned. The cash flow benefits are fantastic. I'm absolutely sure that it will increase the size of the business by at least 50 per cent. By that, I mean more TV money, more ticket sales, more corporate and sponsorship revenue and more retail."
Decisions on the futures of Argyle's four remaining out-of-contract players will be made soon by Bobby Williamson. Jason Bent, Lee Hodges, Martin Phillips and Marino Keith will all be free agents at the end of the season. Peter Jones said: "One of the reasons we are delighted to have got Bobby in now is that he can start to work on who he wants next season. He will be looking at a lot of other issues over the next two weeks." Williamson will also be busy planning Argyle's pre-season friendlies and Jones admitted it was a 'distinct possibility' that the squad would return to Austria. There is also a possibility of a pre-season friendly against Southampton at Home Park and Jones said: "I wouldn't have a problem with that at all. I think it would be churlish of the club to turn down the opportunity to play against decent Premiership opposition. But nothing has been arranged yet. Bobby is getting his pre-season programme together now." Bobby Williamson said: "I will be speaking to all four of them individually to see what their thoughts are and then take it from there. I think most people would want to get it done very, very quickly - before the end of the season is the aim. I would think these players would have had their agents working hard to find them offers or options. But if they want to stay and we want to keep them, then I'm sure we can come to an agreement." Lee Hodges is rumoured to be a target for Bristol Rovers
Tudor Evans has called for the city and club to work together to finish Home Park. He said: "This was a total triumph for the team and the club and the city need to capitalise on this fantastic success and look to the future. We need to finish this stadium to make it fit for league champions as well as and a division one and hopefully premiership team. Argyle's elevation means a great deal to the city and our new status. It gives the city opportunities with everything else to continue our upward and onward march. We do not want to rush into anything and any development will need a thorough and full planning application, but we are prepared to set up a team of planning officers and leisure officers to work with Plymouth Argyle. We want to encourage a planning application from the club. The first priority for the club is to make sure they can consolidate their position in the first division next year. Even though that is the case, there are plenty of things we need to between now and the construction of the fourth side of the stadium." Peter Jones welcomed the statement, saying: "Tudor Evans was at the match on Saturday and we had a good talk afterwards. He was, as we all were, bowled over by the match. There's no doubt that he fully understands just how important a successful Argyle is for the City of Plymouth. We're delighted that he wants to accelerate the process of the revitalisation of the facilities in Central Park - we clearly share the same aspirations. We're happy to meet with him and his officials anywhere, at any time that suits to move the project along."
The City Council has announced it is to host a civic reception for Argyle at the Council House on Sunday, May 9th. The team will arrive by open top buses after travelling along a route from Home Park and are expected to leave the stadium at about 11.15am. Council leader Tudor Evans said: "This victory is a massive boost to the city. We've all been walking around like Cheshire cats since quarter to five onSaturday afternoon." Paul Stapleton welcomed the Council's invitation, he said: "We are delighted that the whole of Plymouth can again enjoy a day of celebration. It will be a marvellous day, not just for Argyle, but for the entire city."
Graham Coughlan and David Friio have both been named in the PFA Second Division team of the season. Paul Wotton paid tribute to his team-mates, saying: "It's fantastic for both players. It's a great honour to know that our fellow professionals, who we've been competing against week in, week out, think so highly of David and Graham." Wotton feels that Argyle could have had more players in the team though. "I would have put Mickey Evans in my team," he insisted. "Other strikers have scored more goals but, if you asked centre-backs in our league which player they've least liked marking, I'm sure most of them would pick Mickey. Also, I thought Luke McCormick has had a fantastic season in goal."
Argyle are in safe hands with Bobby Williamson as their manager, according to Kevin Summerfield. "Bobby has been first class," said Summerfield. "I have only really known him since Tuesday but he has been thoroughly professional. He's a completely different character to Paul and I'm sure the Club couldn't be in better hands. I'm absolutely certain he will be a success, and that's only in four days. The way he has conducted himself, he has been very open and very honest. You can't ask any more in my position. He said from day one that if he could take a little bit of the pressure off me that's what he would do. I was pleased that he was down on the bench from the first minute. It was a big help to the team, myself and the rest of the coaching staff." Summerfield gave an insight into the pressures he has felt since taking over as caretaker. "It would be hard to put into words how difficult the last seven or eight weeks have been," he said. "I would say, without doubt, it has been the most difficult period since I have been involved in football from 1976 onwards. There are people who deserve a lot of credit for what has gone on. First and foremost, Sloop and Geoff. They know how difficult it has been for me. I have been very lucky to have their counsel since Paul left. I have had tremendous support from them, which has been a massive help to me." Summerfield also thanked Paul Stapleton for his backing. "We had a meeting before the Notts County game and he has been first class with me from then until now. I can't speak highly enough of the way he has conducted himself. He has understood my situation perfectly and he has gone out of his way to help me out. He has been on hand to talk to me as and when I have needed, and he has really smoothed the way to make doing the job easier in the time I have been in charge. Obviously, the players have been absolutely top-rate, but there was never really a question about the players. It was everything else that was going on behind-the-scenes. I hadn't got any worries about the players at all. I knew they would give their all. The supporters have been absolutely unbelievable, especially on the away trips. We are very lucky. I would consider our away support to be up there with the best of anything in the country. They have been a big lift, especially when things haven't gone particularly well away from home. They have kept us going."
Bobby Williamson was all smiles after the game on Saturday. "That's the way we were hoping everything would go," he said. "We got the goals at good times and we won the game. It's great. The supporters were fantastic and they helped the players get there, over that finishing line. Everybody played their part, and I played a very minor one." Williamson was not surprised in the least that the match had been so closely contested. "There wasn't a lot of football played but we kind of thought that would be the way. Then, when you see how hot it was, it was always going to be difficult for players to actually create anything. But we did have the better chances I felt. I don't think Luke had many saves to make, although they did get into our area and put a couple of dangerous balls across it. I was just always hoping we could get that first goal. I felt whoever got it would go on and win the game and, thankfully, that was the case. It was a fantastic goal. Chuck Norris crossed it over and big Mickey got on the end of it. It was great because decent balls into the box were few and far between. Mickey Evans did what he's good at, I'm told, by getting there and getting his head on it. It was an inviting cross and young Norris played it in very well. That obviously gave us that bit of breathing space and the lads showed their professionalism in the latter stages with keeping the ball in the corner for as long as I have seen a ball kept in a corner!"
Mickey Evans was thrilled to have scored in Argyle's championship-clinching victory He said: "All I can remember is the ball going down the line and Chuck bringing it back on himself. The centre-half for some reason went towards the ball, rather than trying to pick up me, and I think that's one of my best headers ever. I was delighted, but I was too tired to run off and celebrate so the lads came over to me. It has been a long season and I'm chuffed for all the lads, especially the younger ones because it must have been so difficult for them when the manager went. Even the lads who weren't involved today, they have played their part all through the season. I cannot emphasise how much it is a team effort."
Kevin Summerfield has again refused to rule out a move to Southampton at the end of the season. He said: "Nothing has been decided and nothing has been talked about but, whatever happens, nobody can take today away from us. Whether I'm in a job, out of a job or whatever, it doesn't make any difference. I have been very, very fortunate as a coach that I have had three championship seasons, which some people never ever get. I'm not one to blow my own trumpet but there has got to be something I do that is pretty much right." Summerfield revealed he had never wanted to be manager on a permanent basis. "I had a chat with the chairman and I stated categorically from minute one that I didn't want the job. It was inappropriate, and not in the best interests of anybody involved with the football club, to know that fact because it would have detracted from what we were trying to do with the players. I didn't feel at the time that I wanted to become the manager. I enjoy my coaching. That's where I see my future in football."
Roman Larrieu claimed hard work and team spirit had carried Argyle to promotion for the second time in three seasons. "It's a great feeling and everybody is just so happy, so happy," he said. "We have been lucky, sometimes, but we've worked so really, really hard in the three-and-a-half years that I've been here. To win a big game like this - we really wanted to beat QPR - and then we're champions, it's unbelievable. I haven't been as involved as I would like, but Luke has done so well. But what has brought us to this success is the togetherness that we have in the squad and in the dressing room. We are friends and we dig in and work for each other and I am so happy. Yes, we owe a lot to Paul Sturrock, and although I don't know the new manager very well, he gave us a few words before the game, and so you know that somebody is looking after us. But it's team-work - Summers stepped in when the gaffer left and we carried on. We had a run of bad results at the wrong time and everybody got nervous, but we knew we had the quality. I'm already looking forward to next season, because I think we can achieve big things with this club."
David Friio admitted that Argyle's recent form had put pressure on the team. He said: "We were under pressure today because we could have got the points before. But I think it was the right time, though, as there was a big crowd, a top of the league clash and we won it in the last five minutes. It's always a tight game when you play the first two. It was tight in midfield and everywhere on the pitch. But we're very delighted to have gotten the result. We wanted that for the fans who have waited for a long time as we could have been promoted three weeks ago, if the results had gone our way. We've been lucky, but when we've been asked to react, we have done so. As I've said we could have been promoted before but today we knew it was very simple: if we won, we'd be top of the league and promoted. It was a fantastic atmosphere - sometimes when you have a big crowd you don't play so good. But, today, I don't think the crowd ever stopped singing. We've said that the fans are on our team sheet and that's right, the Green Army is the 12th man."
Graham Coughlan put Argyle's success down to a collective 'team effort'. "From one to 22, even the couple of boys that left earlier in the season, Paul Sturrock, the board, the fans, you name it, everyone has played their part in all this," he said . "It's more than just the 11 guys who took to the field today. It's one big club here, one big family. People move on, but that's part and parcel of football these days. Today is a tremendous occasion for anyone connected with Argyle. The atmosphere out there was amazing, hopefully there will be more days like that to come. For now we'll just enjoy this evening, enjoy our achievement. I think if you look at our starting side today, seven or eight of those boys have now won Second and Third Division championships medals - that's a tremendous achievement. It speaks volumes for the team spirit and the togertherness of this football club. You could not have asked for a better occasion today. A 20,000 crowd and to beat QPR 2-0, it doesn't get much better than this. The support out there was just tremendous. In the end we could have sold the game twice over, it was just unbelievable and the players really do appreciate it." Coughlan has now won four championship medals in six years. "It's been a great three years down here. I've just picked up medal after medal, both individually and as a team, it's just been absolutely brilliant. That's my fourth championship medal in the space of six years. Sometimes I just have to pinch myself to see if it's all true. Everyone is delighted. It's what we've been working for all season. Today was just perfect. Paul Sturrock said to us at the start of the season that we could win this league and that we could go up, he said we just had to believe in ourselves and work hard. Everyone has played their part in all this from the chairman down to the tea lady, it's been a collective effort from all of us."
Paul Connolly was delighted following the win over QPR. "I was nowhere at the start of the season, just a first-year pro and that," he said. "Now I find myself playing a big part in winning the league and getting us into the First Division, it's just unbelievable. You can't ask for anything better than beating QPR. The fans were incredible from start to finish. It was awesome at the end there. Words can't describe it. You just have to soak it all in, enjoy the feeling and that's just what I did." Luke McCormick was overwhelmed by the crowd's reaction and the season he has had. "I just can't believe how it's all turned out," he said. "If you had told me at the start of the season that we we're going to be champions and that I'd play all these games, then I'd probably have laughed at you. To be involved in two championship winning sides at only 20 is just great. I still have to pinch myself, especially after things like today. The fans were just brilliant and it's a great day for all of them. It's what they have been waiting for, we're just delighted we have to able to give it to them. It's just been an incredible season for me."
Following yesterdays win club captain Paul Wotton said: "It's fantastic. It's testament to the lads. From day one of the season we've absolutely worked our socks off. Things haven't gone our way over the last couple of weeks but today everyone stuck together and we went out and got a result. The thing about this bunch of boys, is that we never blabbed our mouths off when we won the Third Division. We never said we were going to win the title then and we never said we were going to do this. We've let our football do the talking. We're champions. Simple as that. Have a look at the facts. In 30 years' time when I'm sat there with the grandkids I can say that I've captained two championship-winning sides. I'm so proud of the boys and I'm proud to be from Plymouth today. It is unbelievable. Three-and-a-half years ago we were almost at the bottom of Division Three. Now we're going to be playing the big boys next year. All the boys were close to tears of a different kind at the end. I'm so proud to be captain of this squad. We've had some real tough times this year. When we won Division Three it was an enjoyable time, because we were the best team by a million miles and we walked it. This year I can honestly say, and I know this sounds ridiculous, yes, we're champions but it hasn't been enjoyable. It's been stressful and the boys have been making hard work of it. But it's done now, it's done. It's more of relief than anything, and I'm sure it won't sink in for a couple of days. Everyone is in the changing room drinking champagne and then all of a sudden it hits you. You're absolutely knackered. I can honestly say, standing here now, that I'm glad the season is effectively over. I'm suspended next week so for me it's pretty much done. It sounds ridiculous, and don't take this the wrong way, but it's been one of my least enjoyable seasons - because the prize at the end has been so great. It's Division One. But I'm already feeling excited. It's where a club of this stature should be."
After securing the championship Paul Stapleton looked to the future: "That was fantastic. You can't buy moments like that, and this club has been bereft of them for about 93 of its 100 years. What a result today, QPR are second in the League and we beat them 2-0. The team were magnificent. There was tension all around, but when Mickey's goal went in I knew we had it and then David wrapped it up. It was fantastic. The whole board are so pleased. Everybody at this football club is so pleased. We know it's a higher level. We know we've got to work harder. We've got a new manager in Bobby Williamson. He has experienced us now. He has seen what the club can do. The City Council leader, Tudor Evans, was here today. He can see what Argyle can do for the city. He's going to help us, hopefully, finish our stadium. We've got more income to look forward to. We've got better quality opposition to face, but there's no limit to what this club can achieve. We've been trying to build the blocks slowly in the three years since this board took over, but the five-year plan is out of the window! We've got to get a new one now. We've exceeded it." Peter Jones added his plaudits. "You couldn't have scripted that better," he said. "That was a really hard game. It was really tough. QPR are an exceptional side. We all know that. Our boys really battled and they just kept going and kept going. It was a wonderful goal from Mickey and a great second goal from David. Just imagine it, in three years we've gone from being an average Third Division side to a First Division team - both times as champions. It's beyond our wildest dreams. What a great day. And the marvellous thing is that everyone at the club can now enjoy themselves for these last two weeks of the season. Everyone can say 'job well done', and we can just get through the season, have a great time and start planning for next season in a few week's time. But now it's all about enjoyment. I really do want to pay tribute to Kevin and John and the rest of the coaching staff and the other guys that have helped them. They've got us here since Paul Sturrock left. It's been wonderful to have Bobby Williamson on board today. That was a great boost, but at the end of the day I just want to say what a brilliant job the management team has done. I want to thank Paul Sturrock, and the guys who have kept it all going, and then of course the team. The players really wanted it. The day Sturrock went, they said they weren't even going to be satisfied with promotion, they wanted a medal. Well, they've got their medals. What could be better? We're thrilled. It's really great, that to coincide with our centenary season we've got only our fourth ever championship. It's been a marvellous day, and you couldn't have asked for anything better."
After winning the title in his first game in charge Bobby Williamson did not join in the celebrations on the pitch. He said: "It's probably the first and last time that will happen! It's a special day for the club and I don't want to take anything away from the work the coaches and players put in before I arrived. The previous manager, Paul Sturrock, did a fabulous job and then when he left the coaches carried on and have done a tremendous amount of work with the players. That's why I didn't celebrate with them on the pitch at the end. It was their day and I sat in the changing room while they celebrated."
Argyle secure promotion to the First Division and win the Second Division Championship with a 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Home Park. Mickey Evans in the 81st minute and David Friio (86) were the goalscorers. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Evans, Keith. Subs - Lowndes (not used - Larrieu, Sturrock, Phillips, Wotton). Attendance - 19,888. The usual superb coverage can be found on Greens On Screen
Ian De Lar's match report is here Bobby Williamson has promised to give youth a chance during his reign at Argyle. He said: "You tend to find with youngsters that they think 'there's a new manager here, we need to try to impress him and he might give us an opportunity'. I have never had a problem introducing youngsters into the first-team, that's for sure. I have always been a great believer that if they are good enough, they are old enough."
Graham Coughlan is sure the squad are ready for tomorrows challenge. "We know what's at stake and we are going to give our all tomorrow - that one thing is guaranteed," he said. "The attitude will be right and the commitment will be right in the dressing-room. Application will not be a problem. First and foremost, QPR have beaten us 3-0 this season. There were 3,500 supporters who travelled to Loftus Road and, no ifs or buts, we let them down that day. That's something we want to rectify. There's championships and there's promotions, but one thing on our minds is the 3-0 drubbing we got that day. We want to correct that. We want to prove we're on top of the league by merit, that we're the best team in the league. I think the timing of the appointment has been spot on. It's not often I give out accolades, but the board certainly has to take a pat on the back this week. We now have the fear-factor that the management carries in the dressing-room - it was intense this week. We're happy with our preparations. We know what's at stake - the nice thing is that we have got a second bite of the cherry and, if things go against us, we could have a third bite at the cherry."
David Friio has declared how eager Argyle are to wrap up promotion tomorrow. He said: "It's good timing for the new manager to arrive. We could have got the points we need before, to be more relaxed, but we didn't. We don't really know the new manager yet. He's just been watching us in training, but he'll have the final touch. He's the new boss, he's involved now and he's Plymouth Argyle. I'm sure he can't wait for Saturday either. It's going to be his result as well. We know it's going to be a massive game on Saturday. It's very simple. If we win, we're up, so we don't have to look for any motivation. We have to be ready, but if we try to play the game before Saturday we won't have any energy left, or nerves to compete. We haven't talked that much about the game. We have tried to work normally as much as possible. There will be lots of expectation from the fans, the board, the staff - even the players - but we know exactly what we have to do. We can't wait." Friio gave his first impressions of Bobby Williamson: "It's another Scottish accent for us to understand! But seriously, he said to us that at the moment every team at the top of the leagues are struggling. Even Arsenal. They are top of the Premiership and they lost two cup games in a row, so it's not the end of the world. That was his message. He told us that if we just keep going and come up with the same work-rate and attitude, as well as skill, then he will be happy with that. I think any manager would be happy with that."
Bobby Williamson is looking forward to his first match in charge of Argyle. He said: "It's fantastic. These are the occasions you want to be involved if you have got aspirations to do well in football. I would rather be at this end of the league than the other end, that's for sure." Williamson also said he had not had enough time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of his new squad. "I have watched them in training and there are a lot of capable players there," he said. "Hopefully, they will get the opportunity to play at a higher level again next year, if we get the three points we need. It's difficult to gauge the mood of the players because I'm not used to knowing how the guys react to situations. I will be speaking to the coaching staff and a few of the players to see how they are feeling about things and what we need to do to make sure we get the result we all need on Saturday." Williamson will watch the match from the directors' box - at least to begin with. He said: "I think it's always a good idea to have somebody in the directors' box, just to have a look and see the shape of everything. We have had QPR watched a few times and we know their team selection, although Ian might have a couple of surprises up his sleeve. But I tend to worry about my own team rather than the opposition. John and Kevin will know the team to pick and I'm sure they will get it right." Williamson is already getting used to life at Home Park: "People have been very welcoming and very friendly, as I expected. I had been well briefed on that. I have really enjoyed the last few days. The coaching staff have been great, and so have the players as well, so it has helped me to find my feet. We have not got the biggest squad in the world but I would like to get to know everybody at the club and everything about the place."
Paul Wotton confirmed all the of squad are excited by the prospect of playing in front of a capacity crowd tomorrow. "The last time was against Cheltenham in the third division, and what an atmosphere that was," he said. "Hopefully, that can be recreated tomorrow. It's something to really look forward to. It makes all the training and hard work you do throughout the season, all the running in the rain and the mud in the winter, worthwhile. I think it's the biggest game I have been involved in since I turned professional. There was the one at Burnley at the end of the relegation season, but that was a different kind of game. We needed a draw to stay up but, unfortunately, we lost. I think I would have been more nervous for that one, because I was only 19 and it was a high pressure game."
Bobby Williamson is setting his sights high after taking over as Argyle's new manager. "Who knows what can be achieved here," he said. "Obviously, the first division is our aim now. We are so close, and if we can clinch that on Saturday it would be tremendous. Then we will give it our level best in that division and see how we get on. You don't know how far you can go. You have got to set your sights high and, hopefully, try to achieve them. I just want to try to carry the good work on and take the club further forward." Williamson will be taking a close interest in the youth set-up at Argyle. "I will be putting an input into that and I will always go along and watch youth games," he said. "I feel it's important parents can see the manager of the club being present, just to show we are interested in their kids' development. I feel very strongly about the youth structure of football teams, and developing your own talent. We can't afford to run out and spend a lot of money on experienced players. The experienced players I would like to bring to the club, hopefully, we could get on free's. And they have got to be prepared to pass on their knowledge. It has always got to be the right type of player."
Jim Clark and Gerry McCabe are set to follow Bobby Williamson to Argyle in the summer. Both have worked with Williamson for the past eight years. Williamson said: "They are still under contract with Hibernian so we will speak about that at a later date. I have always carried two assistants with me, but I'm on the training park every day. I know there are managers at so-called bigger clubs who can't get out there. I trust my two assistants implicitly and I delegate very well. There's no point in having coaches and not using them so they have their input in the early part of the week. They do all the structuring for keeping the players' fitness levels up. I would be there but I would let them coach. Then, when we are shaping up for the game on Saturday, I would put more of an input into it." Williamson will not be an unfamiliar face to many English clubs. "You make contacts and you network all the time," he said. "Every time I came down south I would always make a point of going in for a cup of tea to meet scouts and other managers. That's what I have been doing over the years, building up that network. There are plenty of Scottish managers and coaches I can pick the phone up to, if I need to inquire about players in certain areas. There are also plenty of English managers and coaches I can speak to as well."
Argyle's reserve fixture at home against Oxford United has been moved from May 4th to May 3rd. As the match could decide the league it is hoped many more supporters will be able to attend the match on the Bank Holiday
Argyle's under-19's beat Cardiff City under-19's 2-1 on Saturday. Updated youth tables, results and fixtures can be found here
Despite being recommended by Paul Sturrock, Bobby Williamson has insisted: "I'm my own man," but admitted he had been given advice by Sturrock: "Paul knows the squad of players, he knows the area, he knows his backroom staff and he has been very helpful in informing me of what is happening here at Plymouth. That's great. The more knowledge you can get the better and it will help me settle in a lot quicker. But once I get my feet under the table then I will be making the decisions. I will not be pestering Paul to ask him what he would be doing in the situation. Paul is his own man and I'm my own man." Williamson has been impressed by the enthusiasm of the Argyle board and their bold plans for the future. He said: "They are all supporters, they are forward-thinking and the club is moving in the right direction, and that's to the first division. It's a great arena to be working in and it's a great challenge for me personally. I'm ambitious and I want to succeed with Plymouth."
Robert Dennerly and Phill Gill both agreed that the board were relieved and delighted at having Bobby Williamson as their new manager. "Yes, we're all relieved that we know we've chosen the right man," said Dennerly. "He's got the pedigree and personality to give the whole club a lift. The last few results have been a bit disappointing and I think we needed this particularly with the QPR game coming up. He has certainly lifted us and the staff have taken an instant liking to him and I know that will happen with the players as well." Dennerly admitted that the former Hibs boss had impressed the board during his interview last week. "His CV and experience was there ahead of him, we knew all about that, but you never actually know until you meet somebody. We'd done several interviews prior to Bobby - he was one of the last ones we saw. But within four or five minutes of Bobby sitting down, his presence, his obvious knowledge of football and his personality came through. Added to which he's a top-quality coach, has got all the credentials and comes from one of the top four clubs in the Scottish Premier League - that shouldn't be overlooked. In fact, within a few minutes I had that gut feeling that this was our man, and I didn't really have that with the other candidates, experienced as some of them were and good as they all were." Gill agreed that the capture of Williamson had produced a beneficial effect at the club. "There's always a degree of uncertainty in these situations," he said. "But in one stroke, that's all been removed now. But Bobby's not here for one game on Saturday, he's here for the long term. It's important that people don't lose sight of that. We've signed Bobby not to take just the QPR game, but to consolidate, hopefully, our position in the next division. One of the prerequisites we wanted was to appoint a winner and someone who is used to the big games and big occasions. Saturday's bound to be a big game, but next season, hopefully, there could eight or even nine exactly like that. And the players here, this squad, will be predominantly the one we have next season and they're going to have to get used to it. That was one of the things that made Bobby the frontrunner. Hopefully, he's going to establish us as a solid, first division club."
Paul Stapleton admitted it had been an easy decision to offer Bobby Williamson the managers job. He said: "We tried to think what was best for Argyle and we had a spread of people in our short-list anyway to cover all options. Once we had interviewed him for two-and-a-quarter hours, having previously done a lot of research work, it was quite an easy decision. The character and the charisma of the man, and the hunger and the ambition, came out in the interview. Bobby has a lot of contacts, which is a key factor. One of the things I was really anxious about was making sure that whoever the new manager was they had good contacts in the game. The higher you go up, the more contacts you have got to have. It's important you know your way around the Football League and everything else." Williamson was recommended by Paul Sturrock. "We asked Paul about Bobby, but he also mentioned a couple of other names as well," said Stapleton. "They are not bosom pals as such but they have a mutual respect for each other. It was really done out of the best interests for Argyle rather than finding a job for a friend. We are here to talk about Bobby Williamson, not Paul Sturrock, but Paul's heart is still with this football club even though he may have gone to Southampton. I'm sure he listens out for our results and don't forget his family is still here. I spoke to Paul yesterday and he's very, very pleased that Bobby has agreed to come."
Paul Stapleton has refused to confirm the widespread speculation that Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley would follow Paul Sturrock to Southampton in the summer. He said: "Kevin has still got over two years to run on his contract and John Blackley's runs out at the end of June. They are here at Argyle, and staying here at the moment. Obviously, we have got to sit down with all parties and see the next step. I know there is a lot of speculation, as always, but they are very much part of Argyle."
Argyle have agreed to pay £50,000 compensation to Hibernian for bringing Bobby Williamson to Home Park. Williamson had been on a one-year rolling contract with the SPL club. Paul Stapleton said: "We have had very amicable discussions with Rod Petrie, the Hibernian chief executive, and we have reached a satisfactory agreement."
Bobby Williamson has promised there will be no big changes to the Argyle squad. He said: "I think it was important the club made an appointment sooner rather than later, especially with three important games coming up, none more so than on Saturday. If we can get off to a good start then we can look ahead to the following season. But these players have done very, very well here and they will deserve a crack at the first division. I don't expect to be doing anything radical. Obviously, I will have a chat with Kevin and John and see where they feel we should be adding to the squad to complement the players we have already got. If the right player becomes available and I feel he's capable of adding to us then, obviously, I have got to try to get the best people to this club to please my supporters."
Argyle's reserves beat Cheltenham Town 5-0 at Home Park, the goals coming from a Stuart Yetton hat-trick, Jason Bent and Blair Sturrock. Argyle: Larrieu; Worrell, Villis, Sawyer, O'Sullivan, Coxon, Bent, Martin, Robotham, Yetton, Sturrock. Subs - Drew, Hoyles, Evans.D, (not used - Routledge, Summerfield).
Bobby Williamson's first training session was held before the Press conference today. He took a back-seat role however, as he watched Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley put the players through their paces. Williamson said: "I'll speak to the coaching staff and see what they have got planned. If I feel I need to change it, I'll change it, but I don't plan on upsetting the cart too much, because everything's been going well. Obviously it was a disappointing result at the weekend, but I'll speak to Kevin and John and find out what their plans are. At this moment in time, I think I'll oversee things and let these two guys carry on the good work they have been doing, although, as I say, if I have an input, I'll put it in." Williamson's first match in charge will be against QPR on Saturday but he confirmed today he would not pick the team. That will be left to Summerfield and Blackley. He said: "I will oversee the game, but Kevin and John know the team and know the players, they know how they performed in the previous games, so they will certainly be having a big input. I'll be looking forward to seeing the game from the directors' box and see how it shapes up from there."
Bobby Williamson was today confirmed as Argyle's new manager, signing a three-year contract. At the press conference Paul Stapleton said: "Welcome to the best-kept secret in town. The board of Plymouth Argyle are delighted to announce the appointment of a new manager, and to remove any doubt, that person is Bobby Williamson." Williamson himself said: "It's a great place to be. It's been very difficult. The Press north of the border have been pestering me to find out what's happening, but I'm a great believer in not saying anything until everything's completed – I'm just delighted it's completed. It was a big decision to leave Hibernian but this is a club which is moving forward, they've done a tremendous job and we are on the verge of promotion. I've been keeping an eye on things down here and been very envious of what Paul's been achieving, and I'm delighted to be here. I spoke to the board last week and I was very impressed with what they had to tell me, so it wasn't so difficult to make the journey from north of the border to south." Williamson could win the Second Division title in his first game in charge and said: "It's probably unique. Most managers move to a club because the club's in turmoil, but everything here seems to be going swimmingly. They have worked very, very hard to get where they are and it's my aim to try take them that bit further. It's a challenge – I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get over that finishing line and make ourselves a First Division team, and that's the aim – to make sure we're a very good First Division team and then see how far we can go. The First Division is a high standard. We played a couple of pre-season matches against Sunderland and Preston and both matches finished in draws. I know the standard and I know most of the managers and coaches." Hibernian are thought to be demanding £50,000 compensation from Argyle for Williamson. His assistants Jim Clark and Gerry McCabe are expected to move to Home Park over the summer which will allow Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley to make their expected move to Southampton.
Argyle will be holding a press conference tomorrow to announce the 'latest developments' in their search for a new manager. The press conference will be held in the Home Park boardroom starting at 1pm
Bobby Williamson was expected to arrive in Plymouth today to finalise his contract to become the new Argyle manager. Williamson was interviewed by the board in Bristol last Thursday and impressed them with his knowledge of the club and players. A Home Park insider confirmed the Scot had been by far the best of the candidates the board had seen. It is thought Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley will take charge of the team on Saturday. Summerfield and Blackley look certain to then join Paul Sturrock at Southampton. Williamson is expected to bring Hibernian coaches Jim Clark and Gerry McCabe with him to Home Park. Discussions about Williamson's personal terms have continued over the weekend and he said today: "There are a few things to be ironed out but I can't see how it can't go ahead."
Argyle today issued the following statement: "We understand that, with all the speculation regarding the identity of our new manager, fans are eager for information. However, since we have not yet appointed anyone, we feel it would be inappropriate to comment on what is mere speculation. We are continuing the careful process of finding a successor to Paul Sturrock, and our supporters will be the first to hear when there is any official news. Beyond that, we do not want to say any more."
Paul Wotton will be suspended for the penultimate game of the season, away to Hartlepool United following his sending off on Saturday
Kevin Summerfield wouldn't use the referee's performance as an excuse for yesterdays defeat. He said: "The referee didn't have any influence on the way our boys played, so we are never going to use that as an excuse for our performance. We made mistakes today that were schoolboy. We looked like we were waiting to win the game rather than going out and making it happen. We have given the boys nothing but plaudits all season, but they looked tense, looked nervous, looked like they were waiting for things to happen, rather than going out and making them happen." Of Paul Wottons sending off Summerfield said: "You saw how fumed Wottsy was when he came off the pitch. All game, apparently, the ref had asked if he'd wanted to play free-kicks quickly, and the ref had shouted 'play' so Wottsy took the free-kick. One or two of the lads who were around the ball said exactly the same thing, so the referee was totally out of order," and of the disallowed goal he said: "Goodness knows why he's not given that. The boys were incensed because they've basically pushed each other, there was no Oldham player around the scene and he's cancelled a goal. The guy was abysmal. We had other opportunities to go 3-2 down straight after the penalty. That would have possibly changed the game - not to say that we deserved it. We improved in the second half, a few home truths were said in the dressing-room. We asked them to do certain things. Basically, they were playing for their pride, for the club's pride, for the supporters. They showed a little bit more passion, a little bit more willingness, and a little bit more bottle to take the ball and try and do a few things. No disrespect to Oldham, but they looked very nervous and we should have taken the game to them. That was our plan, we wanted to get at them, we wanted to play, we wanted to get the ball down and get it wide, we didn't do it. They looked like the team that was top of the league, we waited for things to happen as if we've got a divine right to turn up and win games. In no sport have you got that, but especially in football. We let ourselves down." Summerfield paid tribute to the Green Army who comprised a quarter of the entire crowd. "The one thing that amazes me about the situation is the crowd," he said. "Our supporters just kept going and they tried to drag us into the game – if you were giving marks out ten, you'd give them ten. They were exceptional because of what we put in front of them."
After todays game Kevin Summerfield said his side got what they deserved for putting in a poor performance. "The referee didn't have any influence on the way our players performed so I'm not going to use that as an excuse. We made mistakes today which were schoolboy. We were very disappointing. The players looked tense and nervous. They looked like they were waiting for things to happen rather than making them happen. We were improved in the second half - there were a few home truths said at half time. They showed a little bit more bottle and passion in the second half."
Argyle lose 4-1 at Oldham Athletic, the goal scored by Paul Wotton in the 51st minute. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Keith, Evans. Subs - Phillips, Aljofree, Adams (not used - Lowndes, Sturrock). Attendance - 6,924. The usual superb coverage can be found on Greens On Screen
It is rumoured that Bobby Williamson will be appointed as Argyle's new manager as early as Monday. Negotiations over personal terms will go on over the weekend, but Williamson was allegedly happy to accept the Argyle job in principle. Hibs are understood to be looking for compensation in the region of £50,000. Williamson would probably bring his two assistants at Hibs, Gerry McCabe and Jim Clark with him to Home Park. However Paul Stapleton insisted: "Nothing is decided and the board will meet again today. We had a phone call today from a new candidate. Someone could be too dear for us, or his family might not want to come." Following Hib's game today Williamson said: "There may be a lot of speculation, but I'm not going to add to it. The Hibs fans will find out as soon as I find out, simple as that. Everything should have been concluded and done in confidence, but people don't want it that way. I'm a professional and, if I've got something to say, I'll say it."
Paul Wotton insists that Argyle are still on course for promotion. "If the fans are getting nervous, it's because the prize is so close," he said. "I can assure you the players aren't nervous. We'll go to Oldham and give it our best and hopefully get a result. It's a game we're looking forward to and we've got to go there and get a result. It's understandable that fans are nervous, though, because the prize is so great. We'll just keep cracking on. The mood is still 100 per cent positive. We just lost a game of football on Tuesday. We're still in a very good position. If someone had said to us at the start of the season that we'd be in this position now, we'd have bitten their hand off." Wotton is sure Oldham will be scrapping for every ball at Boundary Park today. "People look at teams at the bottom of the league and think that three points are guaranteed, but it's not always like that," he said. "They're fighting for their lives and, while the prize for going up is big, it's absolutely gut-wrenching to go down and no team wants to go through that - especially a club the size of Oldham. It's going to be a tough game."
Bobby Williamson appears to have admitted he wants the Argyle managers job. He said: "Hibs gave permission for Plymouth to speak to me. If they hadn't given that permission I wouldn't have spoken to them. Plymouth now have to make up their minds what they want to do. It's up to them. It's a difficult position to be in, but the next decision will not be mine. Plymouth have to make a decision. Then Hibs would have to make a decision."
Walsall have sacked Colin Lee after he held talks with Argyle. Walsall chairman Jeff Bonser said: "The decision by Plymouth to delay the announcement of their new manager has created an atmosphere of intense uncertainty at this stage of the season. The situation was created by Colin Lee being prepared to talk to Plymouth about their managerial vacancy just six months after pledging his long-term future to Walsall." First-team coach Paul Bracewell has also left Walsall. Lee admitted he is shocked to have been axed by Walsall but hopes to join Argyle. "I was given permission and spoke to Plymouth," he said. "I told the chairman I had done that and basically there was a response to that in quite a serious manner, if you like. It went public and obviously I've ended up having my contract terminated. I saw nothing wrong with talking to Plymouth, it was more to do with the future and I'm ambitious. It's about wanting to be successful, but with the added incentive of me being able to come back to Devon. To be involved with a club that I supported as a child - I used to stand on the Barn Park end and watch them play - would be a honour. It's a club I've known all my life, I always look for their results. To be given the chance to simply discuss the managerial position is great. A club with ambition that has a clear idea of what they want to achieve, and so it would be a fantastic opportunity for me to work at such a forward-thinking football club. We discussed a few things and it was interesting to hear what they want for the club. I'm a very ambitious person myself."
Argyle want to bounce back in style against Oldham tomorrow. Kevin Summerfield said: "We said we don't know why we can't win every game – that's easily within our capabilities. Everybody has got to be pushing for that outcome. It's going to be pretty much the same situation we were in last Saturday against Wycombe, I would imagine. At this time of the season, a lot of reasoning goes out of the window, and it's turn up and see who gives the most on the day. I think it could be a very open game. Both teams need to win, which should make for an exciting game. We're looking forward to it. We're desperate to get back on the pitch after Tuesday evening, so we'll go there very positive. I'm sure we will be alright. The boys picked themselves up and have been in a pretty relaxed mood. They realise how disappointing it was to concede so late on the other night. They know the reasons why – one or two things could have done better. They were okay with it. It's in everybody's minds that we have still got a little bit of a gap, but we will be positive. The team will be ready for it, and, hopefully, the supporters will be in out in as big numbers as usual and get behind the boys." Summerfield would not reveal whether David Friio will be fit for the match. "We missed David on Tuesday," he said. "You have key players in every club, and he is definitely one of our key players, as he's proved over the last two or three years. It's hard to replace him and, hopefully, he's going to be fit for Saturday, because he could be a big player for us."
Paul Stapleton has defended the club's actions over their interest in Colin Lee. "We are very pleased we have done everything the right way," he said. "As far as Argyle are concerned, we have been totally above board in all that we have done. I spoke to Jeff Bonser on Wednesday and Thursday and there's no animosity between us. He did say the timing wasn't the best in the world but I told him it wasn't the best timing when we lost our manager with 12 games to go and leading the league." Stapleton admitted the board had carried out 'at least four' interviews this week: "I think it will all be quiet over the weekend and, hopefully, we can concentrate on the game at Oldham," he said. "I think we will know a lot more by the middle of next week, when we should have finished all our processes. Hopefully, we will get three points against Oldham and we can look forward to QPR next week with relish." Following this weeks interviews Peter Jones said: "We are absolutely bowled over by the quality of the people we've seen. We're going to have a tough old time doing some sifting over the next few days. We're still very much in the process and I don't think you're going to see too much movement this week. We don't have any more interviews currently scheduled, but that doesn't mean to say we won't have any more interviews."
Walsall chairman Jeff Bonser has been promised a decision from Paul Stapleton by tomorrow morning on whether Colin Lee will be offered the managers job at Home Park. Bonser said: "I'm bitterly disappointed that Colin has chosen to indicate he wanted to speak to Plymouth and that he entered into talks with them. He obviously doesn't see a long-term future at Walsall. As far as the club are concerned, the whole of the staff are totally gutted by the situation and feel totally and utterly let down by it." Hibs boss Bobby Williamson also today confirmed he was holding talks with Argyle about the job. Williamson has travelled to Bristol for talks with the board of directors but insisted that for the time being at least, he was still manager of the Edinburgh-based club. He said: "Plymouth got permission to approach me and out of courtesy I'm going to speak to them, but I'm still the manager of Hibs. Football is a small world and you don't want to show discourtesy to anyone. Plymouth are going about things the right way and everything has been done above board." Peter Jones confirmed interviewing had started, but insisted the board would not rush their decision. "We are interviewing at the moment," he said. "But we've not set a timetable. We'll take our time about it. We've got to try to be as thorough as we can." Jones admitted the board had seen around half the candidates they hoped to see. "We're probably going to be doing about six interviews," he said. "And we're currently in the middle of the process."
Paul Stapleton feels the club may be able to make an announcement regarding the new manager some time next week. He said: "We've not been sitting back and waiting for the end of the season. We realise that, whatever happens, there will be stuff to sort our for next season. For example, pre-season matches and training. We're trying to keep things quiet, but I believe that by the middle of next week we'll be in a position to make a further announcement."
Paul Stapleton was disappointed but not despondent after last nights defeat. "There is still everything to play for and our destiny is in our own hands, not anybody else's," he said. "Bristol played well and I think we were unlucky not to come away with a point. There are four more games to go and we are in pole position. We must not forget that. The lads tried hard and it was just unlucky at the end. We had great support tonight and I hope the fans stick with us. We will go to Oldham and try to get a win. The Bristol directors were saying one win would be enough for us, and I hope they are right. Nothing is easy at this time of the season, and it's always disappointing when you lose. That's seven we have lost all season, which is not that many. Now it's onto Oldham and, hopefully, we can pick up some points."
Reports in Scotland suggest that Argyle have been given permission to talk Hibs manager Bobby Williamson and Walsall's chairman has stated that he has given the Argyle board permission to talk to Colin Lee
Kevin Summerfield was staying positive after last nights defeat. "Four wins," he said. "Simple as that. We want to win four games. We are going to try to win every game we play. We're still six points ahead of Bristol, and five ahead of QPR – we go to Oldham looking for a win. We've lost tonight, now we go on to Saturday. If we win then, we're okay." Summerfield admitted that he thought Argyle were on course for a deserved point last night: "With so few minutes left, I thought we'd got what we came to achieve – we didn't want to get beaten. They scored a goal when it was too late for us to come back into it. Games are won and lost on mistakes. Whether it be the first minute or the last minute, invariably, 90 per cent of the time, one team has to make a mistake to cost a goal – and that's what's happened. It's cost us the game. You don't have to tell them. They are professionals." Argyle played with a five-man midfield: "We wanted to get our two wide players further forward; we wanted to get our two centre midfielders forward, past Mickey," said Summerfield. "They only managed to do it two or three times in the game. We've played the last three or four away games with two up and not had any chances at all really. We played so we had four people supposed to be supporting him. Jason came back in for his first start in goodness knows how long and did very well. He grew as the game went on. Obviously, he was going to tire because he hasn't played for five months. We missed David. He is a key player for us and we missed him badly. People have come and played 4-5-1 at Plymouth for the last three or four months and it's really tough to play. Bristol had very few opportunities throughout the first half – it's hard to break down. At the end of the day, it takes one little drop of the ball or a mistake, and that's the difference in that type of game."
Argyle lose 1-0 at Bristol City. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Gilbert, Wotton, Coughlan, Norris, Adams, Hodges, Bent, Capaldi, Evans. Subs - Lowndes, Aljofree, Keith (not used - Phillips, Larrieu). Attendance - 19,045. The usual superb coverage can be found on Greens On Screen
Argyle are reported to have asked for permission to speak to Motherwell manager Terry Butcher, and Clyde boss Alan Kernaghan has also emerged as a candidate for the managers job
Tickets for Argyle's match at Hartlepool go on sale this week. Only 950 tickets are available and they will be available to Green members on Thursday, April 15th. From Tuesday, April 20th they will be available to Tangerine Members and to White Members from Friday, April 23rd. Any remaining tickets will go on general sale on Monday, April 26th. Tickets will be limited to one per member
Mickey Evans is looking forward to tonight's game : "I think it puts all the pressure on them now," he said. "They have got to beat us and win every game now. If we play anything like we can do until the end of the season we will be all right. The good thing about the squad is that we have got promoted before so we know what to expect and what to do. That's important. We can go up there tonight and relax. If we can play the way we did on Saturday I don't think we will have any problems." Paul Wotton is also excited, he said: "It's a local derby and there will be a capacity crowd. What more do you want? We are really looking forward to it. I don't think we can play for a draw, I don't think we have got that in our locker. We will work hard and make it difficult for them as the away team and, hopefully, nick something. We will give it our best at Bristol, which is all this team has ever done. If our best isn't good enough then so be it."
Kevin Summerfield believes his players will forget about the promotion race when tomorrows match kicks off. "Everybody else will be on about the consequences of what could happen," he said, "but, when the referee blows the whistle, the players' nature is that you are just wrapped up in the game. Without a doubt, everybody will be up for it - it will be an occasion - but, once the whistle goes, then they know what they are doing, everything else goes out of the window." Summerfield denies that Argyle's nine-point lead will provide his side with a mental cushion. "If you go in with that attitude, that's a negative," he said. "We are going to go out and try to win the game – whether it's an important game or just another game where there's nothing on it, we would go to try and win the game. The important thing for our boys and our staff is that is what we are going to try to do."
Kevin Summerfield singled out Mickey Evans for special praise after his matchwinning performance on Saturday. "I thought Mickey was deservedly the man-of-the-match," he said. "He was the focal point. Leaving him out last week may have upset one or two of the supporters but that's the Mickey Evans we all want to see. He was running, he was challenging, he was looking for goals. People can't handle him when he's like that. If not playing him last week brought that out of him then it was a good decision. He was just quality. Him and Dan gave their two centre-halves absolute hell for an hour. That's what they were in the team for."
Argyle have made official approaches to two clubs asking for permission to speak to their managers. Paul Stapleton would not reveal the identity of those concerned, but said one of the clubs had given them the go-ahead. Stapleton said: "I have stopped looking at what's in the papers, although people keep telling me. Apparently, we have already interviewed one particular chap twice and somebody else once. We haven't interviewed anybody yet and I would say there is no favourite at this stage. We are open-minded, but winning on Saturday did take a lot of pressure off. Getting over 80 points was always going to be a mental barrier, and now we have got five games left to progress on from that. It may be we might not be given permission to speak to some of the people. Now if that happens we will have to decide what to do, but I think we are trying to do it the right way. We have talked to two chairmen so far. One has said we can speak to their manager and one has said 'come back to us'. Until we start getting some of these ticked off we don't know where we are really. But we have started speaking, so that's the good news because that's the first step of the process with somebody in employment. Then you go on from there." Stapleton also admitted that new candidates were still coming forward: "I even had a phone call on Friday from somebody out of the blue who could be interested. You think 'blimey, because we have waited that has come along'. Now whether that progresses or not, I don't know. The comment was made in the Herald last week that it was unlikely we would appoint anybody before the end of the season. That's probably true because of people being in employment and because of what's happening here and keeping the continuity going. We are so keen to get it right, and we are not experts in it. I'm probably the only board member who has been involved in this before. It's one of the most important decisions this board will have ever had to make. We can all talk about season ticket prices and goodness knows what else, but this decision is so criticial to the future of this club." The latest name rumoured to be on the list of possible managers is Motherwell boss Terry Butcher
Following the win over Wycombe Graham Coughlan said: "That was a massive win. I can't emphasise too much how big a victory that was for the football club, with the big games we've got coming up. It was an absolutely massive game. You should see us kicking on from here. With two draws and a defeat in our last three games, we needed that victory so badly, just for morale, spirit and confidence." Coughlan headed an equaliser late in the first half yesterday, moments after suffering a painful leg injury. "I got caught right down the shin," he said. "There's no flesh there to protect the bone. It was a sore one."
Argyle's board of directors will, this week, begin interviews with some of the shortlist of candidates for the vacant managers job. The interviews will be held at locations away from the Westcountry. "We're going to be doing interviews over the next couple of weeks," Peter Jones said on Saturday. "It's an extremely important issue, but we're utterly focused on the next few games at the moment, and we're absolutely delighted that we've got up to 81 points today. There is no great rush because the team is in very good hands, both in the context of the coaching staff and the senior professionals, and with five games left we're nine points clear of the third- placed team. It wouldn't be right to disrupt that at the moment." Jones is very pleased with the quality of the candidates on the shortlist. "We're delighted," he said. "Part of Paul Sturrock's legacy is the fact that the quality of applications we've had this time is in a different class to last time around."
Paul Wotton spoke of his relief after yesterdays win: "It was a massive win," he said. "They took the lead early on, but I think that's the best we have played for a long time. I can't remember how many chances we had. I thought their keeper was outstanding. The crowd today was fantastic. They got right behind us and I'm sure it was an exciting game to watch. It was a big game, and I think today epitomises Argyle. We never stopped. We never dropped our heads when the goal went in. We kept going. We won tackles, we won headers, we put balls in the box - it's the most we have crossed the ball for weeks - and I thought the front two were outstanding. I have played over 300 games now and I will admit I was a little bit edgy today. But the lads were fantastic and we rose to the challenge, as we have done over the last three seasons, and we got our just rewards in the end."
Following todays game Kevin Summerfield said: "After not winning for a couple of games and coming off a defeat last week, for the goal to go in so early, it could have kyboshed the boys - it could have set them back but they showed what they are all about and possibly produced as an exciting 45 minutes going forward as we've produced all season. We could have been four or five up at half-time, with a little bit of luck. We played really well. We absolutely battered them in the first half. The goalkeeper pulled off three or four absolutely world-class saves; other chances haven't fallen for us; we hit the post: but they kept going. That's the mode they have been in all week – that they seem to want to score goals. Everybody saw what our boys were all about – the team-talk was all of a minute. I just said 'It's all down to you' and they went out and did it, to a man. Wycombe were holding on and came back into the game, but our lads kept battling. We spent an hour doing set-pieces yesterday and scored off two. That's quality. The two things that we've been working on this week, to the detriment of everything else, was getting in wide positions and getting crosses in, and set-pieces. Anybody with an ounce of common sense could see we were a lot better in that area."
Argyle beat Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Graham Coughlan in the 39th minute and Mickey Evans (80). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Evans, Keith. Subs - Lowndes, Adams, Sturrock (not used - Phillips, Stonebridge). Attendance - 14,806.
David Friio has vowed that the fans will see the real Argyle today. "We didn't play that well in our last two or three games," Friio admitted. "We haven't scored enough goals and, especially at Barnsley, we didn't put enough into the game to deserve to get anything out of it. But we have worked hard this week and I'm sure all the players will be happy to prove people wrong and get back on track. In training, we have been working on crossing and finishing - that's been poor over the last two or three games - and we've worked hard physically as well. We'll be ready. If we can score early against Wycombe it will be a big relief. We really want to show people that it wasn't us in the last two or three games. We know it hasn't been good enough and we really want the three points. Everybody has been really focused, there has been no laughter or banter in training this week, and we'll be very, very up for it on Saturday."
Paul Wotton and Graham Coughlan have both signed new contracts. Club captain Wotton has signed until June 2005 with Coughlan extending his curent deal until June 2006
Marino Keith has an outside chance of being fit to face Wycombe tomorrow. Paul Maxwell said: "We have worked hard on him the last couple of days and he has responded really well. He has got an outside chance for tomorrow. His ankle is black and blue, but it's his non-kicking foot. He's fairly confident with it and it's getting better all the time. We will see how he looks in training today and then take it from there." Kevin Summerfield insisted though, that he would not take a risk on Keith. He said: "Maxie has done a marvellous job with him this week and there might be a chance of him being fit enough to play. They have worked really hard together. Earlier in the week I don't think anybody would have given him any chance." Summerfield will resist the temptation to leave out David Norris, even though a yellow card would leave him facing a two-match suspension. He said: "It doesn't affect team selection in any way, shape or form at all. David is whole-hearted and wears his heart on his sleeve. He epitomises what we are about. Nobody's going to try to change him. I think if you try to change a player's attitude you are asking for problems, whatever his position."
Tony Capaldi has retained his place in the Northern Ireland squad being named in the squad to face Serbia and Montenegro on April 28th
Kevin Summerfield wants the fans to really get behind the team on Saturday. "The fans are really going to need to play a big, big part," he said. "They are in the same situation, sitting in the stands, as the players - they want to come off at the end of the game with three points - and the more positive backing the crowd give us, the easier it will be for the players to play. Hopefully, they will come with patience to realise the situation we're in as a team. It should be the last time of the year to have a go at the team or individuals, whatever way the game's going. The crowd need to lift the team, that'll be their duty on Saturday. In recent home games, when it's been very tight and tense and stressful, 99 per cent of them have been very good - they've got behind the team and the boys have really appreciated it. You are always going to get one or two wags who are going to shout stupid things at the players, but that does not do anybody any good whatsoever. One positive comment and it could bring a vital extra five yards out of a player, one negative comment and it could drive him into his shell."
Seven young players have been offered scholarship terms by Argyle for next season. Three Devonian youngsters: Luke Summerfield, defender Liam Drew of Newton Abbot and Plymstock winger Mark Robotham and two other Centre of Excellence graduates: forward Chris Reski of Truro and Bridgwater based centre-back Scott Laird. Laird was yesterday called up again by Scotland Under-17s for a four-team tournament in Ireland at the end of the month. Laird is one of only two players not based in Scotland to be included in the matches against Austria, USA and Belgium. The other two players offered scholarships are Swindon forward Chris Zebroski, who has played for Argyle reserves this season, and winger Daniel Rose from Hemel Hempstead. Stuart Gibson said: "It is always exciting when new players come in, especially in a week when we have seen two products of the youth scene, Paul Connolly and Luke McCormick, sign long-term professional contracts."
Argyle have agreed new contracts with three of their brightest young players, Paul Connolly, Peter Gilbert and Luke McCormick. Gilbert has made his season-long loan move from Birmingham permanent, signing a two-year deal. Connolly, who still had a year on his previous contract, has accepted a new three-year deal which secures his Argyle future until June 2007 and McCormick, who was out of contract at the end of the season, has also signed until the summer of 2007. Phill Gill, who negotiated the new contracts, said: "Peter, Paul and Luke have done fantastically well this season, and they are the future of this club. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding them, but talks have been going on for some time, and everyone is absolutely delighted with the outcome."
Graham Coughlan has called on the Green Army to cheer Argyle to promotion. He said: "The supporters have been great with us this season, through the highs and the lows. But this is where the 'Green Army' - our 12th man - really start earning their money. Even if things aren't going right on the pitch, we need them shouting all the way until the final whistle, like they did in the game against Port Vale. We were losing 1-0 with not long left, but the fans stayed behind us and we ended up getting the win." Argyle have gone three games without a win and Coughlan added: "Saturday is a massive game for us. Not just for the players but for the supporters as well. If they can cheer us on and get us back on track then we will all be very happy with it. People expect the top-of-the-table team to beat the bottom-of-the-table team but, as we all know, football just doesn't work like that. We have got to be on our guard. Wycombe are fighting for survival and they will be scrapping for every point they can get. But we need the points as much as Wycombe do, for different reasons, so it should be a cracking encounter."
Luke Summerfield played his first game for Argyle reserves as a substitute yesterday. Kevin Summerfield's son was given a run-out in midfield when he replaced Marcus Martin. The reserves secured their ninth win in 15 matches in the Combination this season with a 70th minute goal from Blair Sturrock. Stuart Gibson said: "I think if we had scored in the first 15 minutes I would have fancied us to go on from there and get a few more goals. They would have had to open up. We were always in control of the game but they were well organised and made it difficult for us in the attacking third of the pitch. Marcus Martin and Jason Bent dominated the middle of the park. Buster and Dave Worrell got down the sides and put some good crosses in, especially in the first half."
David Norris will be suspended for two games if he gets booked against Wycombe on Saturday. Norris has collected nine yellow cards during the season and another one on Saturday would see him banned for two games for reaching 10 bookings before the Football League's cut-off date for any disciplinary action on Sunday. Norris would then be ruled out of the game against Queens Park Rangers
Argyle's last home game of the season against Colchester United looks like being a sell-out. The whole of the Lyndhurst side has sold out and there are just pockets of seats in the rest of the ground, plus around 2000 terrace tickets
Argyle reserves won 1-0 at Swindon Town with Blair Sturrock scoring the only goal. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Villis, Aljofree, Sawyer, Phillips, Martin, Bent, Capaldi, Sturrock, Lowndes. Subs – Summerfield, Evans.D (not used – Nute)
Marino Keith's ankle injury could keep him out for longer than first expected: "He's sore. It was an awkward twist," Kevin Summerfield explained. "It was swollen instantly. There's bruising come out this morning, but we need to let the injury settle down for a couple of days. He seems to be susceptible to ankle problems. He just went off the edge of the pitch and went over on it. It was really, really unfortunate, but that's the way his season seems to have gone. It's been stop-start as he's picked up various little ankle niggles over the year. We just don't know yet, we'll be guided by whatever Maxie says. He knows Marino and he's usually absolutely spot-on in terms of recovery times. As a layman, though, looking at Marino he must be doubtful for Saturday. But Maxie has worked miracles before and I'm sure he could so again."
Kevin Summerfield believes tension is inevitable at this stage of the season. He said: "The boys are no different to any other team at the top of the league. I watched West Brom on Sunday and Gary Megson said after the game how tense some of his players were. People handle it differently and people have got different outlooks on it. Some are very strong mentally. It's how it affects them as a group. It's how the strong ones help the other ones through it, because they are all a mixture. They know they need to be thinking about not only themselves but other members of the team. Some of the younger members, and even some of the older ones, might need cajoling along. Like we have said before, the boys will keep going until the very end of every game, and I think that's a credit to themselves as individuals, and as a team."
Mickey Evans will not play for Argyle's reserves today, despite not starting at Barnsley on Saturday. "Playing Mickey in the reserves," said Kevin Summerfield, "would defeat the object of leaving him out and trying to rest him and get him firing on all cylinders for the rest of the season." There were also tactical reasons for Evans' absence at Barnsley: "We've been talking at length about trying to play two more mobile strikers in away games," added Summerfield. "Saturday, on a nice big pitch, gave us an opportunity to do so. We've needed a different approach against big, strong centre-halves who like heading the ball and don't like moving around. We sat down and had a long chat last week. Mickey's no fool. He knows his own body. He doesn't try to hide the facts. What you see is what you get. He knows, at times, that he could possibly have done a little bit more. But when he's firing on all cylinders, he's without doubt the best of his type in the league by an absolute mile. That's how important he is, and we've got to look after him. He had been a little bit jaded in a couple of the previous games so that was the opportunity."
Peter Jones has ruled out the possibility of a new manager being appointed before Easter. "Nothing is going to happen this week," he said. "We have our list of people whom we want to talk to and, with those who are currently in work, we're going to make sure that we're allowed to talk to them. We're not going to go down the same route as certain other clubs have done in the past. We do want to cut down the list, but that might not happen this week. It depends on the situation we find ourselves in when we go and ask for permission. We've still got our six that we're working with. Some of them are in employment elsewhere." Paul Stapleton admitted it was 'unlikely' a new boss would be appointed before the end of the season, although he did not rule it out. He is hoping the board will interview the first of seven candidates for the job before the end of this week but insisted no interviews had been carried out yet. He said: "Logistically, it's difficult because we have got three directors in Plymouth and three in London. There may be some interviews this week, but definitely the week after. We are aware that we need to get on with it. It's unlikely we will appoint someone before the end of the season but you can never say never. There is a chance."
Marino Keith could be out for the next couple of weeks with an ankle ligament injury he suffered at Barnsley. He will almost certainly miss the game against Bristol City having left Oakwell on crutches, with his left ankle heavily swollen
Kevin Summerfield insisted it was business as usual after yesterdays defeat. He said: "I think we have got plenty enough character to come back. It's our first defeat in I don't know how many games. In no way shape or form do we have to press any panic buttons – we just work hard next week to get it right, to make sure we do the right things to prepare the team to play against Wycombe, who will pose different problems to Barnsley. It's difficult to react to the form we've had lately, so we think fresh legs now and then will be beneficial for the team. We knew how Barnsley were going to play. We set our stall out to get into the game, and the longer the first half went, we were becoming in control of the game, we were causing problems down the right-hand side, and, unfortunately, the width of the post has saved Barnsley two goals. We got on top in the game. Possibly it came at the wrong time for us. We didn't start the second half well, we didn't cause them enough problems in and around their goalmouth and that allowed them to get back in the game. We do a lot of homework on other teams - we thought they would cause us problems in certain areas, but I thought we, as a team, looked pretty solid. We did all the defensive stuff well; when we got into the final third, we were unlucky at times. To me, it had 0-0 written all over it. It really only opened up on the goal and we just didn't have enough. We had a chance in the last minute and just couldn't convert it. We thought Barnsley only looked like scoring from a corner or a set-piece, and, unfortunately for us, at the time of the corner, we were a key man missing on the pitch which cost us the game. We knew it was going to be a hard game. Every game is going to be a hard game. We need to be a little bit better in certain areas, but I can't fault the work-rate and attitude of our boys and I'm sure they'll show the character and bounce back against Wycombe next Saturday. I don't think the wind was a particular factor in that respect today – we didn't get enough set-pieces, we didn't get in the areas to get enough set-pieces."
After yesterdays game Paul Wotton said: "It's done now and it's very important we don't get down or dejected. As a professional footballer, you should be disappointed to lose games, but we are in a strong position and we can take it out on Wycombe. Someone is due a good hiding from us and, fingers crossed, it will be next week. Come Monday morning it's important we go in with the right attitude and work all week on how we are going to take it out on Wycombe. There are six games to go and all to play for. I'm sure QPR and Bristol City would rather be in our position than theirs."
Argyle lose 1-0 at Barnsley. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Adams, Hodges, Stonebridge, Keith. Subs - Evans, Sturrock (not used - Capaldi, Phillips, Aljofree). Attendance - 9,266.
Kevin Summerfield has admitted he has found his second spell as Argyle's caretaker manager tougher than the first one. "It has been very tough all round," he said. "Everybody has been called upon to do different things and make more decisions, in terms of primarily the football. So it's a credit to the players, first and foremost, that they have handled the situation and gone on and performed to such high standards anyhow. I have enjoyed a lot of aspects of it but other bits and pieces become more of a chore I could do without. I had the benefit of having a little taste of it before, when the pressure at that time, with no experience, was completely the opposite way. We were at the bottom of the league but it was just more relaxed. Nobody knew anything about me or whatever. I went straight from being the youth team coach to caretaker and even the people here were saying 'who's he?' and 'what does he know about football?' Basically, you have got nothing to lose in that situation and it was a relaxed atmosphere. We played all the top teams so the return we had was quite good. This time it's a different situation, when you are in a very good position. It's being able to maintain that, and do all the other things, because there is a lot more you are asked to do than last time. Yes, there have been enjoyable moments, but there have been times when it has been tough."
Tony Capaldi could be on the bench against Barnsley tomorrow. Kevin Summerfield said: "He played 90 minutes for Northern Ireland, which will have been good for him. It was a good result and, obviously, everybody who went with the squad would take a big lift from that. It can't have done Tony any harm at all. Tony has been a left-back with the under-21s throughout, but we don't see him as a left-back here. You just don't know how it will have affected him. We will have to have a chat with Tony when we see him."
Tony Capaldi enjoyed the winning start to his international career yesterday. He said: "It was a good victory - it was definitely nice to win one and a very enjoyable experience. I didn't know what to expect, but I wasn't really nervous going into the game. I got a good touch early on which helped to settle any nerves. I also had a shot saved by their keeper in the first half, which encouraged me. It was also pleasing for me that I went the whole 90 minutes - that was very good. I found the game a lot different from the hurly-burly of league football, you get a lot more time on the ball in internationals and I was able to settle into the flow quite easily. Internationals certainly have a better tempo, I think. But now it's over it means a long flight first to Helsinki, before I return home. I'm meeting up with the rest of the squad tomorrow, not in Plymouth, but en route to the Barnsley game. I don't know if I'll be picked or not, but it'll be good to see the lads again.
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