A Round-up of Argyle News
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On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have signed young Blackburn Rovers' striker Matt Derbyshire on a season-long loan. Bobby Williamson said: "Matt is a terrific young talent who will give us extra options. I wish him all the best for his time here and hope that he shows everyone what a good footballer he is. If he does, we will benefit from having him here. I've had a few players in mind who I would have liked to bring here, and we have worked tirelessly to attempt to add some strength and depth to the squad. I know what we need and it would have been pointless adding to the squad just for the sake of adding to it. The search will go on for players that I believe can complement what we already have. Matt's got the potential and I believe he can be successful if he gets the breaks. I hope he gets that bit of luck. I have every confidence in the talents of the players here. Once we get everybody back to full fitness, I believe we will challenge in this division. It only takes a win, or even a goal, and the confidence will come flooding back."
Bobby Williamson has urged fans to be patient with Taribo West, after the defenders disappointing start to his competitive career with Argyle. "Until Taribo West gets up to speed with things and realises what he's up against, then he might struggle," Williamson said. "He's a proud lad, and he's very professional. He'll come to terms with things, hopefully sooner rather than later, and it's just a shame it has taken us this long to get him into it. Now two games have come in the space of three days, but that's the way it is. Taribo has got a break now, and we'll be working on quite a lot of aspects of our game. We've shown we've got defensive frailties, and we've certainly got them up front as well. We've got to keep working at every aspect of the game to try to improve as a team and start winning games. You have to keep believing, sometimes it makes you stronger when you get through these setbacks. We will become a stronger team, but you have to keep trying hard. If we do that, then we shouldn't be too far away." Argyle do not have a match this weekend, but there will be no rest for the squad. "We work hard on a daily basis, because we've got to," Williamson said. "We're not that good a team that we can take the foot off the gas during the week and then hope to step up during games. We just can't do that. We've got to work very hard for each other, and at this moment in time quite a lot of our players are still trying to get to know one another. Once we get to know each others' strengths, then we will become a better team."
Argyle’s reserve fixture at Cheltenham, due to be played on September 20th, has been postponed due to both clubs Carling Cup ties. The game has been switched to Tuesday, December 20th
Bobby Williamson took the responsibility for Argyle's defeat at Brighton yesterday as he admitted, ‘blame me’. He said: "We are all in it together. It's not just the players who are letting everybody down. We have all got to take the blame collectively, me more so than anybody else, because I pick the team and put them out there. If I keep getting effort then I can live with that, and we are certainly getting effort. We just need that wee break in their goalmouth, rather than ours. I have been involved in football long enough to know it changes very quickly. One minute you can be on a good winning run and something happens to throw a bit of doubt into it and you start losing games. It works vice-versa. We just need a bit of luck to get a goal and win a game, and it snowballs from there and you move on. This is a time where everybody has got to stay strong and keep believing that what we are doing is right and we will get through it. But the longer it goes when you are losing games, there are a lot of doubters and a lot of negativity flies around." Williamson admitted Brighton's pace in attack had caused a lot of trouble for Argyle, but he refuted the suggestion that the Argyle defence was too old. "I would say that's a bit unfair," he said. "We caught them on a good day. I have been speaking to quite a few people and Brighton haven't attacked as well as that before today. Until Taribo West gets up to speed with things and realises what he's up against then he might struggle. He's a proud lad and he's very professional. He will come to terms with things, hopefully sooner rather than later. It's just a shame it has taken us this long to get him into it. Now two games have come in the space of three days, but that's the way it is. He has got a break now and we will be working on quite a lot of aspects of our game. We have shown we have got defensive frailties, and we have certainly got them up front as well. We have got to keep working at every aspect of the game to try to improve as a team and start winning games." Williamson admitted Carpenter's strike at the start of the second half had been a devastating blow. He said: "That was disappointing because I think it was our kick-off and we didn't progress into their half. We keep saying to our players 'we are on the halfway line to start with, let's make sure we go forward not back'. I don't think we did that. I think we invited Brighton onto us and the boy has hit a strike that on another day might not have hit the target, but it has done." The transfer window closes at midnight tomorrow, and Williamson will be busy before then trying to add to his squad. He said: "We have never been far away but it takes a long time to get everything ironed out. We are hoping that things will come together. We were hoping they would have come together long before now, because Nick Chadwick has been missing for a few weeks. But, as I said, these things take time and I'm hoping we will get something sorted before the deadline is upon us."
Argyle lose 2-0 at Brighton and Hove Albion. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, West, Brevett, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Mendes, Djordjic, Evans. Subs - Gudjonsson, Taylor, Zebroski (not used - McCormick, Connolly). Attendance - 6,238.
Bobby Williamson has admitted there are 'two or three irons in the fire' with the transfer deadline on Wednesday approaching, but refused to comment on his interest in Blackburn Rovers' striker Jemal Johnson. He said: "We are always looking. Because the deadline is coming up, it isn't going to push us into making a decision any quicker. It takes time to sign players and it doesn't happen as quickly as we would like. Some move quicker than others but, as I said, just the deadline is coming upon us it doesn't mean we haven't been working on this for a while. We have."
Romain Larrieu has pledged that the players will be desperate to make amends for Saturdays poor display against Hull. He said: "We never got going. It wasn't good enough. All we can do is try and get a result on Monday, which we are more than capable of doing. Our performances away from home have been reasonably good, and we have to show that form again. We know that everybody has to look at themselves and react in the next game." The team were jeered off the pitch at the end of the game and Larrieu added: "The fans paid good money to watch that and we could understand why they were upset. We were upset by that. It was nowhere near good enough - and we know it."
Newspaper reports yesterday claimed that Argyle have made enquiries about signing West Ham's defensive midfielder Steve Lomas and Leeds United striker David Healy
Argyle are unlikely to be at full strength for todays game at Brighton. Nick Chadwick missed the Hull game because of his ankle injury, while Hasney Aljofree failed a fitness test on Saturday morning, suffering from a hamstring problem. Tony Capaldi is once again being bothered by a back strain, while Akos Buzsaky did not start on Saturday because of a thigh injury. "We'll need to see how they are in the morning," Bobby Williamson said yesterday. "I think it will be difficult for anybody to get themselves into contention for Monday, to be honest. None of the players who missed out today were that close to being fit."
Bobby Williamson expressed sympathy with the section of home fans who booed his team off after yesterdays defeat. "It's not good enough," he said. "It's very, very disappointing. There's lots of lows in football, but this is the lowest I have felt for long enough, and I feel for the fans. I understand their frustrations. We're all frustrated, players included. I'd rather the fans shouted at me, rather than the players on the park. I'm disappointed for them, as well as for the players, because we can do better. The players have got to show the desire; they've got to show the fight. They will please everybody by doing the best they can do, and I think some of them could do a lot better. It hurts everybody. We feel we've let ourselves, and everybody else, down." Williamson believes that the sending-off galvanised Hull. He said: "It gave them a bit more resolve. They were coming to sit and hit on the counter and, when they went down to ten men, it made their mind up what they were going to do. They did it very well, but we didn't ask enough questions. We never got round to battling as much as I would have liked. We got a lot of crosses into the box but not from angles that would have benefited us better. We have got to trouble them more than that. We do lots of situations in training about to hurt teams and get into positions when we can capitalise, and we didn't do it on the day. Everything was dealt with by their defence. Whether the cross wasn't good enough or the movement in the box wasn't good enough, we'll have to look at. We never found the players we were looking for; a lot of passes went astray, and it's not good enough. There's no excuses. They've defended well and we've not attacked well. All I ask is that the players go about their business professionally. If they don't listen to the instructions we're trying to give to them, that's a problem."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Hull City at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, West, Brevett, Norris, Wotton, Gudjonsson, Djordjic, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Buzsaky, Zebroski, Connolly (not used - McCormick, Mendes). Attendance - 12,329.
Ian De-Lars match report is here Argyle have been drawn away to Barnet in the second round of the Carling Cup. The game will be played on Tuesday, September 20th
Blackburn Rovers have confirmed that Argyle want to take striker Jemal Johnson on loan. Their Chairman, John Williams, said a decision would be down to Mark Hughes and Johnson himself. Williams said: "We have got seven strikers on the books. The general rule of thumb is four or five so we are a bit overloaded. Mark will be looking at whether it's better for him to go, or to stay with us. But Jemal has to be involved in some way. The ultimate decision is always with the player and whether he thinks he will best develop playing in someone else's first team."
Taribo West insists he is ready for first team football despite his lack of match practice and organised training over the past four weeks, while he has been stranded at home in Italy. He said: "I'm back and well. Obviously, not being in training is not a good thing, when you have started very well this season and have to go back and catch up, but I am able to compete for 80 to 90 minutes." West admitted it was hard knowing the season had started without him. He said: "Personally, it was a bit difficult. I was contemplating and praying that I was going to have a positive result. I was feeling confident it was going to be successful, but I did have a doubt. Getting the permit was not like what it used to be. I had to get to Rome, go to the Embassy and pass an interview." Now West is hoping to make his debut for Argyle today. "I have been praying for the team," he said. "I was happy with the first and second games, when we won one and drew one. It was a poor result against Derby County but, from this week, there will be a different atmosphere. This year is going to be a wonderful year, and I am very optimistic that, at the end of the year, we will be going to the Premiership."
Mickey Evans will probably have to play two games in three days this weekend, Bobby Williamson finding it hard to give him any time off in the present circumstances. "Mickey will work away," Williamson said. "He wants to play in every game. He's looking in good shape just now and he's working hard. He's getting his rewards and he's got a couple of goals already." Asked if he was planning any squad rotation in this weekend's two games Williamson said: "I'll just be picking a team for Saturday. I'll worry about Monday after the Hull game. That's when I'll start thinking about Brighton. Maybe the players who will trouble Brighton will be different to the players who will trouble Hull, but that's why we have a squad of players. The Brighton game will look after itself once we've taken care of Hull, hopefully." There are slight doubts about Akos Buzsaky and Keith Lasley, who picked up knocks in games during the week, as Argyle today face a Hull side who have risen two divisions in as many seasons. "They'll be up for it," Williamson said. "They'll be giving their all in every game, that's the way it has to be."
Taribo West could make his Argyle debut in tomorrow's match with Hull City. West finally returned to Home Park yesterday after a long, drawn-out saga to sort out work permit and visa problems - and he went straight out on the training pitch, despite only getting to bed in the early hours of the morning after his arrival in Plymouth. Bobby Williamson said: "It has been a lot of hard work by quite a lot of people, but we are glad it has all been worthwhile and we have got him here. After training, Williamson added: "He is as fit as anybody else. It's difficult to gauge in a training session, but he stayed behind after everyone else had finished to do a bit extra. It is good to get him here. We signed him hoping he would be playing his part and now he has got an opportunity to do that." Williamson refused to be drawn on who would line up against Hull, but commenting on Nuno Mendes' display on Tuesday, he said: "He is capable. He proved to me he can play in that position, but whether he is firing on all cylinders yet remains to be seen. I try not to judge people too quickly, but unfortunately not everybody thinks like I do and they do judge people too quickly. I like to give people time to settle and see how they shape up. Some people take longer than others to settle at a new club, especially when they have come from abroad, played in a different league, different systems, different styles of play, coming to a new country, change of water and food, different hotels, etc. All these things come into consideration and I will not be making any judgements yet, but I will be picking a team on Saturday who will win us the three points and I will do likewise for the game against Brighton on Monday."
Argyle will be one of the 24 seeded teams in the Carling Cup second round draw tomorrow, which means they cannot be paired with any of the 12 Premiership clubs who enter the competition at this stage. The draw takes place at 12.10pm
Argyle are thought to be interested in a loan deal for Blackburn Rovers striker Jemal Johnson
David Norris admits it is important that Argyle capitalise on their next two matches before the international break. He said: "There have been a lot of matches in a short space of time in August. We will be expecting to get points from both games this weekend. If we did get four or six points going into that break it would set us up nicely." Argyle will again be without Hasney Aljofree and striker Nick Chadwick, but Romain Larrieu is expected to take over from Luke McCormick in goal after missing the victory over Peterborough because of the birth of his first child. With Chadwick still sidelined, Mickey Evans and Scott Taylor will continue to up front for Argyle. Taylor secured Argyle's victory on Tuesday with his first goal of the season. He said: "We won the game in the end, but we made it difficult for ourselves. They came here and worked hard. We had to match them for that and, luckily, we got the two goals." Taylor insisted he had not been offside for the goal. "There's no chance I was offside - the left-back was playing me on," he said. "It was a misplaced shot but I managed to control it, turned and found the back of the net, which was nice. Once you get your first goal of the season you feel happy."
Taribo West has been dropped from the Nigerian international squad for their forthcoming World Cup qualifier. Argyle are now be hoping that West will fulfil the remainder of his one-year contract at Home Park. Michael Dunford called off a plan to go to Italy this week and club officials were last night ‘quietly confident’ that he would arrive in Plymouth in time to be considered for selection against Hull City
An Argyle reserve team lost 3-2 to Yeovil Town in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Huish Park yesterday
Bobby Williamson has admitted to being concerned that he is over-relying on Mickey Evans. He said: "I would like to have rested Michael Evans for the game on Tuesday night. But he's one of our bigger players, and I knew Peterborough's strength was height, having big players in defence. We had to use Mickey. To be fair to Mickey, he wants to play in every game and that's great, but sometimes the heart overrules the head. We need a striker - we need a striker to give us that depth. I'm looking for something to give us a different option to what we've got. There's no point in bringing someone in who is too much alike to the three chaps we've got there already." Williamson has until next Wednesday to make a signing before the transfer window ends but also feels Chris Zebroski should be given the chance to 'stake a claim'. "I'm hoping Zebroski will have been given a boost from being involved on Tuesday night," said Williamson. "And it was good to hear the fans shouting for him to be brought on. I'd had it in the back of my mind to bring him on earlier and even start with him and leave Mickey out. But we were concerned that Peterborough's strengths were aerial and Mickey could handle that better. I'm hoping Zebroski will push on and develop and stake a claim, as I do with all the younger players at the club. But they've got to prove to me that they're good enough. In Zebroski's case, he didn't have time to show me that much, but he's had a taste of it now and, hopefully, he'll have that hunger and desire that all players need to make a career out of the game. He's got qualities and I hope they develop."
Bobby Williamson was not entirely happy after Argyle progressed to the second round of the League Cup for the first time since 1992. He said: "I think we can play better than that. Lots of times we gave the ball away needlessly. We weren't happy at half-time and we told the lads that. They might have thought they had done well because they were 1-0 down and got back to 2-1, and, sure, they have done well, but I always look for perfection. You want players to raise their standards as high as they can do, and we're disappointed. We're pleased to be through, though, and that's the aim." Williamson denied that Argyle have a problem defending set-pieces but admitted: "We've got a tendency of standing, watching the ball, instead of moving with it. That's what happened on Saturday when we conceded the offside goal against Crystal Palace. I didn't expect the game to be easy and that proved to be the case. They've got players who have played at higher levels and players who are looking to play at higher level as again, and I thought they would enjoy playing out there - the surface was fantastic. Sometimes the luck goes with you and sometimes it goes against you. We got our breaks. The penalty got us right back into the game right away. I couldn't tell from where I was. Norris has gone down and the referee has got a reasonable view of it - well, I hope he got a great view of it and he has called it right. I would hate to get a penalty that was dodgy, but that's football I'm afraid." Williamson gave Chris Zebroski his debut in the 75th minute and said: "It's up to Chris to push himself into the plans. I would have liked to have got him on earlier, but there was a concern. Peterborough have got a lot of big lads and Mickey did a job when we were attacking, and also defending. Chris hasn't got that in his locker yet. Once he fills out, he will hopefully be a handful for defenders and do the defensive side of things as well."
David Norris had the last laugh over his mates as Argyle beat his home-town club Peterborough United last night. He said: "I have had a few texts off my mates back home, and my mum and dad as well. They were listening on the local radio. We had to win tonight to save me from some stick from back home." Norris admitted the squad were aware of the club's dreadful record in the Carling Cup. He said: "We saw it a lot in the papers and I think it's a few years now since they have been in the second round so that's another thing, at least we have overcome that." Argyle’s equaliser came after Norris was tripped inside the penalty area by David Farrell. Norris said: "The ball was played into Trigger and he held it up well. I just remember making a run and shouting and shouting at him. He held onto the ball and laid it into my path. I think the guy has just put his leg across and he has tripped me. It was maybe accidental more than anything else but, at the end of the day, it was in the box and it was a penalty." Scott Taylor then gave Argyle the lead in the 38th minute. Norris said: "Scott took the goal well. It was laid into him and he controlled it, turned and fired it in. The other two strikers have already got goals this season so for him to get on the scoresheet has got to do his confidence a lot of good. A third goal would have been nice because one counter-attack was all they needed, or a free-kick like they had near the end, and if they had scored it could have gone to extra-time. We really didn't want that with two games coming up over the Bank Holiday weekend. I think we were quite comfortable but a third would have been nice, just to kill it off."
Argyle beat Peterborough 2-1 in tonights Carling Cup game at Home Park, the goals coming from a Paul Wotton penalty in the 35th minute, and Scott Taylor (38). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Mendes, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Djordjic, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Zebroski, Lasley (not used - Debbage, Gudjonsson, Capaldi). Attendance - 5,974.
Bobby Williamson is well aware that a win for his side tonight would bring to an end a run which has seen Argyle fail to win a tie in the League Cup since October 1992. "It's well documented, our poor record, and by the look of the number of tickets we've sold it doesn't look as if the League Cup is very popular down here," Williamson said. "I don't think we're going to have a big crowd. We're more interested in our League games and in remaining in this division, but we want to win this cup tie. We want to be in the next round, but if we do progress we'll have another midweek game coming up. With all the good will in the world, it's going to be difficult to win this tournament, that's for sure. But we're in it and we'll give it our best. We do have a few injuries, though, so we'll take stock. Some changes may be enforced, and some players may be left out to refresh them."
After being named in the Northern Ireland squad for two World Cup qualifiers in September, Tony Capaldi said: "It's pleasing to be back in the squad, and if I'm picked it will be great to play against England. I was disappointed to miss the last two friendlies. I picked up an injury at a bad time, but luckily I'm playing again now. I'm looking forward to getting away and meeting up with the lads again, but in the meantime I've got some important games for Plymouth coming up before I can concentrate on the big international games." Qualification for next year's World Cup finals is beyond Northern Ireland but there is still plenty to play for in the remaining four qualifiers. "If we can pick up at least a couple of victories, then we can improve our international ranking," Capaldi added. "That way we won't have so many big teams in our qualifying group for the European Championship and the next World Cup." The immediate priority for Capaldi though, is helping Argyle win a Football League Cup tie for the first time in 13 years. "I've read that it's a few years since we won a tie," Capaldi said. "It's a good chance for us to put that right tomorrow. We're going into the game as favourites, and hopefully we can get the victory which will put us into the next round. I'm hopeful of playing. It's a useful chance for us to experiment against a team in the bottom division, and it will be good if a few of the lads who haven't been playing get their opportunity to make an impression. This tie gives us a decent chance of getting into the next round. We could be drawn against Premiership opposition in the second round and make a bit of money. It's also a good chance to get a win and restore some confidence. The lads are a bit deflated after two defeats in a row in the League, but hopefully we'll be able to score a few goals tomorrow and get us in good shape for the weekend's big games."
It is not yet clear when Nick Chadwick will be fit and available after suffering a recurrence of his ankle injury. Bobby Williamson said: "He tried to make a comeback last week and did okay on Thursday, but on Friday he felt it. We will not rush anybody back, and this might be an opportunity for young Chris Zebroski to make a start."
Michael Dunford may travel to Italy to try to resolve the delay in Taribo West being granted his travel visa to return to England. Bobby Williamson said: "There is a possibility our chief executive might go over there to cut through the red tape that has been hindering us. Hopefully, that will be done and dusted sometime this week, but I have been saying this for the last few weeks and I'm getting fed up talking about it to be perfectly honest with you. I think the fans are fed up with it as well, and that's understandable. That's why I don't like talking about things until they have happened, rather than all this guessing. We are not keeping people in the dark deliberately. We are in the dark ourselves and we can't tell anybody anything different. These things take time and the process is on-going."
Sheffield United striker Paul Shaw will not be coming to Home Park as he decided he didn't wish to relocate to the South West. Shaw said: "I went down and was shown around the area. It was very impressive. But my family and I are settled in the north and the thought of uprooting again doesn't appeal."
Akos Buzsaky insisted that Argyle were unlucky to lose at Crystal Palace on Saturday. He said. "I think we played well. We played better than Crystal Palace. In the first half we passed the ball well, and I think we had more chances to score. In the second half I didn't think we would have a problem. The goal we conceded, it was a typical English goal. A free-kick, a header back, and a player left standing alone to score. It was our fault. Palace only had two or three chances, I think in every part of the game we were better. Football is like that. We didn't play very well at Reading, but we won in the last minute there. It's a shame because I never thought we would lose here. I am very sad but I am still optimistic, because if we play like this in the future I think we will get the right results. This game is in the past now. We look forward to Tuesday's game against Peterborough in the Cup, which is very important, and I am sure we will win."
Tony Capaldi has been included in the Northern Ireland squad for the World Cup qualifier against England next month
Paul Wotton rued 'one lapse of concentration' after Argyle lost to Crystal Palace. He said: "I don't think we deserved to win the game but it had got 0-0 written all over it. Romain made one world-class save but we restricted them to that I think. For a home team, I don't really think they troubled us at all. We were very comfortable. But it's the same old story - one lapse of concentration at a set piece and we find ourselves losing what would have been a hard-earned point. As Mickey said afterwards you can take it if it's a 35-yard screamer, but it's a goal that should have been stopped. We know that and that's the disappointing thing. I think it really did knock the stuffing out of us for the next 10 minutes. But we rallied round and had a go for the last five minutes and it didn't quite drop for us. It's tough to take and people will look at it as another defeat but I think the boys can be proud of the effort we have put in. It was a decent enough performance. In the first half I thought we passed the ball very well. As good as we have passed it for a long time. The fans will go away knowing that we have acquitted ourselves well." Wotton and Nuno Mendes both played holding roles in midfield as Bobby Williamson went with a 4-2-3-1 formation. "The gaffer and Jocky stressed before the game not to think of it as defensive, and I didn't think it was," said Wotton. "I thought we got forward brilliantly. Chuck and Barney caused mayhem down the right-hand side in the first half. Mickey was doing his usual job and was trying to get Akos to link in off him. It worked really well. It gave us a chance to retain possession of the ball very well and for an away side coming to Palace it was a good first half performance." England striker Andy Johnson rarely troubled Argyle and Wotton praised Hasney Aljofree and Mathias Doumbe. He said: "I thought Hasney and Mattie did a very good job. You wouldn't have said he was an England striker today and that's no disrespect to him but a credit to our defenders."
Bobby Williamson is prepared to give youth a chance in tomorrows Carling Cup tie. Chris Zebroski is included in the squad after impressing in recent reserve and youth matches. Williamson said: "First and foremost, it's about league games, we're more interested in our league status and progressing in this division, but the cup game has come around and we want to win it. We're in it and we'll give it our best. Zebroski performed well last week, by all accounts, and scored a couple of goals at the weekend. It's good to see the kids are pushing. It might be too early for him, but you never know unless you try them and he might get his opportunity tomorrow. He might start. We've got a lot of games coming up and that will take its toll. They are important games for us. This is important, don't get me wrong, but, if we can introduce Chris into the squad, we can get a look at him at some stage along the line. He's shown me a lot of encouragement by scoring a couple of goals and it might happen tomorrow." Zebroski's presence will help make up for the absence of Nick Chadwick, who has had a relapse in his recovery from an ankle injury. Hasney Aljofree is also a likely non-starter, as may be Romain Larrieu, whose partner was due to give birth on Monday, and a wheezy Akos Buzsaky. "Hasney's struggling," Williamson said. "This game might have come too early for him. I'm monitoring Buzsaky. He came back from Hungary a bit chesty. With one eye on what's coming up, I'm going to have a chat with him and see how he is. If Ro doesn't get any sleep tonight, he will sleep tomorrow night. I've got no fears about leaving people out. We've got good players to come in who can do an adequate job." Williamson does not believe in such things as underdogs, so the two divisions difference between Argyle and Peterborough does not come into his thinking. "The only thing that separates these teams from the Championship way down to League Two is consistency levels," he said. "If you are more consistent, you will play in a higher division, and, on their day, Peterborough will be as good as anybody. They will be up for the game. We expect them to make it very difficult for us, but we are the home team and we have got to stamp our authority on the game right from the kick-off."
Bobby Williamson looked on the bright side after yesterdays defeat. He said: "I'm disappointed we never came away with anything, that's for sure. Palace never really caused us too many problems. Our goalkeeper didn't make too many saves - neither did theirs, and that's disappointing - and I thought we were organised and made it difficult for them. We're just disappointed we conceded a goal. I'm looking at the positives, and there were a few, but not as many as I would have liked, obviously. We conceded a goal from a set-piece, and that was disappointing." Rufus Brevett gave away the free-kick which led to the goal, but Williamson declined to apportion blame. "We were in their half and we decided to go back the way and invite them on to us," he said. "We conceded a free-kick in a reasonably dangerous area, they've put a hopeful ball back into the box, and we've not defended it. Mistakes like that cost you games and this one certainly cost us. I picked the team, we had our plan in place, and it was working okay. It wasn't a problem until we conceded that set-piece." The goal was scored shortly after Hasney Aljofree had limped off with a hamstring problem. "Once Aljofree went off, that changed us a bit, and I felt that was a blow," said Williamson. "I thought we had contained them as well as we could have expected. Johnson and Andrews are a bit of a handful, and then Freedman came on and sat just off the front. He poses questions as well, and I thought we answered those questions." Williamson praised his midfield but revealed the game had not gone entirely to plan. He said: " Buzsaky was supposed to play off Mickey, inbetween their midfield and defence, and it didn't really happen. He kept showing for the ball and that defeated the game-plan slightly. We certainly worked hard enough. If we work as hard as that from here one in we'll pick up more points than we drop, I'm sure." The result would have been different had the referee answered early appeals for a penalty. "I felt Mendes was impeded," said Williamson. "He was trying to get to the ball and the player didn't look as though he was looking at the ball. We could have had a shout for a penalty. If we'd got a penalty and taken our chance, it might have put a different complexion on the game. It's all ifs and buts. It hasn't happened. We lost the game, and Palace got their first result."
Argyle lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Mendes, Djordjic, Evans. Subs - Gudjonsson, Taylor, Capaldi (not used - McCormick, Connolly). Attendance - 18,781.
Lee Hodges has started light jogging as he attempts to overcome a persistent back problem. Paul Maxwell said: "He has actually been doing some light jogging, but it's still very early stages. We have just got to keep him strong and take it really slowly with him."
Argyle youth team striker John Hoyles has signed on loan for Truro City in order to gain experience of first team football.
David Norris is confident that Argyle can rediscover the form which earned them a win at Reading when they go to Crystal Palace today. "I wouldn't be too surprised if we went to Palace with a similar formation to Reading away," he said. "It worked well there. Away from home last season, we got found out at times. We tried to play an attacking game, and we got picked off a lot. This year we have worked really hard on containment and a counter-attacking style, especially for our away games, and it worked at Reading. We've worked on it again during the week." Norris was asked to play in a central midfield role at Reading. He said: "I started playing in the centre at the end of last season, and I really enjoyed it. It was where I used to play earlier in my career. I'm more involved, I can go and get on the ball. On the right, you can sometimes be stood out there for about ten minutes and then when you get the ball you know you've got to go and do something with it. I enjoy playing in the middle much more." Argyle should have plenty of fans at Palace, and Norris hopes that they will have something to cheer at the end of the game, unlike the two home matches so far this term, which have both ended with the team being jeered off the pitch. "If the results in our first three games had been the other way round, and we'd lost the first one, drawn the second one and won the last one, then I think the fans would have had a different outlook," Norris said. "We know it's going to be a tough season. We want to do better than we did last season, but our main aim is to ensure that we stay up again."
Taribo West will not make his Argyle debut today. Bobby Williamson yesterday said: "We hoped he was going to be available, but it seems there is still a little bit more red tape to cut through. It's very disappointing for us, and for the fans. Every time we look forward to having him playing a part for us, we have to wait a little longer." West needs to attend the British Embassy in Rome for a formal interview to obtain his travelling visa and has been unable to do that this week because he was with the Nigerian squad in Tripoli from Sunday until Thursday
Bobby Williamson is not unduly concerned about who plays for Crystal Palace tomorrow. He said: "I'm not going to sit here and worry about whether any individual from Palace is going to be fit and available. That's Iain's job. I'll be focusing on what I can do here and what we've got. There's not much I fear in football, apart from what we do. If we play as well as we can do, then brilliant; if we don't, that's a worry. I respect everybody in the game, but I don't put anyone on a pedestal. We're all working hard to do the best we can with the clubs that we're involved with. I'm doing my best for Plymouth Argyle. We won't be brilliant every week - not yet: although maybe one day we'll get to that level. That's the aim." It was not clear at Friday lunchtime whether Taribo West would play tomorrow having played for most of his country's victory over Libya on Wednesday. "He played about 80 minutes and said he felt he'd done well," said Williamson. "We're hoping that he will join up with us in London on Friday night. There's one or two things he's got to sort out still. I wish I could be a bit more clear for the fans and let them know what's happening but we're very much in the dark ourselves. Until it's resolved, we've just got to live without him." Palace find themselves one off the bottom of the Championship with but a point to their name, but Williamson warned: "Once they find their feet again, they will be back up the top end of the league, I have no doubt about that. We have got to concentrate what we are all about. Palace last year went one up, then sat back and invited pressure on, and hit teams on the break. This year, I don't think they can do that because they will be looked upon as favourites and they will be the team that will be pressing on, especially at home. They can't batter us for 90 minutes. We'll get a stage in the game where we'll get opportunities and we've got to make sure we are ready to take them, and make sure we defend properly when called upon." Williamson is unlikely to abandon the 4-5-1 formation that served well at Reading. "I don't think we will be too far away from the system we used at Reading," he said. "That's uppermost in my thoughts at this moment in time. We have got to be more tight away from home, rather than the cavalier approach of last year. Maybe we'll try to keep it a wee bit tighter."
Mat Kouo-Doumbe is looking forward to taking on Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnson tomorrow. "For sure, we have to keep an eye on him," he said. "He does a lot of running, he tries to run into your back all the time. He has scored a lot of goals and he has two this season, but it is going to be a good challenge. You always want to play against strikers with his quality, so you can position yourself and see how you do against them.” Argyle will be facing a Palace team who have gained only one point from their first three games. "I think their fans may be on their backs," Doumbe said. "It's going to be a hard game, but at the moment they haven't proved anything. We have to go there and compete and, if we put doubt in their minds, we can maybe leave Crystal Palace with a result. Everybody is up for it, we have not lost confidence. We will work hard and we will give 100 per cent."
Anthony Barness has insisted Argyle will be on alert when they face Andy Johnson and Crystal Palace tomorrow. He said: "He got a lot of goals last season. I know a lot of them were penalties but he still had to put them away. For anyone to get more than 20 goals in a season is good in any league, and he has done it in the Premiership. He's a real handful. He's quick and agile and he gets around and causes a lot of problems, not only for the centre-backs but he gets out in the wide positions as well. Whether he's an injury doubt or not, we have got to plan as if he's going to play because we don't want to be surprised if he does start." Barness believes Johnson's presence in the Championship with Palace is further confirmation of how competitive the league is. "It's a hard league and it's getting harder every season," he said. "With the quality of the foreign players coming into the Premiership then, obviously, some players have to make way. Teams are getting stronger and stronger and three of them every season are coming down. It's a sign of how strong the Championship is getting, and it gives you better players to test yourself against." Having said that, Barness would not be unhappy should Johnson be missing tomorrow. "I would like to see him play well next week, but he can rest his hamstring this week and, hopefully, give us a bit of an easier time," he added.” It's going to be a difficult game for us. We have got to go there and work hard defensively, which has been lacking a little bit, and if we keep it tight at the back then we have got every chance of picking up three points." Barness admitted all the squad had been disappointed by the home defeat against Derby County last Saturday. He said: "There has been a lot of talk about it in the changing room and we have worked a little bit on it in training to, hopefully, put it right. It's just a few minor things that when they do go wrong it causes glaring problems. It's something that, hopefully, with work we can put it right quickly. I think we have shown signs we can be in a good team in this division if we do knock some of the silly mistakes out and play more as a team defensively than as individuals."
Tony Capaldi has been passed fit for Argyle's game against Crystal Palace tomorrow after recovering from a back injury. Capaldi returned to training yesterday as Argyle, minus Bobby Williamson, prepared for their visit to Selhurst Park. It is thought Williamson was returning from an overseas trip having watched an international striker in action on Wednesday. Nick Chadwick also returned to training yesterday after an ankle injury, but he is still a doubt for the game against Palace. Paul Maxwell said: "Tony is fine. It was just bruising in his back. He came in with me on Wednesday and had a good blast and was back in training yesterday. He's really just feeling the aftermath of it, that's all. With Chads, the ligaments in his ankle are okay. He has just got bruising in the joint. He's a bit stiff and sore but he did a good work-out on Wednesday and he joined in with the rest of the lads yesterday. We will just see how he gets on each day." Williamson would not confirm his trip but said: "I've been about. I watch a lot of football during the season. There were players on view who might catch my attention. We've got three established strikers, and everybody would like us to be going with four. Some like to be going with more. Mr Warnock at Sheffield United would like to be going with six, which doesn't leave many for everybody else, but I'd like to have at least four and have a bit more competition for places up front."
Paul Wotton insists there was no reason why Argyle could not win a second successive away game. He said: "I think we have got to believe we can. There is nothing to fear. We know we didn't do ourselves justice against Derby, or in the second half against Watford, but we have worked on some things on the training ground this week and we will go up there with a positive attitude." Wotton played for Argyle on their last visit to Selhurst Park, in a Worthington Cup tie in September 2002. He said: "We did very well the last time we were up there and only lost it late in extra-time. It was a good, entertaining game. It's an old-fashioned football stadium and a nice place to play football. The fans are close to the pitch and I'm sure we will have a big following up there so I'm looking forward to it and, hopefully, we will get a good result."
Akos Buzsaky was left on the substitutes' bench throughout Hungary's 2-1 defeat to Argentina last night but has been called up to the squad for their World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Sweden next month
Argyle are still pursuing their interest in Sheffield United striker Paul Shaw. It was thought Shaw was reluctant to move to the South West but reports suggest that he is now keen on signing for Argyle. Neil Warnock has been in Cornwall this week and it is believed he has had talks with Paul Stapleton about a transfer fee
Taribo West has claimed that he did not make his debut for Argyle against Derby County because he was given extra time off by the club. He said: "When I received the invitation for this game against Libya, I told my manager about it, and he promptly excused me from our League game last Saturday against Derby. He said I needed to rest before the game, since I will be making my return to the national team after a long time." The defender has had to deal with reports in the Nigerian media that he might not turn up for the friendly in Libya. "I am shocked that somebody somewhere will come up with this lie that I will not come for this game," he said. "I do not know what they intend to achieve by this. I'm hugely embarrassed by reports that I will not be available for the game. I do not know the source of the report, because I did not tell anybody that I will not be available for the game. I have concluded all my travel plans to be in Libya for the game."
Argyle reserves drew 0-0 with Bristol City reserves at Home Park tonight. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, McKeever, Laird.S, Mendes, Summerfield, Martin, Lasley, Dickson, Reski, Zebroski. Subs - Mason, Kendall (not used - Debbage, Drew, Bond)
Tony Capaldi has dropped out of Northern Ireland's squad for their friendly in Malta tomorrow because of his back injury. Capaldi now faces a race against time to be fit for Argyle's visit to Crystal Palace on Saturday. There is also a doubt over Nick Chadwick, who missed game against Derby because of an ankle injury. Bobby Williamson said: "He's not back training with us. He's still training with the physio. The longer he's out the more difficult it becomes because he'll lose fitness, but hopefully he'll be back in the swing of things very quickly." International call-ups and injury problems will restrict the amount of tactical training Argyle can do this week. "That's part of the game at this level," Williamson said. "We just have to accept it and get on with the business in hand. We'll just keep working with the players we have got, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that the other ones come through unscathed."
Nuno Mendes will make his competitive Argyle debut when the reserves kick off their Pontins Holiday Combination League campaign against Bristol City tomorrow. "He'll play, along with anyone else who didn't feature on Saturday," said Bobby Williamson. "It's been a wee while since he last played a game, so we'll see what he does. It's an opportunity for players to stake a claim. You monitor them in training but you want to see them in competitive games and this is as competitive as it gets outside the first team. I hope I've got a full complement in the near future. We want competition throughout the team." With Taribo West away on international duty with Nigeria that competition is set to increase further. Tony Capaldi has recovered from his back problem and has joined the Northern Ireland party in Malta, although Nick Chadwick is still suffering from an ankle injury. Williamson added: "I analyse every game, every goal we score, and every goal we concede. I've had a look at the goals we conceded on Saturday and it was poor defending. However, as long as we are competing in this league, that's the most important thing, and I feel we are competing, whether it's Derby, Watford or Reading or other bigger-name clubs, I just want us to be competing at this level."
Bojan Djordjic is determined to be positive, despite Saturday's defeat to Derby County. "It was our own fault that we found ourselves in that situation after what was a great start, I thought," he said. "There were a few positives, but I thought the first half was a negative, just as the second half against Watford was a negative. Why couldn't we play against Derby the way we played in the first half against Watford and put them on the back foot? But sometimes it's easier to speak afterwards about things we should have done, instead of just doing them." Djordjic could have brought Argyle back into the game in the second half, but sent a header over the crossbar. "I expected to score, but the problem was Marc Edworthy never jumped," he said. "That was what put me off. It was a great cross but it just hit my forehead and went over the bar. We had three or four top chances. Chances we should have taken, chances we wouldn't normally get against teams like Derby. We've lost 2-0, but we've still taken four points from three games and we're not going to play many teams that pass the ball as well as Derby. Now we need to play to our strengths. When we do that, teams have to adjust to us. We had a great first half against Watford and a good second half against Derby. Next time we have to play that way for 90 minutes. I'm not worried. I'm more disappointed, especially with the way we lost the two goals." Asked if he thought the Argyle midfield had supplied the strikers with sufficient service, Djordjic added: "It's not quite there yet, but I think Mickey had loads of service in the second half. Plenty of crosses came in. The service is there, now we need to get on the end of them. How many crosses did they have? Two or three, but they hit their man. But we'll come again. It's still early in the season. I know the fans are eager because they love this club and they want us to do well, but they have to just sit back and relax and trust us. We, the players, are going to pull through."
Akos Buzsaky did not play when a Hungarian XI lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in a benefit match for Ferenc Puskas last night, but hopes to be involved at some stage in Hungary's friendly against Argentina in Budapest on Wednesday
Bobby Williamson declined to defend his sides defending after yesterdays defeat. If we don't stop quality balls coming in, we will concede goals," he said. "I felt the goals we conceded today were defendable; the defending was indefensible; we should be defending these situations better. It cost us three points today. We're getting punished for any mistake we're making at the back just now. The first one, I thought Ro had got it. He got a good hand to it, but, unfortunately he did not put it outside the post. The play leading up to that was indefensible. We have got to do better. The second one, we were running to get on the goal-line, instead of picking people up. We'll be working hard to rectify the mistakes we made today and learn from them. It's a team effort to score goals and it's a team effort to defend them." Williamson bemoaned the loss of Taribo West: "He played in most of our pre-season matches," he said. "It has been a blow that Taribo has not been here. He's a top player. I've recognized his abilities in the short space of time he's been here and how he conducts himself as a professional is fantastic. A lot of our players will learn from that. I had the same thing at Kilmarnock, when I brought Iain Durrant in. He took touches and made passes, and that rubbed off on players who were just workhorses. They started taking touches and making passes because they saw how easy it was done. I'm hoping that, when Taribo comes in, other players will gain in confidence from a player of his calibre and experience. I'm not having a go at the two boys who are defending in there just now. It's a team game, defending, and it's up to the guys at the back to organize the guys in front of them." Argyle came on strong in the last half-hour againt Derby and Williamson added: We're creating chances and it's disappointing we never got one of them. We had plenty. Second half, they invited us on and we accepted that invitation but we couldn't hurt them. They guys have got to be positive, keep their heads up, keep trying to get in there and keep trying to get goals. They don't come easy; you have got to work hard for them. We were working hard but we just couldn't get that beak in front of goal. Their goalkeeper made a couple of decent saves and we missed the target. We put a lot of dangerous balls across the goal which were not converted. They took their chances; that made all the difference. Credit to them, they are a decent team when they knock the ball about. If we keep persevering and work hard, as long as we can keep competing, we will win games." For the second home game in succession, Argyle were jeered from the field, but Williamson said: ""I'm not going to complain about the fans. At the end of the game, they were not happy with the result. They might not have been happy about a lot of the things that went on during the game. If a fan can see something going on and thinks they might be able to help us, they are more than welcome to come and have a chat with me. Fans should be there to support the team: don't worry about tactics, don't worry about formations - just get behind the players and encourage them to do their best. I believe a majority of fans are doing that." With Nick Chadwick sidelined by injury, Williamson's attacking options were limited to Mickey Evans and Scott Taylor. He said: "I'm not bringing somebody in for the sake of it - we are all looking for strikers. If there are players out there that can add to us, then brilliant - we will get them, but if they are not going to add anything to us, then I won't be bringing someone for the sake of it. The work's ongoing and it will continue to be like that until we get someone to sign on the dotted line."
Argyle lost 2-0 to Derby at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Gudjonsson, Wotton, Buzsaky, Djordjic, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Connolly, Norris (not used - McCormick, Lasley, Mendes). Attendance - 14,279.
Tony Capaldi has reacted to the challenge posed by increased competition for his place in the side this season with a pair of promising performances and a goal in Tuesday's draw with Watford. "There's a better squad here now than there has been for the last couple of years," he said. "There's competition all over the place. I've had Bojan coming in and pushing me for my place, and it's been up to me to work hard and try and stay in the starting XI." Capaldi is hoping to recover from the back injury which caused his substitution on Tuesday. "We've had a decent start to the season," he added. "Everyone was bitterly disappointed with the second half on Tuesday, but it's early days in the season and we've got a lot to work on. There are plenty of encouraging signs. Tuesday's first half was good and we've got to cut out the mistakes we made in the second half. We didn't start very well in the second half against Watford, but the way they scored their second goal so early to make it 3-2 made a massive difference. They got a big lift and then all of a sudden we got a bit panicky. They scored the equaliser soon afterwards, and after that I thought we did all right just to hold on for a draw. We steadied the ship. The way it was going we could have ended up getting beat. We can't be too disappointed. Four points from two games is a good start." Derby beat Argyle twice last season and Capaldi is under no illusions about today's challenge. "They've a lot of good players and they have the calibre to be a very good team," he said. "They gave us a bit of a run-around in the first half up there, but I thought in the second half we coped with them really well. We should have got a result out of the game." Back injury permitting, Capaldi will play for Northern Ireland against Malta in a friendly in Valletta on Wednesday. He has not played for his country since March, having missed a friendly against Germany in June due to fitness concerns. "I knew quite early I wasn't going to play in that game," he said. "I'd been bothered by a sore groin for the last two months of last season, and I'd been told to rest in the summer. I'm a lot better now, and I'm looking forward to being back with the squad."
Taribo West was set to miss Argyle's game with Derby County today after a further delay in the paperwork allowing him to return to England. Bobby Williamson said: "We put a good case forward at the tribunal and we got the work permit, which is great. But there is still another bit of red tape to cut through before we get him back here. As soon as that is done the better. We did our bit on Thursday and now it's up to other people to do their bit."
Akos Buzsaky is set to leave for Budapest straight after the game with Derby but Bobby Williamson does not know whether he would be involved in the game against Real Madrid tomorrow. "It will be up to their manager to select him," he said. "Obviously, we are hoping he is sensible about it if Akos plays a full game against Derby. It's up to international managers to make their minds up. I can't pick anybody else's team - it's hard enough picking my own. Once he has finished the game against Derby he's under their supervision."
Nuno Mendes is set to play for Argyle reserves in their home game against Bristol City next Tuesday after recovering from a hamstring injury. Bobby Williamson admitted it was unlikely he would be involved in today's game with Derby. He said: "Nuno Mendes has trained the last couple of days but it might be a bit early for him. I always like to get a player a reserve game under his belt before he comes back into the reckoning."
Bobby Williamson has described the first week of the season as a 'rollercoaster ride'. He was an unhappy man after Watford's comeback on Tuesday, but said: "We've worked on it. We know the areas where we've let ourselves down and we've tried to make the players aware of that. They agree, which is good, because they want to learn. If we get ourselves in the same position again, hopefully we can deal with the situation better. That's all we're asking. We have got to learn the lessons and show more patience at times when we do go in front, invite them on, and hit them for another one, but we got disjointed, allowed Watford to take the impetus, and it cost us. I'm not sure we made mistakes - we just defended badly. We weren't as organised as we should have been in situations. Every game presents a problem. You can never sit back and say we've got it sorted. We went on our travels last week and won 2-1 and came in at half-time on Tuesday at 3-1 - some people were thinking things were shaping up well for the season. It doesn't work like that. You have got to keep working at it, pushing yourself, trying to raise your standards and get a level of consistency. We've not got that yet. People said we might have difficulty scoring goals - we've scored five in two games - but there's always something that will keep you focused and bring you back to earth, and the defensive lapses have caused us concern. We don't want anyone to leave here with anything but our best wishes, having enjoyed some good hospitality. We certainly don't want them to be taking three points. This is the place where, hopefully,we'll get most of our points." It was still unclear on Friday whether Taribo West would be available to face Derby. "You never say never," said Williamson, "but it's not looking likely. There's a little bit of red tape to cut through before we get him back here, and the sooner that happens, the better. He's not in my thoughts at the moment, but who's to say that, if he's around at 2pm tomorrow, I will not select him? We'll wait and see. It's in other people's hands. He's good to have about the place and he's certainly been missed."
Bobby Williamson believes Derby will be one of the top sides this season. He said: "A lot of people thought they were one of the best teams we played last season and I would go along with that. They have made a couple of good additions to their squad and haven't lost many players so I think they will be up there. I don't see any weaknesses. They are strong at the back, have got flair in midfield and have got players up front who can take chances. We have got to make sure we start the game like we did on Tuesday, but try to sustain it for longer and keep on top. Derby are a very good team and I don't think they have been weakened in any way over the summer. They have got a quality coach and will be looking to add to the two points they have picked up already."
Argyle are one of several Championship clubs interested in striker Svetoslav Todorov. He has now returned to action after a long-term knee injury and Portsmouth want to loan him out until January to get some match practice
Paul Wotton believes Argyle will face one of the best strikeforces in the Championship tomorrow when they take on Derby. He said: "On paper it's the ideal partnership - a big man in Rasiak and a smaller, nippier striker in Peschisolido. There is no doubt about it, Rasiak has got something about him as well, in terms of touch and skill. Peschisolido is probably as good as you are going to get in this league. He has had numerous clubs and scored goals wherever he has been. He knows the Championship inside-out so they will be a handful. We are fully aware of that but, to be fair, in this league there is quality in every team." Despite a change of manager Derby are expected to be one of the leading contenders for promotion. Wotton said: "They are going to be strong again, no doubt about that. The players will have a point to prove to the new manager. They are a big club but it's a game to look forward to. We are excited about it and we fancy our chances against anyone at home." Wotton scored his 50th goal for Argyle on Tuesday and said: "It's always nice to get off the mark for a season and it was my 50th goal as well. It was a decent strike but I'm not bothered who scores the goals as long as someone does. I suppose it's nice to get 50. It's a nice round number. Hopefully, there will be 50 more but getting to 100 is a bit different I think. We are disappointed not to be sat here with six points, but not too disappointed. You have to take a positive from Tuesday night and we didn't get beaten. We dug in at the end, which we had to do. It's important we don't look at it as a defeat because we have got a big game to look forward to tomorrow."
Bobby Williamson has spoken of his relief at the club securing a work permit for Taribo West. He said: "We are delighted to have got it sorted out. It's not something we envisaged when we signed Taribo. We have dealt with the situation successfully and thanks to the co-operation of everyone concerned we have got the work permit. We have been working away diligently since we found out about this issue and now it has been resolved." Williamson has spoken by telephone to West on an almost daily basis while he has been at his home in Milan. "He has been keeping his fitness levels up by training on his own," said Williamson. "He tells me he's in good shape. He's obviously disappointed to have missed the start of the season and he has been asking how the players have been doing. He just wanted to get back here as soon as possible."
Nick Chadwick is hoping to be fit for Saturday's visit of Derby County. He said: "It is touch and go I've been with Maxie since but hopefully will be available, we will have to wait and see." Chadwick defended himself and his fellow strikers against pre-season criticism. "I think the forwards have taken a bit of unjust stick, it was nice to see us get a couple of goals to answer that," he said.
Taribo West has been given the go-ahead to make his Argyle debut. Today a tribunal sitting in Sheffield granted West a work-permit to play in this country. Bobby Williamson attended the tribunal alongside Phill Gill, Michael Dunford and the club's solicitor
Paul Stapleton is hoping the club's home attendances will stay at the same level of last season despite a fall in season ticket sales. Argyle have sold around 8,500 membership packages, about 1,000 less than last summer. Stapleton said: "We are about a thousand down but that was expected after the euphoria of winning the league. Having said that, I'm hopeful the attendance - which was a 16,400 average last season - isn't reduced because of people not necessarily buying a season ticket but still coming to the games. If they see the quality of games and the quality of opposition then I'm hopeful the attendance will stay relatively high. To be fair, last season's average was the highest since 1960/61 so we have got to remember that and it puts things into perspective. That was the last time it was over 16,000, which opens your eyes a bit. Historically, this is a football club that has not had massive support over the years, compared to a Sunderland or even Sheffield Wednesday, who get 23,000 in a lower division." Stapleton believes Argyle's drive to attract more children to Home Park over recent seasons is starting to reap dividends. He said: "We are very pleased with the family support in the last few years, with a lot of children who have come along. We have seen children on community schemes all wearing their Argyle shirts, so the seeds have been sown." Stapleton was especially encouraged by the attendances at the end of last season including a near capacity crowd of 19,199 for the draw with Leicester City in the final game. He said: "There was nothing to play for that day and we had a fantastic gate. It made me think the support is there and the fans are really behind this football club. We have got to look after the fans and try to be open and honest with them and tell them what we are doing. If they buy into what we are doing, then we are all part of the same outfit. All of us on the board are fans and we would like get in this top-rank striker, pay him a load of money and see him bang in the goals. But we are also entrusted to run the football club, on behalf of the shareholders so, therefore, we have to do things in the right way. We are trying to run it in a democratic way and an open way and I think we have been doing a reasonable job. If we continue this progress then we will be able to look back on our period of tenure and say 'that was a good time in the history of Plymouth Argyle Football Club'."
Bobby Williamson has admitted his side are missing the 'steadying influence' of Taribo West. Williamson said: "It is not any clearer yet as to when Taribo will be returning to the club. I want him here as soon as possible, but it is just a case of waiting until everything is sorted out with his visa and his work permit. It is a real shame for both the club and the player that he isn't here as he has looked good in the pre-season matches he has played in. He has proved during pre-season just how fit he is and even though he hasn't played for two or three weeks, I don't think it will affect him too much. Taribo has proved to everyone just how much of an assured, comfortable and capable player he is and we are missing his steadying influence. But then any club in this division would miss a player with the qualities, attributes and experience that Taribo possesses. That's not to say that I am not happy with the performances of the defenders in the two games so far this season. In fact, if we can get another couple of good results, Taribo might not find his way into the side immediately when he does arrive. But just to have Taribo back around the club would be a real boost for everyone connected to the club." Meanwhile, Williamson confirmed that Nuno Mendes is back in full training and that he will assess his fitness before considering him for the game with Derby County
Bobby Williamson is still looking to bring a new striker to Home Park. He said: "We have scored five goals in the last two games and that bodes well for the rest of the season. Two of the strikers have got three of the goals between them and that can only give them confidence in front of goal. Overall I have been pleased with the way that Mickey and Nick, and Scott have performed, but it is no secret that I am trying to bring in another striker to add to our ranks. In fact, nearly every club in this division is probably looking for a top quality striker. I will not name any names yet as to who I am trying to bring in as I don't like to say anything until a deal has been concluded. However, I can confirm that some of the names banded about in the Press are not far off the mark and I hope to have some good news soon." The fact that just the strikers aren't scoring the goals is something that pleases Williamson. He said: "It was good to see Paul Wotton get off the mark so early in the season on Tuesday night and let's hope there are many more to come between now and the rest of the season. It was also pleasing that Tony found the back of the net as well as it means that we are able to threaten the opposition from a number of areas on the pitch. We have witnessed already with the last minute winner at Reading and then losing the two-goal lead against Watford that this season is going to be a rollercoaster, but if we can strike the right balance within the team, and we can all contribute something, then we will be fine."
David Fernandez, Celtic's Spanish striker, is rumoured to be a transfer target for Bobby Williamson. Argyle are also reported to be taking a look at Paris Saint Germain defensive midfielder Hocine Ragued
Bobby Williamson did not sound like a manager whose side is in third place in the Championship after last nights game. "The way we were playing, I didn't think it was over at half-time," he said. "It might have looked that way from the stands but I can assure you not in the dug-out, not the way we were playing. We told the players at half-time the next goal was very important and that we had to get it. Unfortunately, we conceded from a free-kick. That's disappointing. The two goals we conceded from open play were disappointing also. Second-half, we never played. Watford played all the football. They got at us and troubled us. Thankfully, we never conceded any more. I'm not so sure 3-1 flattered us. We definitely had all the play in the first half, all the pressure. I'm not saying there was a lot of silky football played but we certainly put the ball in the right area. It was a great ball in for the first goal and Mickey put a good finish on it, and Tony hit his well - I think it took a bounce before it went in which made it difficult for the 'keeper - and Paul Wotton rifled one into the net. The manner which we conceded goals is obviously worrying. It is disappointing to concede three goals at home and, obviously, we have got a lot of work to do before Saturday. I felt we should have learnt from the first goal, but we didn't, and we invited pressure on us. You have got to give credit to Watford. I think everybody in the stand heard the rollicking they got at half-time and we knew it was going to be a battle in the second half. Unfortunately, we couldn't stand up to it." Williamson refused to blame anyone for the defending which allowed Watford to score three times. "I'll speak to the players privately in the dressing-room. It's not down to any one individual. There's a lot to analyse and this is not the moment to do it. I'm not going to criticise any of my players publicly, that's for sure. We could have made life a bit easier for ourselves, 3-1 up at home and passionate support behind us. We let them down, and we let ourselves down, worst of all. I felt we had enough experience to control that situation but that's not proved to be the case. Maybe we felt life was too easy."
Argyle drew 3-3 with Watford at Home Park, the goals scored by Mickey Evans after 4 minutes, Tony Capaldi (12) and Paul Wotton (43). Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Taylor, Djordjic (not used - McCormick, Gudjonsson, Connolly). Attendance - 13,813.
Argyle have not yet closed the door on Paul Shaw moving to Home Park. Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock said: "There is a possibility that Paul Shaw will be going to Plymouth. He has had talks and, while I've read in the papers that he had turned Argyle down, I don't think that is the case 100 per cent. We have agreed a fee with Argyle, but it is staying undisclosed. I think it is the normal problem that managers face there, with the geography and whether his family want to move that far down the country. But there can't be anyone who has told him more good things about living down there than me!"
Argyle face Watford in their first home fixture of the season tonight, following Saturdays win at Reading. "It was very pleasing to get a result away from home, especially when we know how much it means to our fantastic travelling fans," Bobby Williamson said, "now it's Watford. We've had them watched a few times, so we know a bit about them, but it's the same old adage. It's all about us. It's all about how we approach the game and what we do, and I'll be stressing that to the players. I think everybody is looking to pick up the bulk of their points at home, and we're no different. We want to make it very difficult for teams who come down here, and our fans can play a part in that. We need them to be very partisan and vocal and passionate, and become our 12th man. That will help us. I just hope we don't let them down." Asked if retaining the same 4-5-1 formation used at Reading was likely, Williamson said: "No. Bjarni Gudjonsson and Tony Capaldi are primarily offensive players, and if I wanted to go with that formation at home tomorrow it would be predominantly 4-3-3. Mickey played well, but Nick gave me encouragement to pick him, so I may change it. Scott Taylor is desperate for an opportunity as well, which is good. We need everybody fighting for places." Taribo West is again unavailable tonight, which gives Mat Doumbe and Hasney Aljofree another chance to retain their place. "The guys in the team now have to make it difficult for Taribo to get back in," Williamson said. "I've no preferences. Everybody did themselves the world of good on Saturday with good performances." Nuno Mendes was kept out of Argyle's squad at Reading by a hamstring strain, but he will soon be back in contention. "Nuno is still injured, but he's not far away," Williamson added. "If we were struggling, then I would be pushing it, but we're not struggling. He's still feeling the effects of his injury, and we'll take our time."
Having helped Argyle win at Reading, Romain Larrieu knows how important it is for the team not to waste their good start with any slips in their first two home games. "It would be such a waste not to pounce on two home games," he said. "It is up to us to show the same commitment and attitude as we did at Reading in our next game, and we will see what the outcome is. Hopefully, if we keep doing the right things and keep our focus even more than we did on Saturday, then I don't see why we can't get positive results out of these two games." Although Argyle did not manage to keep a clean sheet on Saturday, they will be hoping that their defence looks just as solid this evening. Larrieu said: "We've tried all sorts of defensive combinations in pre-season, which I think helped. Mat and Hasney may not have played together before in the middle, but they have trained together for a year so they know each other. The fact that we also had two very experienced full-backs really helped us. Everybody knew what they were asked to do and everybody responded. That's what you expect, and long may it continue. Hopefully we can keep the same organisation, which will help us get results. The more organised you are, the harder you are to beat. We have nothing to fear tonight. We just have to be confident in our ability, show the same commitment that we did at Reading and take the game to Watford right from the start. If we can create chances, then we showed on Saturday that our strikers can take them."
Taribo West's new Italian passport will be valid from the start of September, but in the meantime Argyle are attempting to obtain a work permit so that he is eligible to play in England using his Nigerian passport
Mickey Evans has called on his Argyle team-mates to capitalise on their season-opening win against Reading when they face Watford tonight. He said: "The hard work is now, the next two home games. Before the start of the season, if you had said we would draw our first game and then win our next two at home I would have ripped your arm off for that. We have done better than probably a lot of people outside of the club thought we would do at Reading, but now it's all about tonight and then Saturday. We need to pick up maximum points, or as many as we can. We can't sit back and think 'didn't we do well on Saturday'. It has gone now. It's a case of one game at a time. I know everyone says that, but it's true.” Evans was unperturbed about the prospect of taking on the new-look Hornets. He said: "We have probably played against all the players they have signed. We looked like a good team on Saturday but there are no easy games in this league, that's for sure." Evans played as a lone striker at Reading and said: "The good thing about it is I have done it so many times I know exactly where I should be and what I should be doing. To be fair to the lads, they got up well with me in the first half, especially Akos and Chuck. Wottsie did a good job in the holding role and everyone worked really, really hard. I think we frustrated them a lot before half-time. We came out for the second half and Akos had a good chance, but the keeper pulled off a decent save or we could have gone 2-0 ahead. After they equalised, we showed a lot of character and kept going forward in the last 10-15 minutes." Evans was substituted for Nick Chadwick, who grabbed the decisive goal in stoppage time. "People don't realise, he might have come from a Premiership club but he's a young lad and has only played a handful of games really," said Evans. "He has come on and scored the winner, which will do his confidence the world of good. Obviously, him and Scott will be disappointed they didn't start on Saturday but everyone will have their chance, I'm sure, throughout the season." Evans, who had gone seven months without a goal before he scored at Reading, also said: "I was disappointed with how many I got last season but, at the end of the day, goals aren't that important to me. The most important thing to me is playing well. I'm a team player - always have been, always will be."
Akos Buzsaky will put all thoughts about his first senior international call-up out of his mind when Argyle take on Watford at Home Park tonight. He said: "Everyone wants to play for their national team and it's a dream come true for me. They are two great games, against Real Madrid and Argentina, and I'm really excited about it. But the most important thing now is a win tonight and then against Derby. After that I can think about the national team." Buzsaky knows Argyle must pick up points consistently at Home Park if they want to improve on their final position of 17th last term. He said: "We have had a great start to the season and it was really important because I don't think too many teams will get three points at Reading. But our home games are the most important in the season. I'm really optimistic about tonight and I hope we can win. We will give our best and I'm sure we will get a good result." Buzsaky thought the 4,000 Argyle supporters played a crucial part in the win on Saturday. "Reading had more possession than us but they didn't have many chances," he said. "It looked like it was going to be a drawn game but in football you need luck and Chadders scored a great goal at the end. The fans were wonderful. They were behind us for 90 minutes and maybe that's why we won the game. We felt so many people wanted that victory and finally we had it. I was really pleased because not too many teams have supporters like this." Buzsaky has made 16 appearances for Argyle and his only goal came in the 1-0 defeat of Watford in April. He said: "It's a great memory for me and I hope I can continue this run against Watford." Bobby Williamson believes Buzsaky's call-up will raise Argyle's profile even higher. He said: "We are delighted for Akos that he has been picked by Hungary. He came here to play first team football and to try to push into the international arena. He has been selected now and we are really, really pleased it hasn't hindered him at all coming to Plymouth Argyle. It will send out a signal to other players that they can gain international recognition by playing for us." Buzsaky is expected to leave for Budapest on Saturday night after playing for Argyle against Derby County. Williamson said: "He will play for us on Saturday. I don't know whether they will use him on Sunday or whether they will use him on the Wednesday. We will be working together with the Hungarian FA because we don't want to jeopardise that relationship. We will get Akos over to them as soon as the game finishes on Saturday."
After so much pre-match publicity about Argyle's apparent need for a new striker, it was a pleasure and a relief for the 'Green Army' to see Mickey Evans and Nick Chadwick find the net at Reading. Evans said: "We do still need another striker. It will be difficult for us if we get any injuries, and every position needs competition. But it showed today that the lads want to keep their shirts. Everyone worked hard and it was a good, solid away performance." After Evans' first-half goal, Reading almost found themselves two down soon after the break when only a fine save by Marcus Hahnemann denied Akos Buzsaky a superb solo goal. Evans said: "Akos did so well and that would have been the goal of last season, never mind this season. If we'd gone two ahead, it would have been a different game. They attacked us in the second half, but I thought we defended well and worked hard. " Evans gave a typically industrious and effective display as the lone front man on Saturday. "The system works, but it needs a lot of fit lads in midfield to get up there with me. The lads really worked today and Paul Wotton did a great job clearing up in front of the back four. Other than their goal, they only had two or three chances. If you keep a side down to two or three chances in a game, that's fantastic." Evans took his chance when he converted a cross from Rufus Brevett. "Rufus did well to get down the line and I was lucky enough to get to the near post ahead of the two centre- backs," he said. "I was pleased with the goal, but the good team performance was more important."
Romain Larrieu admitted it was a 'fantastic feeling' when Argyle opened the new season with a last-gasp success at Reading on Saturday. He said: "It's the first time we have won the first game of the season since I have been at the club. It's a fantastic feeling, especially in those circumstances, where we fought all the way through very hard. It was destiny really that Chads scored. He has been there many times in pre-season and has missed a couple of chances but he was there again today and he scored a great goal, like Trigger did. It's a really good feeling to get three points. We had a great start last season and we need another one now. We have got two home games now and we are looking forward to them. There were so many surprise results today, which you always get from the first game of the season. It's up to us to show it wasn't a surprise and to make sure we win our home games. That's where we managed to stay up last season, by winning our home games. We have to do it right from the start on Tuesday." Evans put Argyle ahead when he converted a near post cross from Rufus Brevett. Larrieu said: "That was a really well-worked goal. It was a good pass from Akos in the first place to put Rufus through. Rufus played a great ball and Mickey was there at the near post, where he should be everytime, and he scored. It was a good start and gave us a lot of confidence, which is very important in the first game of the season." Reading drew level when Leroy Lita headed home a cross from Graeme Murty from close range past an unsighted Larrieu. "It was a great ball in," Larrieu said. "Lita is not the biggest and he jumped from somewhere. When he touched the ball I didn't even see him and he put so much power behind it. When I saw the ball it was in the back of the net." Chadwick grabbed the winning goal when he steered home a miscued shot from Paul Wotton. Larrieu said: "It was a great feeling to hear the silence behind me and the noise in front of me." Bobby Williamson told Larrieu after training on Friday that he would be playing at Reading. "Luke did everything right in the pre-season and I don't think I did anything wrong," said Larrieu. “It was just up to what the gaffer felt, and he felt I had done enough to deserve a start and I'm very glad. Luke must be feeling bad but that's football. He knows that. We spoke before we found out who would be playing and we said whatever happened the one who was left out needed to keep the same attitude throughout the season, up until he starts playing again. I know I'm going to have to fight if I want to stay in the team."
Sheffield United striker Paul Shaw has rejected the chance to sign for Argyle after holding talks with Bobby Williamson last week. It is believed Shaw was reluctant to move to the South West
Bobby Williamson put his side's opening day victory at Reading down to a concerted team effort. "I don't think we had a bad player," he said. "Everybody worked hard - it was certainly a team game. We were well organised, and defended well at times. A couple of them died on their feet, but it's difficult to know when to bring a sub on." Williamson declined to take any credit for the victory, despite his decision to introduce Nick Chadwick towards the end of the game: "It was inspired, but in reality I only did it to waste time," he said. "Nick had done well in training and it was a disappointment for him to be starting on the bench, but if he keeps scoring goals, he will keep his place. There'll be times during the course of this season when I'll get it wrong. It doesn't matter who scores the goal, whether they start the game or whether they've just come on. I did think all the talk about bringing in a striker could have damaged his confidence, but that doesn't seem to have been the case, which is good." If Chadwicks winner was slightly fortunate, Mickey Evans' opener was a more ordered move which ended with Rufus Brevett crossing to the near post. "It was a good move, well worked, and Mickey's movement was spot on," said Williamson. "It was a good goal, a good start for us, and gave us something to build on." Lita equalised when Argyle were caught napping after a quickly taken free-kick. "It was just one set-piece that hurt us," said Williamson. "We never defended the goal as well as I would have liked, we gave away too many free-kicks which enabled them to work their set-pieces, and we weren't switched-on enough to deal with the situation. At 1-1, I felt they were looking stronger, looking the most likely to score, and set-pieces were always a concern, but we stayed strong." Williamson said he hoped that Taribo West might be available for next Saturday, but warned he might not be handed a place in the team. "It's just red tape that is tangling us up and the sooner we can cut through that, the better," said Williamson, "but we've got to give everybody encouragement to play in this team, whether it's Taribo West, Paul Wotton, Mickey Evans - they will all find themselves sitting beside me on the bench or sitting in the stands at some stage. I feel heart sorry for Keith Lasley and Luke McCormick, people like that, because they have worked hard in pre-season, but it's a difficult job. I feel for them but there's no easy way round it - I can't send them love letters telling them they are dropped, I have to tell them face to face. Credit to them - they acted like the professionals they are. They'll get their opportunity, I'm sure." Williamson was also delighted that Argyle had performed so well in front of around 4,000 travelling fans. "It is important to pick up points away from home because our fans travel huge distances at a huge cost so we want to send them home happy," he said, "and I think we did that today."
Argyle won 2-1 at Reading, the goals scored by Mickey Evans after 21 minutes and Nick Chadwick (90). Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Gudjonsson, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans. Subs - Chadwick, Djordjic (not used - McCormick, Taylor, Connolly). Attendance - 16,836.
Akos Buzsaky is set to make his senior international debut for Hungary having been named in the squad for a friendly against Argentina on August 17th. He is also due to play some part in a benefit match for Ferenc Puskas against Real Madrid in Budapest the following day. "Today arrived a letter from the Hungarian Football Federation," Buzsaky said. "They want me for the games against Real Madrid and Argentina. I will play only for a few minutes in the game against Madrid, because I will be travelling on the Sunday, but the game against Argentina will be my official debut. I am really excited. It's a big step in my career and I am very happy." Buzsaky today hopes to help Argyle enjoy a good start to the season at Reading, where he played in his first Argyle away game in February this year. As then, Argyle should be cheered on by some 4,000 fans this afternoon. "It was really impressive," Buzsaky said. "So many fans travelling all that way for a game, it was unbelievable. I hope tomorrow will be the same, and we will do our best to achieve a great result for the fans." Buzsaky signed a three-year contract with Argyle in May. He added: "I was very happy to sign for Plymouth because I think it's a good step in my career. I will fight for my place in the team and I hope we will do well in this new season. We have signed some quality players over the summer and I think we are stronger now. I hope it will be seen in the results too. I think the club has dreams, and the most important thing is to make the dreams come true. It was important for me too when I signed that the club has ambitions." Another of the new faces at Home Park is Portuguese defender Nuno Mendes. "I didn't know him before he signed for Plymouth but he's a really nice guy," said Buzsaky. "We have talked a lot with each other and I think he's a good player. He's a quality defender and I hope he shows that. I speak Portuguese but he speaks English and he's learning quickly so I don't think that's going to be a problem for him. Every day his English is better." Buzsaky wants to get among the goals regularly in his first full season with Argyle, having got two during pre-season. He said: "First of all, I want to play and then we will see what I can do from there. I want to score a few goals this season and I hope I will. It's always good to score goals but we were playing a team from the Third Division in Sweden and it was not a good quality game." Buzsaky believes the Championship will be a stronger league than it was last season. He said: "The smaller teams like Rotherham went down and teams like Sheffield Wednesday have come up. Every game is going to be hard but we will always try to do our best and I think we are going to be a strong team in this division. It was my first pre-season in England and it's different from what I used to do before, in Hungary and Portugal. I think we did a great pre-season. We have worked hard to get ready for the first game. The first few games will be really important. We need to get points, at home and away, to push the team up front and then we will see where we go from there."
Bobby Williamson has made no secret of the fact that he wants his team to be much harder to beat away from home this season. "I've always felt, whether we're at home or away, that the idea was to go out there and try and win the game and play as attractively as we can," he said. "But after listening to the fans and to other sources, then maybe I'm thinking that's not the way to go about our business. Maybe we should keep things tight and, if it's a point, it's still a point. That's better than nothing. The fans travel long distances and I've always wanted to entertain them, but I've been thinking long and hard about the right way to go about things. We didn't just lose so many away games last year because we went and had a go at teams. Sometimes it was down to bad defending, sometimes it was down to bad luck. It wasn't just down to what team I put out. Now I've got to do what I see fit to get the best result. It's always a learning curve. The fans would rather see a 0-0 draw than a 4-3 defeat. Last season I felt there were times when we didn't read the danger signs early enough away from home, and we conceded goals at bad times. I'm hoping, with the players we've brought to the club, that we can recognise those signs and not concede so many goals, but time will tell."
Paul Stapleton thinks a realistic aim for Argyle this season would be to finish in the middle third of the Championship. He said: "We all have ambition to win things, and we know we have won two championship trophies in the last few years, which has been exceptional. But the higher you go up, the harder it gets. Our ambition is still to win as many matches as we can, to progress in the cup competitions and to show we are a force to be reckoned with in this league. We need to build on the solid foundations that we have set and whatever happens we must not let that crumble. We feel the club is in a stronger position than it has been for many a year, the only thing we haven't got is experience of the top division. I was listening to a Championship manager the other night saying that 80 per cent of the teams in this league have experience of the top division. Well, that may be the case, but we have had 101 years of history and never been there. It doesn't mean to say we are a poor relation. It means our hunger might be greater in the years to come." Stapleton believes it is important Argyle continue to be a 'family club' despite their success of recent seasons. He said: "We are not like some clubs up the country, where players live two or three hours away, whatever it may be. When you come to the West Country you are all together. It seems a long way away but, nevertheless, it's a lovely area to live in. I know everybody talks about bonding and team spirit but our geography lends itself to that. It can also work to our advantage when people don't want to come down here to play us. I know travel is getting a little easier but there is still the thought of coming to Plymouth so, fine, let's make it a fortress." Stapleton is convinced Argyle's transfer activity will pay off as the season goes along. He said: "We feel we have improved our football team by the players we have brought in. That's no disrespect to the players who are not here any longer. It's just a fact of life that we have signed people with a lot of experience. Some of them may be a little bit older than what we had before but they bring a great degree of experience and quality - both into the dressing room and onto the pitch. We felt we were a little bit naive at times last season, particularly when we were away from home." Argyle visit all three of the clubs relegated from the Premiership before the end of September and Stapleton said: "That's going to be a test for us, but you have got to play them away sometime so let's get it done and look forward to it. We will make the travel facilities for the players as comfortable as we can so there is no reason to blame anything else. We will go and compete and, hopefully, show we are entitled to be in the Championship. All the ambitions we have got off the pitch are such that we need to at least be in this division."
Paul Wotton finished last season as Argyle's player-of-the-year and top goalscorer and is convinced he can prove those achievements were no 'flash in the pan'. He said: "I didn't surprise myself, because I have always had a strong belief in my own ability anyway. I had doubters last season and I'm sure I will have doubters this season. I think that's just part of my career. I have always had doubters so it's a case of proving them wrong. Last season went okay but I think I can do better. I had my bad patches last season but finished relatively strongly. I think the ups and downs of my season coincided with the team's. We had our good patches and our bad patches. We want to try to get a level of consistency this season, instead of being up and down. When we were up we could compete with anyone in that league, which we proved on numerous occasions. I was pleased with my season but it doesn't mean anything now. It has gone. It's whether I can do it again and prove it wasn't just a flash in the pan. I have put myself under a bit of pressure and, hopefully, I will rise to it. It certainly will not be for the lack of trying." Wotton is relieved pre-season is finally over and the season is nearly underway. "I know I have been counting down the days to August 6, and I'm sure the other lads in the changing room have been doing the same," he said. "You get back to some normality in the week and, to be fair, the games are coming thick and fast at the start of the season. That's great. Hopefully, the work we have been doing on the training ground will stand us in good stead. Pre-season is a slog and no-one likes it, but we have sharpened up now and the lads are looking good. I can't remember an easy pre-season, to be honest with you. I'm not old but I think with every year that goes on it does get harder and harder. It's not a nice time. It's probably the one bad point of being a professional footballer, so I think you can accept it." Wotton is relishing the prospect of another Championship campaign, he said: "The start of last season was exciting because we were stepping into the unknown after our promotion and it was a new challenge. For me, personally, this season is even more exciting because we are going back to those fabulous stadiums we played in. Teams seem to be signing a higher calibre of player. The ones who are linked with Championship clubs are frightening, really. It's fantastic to test yourself against these players. It's a whole new season and everyone is starting with a clean slate. From my point of view, it's definitely very exciting. With the amount of foreigners coming into the Premiership you are ending up with Premiership players in the Championship, Championship players in League One and so on. The standard of football is just getting higher and higher and if you don't rise to it then you will get left by the wayside." Bobby Williamson, has bolstered the defence over the summer with the signings of Anthony Barness, Rufus Brevett and Taribo West. Wotton said: "If you look at those three older lads - with no disrespect to Rufus, Taribo and Barney - they have got a wealth of experience. You can see in training already, and in games, that they are good talkers and I don't know if we had enough of that in previous seasons. It's good to have plenty of talkers on the pitch. The more noise the better really."
Keith Lasley is hoping his second season at Home Park proves more successful than the first one. He said: "When I first came down, we went away to Austria in pre-season and I really enjoyed it. I felt as if I was fit and playing well. We got off to a good start to the season. I was playing on the right of midfield and sometimes the left but I was happy to be in the team, to be honest. But the second half of the season was a bit disappointing, personally. I was in and out of the team. It's a team game and you have got to get on with it. Obviously, you want to play every week but it wasn't to be. I have just got to look forward now. I feel settled down here and this season I'm looking to get myself back in the team. You can take it one of two ways. You can keep your head down and carry on working hard and trying to get yourself back in. Or else you can feel hard done by and feel sorry for yourself, which, at the end of the day, I don't think helps anybody. It doesn't help yourself and it doesn't help the team as a whole. Don't get me wrong, it's hard at times when you are not playing. It's very difficult, but you have just got to be as professional as you can and once your opportunity comes you have got to try to take it. Especially with the squad of the players we have got now. It's getting stronger all the time I feel. There is a strong group of players and you are going to have to fight for your place. I think every player knows that. That's what you have got to do - knuckle down and get on with it." Only Lasley and Mat Doumbe remain of the five players who came to Argyle last summer but he insisted he had never thought about returning to his homeland. He said: "The players who left obviously had their own personal reasons for leaving, and I didn't have a reason to leave. I was quite happy with the start I got last season. I felt I was involved in playing some decent football. I have enjoyed it, although obviously it's easier when you are playing. If you are out of the team you can sometimes have a few doubts in your mind, but I'm determined more than ever now to get myself back in the team and show people what I can do. When you decide to come down, you have just got to commit yourself to being here, and that's what I have done. I'm not going to start mumping and moaning about being far away from home or being homesick or anything like that. I made the decision to come here. I have stuck by it and that's what I'm going to do." Lasley praised the 'Green Army' for their passionate support of the team. He said: "The home support was great all season, but the biggest thing that hit me was the away support. Reading is one game I remember. We ran out and the stand behind one of the goals was full of Argyle fans. It definitely makes a difference for the players. It sticks in my mind. But even going up to Preston on a Tuesday night at the end of September, we were still getting busloads of people up there. The support has been excellent, which has been a bit different for me. I'm not taking a swipe at Motherwell, where I was before, but the fanbase here is just so much bigger than what I have seen before. It's a great help for the players and I'm sure it will be the same again this season. Obviously, we will be trying to give them as much to shout about as possible."
Last season was an eventful one for Hasney Aljofree. He said: "It was a very strange season from the start. I did the whole of pre-season and then I broke down at the end and had a cartilage operation. I ended up getting fit and then I went on loan to Sheffield Wednesday with Paul Sturrock and got injured there. I really did not regain my fitness until Christmas or January time. Then the gaffer gave me a chance when I had been pushing for quite a while and I ended up staying in the team. I was happy the club offered me a three-year contract because I'm settled down here and I have enjoyed my time at Argyle." Aljofree was pleased with the way he played after his call-up to the starting line-up. He said: "I played in big defeats away from home - against West Ham, Millwall and Sunderland - and, obviously, they were not good times. But I thought I coped quite well personally and I'm still on a learning curve in the Championship. I didn't play that many times in this division when I was at Bolton so it was relatively new to me." Hasney has welcomed the arrival of Taribo West and Nuno Mendes at Home Park, and the increased competition for places they have brought. He said: "That's healthy for the club. Personally, I'm just going to look out for myself. Like the rest of the lads, I want to play. I'm going to do my utmost to get in the team at the start of the season and, hopefully, stay there. That's my aim. When you look at the calibre of people like Taribo and Nuno, who have come into the club, you know you have got to play to the best of your ability. Whoever is left out, obviously, will not be happy, but that's part and parcel of football. No-one is ever guaranteed to play football. I think if you are in the team you have got to do your best to stay there. The gaffer has always preached that. He says if you play well you will keep your shirt. I think there is competition for every place in the team and it can only bode well for the club. It means if someone is not having a good time on the pitch there is always someone there to step in and, hopefully, show what they can do. I think that will stand us in good stead for the season because sometimes you can get complacent in yourself when you are playing week in, week out. I think the players who have been brought in now will complement the squad we already had. Training is very competitive, so everyone is going to look out for themselves, but also look over their shoulder at the same time. The lads who have gone have been big players for the club over the last few years and been very successful. But players do come and go, and that's part of parcel of football. The lads who have come in have given the boys a bit of a lift, with having fresh faces around the place. Obviously, they are all good players and, hopefully, they can bed in quickly and get a good unit going. These kind of players have seen it, been there and done it, and they are going to help us massively when the times are tough, especially when we are away from home and the opposition fans are getting behind their team." Aljofree will stay in touch with Graham Coughlan, Peter Gilbert and David Worrell even though they have left the club. He said: "That's the hard part about football. You make friends and one minute they are here and the next minute they are gone. Being in Plymouth as well, it's so far from everywhere, and you get to socialise together more than you would do anywhere else I would have thought. Cocko, Dave Worrell and Gilly are all good lads and I will stay in contact with them. But, like I say, players come and go and it's only the club that stays here. In 10 years' time I don't know who will still be here. Maybe Wottsie!"
Argyle issued the following statement today: "At the conclusion of the club's recent pre-season training-camp in Sweden, we became aware of a problem regarding Taribo West's passport and his visa enabling him to visit the UK. We have since been working tirelessly to resolve this difficulty with officials in Taribo's homeland of Nigeria and in Italy, where he is a resident, and with Taribo's advisors. Taribo himself is helping with the process and has returned to Italy, where he is best placed to assist the resolution of the situation. The course of action we have undertaken is progressing and we remain confident that, following this path, we will be able to bring matters to a successful conclusion. Given that the bureaucratic process is being dealt with by officials in three countries, it is necessarily taking some time. However, we are eager to have Taribo playing for us as soon as possible - and, indeed, Taribo is keen to begin his Argyle career without any further delay. Everyone is looking forward to Taribo making his Argyle league debut. Therefore, we are also pursuing a second, separate, course of action with the football authorities in this country and the Home Office that we hope will result in speeding up a resolution to the affair. Until such a time there is something definite to report, we will be making no more comments on this matter."
Paul Wotton is in an upbeat mood ahead of tomorrow's game at Reading. "We're looking forward to it," he said. "We've worked extremely hard, both over here and in Sweden, and we just can't wait to get started. There is a real buzz about the place and, with the signings we've brought in this summer, we'll go to Reading in good heart. We’ve got some fantastic new signings. All five bring different things to the table. They bring experience, a bit of creativity, and of course individual skill, which is great. It is a sign of how well the club have been doing in recent years that we can attract players of this calibre to Home Park." Argyle can expect a rousing welcome from 4,000 travelling members of the Green Army tomorrow. "It'll be like a home game on Saturday," said Wotton. "I'm sure when the new boys signed people told them how well supported we are, but I'm sure this weekend will take them by surprise. The supporters were fantastic at Reading last year and I know they'll be the same this weekend and every other Saturday. It's been well documented that we just want to progress as a team and as a club. We're not in Division Three anymore, we've come a long way since then. You only need look at the signings we've made and some of the more professional things we're doing around the club to see that we're setting our intentions out as a Championship club. Our aim, first and foremost, is to make sure we're still in this division and to try and progress. I was reading only the other day that the Championship is the fourth best supported league in the world, it's higher than Italy's Serie A for crowds, so it's important that we're in this division and competing."
Bobby Williamson met the press but would not make any predictions about the coming season. He said: "I try not to set targets, but you guys keep asking me the question. Obviously we want to do better than we did last year, so that's maybe a target, but for this Saturday we want to do our best in the game, pick up the points and then look to the next game. Time will tell how we do. Last year we did not know how the lads would fare in this division, but overall I felt they coped well over the course of the season. We did make a few changes along the way and we've made a few changes this summer, with guys that can play at this level. That gives me a bit of comfort. We want to progress this season, that's the aim. However, this is a very difficult league. Every team in this division has strengthened their team, some have spent a lot more money than we have, but I'm happy with the players we've brought in and that development will keep progressing." Williamson has not ruled out adding to his squad, possibly before this weekend. His targets, however, remain closely guarded. "I'm looking at all areas of the team," he said. "Fortunately the back area has been one that has come together well. The players that were available we managed to get, but up front is always going to be difficult. I see Reading have spent a million pound on a player who has not been tried and tested at this level. They are lucky they can spend a million pounds. We can't do that just now, that player who will score 20 goals guaranteed is just not available. I think quite a lot of clubs in this division are looking for that type of striker, but there will be players out there that can add to us, and we'll get them in and hopefully they'll play their part." Paul Peschisolido and David Graham are the latest names linked with a move to Home Park. Williamson, however, is refusing to be drawn on the speculation. He added: "I don't get caught up in all the rumours. As far as I'm aware David Graham is still a Wigan player and it would be very wrong of me to talk about him. Even saying he is a good player is enough to lead to a tapping up charge against me. All I will say is I can assure our fans that we are looking very hard for players to strengthen all positions. Once we do our job properly and sign them, then we can talk about them, not until then."
Paul Stapleton has revealed that Argyle have significantly improved their wage structure to cope with the challenge of the Championship. "We've had experience of the league, which was something we hadn't had for 12 years," he said. "We've also attracted players with experience of this league and the one above, which is bound to improve our ability to go forward in this division. We've attracted people who are known to football fans across the country and beyond. With the exception of past signings like Peter Shilton and Bruce Grobbelaar, that's something we've not managed to do for many a year. We've even had a foreign trialist this summer who said he wanted to come here because we've signed Taribo West. We've also got Rufus Brevett, who's well known in the Premiership and, while Anthony Barness might not be a household name, he's been exceptional in the friendlies I've watched. We've started to make people aware that Plymouth have awakened. We've increased the wage budget quite substantially this year. We've been able to do that because the fans turned out to support us in large numbers last season, and we hope that they continue to do that. We're spending more on wages so that we can compete with a lot of teams in our division. We were lagging behind quite considerably last season. Only Rotherham, Crewe and maybe one or two others were below us. We've realised that we need to compete as best as we can without breaking any budgets and creating significant losses. We don't want to do that, because that's a downward spiral. Everything at the football club has been geared towards improving our status. We've hired a new chief executive with Premiership experience this year, we've hired a chief scout and greatly improved our scouting network, we've built a new shop, and we've done it all step by step without busting any budgets. But we have increased our budget substantially. We're in there competing now. We were miles behind before." Asked about the break-even attendance figure for the season ahead, Stapleton said: "It would be around the 15,000 mark. That's below last season's average, but you always budget for a reduction. We want to be in there fighting and we want the fans to come along and say that they've watched a good game of football. We may not win every week, but we hope that the fans can appreciate what we're trying to do." Unlike some of their rivals, Argyle are not prepared to borrow money to pay for their playing squad. A different strategy could be applied, however, to the redevelopment of Home Park. "We might borrow money to finish rebuilding the stadium," Stapleton said. "We're not going to announce it until we're ready, but we've been working more closely with the City Council over the last couple of months. Within the board, we're discussing it at least every two days. We're making progress, and we're working feverishly to get it lined up for next year." On the pitch this campaign Stapleton’s priority is to ensure that Argyle make progress in the right direction and build on their 17th place last term. "Last season we finished on top of the bottom eight in the table," he said. "Let's get into the middle eight, and let's keep an eye on what's happening in the top eight. Last season we would have taken fourth from bottom. This year we won't do that. This year, with the players that we've brought in and the experience that we've gained, we really have to aim higher. A year ago our manager, Bobby Williamson, hadn't managed in the Championship. Now he has. A year ago a lot of our players hadn't played at this level. Now they have. The players that have come in have tasted this level or the one above. We've been in this league a year. Let's move on and then, over the next few years, move up again. That's what we have to say. We don't want to dampen anybody's enthusiasm. I'm as enthusiastic as anybody, and I'm looking forward to the season."
Taribo West has been included in Nigeria's squad for the international friendly against Libya on August 17th
Bobby Williamson believes Argyle's massive support tomorrow will be an eye-opener for the club's summer signings. He said: "The huge amount of our fans who will be there will certainly be an eye-opener for the new players. They will realise very, very quickly how passionate our fans are. I think everybody has told them how passionate the fans are but until you have seen them you don't really know. Hopefully, it will be a good experience tomorrow." Keith Lasley has returned to training after an injury, but Williamson would not reveal whether the rest of the squad were fully fit. He said: "The more we keep Reading thinking about what our team selection is going to be the better. It might be seen as keeping our fans in the dark but, I'm sorry, that's the way it has got to be. We don't want to give any advantages to the opposition." Williamson has, in the past, very rarely included a goalkeeper among his substitutes but that will change this season. "I hope anything doesn't happen to the goalkeeper who does start the game but, if it does, then we have got cover," he said. He admitted it was also a way of making sure the second choice ‘keeper was involved on matchdays. "For one to be sitting in the stand, and the other one playing in the game, the one sitting in the stand isn't going to feel part of things," he said. "I have got to try to give him encouragement and keep him fully focussed to think if something happens to the goalkeeper that's selected then he can get thrown on. We have got four other spaces on the bench and that should be enough for outfield players. We can only put three substitutes on anyway."
Argyle have had talks with Sheffield United striker Paul Shaw about a possible move to Home Park, but Bobby Williamson admitted it was unlikely a deal would be done before the game against Reading. "At this moment in time there is nothing on the horizon, but it only needs somebody to pick up a phone and make a call and then we can press the button," he said. "It doesn't look likely but it could happen and I wouldn't want to mislead you by saying there are not going to be any signings before Saturday and then find out there is one. I'm going to be very guarded with that because there are a lot of things going on and there are lots of people we are talking to and everything has got to come together. The agent has got to be satisfied, the player has got to be satisfied, all his family needs have got to be satisfied and our needs have got to be satisfied. So it's not an easy process. It takes time and sometimes it comes quicker than other situations. We are not in any desperate rush. We have got more than 11 players for Saturday and that's all we need."
Paul Wotton has admitted that, for the time being at least, his future with Argyle is in midfield and not defence. He said: "Midfield seems to be my position now, with the gaffer having Hasney, Mattie, Taribo and Nuno. Don't get me wrong. If the gaffer needs me to play centre-back it's not a problem. It's second nature to me and I can easily slot in there. But from what it looks like I will be used in midfield." He added that playing in midfield gave him a better chance of scoring than in defence. He said: "I have set myself a little target but with penalties and free-kicks you never know. We did get a lot of penalties last year and, hopefully, we will again this season. Playing in midfield certainly gives you more opportunity to score, let's put it that way."
Argyle are reported to be considering a move for Derby County left-back Jamie Vincent.
Argyle have appointed project managers to oversee phase two of the redevelopment of Home Park. Paul Stapleton and Phill Gill are also working on plans for the new grandstand on an almost daily basis. Stapleton said:: "Phase two is a lot nearer than it ever has been. We have actually appointed project managers, and you don't appoint project managers unless you think you have got a project. Two members of the board of directors have been appointed to deal with this project, which is Phill Gill and myself. We are further advanced than we ever have been, although there are no announcements coming right at this minute. It's like signing a player really. We have got to make sure everything is right for this football club." Stapleton admitted there would be considerable financial implications when work on phase two started. "You have got to bear in mind that when the time is right for the grandstand to be demolished our capacity will reduce," he said. "We have got to make sure the capacity is as high as it can be during a period of rebuild to make sure that income still continues. We are doing research into what people would expect to see in the stadium, with regard to seating and executive boxes, so we are going to take all those things into account. The board - and, in particular, the directors engaged in the project - are probably working on a daily basis on this, so that's positive news. I don't really want to say too much else about announcements or timescales because we are just working and working and working. I'm still keen to get this grandstand built as soon as possible, on the basis then that we have the non-matchday income. We can then say to the fans 'this is our new stadium now, it's not a part-built stadium from 2001-02'. So we are working very hard and looking to progress matters in the next few months, when, hopefully, an announcement of some sort should be made. The benefit of having project managers is they actually push you along and they push other people along, particularly third parties we might be dealing with. I should also say the council has appointed officers to look at the whole of Central Park, who have been very helpful and co-operative. We are working together." Stapleton is conscious of the fact that Argyle do not want to pour all their money into phase two to the detriment of team building. He said: "We want to try to do something where it doesn't look like just any old stadium and is unique to us, but obviously cost comes into it. We are desperate to make sure that whatever we do it doesn't prejudice what happens on the pitch." Argyle are part of the Central Park Steering Group, which has been set up to look at the regeneration of Central Park. It also includes the council, the University of Plymouth, Marjons and the Plymouth Sports Forum. Stapleton said: "We are very much part of that, so it's not just about Plymouth Argyle, it's really a project for the whole of Central Park. All that will be announced in due course as well, but the steering group are meeting on a monthly basis. The council, quite rightly, is looking at the sporting facilities for the whole of the city. Being a Plymothian and having a young family I'm very keen for that as well."
Bobby Williamson is happy at having two goalkeepers of the calibre of Romain Larrieu and Luke McCormick to pick from, but knows that choosing which player is going to start the season will be a tricky task. "Both Luke and Romain are equally good," Williamson said. "Choosing between them will come down to a gut feeling on the day before the Reading match, but there will be no explanations given in public of the reasons behind my decision. I'll speak to the goalkeepers and tell them the reasons why, but there's not a lot separating these two guys. I'm delighted we've got two such capable goalkeepers. The one who is left out will have to be patient, knuckle down and be as professional as he can be - like they both have been, I may add - and he will get his opportunity, as we saw last year. They played the same number of games last season. I'm sure each of them would have liked to have played all the games, but you don't know how the season is going to go. The guy who gets the nod on Saturday will hopefully have a great season, and if that happens the other one will have to wait his turn. That's the nature of football. We want to have two good goalkeepers, and I believe we've got that, and my heart will go out to the one who is not selected. I'll be pleased for the one who is picked."
Young Hungarian midfielder Mark Petnehazi has signed a two-year apprentice contract with Argyle. The promising 16-year-old was recommended by Akos Buzsaky and Bobby Williamson believes Buzsaky will be an excellent role model for Petnehazi. He said: "Mark signed on Saturday. The chairman and Stuart Gibson concluded that in the boardroom after the game against OFK Belgrade. Mark is a promising young player and, hopefully, everything goes his way. There are pitfalls but, hopefully, he will be able to sidestep them and continue his football career. Mark has returned to Hungary but he will be back over shortly for good and we wish him all the best. It's a major step for him, but he has shown us he has got potential." Williamson admitted there was a chance more Hungarian youngsters could follow Petnehzi to Plymouth. "We have got a bit of networking going on over there and there are a lot of talented players in that part of the world," he said. "If we can identify them quickly and early then, hopefully, we will get first shout, but I'm not expecting an influx of Hungarian players, that's for sure. The plan is to have a look and be quick off the mark if anything becomes available." Buzsaky watched Petnehazi play for Argyle's under-18s in their victory over Cardiff on Saturday morning. Williamson said: "Akos is football, football. It's his life. He just wants to be involved in football. He wants to be kicking a ball at every opportunity. I think he has nicked most of our training balls! He just wants to be out practising his skills and if he can get along to a game, he will do. It's really good that our young guys can see that Akos actually takes an interest. I'm hoping Akos will take Mark under his wing and that will help him develop."
Bobby Williamson has ended all speculation about Argyle's possible interest in Nwankwo Kanu. When asked about the rumours, he said: "It makes me laugh. It shows you how far we have come in a short space of time that we are actually linked with guys of that stature. I have not spoken to Bryan Robson or Kanu or anybody connected with the player."
Argyle under 18’s won 4-1 at Saltash United last night, the goals coming from Chris Reski, Marcus Martin (2) and Chris Zebroski. Argyle: Debbage, McKeever, Laird.S, Martin, Kendall, Laird.J. Summerfield, Bond, Zebroski, Reski, Dickson. Subs – Seeley, Watts, Allen, Hopkinson (not used -Gosling, Mason, Smith)
Argyle have a new chief scout in Gil Prescott, who joined the Home Park staff last month, and Bobby Williamson is glad to have him on board. "Gil has a vast knowledge of football and he has his finger on the pulse," Williamson said. "He knows a lot of people. He's based in the Midlands, and he'll do all his work from there. Gil was in London on Saturday watching a game for us. He has quite a huge staff, as well. They've covered 20-odd games already, and the season hasn't started yet. If Jocky and I can get to see a game first-hand, then we'll take that opportunity, but at times it's very difficult for us to do that because of our games and other commitments. Thankfully we now have Gil available to do everything we need." While Prescott has been added to the staff, Williamson confirmed that he has no plans to replace Gerry McCabe, who left Home Park last month. "I've not got any plans to do anything there," he said. "Myself, Jocky, Geoff Crudgington and Paul Maxwell are working away with the first-team squad, and Stuart Gibson is working with the youth team." Centre of Excellence manager Dave Newton has also left the club in the close season
Keith Lasley missed Saturdays game after picking up an injury in the draw against FC Bruges last Tuesday, but it is thought he should be fit before the game at Reading. Bobby Williamson said: "He tried to train on Friday and did most of the running but when the balls came out he was struggling a bit. Hopefully, he will be okay for next week." The only other injury is Lee Hodges, who is not expected to play until December because of his long-term back problem
Argyle under-18s, along with junior pro’s Marcus Martin, Luke Summerfield and Ryan Dickson play a friendly at the Kimberley Stadium against Saltash United tonight at 7.30pm. Argyle: Debbage, McKeever, Laird.S, Martin, Kendall, Laird.J, Summerfield, Bond, Zebroski, Reski, Dickson. Subs: Seeley, Hopkinson, Gosling, Watts, Mason, Smith, Trialist
Argyle should today have been lining up in front of the cameras for their squad photograph, but it has been put back until Friday. Asked if the change in plans meant that he was hoping to add to his squad this week, Bobby Williamson said: "It suits us better to do the photo on Friday before we go to Reading, rather than on Monday when we've got two training sessions, but there may be other reasons. We're always looking to strengthen the squad, and that will be ongoing until the transfer window closes, and then we'll look beyond that to when the window is due to open again. Hopefully we'll have players in place that can come in and help us through to the end of the season."
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