A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle won 6-1 in the friendly against Plymouth Parkway tonight, the goals scored by Dan Smith, Reuben Reid (2), Anthony Mason, Luke Summerfield and Mark Petnehazi, Argyle: Larrieu, Churchill, Kendall, Sawyer, Laird.S, Smith, Gosling, Summerfield, Dickson, Mason, Reid. Subs - White, Laird.J, Byrne, Petnehazi, Hopkinson, Watts, Duggan, Malsom (not used - Bowring)
Romain Larrieu is poised to give Argyle a boost by making his first appearance of the pre-season tonight. Larrieu returned to training last week and may be able to play in the friendly against Plymouth Parkway at Bolitho Park Manadon, tonight. Ian Holloway said: "Romain is going to try and play in the game on Monday night. We've got to try and find out if the fellow is all right yet. He's had a very nasty infection in a testicle. Normally, things like that happen because of a problem. We're all hoping, and we're 99.9 per-cent sure, that there isn't a problem. Hopefully we'll find out by Monday, and if he's OK he'll play and we'll take it from there." Luke McCormick has been first pick as goalkeeper so far this summer and Holloway will not be worried if Larrieu's lack of match practice means that McCormick is chosen to start the season on Saturday. "Luke is a fine young goalie," Holloway said, "and I'm very pleased we've got him. It's probably looking more likely that Luke will start the season, but I'm not really bothered by that. He made a fantastic save at the start of the evening at Bristol when we got some things slightly wrong. I'm delighted Luke has got so many games under his belt, and I'm very spoilt to have two or three good goalies. I've got two and I might be signing young Josh Clapham. He's done ever so well in pre-season." Argyle will field mainly an Under-18 side tonight, probably augmented by more senior youngsters such as Ryan Dickson, Luke Summerfield and Gary Sawyer plus, if fit, Larrieu
Hasney Aljofree believes Argyle's pre-season preparations have been a success, despite the disappointing defeat away to Bristol Rovers on Friday. He said: "I think pre-season has gone really well. We have all worked really hard together and we are all striving for the same thing, which is the first game against Wolves. Obviously, everyone wants to win pre-season games but I think fitness and getting to know what the manager wants is more important than anything. Everyone wants to impress the manager and do what he says but I think in the first half on Friday we over emphasised something he told us. That's just learning from what the manager wants us to do. He's a bit different to Tony Pulis. He doesn't want to change us completely because we have been quite solid as a defence and as a team but there are a couple of little things we need to work on. We tried to play higher up the pitch but there is a right time to do it and on Friday I think we were a bit too eager to do it, but that's what pre-season is for." Aljofree admitted he could not wait for the start of the Championship season after putting in all the gruelling pre-season fitness work. He added:: "Everyone is really buzzing because the manager has come in and brought a lot of enthusiasm into the club. It has rubbed off on everyone. There is a belief there between the older players and the new ones that we can do something this year. Hopefully, by the time we come around to the Wolves game everyone is going to be bang up for it and we can show how fit we are."
Ian Holloway refused to be despondent after the defeat by Bristol Rovers last night. "We've lost. So what?" he said. "There's no points up for grabs. That makes Bristol Rovers as good as Real Madrid and I'm very proud to say that. That was a great indicator for me of what we need to do. We didn't win enough headers up front and we didn't win enough headers at the back. I think that was blatantly obvious. Their two centre-forwards caused us the odd problem because they have played together for a couple of years now: I have got two strikers out of three that I have just bought and I need to bed them in." Holloway believes that part of his side's failings were down to players trying to make an impression on him by implementing his preferred methods too quickly. "The way I look at it is I want to drip-feed in some of the things I want," said Holloway. "Tonight, they were so keen to impress me that they cut the bag and it all whooshed over the floor in the first half. It should be just drip, drip, drip. I spoke about one or two things that I want to try and drip-feed in, and the back four got it wrong a few times in the first half which seemed to unsettle them. By the second half, it was much better. What I'm pleased about is they are trying to please their guvnor and I can't ask for much more than that, but the reality is we need fans to come and pay their money to watch us. I don't think we played that poorly. I thought it was very tight and very close. Rovers were like men possessed - good luck to them; they are going to have to do that week in, week out next year. There were some fantastic performances. Bojan Djordjic looked to be back to what he can do - lifted us; I thought Hayles coming on is a proper player; I'm awfully pleased with a lot of aspects of it. We've got to turn that potential into reality. That will take money and that will take bums on seats. I'm very excited about the area, how I can generate some excitement about performances. You have got to remain realistic, but optimistic and that will always be me. What I need to do is to add one or two in certain areas that can help us but I will take my time and work with who I've got. I haven't had that much money in the past, and I haven't always needed it. I've enjoyed bringing the people I have got here and I want to sort one or two other things out so I can coach them, so I can work with them, the way I want. I've given everybody a chance to play them in their natural position, and I am confident I know what I need to add to these boys. I am very, very encouraged with the lads we have got and what we are going to eventually put together. It's going to take time. I've only been here two minutes. If this is a 24-hour clock, the alarm hasn't even gone off yet." Holloway was thrilled with the warm welcome he got on his return to the Memorial Stadium. He said: "It was magnificent, and I didn't expect it because it has been quite a long time since I was here. I would have preferred a draw, or probably a win, but on the balance of the game they did really well. I felt a draw would have been a fair result but there we go. That's life. Well done to them."
Ian Holloway does not believe Argyle are a full side without Paul Wotton. "I haven't picked the main team yet," he said. "Without Paul Wotton, I don't think we are quite the same, without his organisation and his talking. That's two games without Paul Wotton now and I think he's an immense fellow. He's a talker, and an organiser, and a leader, and I think that's what we lacked today. He'd be sorely missed by anybody in the country because that fella is a leader. I believe the lads are shocked about what happened. I believe it's affected them greatly because we were on such a high, it was unbelievable. That's life: things happen and you have got to deal with them and move on."
Argyle lost 1-0 at Bristol Rovers in tonights friendly. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Sawyer, Fangueiro, Norris, Nalis, Capaldi, Ebanks-Blake, Chadwick. Subs - Barness, Hayles, Summerfield, Hodges, Djordjic, Reid (not used - Clapham, Laird). Attendance - 2,765
Police today confirmed they have launched an investigation into an allegation of 'serious assault' on Paul Wotton. Wotton was allegedly attacked at a restaurant in Graz on Saturday night while the players, management staff and club officials were enjoying a meal. It is understood that Wotton received an injury which needed more than 100 stitches. Wotton is said to have made a complaint to Plymouth police yesterday about an alleged assault and officers today confirmed they had taken an official statement from the complainant. A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Constabulary said the allegation was being treated as a 'serious assault'. He added: "A 28-year-old Elburton man has come in and given a statement to police in connection with an incident in Austria. We have taken the complaint and we are investigating."
Ian Holloway will be watching the two football teams he cares about more than any others tonight, when Argyle take on Bristol Rovers. "I was born and bred in Bristol," Holloway said. "Rovers are the club I worked for and the team I watched from when I was nine years' old. I was proud to be their manager, but I'll be even prouder to take my new team up there. I took QPR there, and I'm looking forward to going back there again with the 'Green Army'. But it's not about me, it's about the team. I'll be looking at how well they're taking on board what we've been talking about. It's a big day's training today," Holloway added in-between the morning and afternoon sessions at Harper's Park yesterday. "We need to work through things. There's lots of work to do, but I can't wait to do it." Asked about his plans for this evening's game and training next week, Holloway said: "I shall pick my team and I'll give everybody some minutes, and then we're going to be playing some 90-minute practice matches next week. I've seen everybody, they've all had a fair chance, and they'll be as fit as each other. In this division you need everybody up to speed. I think they've all done very well so far, even the young fellows, which is good. We're only as strong as our weakest link." Also making a return to the Memorial Stadium tonight will be Barry Hayles. He was signed by Holloway for Rovers in June 1997 and was a tremendous hit. Hayles made his first appearance at Home Park in the friendly against Yeovil Town on Tuesday and scored the opening goal. Hayles said: "I thought we played really well because they aren't a bad passing side. We kept our shape and we passed the ball around as well." His goal came in the 10th minute after a free-kick from Bojan Djordjic. Hayles said: "It's always nice to score on your home debut. It was quick-thinking and I was alive to it, thankfully. It was very pleasing."
Argyle have ended their interest in striker Ibad Muhamadu. On Tuesday, when Holloway revealed that a fee had been agreed with Cercle Bruges, it seemed that he was on his way to Home Park. Yesterday, however, Holloway said: "Ibad has gone back home. I had to make my mind up, and if that's all I could see then no. They wanted a lot of money for him. I'll keep monitoring him, I quite like a lot of things about him, but I'll have to look elsewhere. There's no rush."
Another trialist arrived at Home Park yesterday, and may play against Bristol Rovers. Ian Holloway said: "We've got a new winger or striker. He can play left-wing, right-wing or up front." The trialist is Carlos Fangueiro, who could have joined Argyle last summer. He was invited to attend a trial along with Nuno Mendes, but was unable to come to Devon. He eventually signed for Millwall
Paul Wotton will not be involved against Bristol Rovers tonight but is on the mend and paid a brief visit to Home Park yesterday morning. "Paul came in today," Ian Holloway said. "He's looking a lot, lot better. I think he's having his stitches taken out tomorrow, and he's raring to get going. His head has all calmed down and he feels fine, so that's very good news. I'd imagine he'll start light training next week, and by the end of the week he might be fully fit and ready for the kick-off."
Argyle won 3-2 at Saltash United in last nights reserve team friendly, using seven of the players who had made an appearance against Real Madrid in the starting line-up. The goals came from Paul Kendall and two from Anthony Mason
Argyle's reserve team fixtures for the coming season have been released and can be found here
Ian Holloway has praised the attitude shown by Nick Chadwick, after his omission from the starting line-up for the friendly against Yeovil Town. "Chadwick showed a great attitude," Holloway said. "I wanted my two new lads to play and now all my strikers have scored. That's always good in pre-season." Holloway, who used five of his youngsters as substitutes against Yeovil, is very satisfied with the up and coming talent he has at Home Park. "I'm pleased with the young lads," he said. "Reuben has some wonderful skills. These young fellows are coming of age, they've been on the trip and learned a lot, and I'm delighted with them." Holloway is content with what he has seen in the friendlies so far. "It was nice to finish against Yeovil as positively as we did," he said. "It was a tough game. Russell Slade has got some good players. None of the games have been easy. They've been tough and we've played good-quality opposition. I think the lads have worked really hard and they've showed their fitness. I was hoping one or two things would go wrong so that I can change it when that happens, because you learn from when things go wrong, but not that much has gone wrong. I've got some bright people out there, but I've got to try and tinker with one or two things because they played a tad deep against Yeovil at times. I want to get them up so that when the ball moves there's someone putting pressure on it and they get up with it. But, considering how little they know me and how I keep changing people around, I think they've done really well."
Romain Larrieu could take some part in tomorrow's friendly with Bristol Rovers. Paul Maxwell said: "We'll make a judgement today, but it may be that he will take part in the Bristol match. We'll have to wait and see how he's feeling." Maxwell also revealed that Hasney Aljofree, who suffered a knee injury during Argyle's win over Yeovil Town, had been taken off during the game as a precaution and was not feeling any ill-effects
A club investigation into an on-tour altercation between Paul Wotton and Chris Zebroski in Austria is likely to gather pace next week, according to Argyle. Rick Cowdery said the inquiry into the incident would be stepped up when Paul Stapleton and Michael Dunford returned from their holidays. Cowdery said it was likely that the inquiry into the altercation would be 'formalised' from Monday. He said: "I am sure that the directors here have been putting together what has been happening, but the inquiry will become more formal when the chairman and the chief executive return next week. This is not something that will be done overnight - it will require the gathering of information over a period of time."
Ian Holloway spoke of his love and pride of Argyle after celebrating his first win at Home Park last night. He said: "I am loving every minute and I am up for the challenge. I am very proud and I have never been made to feel so welcome in my life. I believe what I want to try and do is whip up a tornado of people who believe in the Green and away we go. We are working toward where we want to be and I am very proud of this place, so for me to win in front of the home support for the first time was great. At the moment, I totally believe and, hopefully, that is spreading. You won't stop me believing because these boys are something else." Barry Hayles' goal came after Bojan Djordjic's clever, quickly-taken free-kick, which was not the winger's only contribution. "The goal came out of nothing," said Holloway. "It was a great ball from Bojan - he was winning tackles, which was lovely to see, because I believe in talented people as well. I think Barry is a winner and he proved that he can still run, and he is strong and the young ones need him I love young players, I think that is what it is all about. I've got a great balance between young and old, and the senior boys we have got are different class." Holloway will make a decision about second-half trialist, Muhamadu Ibad, who again impressed with his pace, soon. "It is a bit of mess with the agents," said Holloway, "so I asked to bring him over to see him on my turf and he didn't do a lot wrong. I thought he was bright - you can tell that he has played at a higher level - and some of the things he did was very good You have got Steve Howard going for £1m, so the fee I've got for him is chicken-feed really but I need to talk my people about him. All my strikers have scored in pre-season against tough, good quality, opposition and I think the lads have shown their fitness this evening." However, Mauro Almeida, the centre-back who played during the trip to Austria, will not be coming to Home Park. "Almeida is a wonderful fella and he has signed for a Romanian Premier League team," added Holloway. "He was a bit too similar to the ones I have already got and, if I took him, I would have blocked the young lads coming through - Gary Sawyer and Scott Laird; I love their attitude and they both get their foot in." Last night was the first time Argyle had taken to the pitch since the events of Saturday evening in Graz, when Paul Wotton suffered a serious head injury in an incident involving Chris Zebroski. Holloway said: "We had an altercation the other day which I can't really speak about for legal reasons, but sometimes that happens and it makes you stronger. I could see that today. Everybody was a bit down yesterday. I'm sure Wotton will be fine. We have given him the right treatment and it has all been fixed. Now we all move on."
Argyle have agreed a transfer fee with Cercle Bruges for Muhamadu Ibad. With the future of Chris Zebroski in the balance Holloway is ready to move for Ibad, and said: "It was a bit of a mess so I rang the Cercle Bruges and asked them would they let me see him on my turf, and he didn't do a lot wrong really. I thought he was bright, you can tell he has played at a higher level and some of the things he did were very good." Holloway revealed he had to agree an as yet undisclosed transfer fee with Cercle Bruges before they would let Ibad play for Argyle against Yeovil. Holloway added: "The chairman is away, which is very difficult, but we have been in contact with him and we will have to wait and see. If Steve Howard is £1million, the fee I have got for him is just chicken feed."
Argyle beat Yeovil Town 2-0 in tonights friendly at Home Park. The goals scored by Barry Hayles after 10 minutes, and Nick Chadwick (85). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Capaldi, Norris, Nalis, Hodges, Djordjic, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs - Barness, Chadwick, Trialist, Summerfield, Dickson, Reid, Laird, Sawyer (not used - Clapham). Attendance - 4,810
Ian Holloway will take charge of Argyle at Home Park for the first time tonight. "I have been made to feel so welcome by everyone at the club," he said. "It has been wonderful, and I can't wait for my first home game. I'm just thoroughly excited and ecstatic about it, really. My family are going to be down, so they will see it as well. It gives me a chance to say 'hello' to our fans, and it gives them a chance to see our new players, which is always exciting, particularly with them being centre-forwards. It would be nice if we could get a couple of goals for them." Holloway hopes the fans will take to Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, and he believes they will prove to be sound acquisitions. "When I first came to the club, we were short of experience. We lost Mickey Evans, but with Barry Hayles coming in he will give me that quality," Holloway said. "The lads have met him and have seen what he is like, and I'm delighted with his fitness. As for Sylvan, he's hungrier to do well than anybody I have ever met." Argyle only have two more friendlies before they meet Wolves. So far Holloway has not picked pick his strongest side in any game, and instead has concentrated on giving all the fit members of his squad an equal share of the action. That policy may be about to change. "I have had a chance to see all the lads and I have got a good idea of what they can do now," he said. "Hopefully, the lads have got some confidence. They will know what I want, and what I expect from them. I have been very, very pleased with all of them, but this is the real nitty-gritty where I start picking teams to win games. I have spoken to them about building a squad and how important it is. We are only as strong as our weakest link, so the minute I pick a team they will know why I have done it and they have got to get on with it. Competition for places is stronger than we have had for a few years, and that's what is important." Tonight's opposition should give Argyle a good game and Holloway added: "Yeovil will be trying to impress their new manager and I'm sure he's as upbeat as I am to get going with his new club. It will be a great test for us, because they only lost 2-0 to a very strong Portsmouth side the other day." The game will also give Holloway the chance to see what frame of mind his players are in after the distressing events of Saturday evening in Graz, when the whole squad witnessed Paul Wotton suffer a head injury in an incident which also involved Chris Zebroski. Wotton will not play tonight. Although he was well enough to travel home from Austria on Sunday, his wounds are severe enough for his participation in the season opener against Wolves to be in some doubt. He was treated in a hospital in Graz on Saturday evening, and returned to the team hotel with his head swathed in bandages. Zebroski is also staying away from Home Park. He was sent home from the training camp as soon as possible after the incident, after being questioned by police in Graz but not charged, and returned to England on a different flight to the rest of the squad
Romain Larrieu, who did not make the trip to Austria, will not play against Yeovil. He has been suffering from a testicular infection and was unable to return to training yesterday, but may be able to go back to work with the rest of the squad soon. Paul Maxwell said: "He's still a bit tender, but he's feeling OK. He has a scan tomorrow morning, so if he gets the all-clear we can give him two or three days of work and see how he is at the end of the week. He's feeling a lot better, though." Ian Holloway has admitted he is spoiled for choice when it comes to goalkeepers. He said: "I can see Luke is easily good enough to play at any sort of standard after the way he has played. To be honest, he had a really sore groin before the game against Real Madrid so he did well to play. I'm told his kicking was only half-hearted. If that's half-hearted I can't wait to see it when he's fully fit. That's such a vital thing these days, with the rule where the goalkeeper cannot pick the ball up from back passes. He kicks the ball so clean - left or right, it doesn't matter."
Paul Wotton needed hospital treatment after an altercation with Chris Zebroski in Austria. Zebroski was not thought to be injured in the incident, which took place when the players, management and club officials were all having a meal at the end of the training camp in Austria. Following the incident, Zebroski was spoken to by Austrian police but no further action was taken. The incident will be the subject of an internal club disciplinary inquiry. Wotton was seen with his head heavily bandaged as he and the squad flew from Graz to London Stansted yesterday. Zebroski was not with the party and instead, travelled home by a different route. Wotton suffered cuts to his head, but it is too early to tell whether he will be fit for the start of the new season. Argyle made the following statement: "Argyle can confirm that there was an incident involving two of our players at our training base in Austria on Saturday evening. This incident resulted in one player receiving hospital treatment. Circumstances surrounding the incident will be the subject of an internal club disciplinary enquiry. Until that enquiry is completed, Argyle will be making no further comment."
Ian Holloway's optimism for the new season has been fuelled by the successful tour to Austria. He said: "Everything is feeling very good at the moment but, listen, we haven't done anything yet. We have got no league points on the board and it's a tough division. It's just nice to have some optimism. These lads are making me feel really proud and I want to try to make my mark. I'm very proud of Plymouth, particularly of what Paul Sturrock did those years ago, and I want people to be equally proud of me. I'm sure I can walk in two grounds at the moment and get a decent reception. Hopefully, I will make that three, and I want to make it three before I go. I want people to appreciate me while I'm here. I have never felt so welcome in all my life. Everything feels right. I know in football management it normally all ends in tears but I hope it's a very, very long time before I start crying." Holloway has been hugely impressed with the team spirit among the players. He attributes that to the ethos instilled by Sturrock during his stint as manager. Holloway said: "I believe there are one or two things I need to work on, both in possession and out of possession. But attitude-wise, they have been first class. I don't think I'm ever going to have to fault this group of people for that. That's why I'm really happy being here. It's very easy to talk to these lads because they want to listen." Argyle return to work at Home Park today after the week in Austria, which Ian Holloway hailed as a resounding success. “It’s been absolutely first-class,” he said, speaking before Saturdays injury to Paul Wotton. “The facilities have been wonderful. The venue and the matches have been first-class. There are no complaints whatsoever. Obviously, I wasn't involved in the preparation and booking of it, so I have got to thank Tony Pulis. I know we have ended up in a different hotel, but the venue and the matches have been absolutely first class. No complaints whatsoever. The week has allowed me to get to know the lads on a personal basis, this is the first time I’ve been with them, really. You’re together 24/7. You need to be bonding, you need to get together, you need to work hard. We’ve sent them out training at 7am, 10am and 5pm. They’ve been together, talking and socialising away from their families, and becoming a unit. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on your accommodation and your surroundings. This trip has been very, very good. Everything we have tried to do has been spot-on and I feel it’s been a huge benefit, particularly for a new manager coming in. To have seven days away and only two matches gives you an awful lot of time to get in some decent training and get some points across. It only needs to be drip-fed because I don’t need to make major changes to what Tony was doing, but this trip has been invaluable. You couldn’t do what we’ve done here by staying at your own home and coming into training three times a day. The most important thing for me to do was to find some new strikers, and I’ve done that, but we’ve got some great training under our belts in beautiful circumstances. It’s been great for us. I want to enjoy my life and I want to enjoy my job. If I’m enjoying it, it’s infectious, and I want everybody to be as enthusiastic as myself.” As well as supervise a successful tour, Holloway has also been able to sign the two strikers on his transfer-market shopping list. “I did some hard work before I came here which has all paid off, I’m glad to say,” he added. “Sometimes you can spend hours or days or even months on the phone and never get who you want, so that’s all gone well. David Norris has re-signed for the club, and so has Luke McCormick, which is fantastic as well. Now let’s move on.”
Argyle are reported to be ready to offer a contract to Josh Clapham. The goalkeeper has impressed on the pre-season tour to Austria and Ian Holloway said: “I didn’t know him from Adam before we went away and the fellow has put himself on the first rung of the ladder, I think. I will have to talk about that with the board but I have been very impressed with him and he has got a chance of making it.” Clapham produced one superb save from Real Madrid’s Roberto Soldado, and Holloway added: “You get thrown into these situations and you have got to be able to deal with it. If that fellow had bent it past him, who knows? But it’s all about life-changing moments. What an absolutely excellent save against a great player. There you go. You have got to take your opportunity and he did.” Argyle had two other trialists with them while they were in Austria - defender Mauro Almeida and striker Muhamadu Ibad. Holloway, speaking before the injury to Paul Wotton on Saturday, said: “Mauro has done ever so well. He’s a really nice man and has fitted in great with us. He has got a couple of other options but he has given me something to think about.” As for Ibad, Holloway said: “I liked him and I’m trying to work on getting him over, but I’m not in any desperate hurry. I’m very pleased with the strikers we have got now so I think that situation has been rectified almost immediately. That buys me some time so I don’t need to rush any more. That was the danger of being forced into a situation where I had to do something, hence the money I paid for Barry Hayles. But he will be worth his weight in gold and he has already proved that with his experience and how he leads people.” Meanwhile, Holloway would not be drawn on the possibility of Gary Penrice being added to his coaching staff at Home Park. For the moment at least, Penrice is still on ‘gardening leave’ with QPR. Holloway said: “I can’t talk about that. There’s a situation that needs sorting out and it’s not in my control. I know what I want, but whether or not I can get it, I don’t know. If not, I’m more than happy to carry on as I am.”
Hasney Aljofree had the honour of leading out Argyle against Real Madrid in Austria, which was a proud moment for him. He was even more proud, however, of the display the team delivered against the Spanish side. He said: "Obviously we had respect for them. They're special players and they're at that club for a reason, but we prepared well to play against them. We didn't show them too much respect and we actually gave them a game of football. When the game started, I think they realised that we weren't messing about. We were unlucky to lose 1-0 in the end, because I didn't think they were well better than us." Lilian Nalis handled a cross to give Real the decisive penalty. "It was a bit harsh," Aljofree said. "It was an honest mistake by Lilian. It can happen to anyone. You think you're going to head the ball and it just hits your hand. Never mind. We haven't been embarrassed. We've played Real Madrid and we've given them a game. We could have got a few goals ourselves. It would have been nice if we could have popped in a couple of goals. They had quite a few chances, but all in all I thought it was quite a fair game." Aljofree has enjoyed being back at work this summer., following the arrival of Ian Holloway. "We've had a great pre-season, we've only conceded two goals and we've scored plenty - and we've played Real Madrid," he added. "It's been the best pre-season tour we've had. Last year was a joke, I think everyone knows that. We've got proper facilities here and we've been training really hard. We've had three sessions a day and the manager has been working us hard, but he's given us a bit of rest as well. He's respected what we're about. We're all honest players and we give everything, and I think he's realised that." Tony Pulis organised a successful fight against relegation last season, but the players are responding to Holloway in a positive way. Aljofree said: "Respect to Tony Pulis, he kept us out of trouble, but he kept on going on about bringing new players into the club. The new manager has come in and he's told us all that we're all special players. He respects us all and he says we're all here for a reason. He's asked us to give him 100 per cent and that's good enough for him. In the past we were all looking over our shoulders and wondering whether the previous manager liked us or not, because he did keep going on about bringing in new players. Ollie has given us that bit of confidence where it was needed."
Argyle are offering fans the chance to meet and question Ian Holloway next week. The club is hosting an Evening with Ian Holloway at Home Park on August 1st. Television presenter Bob Hall will host the special event in front of the Devonport end of the ground. Fans will need to submit their questions in writing on a special card which will be available from Home Park this week. They can hand in the card in advance of the evening to reception at Home Park, or on the night. Entry to the event is free. It will start at 7pm and gates open at 6pm
Argyle were beaten by Real Madrid in Austria last night, but only just. After the game Ian Holloway said: "I can't believe it. It has been a great night. I didn't realise the strength of the squad Madrid were bringing, and I was quite shocked when I saw all those wonderful names on their team-sheet. I was very, very proud of our performance against a team like that. It was a good work-out for them as well as us. To only lose 1-0 to a penalty was a credit to us." Lilian Nalis conceded the penalty by handling a cross. "We weren't right for the corner, to be honest. We headed it out and the bloke had far too much time to put the ball in. I think Baptista would have headed it in anyway. It was a moment of madness, but there you go," added Holloway. Asked what he took out of the game in retrospect, Holloway said: "Some great organisation, some great closing down and, considering how short a time I've been with them, I'm delighted with that. I've got a great bunch of lads here. They're honest, they're hard-working, and I'm sure if I splice all that together it will come good. I'm very pleased - we gave a good account of ourselves and I was proud of our behaviour on the pitch. We tried to look after ourselves, but we were very respectful as well. Good luck to Mr Capello and to Real Madrid. I just can't believe I'm saying those words." The game was watched by a crowd of around 1,500, which included about 250 Argyle fans. "I can't wait to play in front of these supporters at Home Park," Holloway said. "They were absolutely magnificent here. I'm very optimistic. I thought we passed tonight's test with flying colours and we gave them a good game."
Hasney Aljofree had the honour of leading out Argyle against Real Madrid last night. With Paul Wotton not included in the starting line-up, it was Aljofree who wore the armband, with Wotton taking over as skipper in the second period. Aljofree admitted the picture of him exchanging pennants with Guti before kick-off would be a treasured memento. He said: "It was a very proud moment. To captain Plymouth Argyle for the first time was a big thing for me. But to captain them against Real Madrid is something else. I felt a bit sorry for Wottsie, but there was nothing in it. Obviously, he's the captain of the club but it was a really proud moment for me. I said to Disco (club photographer Dave Rowntree) to make sure he got the picture because I will get it framed." Real put out a side packed with world-class talent and Aljofree added: "It was their first team, apart from a few of the World Cup players. I thought we equipped ourselves quite well and we could have scored a couple of goals. Obviously, they had a few chances but, all in all, it was an even first half." Real's midfield trio of Guti, Julio Cesar Baptista and Thomas Gravesen were particularly impressive. Aljofree said: "I have just got pure respect for them. They are at that club for a reason - they are special players - but I think we played well against them. We didn't show too much respect, though. We actually gave them a game of football. We were waiting to come onto the pitch before the game and a few of them gave a couple of shouts but I'm not sure if they were right up for it. But when we started, I think they realised we weren't messing about. We were unlucky to lose 1-0 in the end because I didn't think they were much better than us." Real's winning goal came from a penalty after a handball by Lilian Nalis. Aljofree said: "I think it was just a reaction from Lil. It could have happened to anyone. You think you are going to head the ball and your arm comes up. It's just an honest mistake but, never mind, we have played Real Madrid and we haven't been embarrassed. We have given them a game of football and we could have got some goals ourselves."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in this evenings friendly. Argyle (1st Half): McCormick, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Sawyer, Norris, Summerfield, Hodges, Dickson, Zebroski, Hayles. (2nd Half): McCormick, Connolly, Laird, Almeida, Capaldi, Reid, Wotton, Nalis, Djordjic, Chadwick, Ebanks-Blake. Subs - Clapham, Gosling, Mason.
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will wear the number nine shirt next season. Barry Hayles will wear number 10 and the only other change to last season sees Hasney Aljofree vacate his number 16 shirt for the number six previously worn by Keith Lasley. Argyle squad numbers, 2006-07: 1 Romain Larrieu, 2 Anthony Barness, 4 Lilian Nalis, 6 Hasney Aljofree, 7 David Norris, 8 Akos Buzsaky, 9 Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, 10 Barry Hayles, 11 Nick Chadwick, 12 Green Army, 13 Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, 14 Tony Capaldi, 15 Paul Wotton, 18 Gary Sawyer, 20 Lee Hodges, 22 Paul Connolly, 23 Luke McCormick, 25 Ryan Dickson, 26 Chris Zebroski, 27 Scott Laird, 28 Reuben Reid, 29 Luke Summerfield, 32 Bojan Djordjic
Paul Wotton will proudly lead out Argyle tonight and shake hands with the captain of Real Madrid, which would have seemed like a fantasy not so long ago. Wotton cannot wait for kick-off, and said: “It hasn’t really sunk in because we’ve been working so hard out here. But now it’s here it is exciting. There’s no other word for it. We’re really looking forward to it. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience but at the same time it’s a game and it’s up to us to put on a good show. We’ll give it a good shot.” Every player in the Argyle squad apart from the unfit Akos Buzsaky will be involved tonight. Wotton added: “The gaffer has already said that everyone will get a game. For the apprentices with us, Anthony Mason and Dan Gosling, that’s absolutely fantastic. They’re 16-years-old. I’m 28 and I’m as excited as they must be. This is our chance to test ourselves against the best. We’ll do it properly.” That is also the aim for Ian Holloway, who is taking this game seriously. “For me it’s just another game, although I know that sounds weird,” said Holloway, who gave his players a day off from training yesterday. “I'm really pleased with the way things are going and progressing. I can see the improvements in their fitness levels and I felt they had earned a day to just chill. I think it has done all of us some good. I also gave them the day off because we are playing Real Madrid. I believe we’ll have to chase the ball all over the pitch. We are here to work on our shape and our pattern, and defensively I want to make sure everybody is working together as a unit. I don’t want to concede ground to them, I want to try and get the ball and at least have one shot. Our target is to have at least one shot in each half. I see football very simply. You can't have any gaps anywhere in your team if you are going to be a good, defensive, solid unit. If you have got a gap between your centre-forwards and your midfield there is a problem. And if you have got a gap between your midfield and your back line there will be a problem. It's the same with your back four and your goalkeeper. I want to make sure we are compact. Can we upset them? Can we get amongst them? Can we win the ball off them? Can we show that we’re not afraid of anybody? In all seriousness, I want to try and beat them, whatever they put out there. That might sound crazy, but it’s true. It’s a game of football. Technically, it could be the hardest game we’ve ever had and I’m expecting us to take it seriously and use it as a training situation and, afterwards, revel in it – but not before the game. I don’t over-respect anybody. People have to earn that with me. We’ll be up against great players, I understand that, and we might struggle to get the ball back off them but I’m teaching my players to win it back. We’ll force an error. That’s how I’m looking at it. What better game could we have for that? It’s perfect. I’m looking for us to work hard and produce what we’ve been talking about in training. If we can do that against Real Madrid and get any sort of success, then hopefully that will do wonders for our confidence. You can’t buy confidence, you have to build it and earn it. We have scored 12, let in one, and I think the lads are more and more confident in each other. When you believe you can score, then you become a team and that's I'm working on." Holloway is aiming to field two different line-ups in each half, as he did two days ago against Gratkorn, meaning that at some stage Barry Hayles will make his first appearance in an Argyle shirt. As well as Hayles, Holloway can call on Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who scored a spectacular overhead kick against Gratkorn. “I’ll remember that goal for a long, long time. What a fantastic way to open your account,” said Holloway. Muhamadu Ibad is also set to play tonight. The trialist striker is being allowed to play by his club, Cercle Bruges
Argyle's players are determined to enjoy it tonight’s match with Real Madrid. Luke McCormick said: "I'm really looking forward to it. Obviously, it will be a great experience and it would be nice if they do play a few of the big names. Whether they will do, we will wait and see. It will be a good test for us regardless and a good workout for the outfield players for their fitness. There's no better way to test yourself than against some of the best players in the world. We will definitely make full use of the game." Tony Capaldi is used to coming up against top-class opponents on international duty with Northern Ireland but admitted the aura surrounding the Spanish club would make tonight's game memorable. He said: "I don't think many boys get a chance to play against them, even if it's maybe not quite the starting 11. There will still be a few big names out there and, no doubt, they will be fantastic players. To be honest, though, our main priority is the first game of the season against Wolves. It's a good thing to say you have played against Real Madrid and a great experience for us. But it's just about getting the fitness work in and preparing for the first game of the season." Gary Sawyer is desperate to get a run-out against Real. He said: "I couldn't believe it when they told us we would be playing Real Madrid while we were out here. It will be a fantastic game and I just hope I can play in some of it." Those sentiments were shared by David Norris. He said: "Real Madrid are a massive club and to get a fixture against them is brilliant. I missed training at the start of this week because of a knee injury, but I want to be involved in this game."
Ian Holloway seems resigned to missing out on Bristol City striker Marcus Stewart. Holloway confirmed he has an interest in Stewart, but said: “I think that probably will not happen. In my opinion, they don't want the bloke and they will not let us have him for the right price, but there you go. I have gone on and got who I want. We will wait and see what else happens."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has welcomed the arrival of Barry Hayles to Argyle. He said: "He has got a wealth of experience and played for Fulham at the top level in the Premiership. His know-how can only help us as young lads to prosper and to be good players. It's definitely an added bonus to the squad." Ebanks-Blake only signed for Argyle last Friday, so the Austrian tour has given him an excellent opportunity to find his feet, which he seems to have done. He said: "It's going well. Every day I feel more part of the squad. I think the players are learning my game and I'm learning their game. I'm pleased, and I hope the lads are pleased with me as well. The tour has been brilliant so far. I think it has been important for all the lads to get their fitness up and we have all been working hard this week." The temperature in Austria has been up to 34 degrees centigrade, but the players have taken it in their stride. Ebanks-Blake added: "Obviously, it's a lot harder with the heat but we are dealing with it. We are just glad to be out here, getting fit and ready for the coming season."
David Norris is looking forward to Argyle making an improvement on last season's 14th place finish in the Championship. He said: "The target is to improve on last season, and every season we are in this league we want to make an improvement, and with Ollie in charge and a little bit of backing from the board, I don't see why that can't happen. The tour has been magnificent to be honest, the training facilities and hotel are excellent and the training itself has been good, and there is a good atmosphere in the camp. Real Madrid is a massive, massive club and to get a fixture against them and having seen the players they have, although some of them won't be involved, it is just nice to be involved in this sort of game." Ian Holloway then chipped in to warn Madrid's prospective new signing Ruud Van Nistelrooy that he had better be equally excited about facing his team. "I am sure when they sign Ruud Van Nistelrooy he will say the same about Plymouth, and if he doesn't, then he will do after the game," said Holloway. Norris has returned to full training after being sidelined for a week and is delighted to be back involved, and also talked about the excellent spirit within the camp at present. "I don't even like watching the boys train if I can't be involved myself, so it is good to be back training," he said. "The manager has come in and been really positive and that has rubbed off on everyone else, and the spirit in the camp has been good and with a couple of new players coming, suddenly things have gone from being down to right up, and we are all looking forward to the season in a positive frame of mind." Holloway praised the loyalty of Norris. He said: "I think this fella could have had a choice next year that most players would have envied. But I don't think that's always the way to go. It's better the devil you know. It's a wonderful area to live in and I think we are marching forward. With people like this, and Sylvan, Barry Hayles and the rest of the squad I don't see a problem. What we need now is the Argyle fans to stick with us and encourage us through thick or thin, whatever it is, because we will be there." Damon Lenszner was equally excited by the re-signing of Norris. He said: "It's just a general indication of the way the club is going forward and will be a force to be reckoned with in the next season." Holloway has enjoyed Argyle's training camp in Austria but cannot wait to return to Plymouth. Holloway said: "Being woken up by seagulls is fantastic and I can't wait to get back to Plymouth and play some real matches - ones with points on. No matter what we do here, it doesn't matter. What matters is the start of the season."
Ian Holloway is hoping to add Gary Penrice to his coaching staff at Argyle soon
Barry Hayles became an Argyle player yesterday and pledged to do his best to push the team towards the Premiership. He has cost Argyle a fee of £100,000, and will in due course combine playing for the club with coaching duties. Hayles said. "It's a pleasure to work with Ian. He's an honest gentleman and it will be great to work with him again. Olly is good at showing you the bigger picture and my mind was made up as soon as I spoke to him. The bigger picture here is getting to the Premiership. He's building a decent squad to push us up there or thereabouts." After being part of the Millwall squad which was relegated last season, Hayles has not moved to endure another relegation struggle. "It was a tough season and a difficult time," he said. "Now I've come to a growing club. Each year the club has progressed and hopefully we can keep that going and aim for the top six or even the top two.” Ian Holloway admitted last night that Marcus Stewart was also the subject of an enquiry from Argyle, but the clubs interest in the striker seems to be at an end. He said: "There was one more striker on my list, Marcus Stewart, but that probably won't happen now that I've got who I want." Damon Lenszner added: "When the manager came to us and we were in need of strikers, he had two names at the top of his list and only two names. We are delighted both of those names have now joined Plymouth Argyle."
Ian Holloway was a satisfied man after watching his side secure a 5-1 win over FC Gratkorn last night. He said: "I was very pleased. I wanted to see what they were like when they went a goal down and I got that. The lads were fantastic, absolutely excellent. I can't fault their attitude and application. They've had six training sessions in three days and a game as well, so they've earned a nice little chill-out tomorrow and then we've got the big one on Friday. We had some very exciting performances out there, but it's nice for a striker to get off the mark with a new club. Sylvan is a good lad. He works hard and it's about him becoming what I want him to be. He's nowhere near that yet, but its amazing how hard centre-forwards work when another one has just turned up at the club." Bojan Djordjic created the first goal with a dashing burst down the left flank, Chris Zebroski returned his cross into the danger area and Ebanks-Blake did the rest with an acrobatic overhead kick. Holloway was happy to pay credit to Djordjic for his part in the build-up. "For Bo to do that after the season he had last time was great to see," he said. "There's an awful lot of talent there." The second goal saw Ebanks-Blake using his speed to reach a fine ball down the wing by Paul Connolly. "There's no such thing as a long ball or a short ball," Holloway said. "You've got to play the right ball and you need some legs up front. We've got that now. That's what we needed. There are still things we need to iron out, but they'll get there. They're listening. Everything is looking very good at the moment, but there are no points on the board. We haven't played a League game yet. There's a long, long way to go, but there were an awful lot of positives out there." One plus-point was the display of trialist Ebad. His club, Cercle Bruges, want a fee for him but that may not deter Argyle pursuing their interest. "He did very well," Holloway said. "He can't play against Real Madrid so we'll pay his expenses and send him home, and then we'll fly him back to our place. We need competition. I like the young fellows we've got but they've got a lot to learn. Chris Zebroski impressed me today because I put him wide-right. I spoke to him beforehand and when he plays next time he will be up front and Reuben Reid might have to go wide. Hopefully, we will work with these fellows and see if we can make them any better than they already are. Ebad looked very sharp and I saw enough to invite him over. We'll reimburse him for what he's spent to come here. That's the least we can do."
Argyle's youngsters won 1-0 at Newton Abbot in last nights friendly. The goal was scored by Toby Davis
Argyle beat FC Gratkorn 5-1 in this afternoons friendly. The goals were scored by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake after 37 and 39 minutes, Reuben Reid (52), Hasney Aljofree (57 pen) and trialist Muhamadu Ebad (84). Argyle (1st Half): McCormick, Connolly, Laird, Almeida, Capaldi, Zebroski, Wotton, Nalis, Djordjic, Chadwick, Ebanks-Blake. (2nd Half): Clapham, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Sawyer, Norris, Summerfield, Hodges, Dickson, Reid, Ebad. Sub - Gosling
Ian Holloway is delighted with Argyle’s training facilities and hotel during the Austrian tour. The only slight drawback has been the stifling heat in Austria but, by all accounts, it is even hotter back in Plymouth. "It is surprisingly hot, which makes it doubly difficult for the lads because we are trying to work them very hard," said Holloway. "We have to be very careful, but generally the standard of the training facilities and the hotel have been absolutely spot on. The lads have had a bit of me over the last couple of days, which is great because back in Plymouth I was on the phone most of the time. I am doing what I like best and that is out on the training field, and they're getting to know me and I am getting to know them." There are a number of objectives for the squad during the tour of Austria but for Holloway, setting certain standards is top of the list. He said: "I think they will know me a little better now and everybody talks about team-bonding, but it is about standards really and I have to set the standard. I have to raise the bar to what everybody here expects because that is what I want; I want to talk about the Premiership, and how we are going to get there. When you are travelling and working, there is a time to be focused and a time to relax; you cannot possibly be focused all the time. I am so pleased that these lads know when to be serious and they know when they can relax and enjoy themselves." Holloway believes that variety in training sessions is a crucial factor in keeping the players interested and motivated. He also believes in the need for players to encourage each other at all times. Holloway said: "I like a bit of variety because there are many aspects to football. I like to do things properly and I like to do it for an hour-and-a-half, which replicates how long they have to concentrate for in a game. I look at it like a huge bag of footballs, and each ball represents one skill, whether it is attacking, defending, heading or whatever it is, we take the ball out, polish it up and end on an enjoyable note. Hopefully, they can learn while enjoying themselves and that is what it is all about. I think they are very blunt, which I like because nothing is ever hidden and they say it how it is. Sometimes they don't do it in the most encouraging way, so I have to try and persuade them to do things and not beat people up." Holloway has been very impressed with the atmosphere within the group, and feels that he has the attributes that can help the team develop. He said: "Being the person that I am, I think I can help them and I am delighted with them, and they need to end on a positive note because if you say something negative to me, I might get my back up but if you say it in a positive way then I might go with it. I always try and finish everything I do with energy and enthusiasm because without that you've got nothing. Even when you make mistakes, hopefully they will be energetic ones and you will learn from it. I'm delighted with the atmosphere so far, all be it that we haven't done anything but in pre-season games you want to get people fit, get some structure and, most importantly, set your standards; as a human being first and a football manager second." Holloway is looking to the tour games as a fitness exercise. Matches against Yeovil and Bristol Rovers are scheduled for when the squad return home, and he is hoping to play his best team in these fixtures. He said: "I'll be using the next two games for fitness purposes and when we return, I'll be looking at the games against Yeovil and Bristol Rovers to see my main team. By the time we play Wolves I will be hoping to look at my best eleven but I am trying to build a squad. I need horses for courses, and in certain games I will need someone who can head a ball against the likes of Gregorz Rasiak perhaps. I need to add to what we have got and I am desperate to keep them solid as a group. It is not about the individual; it is about the team, about Plymouth Argyle and wanting to be a part of that, and what we can bring to that and how we move forward. I want the same from supporters; I don't want barracking, I want everyone to be encouraged and I want our place to become a fortress. I will give criticism when it is the right time but I will always make it constructive. Hopefully by the end of the trip, people will understand what I am all about." Holloway now feels that he is getting to know the squad, and they are becoming more familiar with his methods. He said: "It took me a few months last time I got a new club but you can already see with me that there are times when I like to enjoy my life, and times when I will jump down on someone but I haven't had to do that yet. You find out about people when things are going wrong; you find out nothing when it is all going well. Anybody can manage and play when it is going well but when your team is behind, what are you going to do about it. The other day we had an Old v Young game in training, and the young ones were 2-0 up at half-time, so I said one or two things to the old ones and they got it back to 2-2 and won on penalties. Training is a practice for a match, and if you don't get it right in training you will never get it right on a match-day. It is a tough division we are in but I think we are pretty tough."
Barry Hayles should meet his new team-mates for the first time before the game against FC Gratkorn tonight. The striker could not be booked onto a flight from London to Vienna yesterday, so instead, Hayles was set to arrive in Graz this afternoon. Ian Holloway said: "I have got to assess his fitness levels compared to ours first, but I'm just delighted to bring him in."
David Norris returned to training yesterday. He took an active part in both sessions yesterday having been sidelined by a medial knee ligament injury since the win at Tiverton Town last Wednesday. Paul Maxwell said: "We rested him up and let the medial ligament knit back together for four or five days. We did some work on Sunday and we did some crossing and finishing on Monday, and he came through it well, so we let him join in yesterday. He's still catching it every now and again, but you will do that with a medial ligament, even for a few weeks to come. Hopefully, he will play some part tonight, but I don't know how much. It depends how he reacts this morning."
Bojan Djordjic is working hard to earn a first-team place with Argyle, after spending his summer making a name for himself as a television personality. He was employed as an analyst by a Swedish television company for the World Cup finals, and said: "I was one of three in the studio. The others were Hans Backer, the new manager of Panathinaikos, and Magnus Hedman, who played for Coventry and Celtic. He was one of the big stars of the 2002 World Cup. I also did it in 2002, when I was a Manchester United player. It was fun. I covered the whole tournament, but I was asked to be an expert on the games involving Sweden and Serbia, because that's where I'm from. It was great to get the chance to do that job at my age." Both the Sweden and Serbia squads contained former team-mates of Djordjic. "I played with Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic when I was young," he said. "He's now at Juventus. Of course there were some old Manchester United team-mates out there, and when I was at Red Star Belgrade I was room-mates with Nemanja Vidic. He's at United now." Nick Chadwick had a different view of the World Cup finals - as a spectator. "I went over there with a couple of friends and watched three England games, which cost me a fortune," he said. "I managed to get to Australia-Japan and Australia-Brazil as well, which was a great experience." Chadwick's former Everton colleague Tim Cahill was one of Australia’s star players in Germany, and looked after his old team-mate. "He was kind enough to get us a couple of tickets," Chadwick added. "It was nice to see him play and do so well, holding his own and scoring goals at that level. It was all brilliant, it's the pinnacle of football on a grand scale. It was something I really enjoyed doing, and I'll probably try and get to another major tournament when I can." For Djordjic the build-up to the new campaign is especially important and he believes Ian Holloways style of play might suit him more than it did last season under Tony Pulis. "I've been encouraged by what I've seen and how I've done," Djordjic said. "I'm happier. I need to sort a few things out - maybe sometimes I need to let the ball go instead of trying to do everything myself - but that will come. It was frustrating and hard last season. Many people don't know what happened behind the scenes. Many people had opinions, but they never saw me train. I've always given 100 per cent in training, in reserve games at Tiverton, everywhere. I didn't throw my towel in, like some people say, because I knew that the day would come when I would have to be ready when my chance arrived. I hope it will come this year. I don't think I have anything to prove. I only have to be honest with myself. I know what I can do. I don't need people to tell me and pat me on my back. It's nice, but it's better when it's encouragement instead of saying good things to me and then behind my back saying something else. I haven't forgotten how to play football overnight. I know I have talent, but I need to produce that talent and go the extra yard and fulfil my potential instead of always being 80 per cent." The arrival of Holloway has, Djordjic feels, made Argyle a more positive club. Players are encouraged, not chastised, when they make mistakes in training. "We'll see what happens," he said. "It's an encouraging start, and hopefully on August 5th I'll be on the pitch." If Djordjic does make the starting line-up there is a good chance that he might have Tony Capaldi playing behind him at left-back, as he does for Northern Ireland. "I'm looking forward to playing with Tony again," Djordjic added. "I thought we played very well on the left side at Grays. It was a good combination. He is a very good footballer and he has a very good football brain." The mood in the Argyle camp has also been improved by the facilities in Loipersdorf, compared to last summer's week in northern Sweden. "At least this year we don't have to go to mosquito land and eat bear meat," Djordjic said. "It was a trip to remember, but this year here it is a step forward. The facilities are great and we have trained very well." Djordjic and his team-mates are keen to give a good account of themselves against Real Madrid on Friday. "It's not a Champions League tie, it's a friendly for us like it is for them," he said, "but of course you want to get a good result. You don't want to be made to look like fools. Whatever side they put out, it will be a good test for us and you know they will want to play football. Our new manager wants to play football. I'm looking forward to it."
Ian Holloway is in no rush to pick his strongest Argyle side for the first time. He takes charge of his new team for the third time tonight, against FC Gratkorn, and will once again try to ensure that every fit member of his squad gains an equal amount of match practice. "The plan is to give all the lads an equal amount of time on the pitch," he said. "That will be the plan for the next two games and when we get back we'll start trying to give people 90 minutes." Argyle now have two trialists on board. Mauro Almeida, who featured at Grays Athletic, has been joined by Muhamadu Ebad, a 24-year-old Dutchman who can play up front or in midfield. Both trialists should see some action tonight. "This lad Ebad has travelled all the way here and he's paid his own way, and I'm a decent fellow so I'll give him a shot," Holloway said. Holloway takes pre-season friendlies seriously. He has gained information on Gratkorn's style of play and favoured formation, so that he and his players can get the most out of the game. "It's important to try and give the lads some idea of how serious it is and to prepare as well as you can," he said. "You can't always do it, but it helps to know what you're up against shape- wise, particularly."
At a press conference in Argyle's training-camp hotel in Austria last night, David Norris said: "It wasn't too big a decision to commit my future to Argyle. The contract process takes its time, but I've been happy down here for the last three and a half years and now I'm happy to commit my long-term future to the club." He is glad to have resolved his contractual situation now, rather than next summer when he would have been a free agent. "I didn't want to put myself in that position of seeing out a contract," he added. "I'd rather have something set in concrete and know exactly what is happening. As soon as Argyle said they wanted to open contract talks, I was happy to do that. Coming back to pre-season before Ollie was announced as manager the club was maybe in a little bit of turmoil, with no manager and a small squad. As soon as he came in, he lifted the whole place and his positivity is rubbing off on everyone else. On a personal note, on the day the gaffer signed for Argyle he called me into his office to let me know that I was part of his plans. I thought that was a nice touch." Holloway is delighted to have Norris on board. He said: "David has been a huge part of our success so far, and I can't wait to work with him to make that success even bigger." Damon Lenszner, who is with the team in Austria, added: "We're absolutely delighted that David has signed his two-year extension. He was our Supporters' Clubs player of the year last season for every single branch." Norris added: "It was a good season for me last season, but I want to keep on improving. The manager wants to improve us a team and as individuals, so hopefully that will happen and I'll have a good season again." Lenszner confirmed that there had been interest in Norris from rival clubs. He said: "Unofficially, there were approaches, but David's first thoughts were for Argyle and we tried to put everybody else off."
Argyle have included two apprentices in their squad for the tour to Austria this week. Dan Gosling and Anthony Mason were both late call-ups for the trip after playing as substitutes at Grays. Luke McCormick can relate to how two apprentices are feeling on tour as he was an apprentice on the pre-season trip to Scotland in 2001. McCormick said: "Myself and Paul Connolly were in the same position to them a few years ago. I know how beneficial it was to me when I was at that age - not just the football side of things but the stuff that goes on off the pitch. They will be learning all the time, even when they are not on the football pitch. It will be really good for their progression."
David Kemp and Lindsay Parsons remain on Argyle's staff, even though they are not in Austria this week. As yet, they have not followed Mark O'Connor in following former Tony Pulis to Stoke City. Kemp will this week be watching games involving Wolves, Colchester United and Sunderland, who are Argyle's first three opponents in the Championship this season. Parsons, meanwhile, will check out a couple of centre-backs that new manager Ian Holloway has some interest in. Holloway is being assisted with the training in Austria by Des Bulpin, along with Paul Maxwell. Also on the trip are Geoff Crudgington, Paul Giles and Ian 'Jacko' Pearce
Ian Holloway has not ruled out signing another striker, despite the capture of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Barry Hayles. He said: "If there was a good one out there, who knows? You have got to stack them and rack them. I think we are already starting to get the 'stairs system' I had at Bristol Rovers when I was there. We had Nathan Ellington and Bobby Zamora underneath Jamie Cureton and Jason Roberts, who were both 21, as well as Barry Hayles, who was 26, and Gary Penrice, who was 34. Now, I have got Hayles, who is 34, I have got Chadwick, who is 23, Sylvan is 20, plus the two teenagers. I think they have all got exciting bits and pieces, and it's now working with them. If there was an out-and-out header of a ball that was out there, I might add that. But, at the moment, I'm more than happy with what I have got." Next on the list for Holloway will probably be a commanding centre-back. However he was keen to stress that did not mean any criticism of Hasney Aljofree or Mathias Doumbe. And he has also been excited by the promise shown by Gary Sawyer and Scott Laird during pre-season training. Holloway said: "I'm delighted with the way we defend, I have to say. I think Has and Mattie have been superb and for 98 per cent of the games last season I'm sure they did well. But when you come up against a Rasiak it could benefit them if I had a 17ft 4in centre-half there to head it away. I'm delighted with them at the moment and I don't want them to think I don't rate them. I have also been very pleased with young Gary Sawyer and Lairdy. I think they are a massive bonus. All the young kids who have come here have an absolutely awesome attitude on them."
David Norris ended months of uncertainty by signing a two-year contract extension today, meaning he has committed himself to Home Park until 2009
Ian Holloway will be closely checking out Portuguese trialist Mauro Almeida in Austria this week. Holloway said: "We will have a look at Mauro Almeida and see how he does over here. In the meantime, I have got loads of irons in the fire for that particular position."
There was an unusually early start for the Argyle players yesterday morning. They were all in the foyer of the Loipersdorf Hotel at 7am, ready for a series of three runs - they had to complete figure-of-eight circuits on tarmac paths around the hotel. Luke McCormick said: "It's something I have never done before, but everyone was too tired to moan! I think the lads don't moan about much. They just seem to get on with it, which is good. At the end of the day it's for our benefit." The players had another 7am start this morning but this time their destination was the hotel swimming pool.
Luke McCormick has admitted it was strange not having Romain Larrieu around this week. He saidt: "We are all thinking of him. Obviously, it's a horrible thing that's going on at the moment. He must be worried but we are all behind him and hope he gets over it." Instead of Larrieu as his training partner, McCormick is working with Josh Clapham. McCormick said: "It's strange not having Romain about, but Josh is here and he's a really nice lad. I have got to know him this week and he has done well. I think he has surprised a few people. Josh is very laid-back - as I think a lot of keepers are. He's keen to learn and even though he hasn't done day-to-day training before it hasn't really shown. He looks sharp and hungry for it, which is good." McCormick believes pre-season trips are an invaluable preparation for a new campaign. He said: "It's really important to get a good pre-season under your belt. It does see you through until the end of the season, and also the tours help team bonding. The lads are in each other's pockets almost for a good week. It's not all hard work. They do try to make it as enjoyable as possible so it's good for the lads. It's a long time to be away. All the lads get on with each other but we will probably be glad to get away from each other come the end of the week!" While McCormick sympathises with Larrieu's plight, it presents him with an opportunity to impress Ian Holloway. "It's a little bit similar to when Romain injured his knee," added McCormick. "I think I said it then as well, it's not the way you would really want to do it. You want to be in the team through merit, but it is an opportunity for me to show the manager what I can do. First impressions are very important and, hopefully, now we have got a clean slate. I have just got to keep my head down and work as hard as I can."
Akos Buzsaky was given permission to leave Argyle's training camp in Loipersdorf briefly yesterday. Ian Holloway said: "Akos has gone to see a specialist who is a masseur and who has worked on him for a long time. I had a long chat with Maxie and Paul Giles about it. With the relative proximity of where he comes from, and how quickly he could get there, we let him go. He truly believes it will really help him, and all we want is for him to be fit. He's a wonderful player - an exceptional talent - and what I have got to do is get a bit of Ian Holloway workrate into him, if I can. I've got to say the whole group are adapting to what I want and he will be a part of it, but he needs to be out there. He's getting very, very frustrated and I've told him he has to calm down and be professional."
Ian Holloway is delighted that veteran striker Barry Hayles is poised to join Argyle. The 34-year-old is leaving Millwall for a fee which is believed to be £100,000 to move to Home Park. Holloway said: "We've agreed a fee for Barry Hayles. He wants to come, his contract is agreed and it's just a case of getting him through the medical, which I don't think will be a problem. He should be here tomorrow - that's the plan at the moment. What he will bring is experience, strength and power. He wants to win. I thought he went to Millwall for the wrong reasons. I tried to get him to QPR. I've had a long chat with him today. I laid my cards on the table and told him what I've got here and what I want to build. I've told him his part in it, whether he plays or not, and I'm pleased to say he wants a massive piece of it." Nick Chadwick has been the oldest forward at Argyle so far this summer and Holloway added: "They're all very young. What I've seen of Zebroski and Reid I've been delighted with. We paid a lot of money for Chadwick and the best is still to come by a mile. I like the look of Sylvan and his attitude is spot-on, but he needs to get fitter. Now I'm adding someone who has been there and done it, and is still young enough. He'll be on a two-year contract and he's taking a pay cut to come to us, which proves his commitment. He didn't have to leave Millwall and they didn't want him to go. I took him to Bristol Rovers when he was 25, I paid Stevenage £200,000 for him. We'd agreed to pay an extra £50,000 if he scored 25 goals in a season, and he scored 26 in his first season. We sold him to Fulham for £2 million 15 months after we signed him, and he played in the top flight for them."
Nick Chadwick knows that his hat-trick in the friendly win at Grays will not feature in his end-of-season goal tally, but it was still an achievement to enjoy. He said: "It's good for a forward to score goals, especially in what was my first game of the season. It was also good to get 55 minutes under my belt fitness-wise at Grays. I was pleased with the whole day, and the gaffer hasn't stopped reminding me that I scored three goals." An injury restricted Chadwick's involvement in the first fortnight of pre-season training, so he has some catching up to do. "There is a little bit to do," he said, "but I had done quite a lot of work before coming back in. That was part of the problem, but I want to be as fit as I possibly can for the start of the season. It's all about being fit in three or four weeks' time, not now. The important day is when we play Wolves at home." Chadwick has taken a full part in every training session since Argyle arrived in Austria and said: "Everybody is enjoying it. The gaffer's enthusiasm is infectious. The session when we got here on Sunday was good, and everyone is going into the season with more enthusiasm and belief than perhaps we had this time year. The technical side and the fitness side of the training have both been good." Holloway and his players are setting high standards this season and merely avoiding relegation will not be an acceptable target. "The gaffer is looking to see how high we can finish, and it's the same for all of us," Chadwick added. "As he's said to us, look at Watford last season. Nobody fancied them and look what they did. That's the kind of approach we've got to have. Why can't we go on and do really well? There's no reason why not. We built the foundations of a good side defensively last season. We haven't forgotten the work we did on that side of the game and we need to keep it going, and hopefully we can add a bit more to our attacking game. Last season, especially away from home, it was all about not conceding and we had a lot of players - myself included - behind the ball. This year, if we can get into forward positions and get more people into the box, then I'm sure as a team we can score more goals." Chadwick was the only senior striker on Argyle's books, until Sylvan Ebanks-Blake arrived last week, and more strikers could follow. "I knew I wouldn't be the only senior striker here by the time the season started," Chadwick said. "Competition for places is good for the team, and we need options when we have injuries or suspensions."
Tickets for Argyle's League Cup tie against Walsall have now gone on sale. The prices are: £15 for adults, £10 for over 65s and students, and just £1 for children
Barry Hayles is poised to become the next new face at Home Park. Millwall have agreed a price with Argyle for the striker and it is now down to personal terms and a medical. Ian Holloway said: "We have four young strikers and they would learn so much from someone of the class of Barry Hayles. I brought him into the professional game when I brought him out of non-league at quite a cost but he repaid it very quickly." If personal terms can be agreed Hayles is likely to fly to Austria to join the training camp
Argyle are not sure when Akos Buzsaky will start playing again. Buzsaky had an operation in Hungary over the summer after being troubled by a persistent groin problem last season. Argyle were unaware of that until he returned for pre-season training earlier this month. Buzsaky tried to resume training with Argyle last week but suffered more pain. The club sent him for an ultrasound scan and because there was inflammation in the groin he then had a MRI the next day. It has now emerged, after club doctor Paul Giles spoke to the surgeon in Hungary, that all the tendons in the adductor muscles have been cut. Paul Maxwell said: "Akos has had a tenotomy, which means the abductor tendons have been cut. That muscle then becomes of virtual no use because it's not attached to anything. It has shocked everyone because, in our eyes, there was never a problem there." Maxwell explained the scar tissue from the operation is causing the pain that Buzsaky is now experiencing, and that he will have to try to train through that discomfort until it begins to improve. He said: "At the moment, it's a pain threshold thing. We have just got to make him stronger. It's his left leg so it's not so bad. He joined in the training session because he could use his right foot. He can cross balls for fun and still take part in a game situation. But he's going to be short on change of direction and anything with his left leg really." Buzsaky is not expected to play in either of Argyle's two tour matches this week. Maxwell, though, remains hopeful hel will be fit for the start of the Championship season on August 5th. Maxwell added: "It's impossible to put a time on when he will play again because by the end of the week the inflammation might have settled down. But he might go back in to full training and get another bit that breaks away and he will be sore again. I think there's definitely a chance he can be fit for the start of the season. He has got two or three weeks now, so we can get enough strength work in there. To be honest, he has worked hard in the two weeks he has been back with me. I'm not really worried about his fitness levels because he was a fit lad anyway, but the problem is can he get by in the training and the games? The scarring could take months to calm down and get rid of all of it." David Norris is still sidelined after suffering a medial knee ligament injury in the win at Tiverton Town last Wednesday, and is not expected to resume training until tomorrow at the earliest. Maxwell rates Norris as 50-50 for the FC Gratkorn game but is optimistic he could play against Real Madrid
Nick Chadwick was the match-winner at Grays on Saturday with a hat-trick, and Ian Holloway was pleased with both his performance and the overall display. "It was very professional," he said. "We showed a great attitude, played some decent football and scored some nice goals. Don't write Chadders off! He’s got three. Lovely-jubbly - it's nice to have him back! There were probably too many changes and it died a bit of a death but, fair play to them, they made it much more difficult for us in the second half!" Argyle are thought to be adding another forward to their squad today, when Barry Hayles is expected to complete a move from Millwall. Holloway would not confirm the identity of his target, but he said: "I hope to have another striker in on Monday." Of new goalkeeper Josh Clapham, Ian Holloway said: "I thought the young keeper did ever so well, I have got to say. The big fella has just come in and was very, very competent. It's nice to get two clean sheets and score seven goals. You couldn't panic him, could you? If a fire alarm went off next to him, I think he would be all calm and just clear the building very nicely. That's what you want from your keeper and I was very, very impressed with him."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has declared his determination to make a name for himself at Argyle. "I want to play football," he said. "I want to be involved in a first team and get games under my belt. Plymouth were interested, and the rest is pretty much history." Ian Holloway played a big part in the striker's decision to move to Home Park. "He's a great character," Ebanks-Blake said. "He's a manager that I want to play under and I think a lot of people want to play under. I hope we can build a relationship and do well for him. It's brilliant to know that he has confidence in me. I hope I can repay him. That's all I'm aiming to do - play well and score goals." Ebanks-Blake spent four years at Manchester United, and said: "I had a great time there. I learned a lot, and now I'm ready to play on a different stage and do well for Plymouth. It was a bit of a wrench to leave Old Trafford but, if you're ambitious like I am and you want to play football, then you've got to make these decisions in your career. I'm 20 now and I've got a lot of time behind me." Ebanks-Blake chose to come to Home Park despite interest from Watford. "There was brief interest from them, but there was only one place I was going to go and that was Plymouth," he added. "I think they're a great club and they have a great manager. I'm happy to be here. I know last season they had a good season and I think this season they can improve again. I know they got two promotions in two or three years, and they're ambitious. They want to do well and keep on improving." Sylvan enjoyed his first taste action in an Argyle shirt on Saturday. "Pre-season football is all about getting your fitness up," he said. "It was a good run-out from that point of view, and the result was good and a bonus." Ebanks-Blake spent the second half of last season on loan to Royal Antwerp. "It was a different experience," he said. "It's a different style of football over there and I learned from that. It was good." The Argyle squad are not entirely strangers to Ebanks-Blake. "I know Bojan Djordjic quite well," he said, "and Reuben came to United for a little stint last season. The rest of the lads I don't know too well yet, but as the days go by and the games take place we'll get to know each other better. I'm the new lad here. I need to get to know their game and they need to get to know my game. The tour has come at a perfect time for that, and hopefully by the first game of the season we'll have gelled together and we'll get the right results."
Argyle won 3-0 at Grays Athletic in this afternoons friendly, all three goals coming from Nick Chadwick (18, 28, 38). Argyle: Clapham, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Sawyer, Capaldi, Connolly, Wotton, Nalis, Djordjic, Chadwick, Reid. Subs - Laird.S, Aljofree, Almeida, Mason, Summerfield, Hodges, Gosling, Dickson, Zebroski, Ebanks-Blake.
Reuben Reid believes hard work will reap its own reward this season. "Right now for me it's just about working hard and trying to impress," he said Reid. "Just to be involved this season would be nice. Obviously the manager is going to have to bring in some players, but if I can just train hard, play well in matches and get a few goals, we'll see how it goes." Ian Holloway said: "Reid and Zebroski have a chance don't they? They're chafing at the bit and I like what they've done so far. They've worked hard and trained well, and I think they've got bright futures." Holloway hopes new arrivals like Ebanks-Blake can help Reid, Zebroski and Chadwick improve. "I said to each of the three strikers the other day, I'm really, pleasantly surprised and excited by what each of them has got," he said. "Obviously, I'm not expecting our whole Championship season to rest on a 17- and 19-year-old. They know I'm going to bring people, hopefully with a bit of experience, to help them. Sometimes the right type of senior player can really help young lads mature and improve, much faster than any coach can." Reid added: "It's encouraging when the manager speaks well of you. He said he's liked what he's seen so far. I had a little taste last season, but now I'm really getting involved with the lads. Everyone's alright with each other and I've settled in quite well I feel. I feel part of the team, part of the squad." Reid and the rest of the Argyle squad fly from Stansted to Austria for the club's week-long pre-season tour tomorrow. "I'm definitely looking forward to the tour - it's my first one - and having a nice game against Real Madrid," Reid said. "I guess beforehand everyone will be thinking it's Real Madrid, but once you get out on the pitch I think it'll just be like any other game really. But I'll be keyed up - definitely. It'll be nice to go out and have a good game. All the lads have come back in and been training hard, just getting into it. We played quite well on Wednesday night and the lads are looking quite strong and fit at the moment. Because numbers are so small, everyone might think they've got an opportunity here this season and work harder. It depends on who the manager brings in, but I think everyone's got an opportunity right now. The manager's very enthusiastic, which is a good sign, and he brings a lot of passion and desire into the club. You can see among the lads that he's quite popular and it showed on Wednesday night that he's popular with the fans as well. He likes to get involved in training, which is always good. It's nice to have a manager who, if he wants something done, can show you how it's done."
Grays Athletic striker Jamie Slabber could earn himself a chance in the Football League if he performs well against Argyle today. He has been recommended to Ian Holloway, who said: "Grays have got Slabber, who I've been phoned up about. Someone's on the ball there, so we'll have a look at what he does against my team." Grays will not give Argyle an easy ride and, even though the result today will not be of major importance, Holloway will want to win against a side he respects. "They're a good side," Holloway said. "As well as Slabber up front, they've got Dennis Oli, who I had playing for me at Queen's Park Rangers. He did ever so well last year. It will be nice to see him again." One of the defenders facing Slabber will be Mat Kouo-Doumbe, who made his mark in the second half of the game at Tiverton. "Doumbe came on in the second half and showed he's a very, very good player," Holloway said. "Lilian Nalis was fantastic in midfield as well."
Argyle have signed striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake from Manchester United. The 20-year-old has agreed a three-year deal and the initial fee is £200,000, which could rise past £300,000, which would be an Argyle record, depending on appearances. Ian Holloway spoke of his delight at clinching the deal. "I'm very, very pleased," he said. "He's someone I have been monitoring for some time. I almost had him on loan last year. He's got power; he's got pace; he's hungry to make a reputation. He will be a threat to opponents when we have got the ball and when we haven't - so, defenders, 'Watch out!' I am as excited about having him here as he is about coming. I looked him in the eyes when I met him and I am convinced he is someone eager to succeed and who, in my opinion, is as honest as the day is long. I just want to help him become the player I believe he can be. He isn't there yet, but he can get there. I have got no expectations for him. I just want him to enjoy his football. For £200,000, he is an absolute bargain. We have been quoted half a million for players of his age who aren't as good. He's a fantastic player and a fantastic young man, which, for me, is more important than all his other attributes." Holloway admitted Ebanks-Blake had turned down the chance to stay in the Premiership to sign for Argyle. "He had the chance to go higher, but he wants to play regularly," he said. Paul Stapleton revealed that Holloway's arrival had acted as the catalyst for the swift signing. "We have known about Sylvan for a couple of years," said Stapleton, "so, when Ian mentioned him as a high-priority target, everything just clicked. We believe we have got for Argyle a player who will quickly establish himself as one of the best strikers in the Coca-Cola Championship." Stapleton also paid tribute to Manchester United for their part in the deal, which was completed on Friday afternoon. "We'd like to thank Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill for their help, and we hope that this will be the beginning of a good relationship between the two clubs." Ebanks-Blake will link up with his new team-mates for the first time tomorrow, when Argyle play at Grays Athletic before flying out for their week-long Austrian training-camp. Also on board Sunday's flight will be Portuguese trialist Mauro Almeida, a 24-year-old centre-back who has recently been with Dutch side FC Zwolle
Lee Hodges is no fan of pre-season training, but at least he is capable of doing every task that is asked of him this summer. This time last year, Hodges feared that his career was in doubt because of a persistent back injury. He said: "I didn't join in last year, so it's good to be joining in and doing all the running. It is a hard time of year, but it is enjoyable because you soon start to feel fitter. I think I'm always going to have back aches. Now and again after games I have to ice it down, but it's fine most of the time. Everything is good, really, but I think there will always be an ache there. There's no way it's going to stop me playing, though.” Hodges has now had a fortnight to get used to Ian Holloway and said: "He's been very good. He's come in and he's been bubbly and enthusiastic, and everyone seems to be getting on really well with him." Holloway saw his players in action for the first time on Wednesday, against Tiverton Town. "The gaffer wanted us to win the game, which we did," Hodges said, "but it was really just about getting our fitness levels up. We haven't had a lot of time to work on tactical stuff, because we've been running. We only had one or two sessions to do some shape work for the match. It's always nice to play that first game. Sometimes that's the toughest one. Everyone had a good run-out against a decent side - Tiverton should do all right in their division. The young boys we brought on did very well." Hodges is looking forward to tomorrow, when Argyle take on Grays Athletic in his home county of Essex. "It's not too far away from where I come from," he added. "I have mentioned the game to my family, and one or two have said they might pop over and watch the game. We'll go there and we won't want to be beaten. Winning is a habit, and it's one we want to have." Preparations for the new season continue next week, when Argyle travel to Austria for a week-long training camp. For Hodges, it will be a third trip to Austria in four years. "It was a lovely place where we stayed before,” he said. "We trained two or three times a day, and when we trained we trained hard. I don't think it will be any different this time around. It is still pre-season, so we'll train hard and play a couple of games out there." Asked about the players' initial reaction when they heard about the game against Real Madrid, Hodges said: "When we heard about it, we just felt it wasn't going to happen, but now it's official it's really good. Everyone will be looking forward to it, but before then we've got a couple of games to play and a lot of training sessions to get through. We'll get our heads around it when the time comes. There aren't many teams who can say they're playing against Real Madrid pre-season, so we're very lucky. Hopefully it will be a good and enjoyable game, and I'm sure that the fans who do travel will have a great time."
Ian Holloway hopes his time as Argyle manager extends beyond the length of his current three-year contract. "We are building a squad here," he said. "I've got a three-year contract and by the end of the three years, judge me then. Hopefully, it will be a lot longer than three years." Holloway's immediate priority has been trying to add new players to a depleted first team squad of only 19. "You can't go into the Championship on a wing and a prayer," he said. "I think we've got a real solid base and I'm going to try and add to that and build from it. I know it's not easy when you ring up about players and find out what money they're on, but that's life, isn't it? We've got to cut our cloth accordingly. But I like the material - it's lovely - and I'm going to be very proud of the suit we're going to make out of it, if that makes sense. Winners aren't born, they're made. You get back up after you've been knocked down. I don't care if we get knocked down. We're here to build for the future and it's going to take a while." Holloway's opening few weeks in office have been eventful, but he knows, despite the spotlight surrounding the friendly with Real Madrid, that three points against Wolves on August 5th is more important. "We've got to be right for Wolves," he said. "Even if we're not right for Wolves, the team will be right. The lads have impressed me so far with their attitude. It's superb in everything they do. They know when to work, when to have a laugh. They're proper people. It's great being back at work really. Once you're a manager, you don't realise what it gives you, but once it's gone it changes your whole personality. It's just great. This is me. I'm meant to be out on the pitch with people who want to listen and want to learn, and this group are fantastic."
Paul Wotton admits it would be 'a proud moment' if he leads out Argyle against Real Madrid next week. He said: "It's just a fantastic opportunity, isn't it? It'll be a great experience. I think it will be against their fringe players, but it will still be great, fingers-crossed, to captain Plymouth Argyle against Real Madrid. It will be a proud moment. We've had a few pre-season tours abroad before and they haven't really worked out. We haven't stayed at the best places, but by all accounts this year I think the facilities are stepped up a level. We're looking forward to it. Hopefully, we'll get some good, hard graft done over there, work on team-shape and work on the gaffer's views and the way he wants us to play. It will be good for us. It gets us away and gets us all together, and obviously playing against some world-class opposition." Wotton insists it's still tough to tell precisely how Holloway's appointment will translate out on the pitch this season. "I don't know if we'll play differently this season," he said. "The gaffer's been busy trying to get players in. I'm sure we'll do more work on how he wants us to play in Austria next week. We'll see. The manager's exactly what I thought he would be - passionate, enthusiastic, likes to work hard and likes to play attractive football as well. He's settled in okay. The lads seem to like him and everything's going alright at the minute. He's been like a breath of fresh air, but that's often the case with a new manager. We need to learn things about each other, but from what we've seen so far the lads are optimistic. It all bodes well for the future. There's always optimism at the start of every season. All the boys seem pretty fit and kept themselves so over the summer. We're training well at the minute and everything's going great. Long may it continue."
Ian Holloway is 'delighted' to have Des Bulpin on his coaching staff this season. "He's been out there coaching, taking training and the lads have already given him a big thumbs-up," said Holloway. "He's as honest and straight as they come. I'm delighted to have Des along helping me. He's someone I worked with for a long time. I gave him a job before, but unfortunately the board thought it was a political situation and he only lasted six weeks, which was ridiculous. He's gone on to bigger and better things. He's been a manager in his own right, assistant manager at Championship level and I'm delighted to have him on board. He'll be in my first-team set-up." Holloway, meanwhile, has been splitting his time between the training ground and his office, chasing new signings. "Most of my focus so far has been in the office phoning up, trying to get some strikers in here," he said. "I've been left in this situation, but I won't panic and get anybody who I don't think is right for us. I'm looking to bring in a little bit of experience. I'm sifting through names, making phone calls and doing a little bit of training here and there - but there's no panic whatsoever. I'm calm and I trust my scouting network that I've taken 10 years to get together. The good thing is the lads know whoever I bring in won't be replacing anybody. Whoever it is will have a fresh start and the lads will want them here and help them."
Lilian Nalis insists Argyle must not lose focus this pre-season because of a lack of numbers at the club. Argyle currently have only 14 senior professionals on their books but Nalis said: "It's not about the size of the squad, it's about going forward into a new season. Some really good teams have come down from the Premiership, so I think it's going to be a tougher season than last year. We just want to be ready. Everybody knows we need some new players. I think the manager is working hard to get some. The sooner we have new players, the better it is going to be for us to work and prepare for the season together. But, at the same time, you can't rush, because then you make mistakes. You have to just let him work - he's only had the job a few weeks - and I'm sure he'll bring in some good players to the club." Nalis, alongside Bojan Djordjic, upset Holloway by failing to report back for the first day of pre-season training. The waters have since been smoothed between the two. "I saw him for 30 minutes the day I came back late and spoke with him," said Nalis. "He seems like a really good man and a really good man for the job. I think he's got the same spirit as the players and is looking forward to the season as well. I've played against Holloway's teams at Leicester and Sheffield United, and from what I've seen of him as a man I'm going to be really happy to work with him. He wants the players to enjoy every day on the training ground and I think it will be the same when we're out on the pitch, which means playing football and enjoying football." The outlook was less upbeat earlier this summer and Nalis added: "I was looking on the internet every day when I heard Tony Pulis had left. I was really concerned. It was his decision and you have to respect it and I'm not here to judge, but everybody thought he was on his way and now we have to keep going. The season is coming and you have to work hard to be prepared for it. I feel good. We've really started working now in pre-season and everybody's working hard and in good shape. Everybody's happy to be back and trying to recreate the same spirit we had last year. And we're looking forward to doing better than last year. I'm just enjoying my time at the club. I'm not concerned by my age - I just want to play football. I'm really looking forward to having a good season with the club."
Argyle are continuing to nurse Nick Chadwick, Paul Connolly and Akos Buzsaky back to full fitness but Chadwick and Connolly are set to play some part at Grays tomorrow. The game will come too soon for Buzsaky though. Ian Holloway said of tomorrow's friendly: "They are a good side. It will be nice to see Dennis Oli who played for me at QPR. He did ever so well for them last season."
Former Plymouth University student Josh Clapham, 21, has been drafted into the Argyle first-team squad which plays Grays Athletic in a friendly this Saturday before jetting out to Austria. Romain Larrieu is suffering from a testicular infection that has not responded sufficiently to a crash-course of antibiotics, and will not travel to Austria, so Clapham has been brought in as cover for Luke McCormick. "I don't think it's sunk in yet," said Clapham. "It's crazy, I know. I'm over the moon. It will be a brilliant experience." Clapham was set to graduate in Politics and Business next week, but will now miss the ceremony. "My parents don't know I'm going to miss graduation," he said. "They've booked time off work to come down, and everything. But I'm sure they are going to be happy." Clapham began his football career with Bristol City, but failed to be offered youth terms when he reached 16. "I was a lot smaller when I was a schoolboy and I did grow quite late," he said. "At about 18 or 19, I started shooting up a bit. I didn't get a YTS and went into education. I did A Levels and my degree, although I carried on playing football. The University of Plymouth Football Club is quite a big deal. I was first-team goalkeeper for the last two years and we had a good side. We did well at BUSA tournaments, and got promoted this year." Clapham's form led former Argyle striker Fred Binney to recommend him to Home Park, where he reported for duty on Monday expecting no more than to take part in a couple of training sessions and maybe turn out for the youth team. So, for now, Clapham has put his career on hold to pursue his dreams of making the grade as a professional footballer. "I'd love to carry on playing football every day and getting better," he said. "I'd love the opportunity to work on my technique with a full-time goalkeeping coach. This is a great opportunity to show everyone what I can do."
Ian Holloway hopes to have two new strikers at Home Park before the weekend. He said: "I hope to make two signings by Friday. They're full-time signings, and they're both centre-forwards." Holloway is also seeking a centre-half, but it won’t be Aziz Ben Askar, who has signed a contract with a club in Qatar. Holloway said: "He has ended up signing for nearly £6,000 or £7,000 a week over in Qatar. At least I know he was a good player. You win some battles and you lose some battles but I will keep fighting on. I'm working with a great bunch of people and it was so nice to see the Green Army here tonight." Paul Connolly did not play in the victory over Tiverton and Holloway said: "Connolly has just got a slight groin and he might be alright for Saturday. We have just got to tickle people through." Also sidelined last night was Romain Larrieu. Holloway added: "Romain has got a nasty infection and he has had to stay in on doctor's orders. They are going to give him a real boost of antibiotics and, hopefully, that will be all it is. We will monitor it and make sure he's alright." Holloway used 21 players in the win against Tiverton and was very satisfied with what he saw. He said: "We have been more or less thrown together and they made it difficult for us but I was really pleased with them. I wanted to do one or two things differently in the second half and the lads took it on board and did well. The lads showed a great attitude, but there's a long way to go." Holloway revealed Chris Zebroski was substituted in the closing stages with badly blistered feet and there was a leg injury to David Norris in stoppage time. Holloway said: "I don't know how Zebroski stayed on with his blisters like that. He might be out for a couple of weeks, so I've just told him off. We won't know how Norris is for a couple of days. He's got a very sore leg. It was a nasty tackle and the game was very good up until then. Never mind."
Argyle won 4-0 at Tiverton Town in their first pre-season friendly tonight. The goals were scored by Luke Summerfield after 45 minutes, Mat Kouo-Doumbe (49), Chris Zebroski (50) and Anthony Mason (77). Argyle: McCormick, Barness, Sawyer, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Summerfield, Capaldi, Zebroski, Reid. Subs - Laird, Kouo-Doumbe, Dickson, Nalis, Djordjic, Mason, Churchill, Kendall, Gosling, Watts. Attendance - 797.
Argyle are planning to field different teams in each half of their opening pre-season friendly against Tiverton this evening. The result of the game does not concern Ian Holloway, who said: "It's just about fitness, really. I'll be using the game as a training exercise. Everybody will be getting 45 minutes at Tiverton. I've got to pick two teams and I'll mix some of the young lads in with the first-team players. Injuries permitting, everybody will be getting 45 minutes if at all possible. The only injury problem we've got is Akos Buzsaky. He won't be playing." Nick Chadwick has been involved in full training this week after recovering from an Achilles tendon problem, and he will play some part at Ladysmead. "We'll have to be careful with Nick," Holloway added. "He might not have 45 minutes, he might only have the last 20 or something. I'll have to talk to my physio about that." Chris Zebroski and Reuben Reid will both start, while there could be second-half substitute roles for apprentice strikers Anthony Mason and Toby Davis unless more senior men are played out of position. Holloway wants Zebroski and Reid to make the most of their opportunity. "It gives them a chance," he said. "I like what they've done so far, but I'm not expecting our whole Championship season to rest on a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old. I'm not that dozy. I am looking to try and bring in a little bit of experience. Most of my time has been spent in the office on the phone trying to get some strikers in here who can help us next season, but I won't panic and I won't get anybody who I don't think is right for us. I'm more than happy to start with what I've got, anyway. It's not a desperate situation." Holloway was hoping to see two trialists at Home Park yesterday morning, but there was no sign of the pair. "I was expecting them to be here, but they weren't," he said. One of them was supposed to have been French central defender Aziz Ben Askar, who played for Holloway's QPR side in 2001-02. The other absent trialist is an un-named foreign player. Ben Askar played last season in Qatar with Al-Shamal. "I had him with me at QPR," Holloway said. " He's an absolute beast of a man and was playing really well for me, but his wife couldn't settle so I tore his contract up. I haven't seen him for the last two or three years, but if he's fit and willing he might be one I sign. I think since this club lost Graham Coughlan they lost their Jack Charlton-type header of the ball. That's what I think I need, because against certain types we might struggle in the air a little bit." Holloway added: "It will be a very good test for us at Tiverton, and I've reminded the lads that they're representing Plymouth. Winning is a good habit to get into, but we're going to have to earn that right. I'm expecting a good attitude, and a good hard game."
Argyle have released details of admission prices for the friendly against Real Madrid. Tickets are available in advance, priced 10 euros for standing and 15 euros for seating, and can be ordered from Ms Pusterhofer at the Kapfenberg Tourism Office - e-mail email@example.com. Tickets have to be collected by 5pm on the day of the match. Alternatively, you can pay on the day, for 15 euros standing and 20 euros for seating. Meanwhile, Argyle's first game of the week - against FC Gratkorn on July 19th - has been switched to Rudersdorf, which is nearer the teams new base at Loipersdorf. Kick-off is 6.30pm
Ian Holloway is considering missing the friendly against Real Madrid next week because he is searching for new players. "I'm seriously contemplating whether I can actually get over there," he said. "If I don't get the strikers I need, I'm going to be on the 'phone, working. I've asked the lads 'What do you want me doing?' They said 'We don't want you out here'. Hopefully, that's not because I'm absolutely rubbish, but because they know. I have to say how proud I am at taking this job then, all of a sudden, playing against the might of Real Madrid, even if it's their reserves or youth team. It doesn't really matter. It'll be a marvellous moment. I'm sure that all their players who were at the World Cup will not be there because they will get a bit of a holiday, so that should weaken them. It's about the best thing that's ever happened, although we don't get any points if we get a draw, or beat them...or win a corner. The good thing is that I won't need any strikers to play against them. I'll have ten at the back and one goalie. I've actually rung the FA and asked if I can play two goalies. All joking apart, I'm very, very proud, but it's all a bit surreal for me at the moment. Surreal Madrid."
Ian Holloway has admitted that Dwight Yorke was a recent Argyle target. Unfortunately, Yorke's wages of £1 Million a year with Sydney FC was too much money for the club to consider matching. Holloway said: "Dwight Yorke is on £1 Million a year. I thought that would be a good idea, and I could see if I could talk him into coming over here but, deary me.” Only Nick Chadwick has any real first-team experience with Chris Zebroski and Reuben Reid having made only a handful of substitute appearances between them, and Holloway has spoken to all three about the situation and the need for new additions. He said: "I've said to the strikers already that I'm really pleasantly surprised with what I've got, but they know that I'm going to bring people to help them, hopefully with a bit of experience. You can't go into the Championship on a whim and a prayer. I think we've got a real solid base and I'm going to add to that, but I know it's not easy with the money people talk about. That's life and we've got to cut our cloth accordingly, but I like the material - it's lovely and I'm very proud of the soup we're going to make out of it - if that makes any sense."
Argyle’s pre-season friendly against Real Madrid is on. The game will take place on Friday, July 21st at the Franz Fekete Stadion, Kapfenberg, Austria, at 6pm local time. The stadium is the home of Austrian second division side Kapfenberger SV, built in 1987 which holds 12,000. The Real fixture means that Argyle's scheduled Saturday friendly against Maccabi Petah Tikva has been cancelled
Gary Sawyer is determined to make his mark at Argyle after two years on loan at Exeter City. He said: "I want to stay at Argyle, especially with the new manager. I want to stay here and do the best I can and try and get involved." Prior to his departure to Stoke City, Tony Pulis had planned to find a League One or League Two club to take Sawyer on loan this season, but Sawyer feels he has earned the right to compete for a first-team place. "If it is the case that the manager wants me to go out on loan, then I'll look at that in the future," he added, "but obviously I'd like to play for Argyle. If it is going to be a loan, then I'd like to play in the Football League. I've given it the two years at Exeter, and now I'd like to try and make a bit of leeway at my own club. It's been a good experience playing for Exeter, so it's a case of fingers crossed now." Sawyer had a taste of the big time two seasons ago when Exeter played Manchester United in the FA Cup, when they managed a famous 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. "That was a great experience, and I've also played against Grimsby and Doncaster," he said. "I haven't just played non-League football, I've played at a higher level and I think I've done well. I really want to stay at Argyle and prove myself." Sawyer was aware that Pulis had watched him play for Exeter last season. "I also came back once a week to train with the lads here," he added, "just to keep my head around it, really. Two years is a long time to be out on loan and it's a long time to be away from a club. A lot of things have changed since I left, and now I'm more than ready to sit here and wait my turn. The players here are first-class, they've been great with me, and the standard of training is brilliant. The more I can train at this sort of standard, then the more my game will improve. I'm still only young, and I know I can't expect to walk into a Championship side, but I'm willing to work hard and do what I can to get in. I'm not on the tall side, but I can play left-back and centre-half." The arrival of Ian Holloway has given the players a real lift. "He's brilliant," Sawyer said. "He's a real character and he's the sort of person Plymouth needs. I think he's the right man for the job."
Bojan Djordjic hopes the arrival of Ian Holloway will signal an upturn in his own fortunes at Argyle. "I was more out than in last year to be honest, but, hopefully, this can be a new start," he said. "I'm going to do my best, like I did last season, even though I didn't get much of a look-in. But last season's behind me now. I'm just looking forward to this season. We'll see what happens." Djordjic failed to report back for the first day of pre-season training last Thursday due to being sick with a virus, but Holloway spoke of his disappointment. Djordjic added: "I was going to come back on the Monday, then I had to push it to the Wednesday, but I couldn't fly Wednesday and I had to fly Thursday sick. It's just nice to be back with the boys and doing some running, even if I do feel a bit sick now! I had a nasty bacterial virus which hit my glands and I couldn't get out of bed for six or seven days. I had strong headaches, was sick and you lose your sense of balance. It took a lot of power and energy out of me. I feel a little bit better now and am getting back towards 100 per cent. I was still on penicillin until Tuesday, but it's just nice to be back in the squad and doing pre-season training. Pre-season is still the base for a good season. My first impressions of Ollie are good. He seems a very honest man, knows what he wants and you can see that he's been in the job before. He knows how to get the best out of players. If we meet him halfway and get a few more players in, we can be a little bit of a dark horse this year."
Ian Holloway reckons Real Madrid will be worried about playing his Argyle team. He said: "I feel sorry for their manager, to be honest. He must have been really worried about us!" Holloway has mixed feelings about his squad having to change their accommodation at short notice, but he is well aware of the positive aspects of the deal - not least the financial benefit. He said: "We heard that they wanted our hotel and we've got to move out of it. I don't like that. Who are they to move us? But, if that means we get another hotel of the same quality for free, then I'm sure that will suit us. We get the trip paid for, and we've sent David Kemp out there to have a look at where we're going and to make sure the facilities are equally as good. If we do play them, it will be an education for our lot, won't it? We'll get amongst them. We'll leave something on one or two of them. They might not like that!"
Ian Holloway has dismissed the speculation linking him with a move for striker Paul Furlong. "It's all gossip and I don't know where it comes from," he said. "I'm not going to go back to Paul Furlong - he's 38-years-old. I might need some experience but I don't want a 38-year-old - that is absolutely ridiculous." Holloway would also love to bring a young striker to the club, but he was keeping his cards very close to his chest when names were mentioned. He said: "I'm not going to say who I'm trying to sign, but I am after some strikers to add to what we've got. I've had some success in the past with developing young players but I won't tell you who I am after. You can all speculate, and when I've got them in the building I'll tell you all about them but until then I'll keep my cards close to my chest. You can all guess, and some suggestions are miles wrong - it is quite amusing to read." When asked if he was expecting anything to happen before the weekend, Holloway added: "I'm expecting Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to come before the weekend. If you're talking about players, then I'm hoping to bring people in but I don't know how long it will take to get the ones I want. I've inherited a situation where I've got three young strikers; an 18-year-old, a 19-year-old and a 22-year-old. I love them to bits and they've shown me some great things but two of them have no games on them, and Nick Chadwick is semi-experienced. I will work to get the people I want, but I won't be jumping in left, right and centre. We need a little bit of experience as well as some sellable assets for the future." Argyle welcome two trialists to training tomorrow, both of whom have paid their own way for a chance to impress Holloway. He said: "We've got two trialists in tomorrow; one is a utility player and the other is an out and out header of the ball. He's a centre-half, and they're both paying their way, which is good and what I want. I want people who want to play for us, who are dying to prove themselves and that could be an older player, provided he is motivated. This place is famous for its attitude and I'm so pleasantly surprised - they know when to work and they know when to have a laugh. All I want is players for the first game against Wolves - I want people who will complement the players we already have and take us forward. I believe that we've needed that for a couple of years."
Argyle will know later today whether they will line-up against Real Madrid during their pre-season visit to Austria next week. The club have been offered the friendly in return for switching their intended hotel base in the Styria region. Argyle had been planning to spend next week at the Schloss Pichlarn hotel in the Austrian town of Irdning, but new Real manager Fabio Capello also wanted to pay a return visit to a resort which Real have previously used. If Argyle agree to switch their base to the nearby spa resort of Loipersdorf, Real will play a game against them at a date and venue to be arranged. All that hinges on a report from David Kemp, who is flying out to Austria on Monday to recce the five-star resort at Loipersdorf. Michael Dunford said: "We're waiting to hear from David Kemp. If David reports back favourably - and we can envisage no reason why he shouldn't - we will be happy to accommodate Real, but the ball is in our court. Loipersdorf is a top quality facility and, as long as it meets our requirements, we will have no problems basing ourselves there. The prospect of a friendly against such illustrious opponents is certainly a mouth-watering one for the players and the 'Green Army'."
Argyle are rumoured to be close to signing striker SylvaIn Ebanks-Blake from Manchester United. Reports also suggest that Bristol City striker Marcus Stewart is a possible target
Ian Holloway today introduced his first addition to the coaching staff at Argyle, Des Bulpin. Bulpin is a FIFA-qualified coach, and he has plenty of experience coaching the likes of QPR, Tottenham and Stockport. "Des has come in to help me after Mark O'Connor left to join Stoke with my blessing," said Holloway. Bulpin has been responsible for developing players such as Marcus Stewart, Daniel Dichio, Doug Freedman, Stephen Carr, Rory Allen and Peter Crouch
Argyle hope David Norris is the next player to commit himself long-term after Luke McCormick agreed a contract extension yesterday. Ian Holloway said: "He's obviously contemplating his future. At the end of the day he's deliberating how long he wants to be with us. Hopefully, he'll make the right decision and we'll have some good news in the next few days. The last thing we want to do is lose good, young players. I didn't want Luke running out of contract. The next one I want to sign is Chuck Norris." Argyle again go into the new season with two top keepers in their squad and Holloway added: "I think we've got two fantastic keepers. We're very, very spoilt. Luke was very unfortunate last year - Romain's a very good keeper and did very well - but he's got every chance to start next season; I haven't made my mind up yet. But if he is not playing I'll be looking to loan him out to get him some experience."
Argyle boss Ian Holloway is believed to be keen on signing Linfield striker Peter Thompson, who scored 48 goals in 58 games last season
Ian Holloway has told the Argyle board which strikers top his hit-list. "I've put some things to the board and we're acting on them," he said. "We're making loads and loads of phone calls. I'm really excited. We need some competition up front. I'm quite happy with what we've got, but we need to find some partnerships and combinations. I can't give you any names - there's a lot of toing and froing - but it's really important to add to the wonderful players we've already got at the club. I know a lot about Nick Chadwick. He's a great boy, really honest and got loads of goals in him. I've been fortunate and managed to find good people in the past. We'll wait and see what happens." Holloway added: "I've just got to find some more players to add to this very honest, hard working bunch. There's no panic, no worry - I've got a good, strong nucleus and got to try and add some quality. I only want quality and if I can't get quality I won't add any. It's difficult to tell how many numbers we need. I don't know yet. The board have said there's money to spend, but that's between me and the board. They've got a lot of plans and I've got a lot of plans as well. They liked how I came across in the interview and, hopefully, we can build a relationship and keep working. There has been a little bit, for the first time with this board, of 'wait on a minute, where are we going?', but Tony has consolidated this club and I think he'll be a tough act to follow." Holloway may be striving hard to import some attacking talent to Home Park - but he is also impressed by the two young strikers who are embarking on their professional careers at Argyle. Chris Zebroski and Reuben Reid have both caught the eye of the manager during the first week of training. He said: " I've got to try and find some more strikers, but I'm very impressed with the two young lads we've got here. It's always good to see two quick, strong lads coming through, so I'll be looking forward to seeing them in pre-season." Holloway is at Home Park for the long haul. "I believe in this club," he added. "I'm not coming here to use it as a stepping-stone. I want to build this place up and I want to stay here a very long time and take it on its next journey, which has to be building towards getting in the play-offs and getting promoted out of this division. Everybody here has been superb and supportive. I can't ask for any more. It's important we bring in the right people, because this lot will smell anyone who doesn't care as much as they do. I like that a lot, that's why I'm here. There are strong characters here who never give up, and I need to add some finishers to that, some goalscorers. What I call flitty-farty people, who still care. Talented players who have to toe the line. Whoever comes in has to recognise the work ethic of the group and, if they don't mirror it, they'll be out." Hard work is something that Argyle's new manager is well used to. "I've only had about seven hours' sleep since I got the job," he admitted. "I've been up and down the motorway, I gave a speech at Harrow College on Monday night that I was committed to, but I've managed to not let anyone down and still carry on. That's the main thing."
Ian Holloway has made his first signing for Argyle, persuading Luke McCormick to extend his stay at Home Park. McCormick has signed a two-year extension to his current deal, meaning he is under contract at Home Park until the summer of 2009. He said: "It's security, as far as I'm concerned. I don't have to worry about my contract now - I can just focus on my football and breaking my way back into the first team. I played one league game last season, which is obviously not what I wanted, but, with this worry off my back now, it lets me completely concentrate on the football. Romain and I have always had a great relationship, and I think that's the way it will always stay, to be honest. We both understand what the situation is here and we both help each other along. That's the way it's been all the time. I'm looking forward to working with Ro for the next few years, continuing to learn. We've got a good respect for each other. I hope that will continue. I think I've been lucky to achieve what I have at my age and that's given me a hunger and a taste for it. I'd love to add to my collection - the sooner the better."
Mark O'Connor has left the Argyle coaching staff. Ian Holloway paid tribute to O'Connor, who is likely to re-join Tony Pulis at Stoke City. "Mark's been a good friend of mine for years," said Holloway. "He's done brilliantly for the club and I'd like to thank him for leaving me in charge of a Championship club. He's been totally professional in everything he's done. I think he's going to Stoke with Tony and I wish him all the best in that."
Akos Buzsaky is set to return to full training in time for Argyle's pre-season tour of Austria, following his groin operation six weeks ago. He insisted that the operation will be very beneficial to his prospects with Argyle this season, and said: "I went back to Hungary at the end of last season and I still wasn't right. I could still feel the groin injury, so I went to see the Hungarian national team doctor. He did a scan, which found scar tissue around the muscle. It needed to be removed. I had the operation in the second week of my holiday, so I had five and a half weeks to recover. I'm happy because I can come back and do proper work. I don't have to rest the injury. I'm not training with the team, but I do hard physical work. I'm not missing many things, and my plan is that in a week or ten days I can join in with all the training. I need to take a little bit of time but, hopefully, in one week to 10 days' time it will be fine. When I'm 100 per cent I can enjoy training with the rest of the lads." Buzsaky added of new manager Ian Holloway: "Ollie seems to be a very good manager. I like him. He talks to players. I met him only a week ago, but I think he impressed everybody at the club. He is very honest with us and he says what he thinks, and that is the kind of manager you need in Plymouth. He has told us we need to work hard and give 100 per cent and then we can step forward. We don't want to be in the Championship forever, we have to have a dream and work hard to go to the Premiership one day." Holloway himself was impressed with Buzsaky last season when he scored from 30 yards in the draw with QPR at Loftus Road. "I was lucky it was against them," Buzsaky said. "Life is like that - you never know what will happen and six months later Ollie is Argyle manager. Maybe he said nice things about me, but I think every player starts from zero now and you have to prove you are worth a place in the team. When I was 100 per cent last season I played every game and was in good form, but then I had this injury and just tried to get back in the team as soon as possible. But I wasn't 100 per cent and that was the reason why I didn't play as much. Hopefully this season I will always be 100 per cent. I want to prove that I am a good player and worth a place in the team." As well as trying his hardest to secure a regular place in the Argyle side, Buzsaky is keen to regain favour with his national team. He missed out on the chance to face England in the friendly at the end of May, and said: "It would have been good to play against England, but I don't look back. It's not important for me, what has happened in the past. For me what is important now is to get fit, to train with the Argyle team and to play games. If I play well for Plymouth, then I will be able to play for the national team." Peter Bozsik, who was took over as coach of Hungary in March, has made contact with Buzsaky during the summer. "He was in touch with me," he said. "He asked me about my fitness and about the work we are doing here. Hopefully I will be invited to be part of his squad, but first I have to get fit and do my job for Plymouth."
Ian Holloway is in the market for a new Mickey Evans to help alleviate Argyle's shortage of strikers. "I don't tell people what my priority is," he said. "But I think it's obvious what we need. You can't lose Mickey Evans and what he did for you without filling that, and we haven't done that." It is believed Holloway could possibly return to QPR to find Evans' replacement - 37-year-old Paul Furlong. Barry Hayles, 34, is another thought to be on his shortlist. "Yes, definitely," said Holloway, when asked if he would sign a striker similar to Evans. "Mickey is going to be sadly missed, on and off the field. He was a great personality. But I don't want just one striker like that. I want someone who can come off and link play. I want someone who can get over the top and in behind people with pace - but I might have two in Reuben Reid and Chris Zebroski who can already do that, but they haven't had a chance yet. Obviously we've lost Mickey Evans and Pericard who did really well. I've got to try and find some other strikers to help us - but I'm very impressed with the two young ones we've got here as well. I haven't seen Nick Chadwick yet - he's got a pot on his foot - but I like the look of the two young ones. It's always good to see two quick, strong lads coming up; I'll be looking forward to seeing them in pre-season. I've got to bring people in who care as much as the current players do, and that's not easy to find. But I'll take my time. The players here are as honest and hard working as I've ever come across - absolutely superb. They've got a mean bit of skill as well, so I've got to add in the right areas and be very selective - not just football-wise, but personality-wise as well. It's important we bring the right people in, because this lot of players will smell anybody who doesn't care as much as them. And I like that. I like that a lot."
Akos Buzsaky is looking to start training with the rest of the squad after a minor operation. Paul Maxwell admitted that he was a little surprised that Buzsaky had an operation away from the club, but was insistent that it was not a big deal or anything to be worried about. "Akos had an operation in the summer, which was a bit of a surprise to us I must admit," he said. "He's done some fitness work with me and, hopefully we'll get him joining in with the others next week." Maxwell is also not overly worried about the fitness of Nick Chadwick, but did stress that the achilles is an area that must be treated with caution. He said: "Chadwick has been doing some running in the summer and he's felt it a bit. I'm normally quite aggressive with injuries but the achilles is an area I like to be a bit more cautious with. I'm having to put the reins on him because Chadders is one of those who wants to be working all the time. He's like a big kid sometimes, and he's got loads of energy but we're hoping to get him right soon." Bojan Djordjic is suffering from a slightly different complaint after being laid low by a bout of tonsillitis. Maxwell added: "Bo has been suffering from tonsillitis, but he joined in full training yesterday. Obviously, he feels a little bit weak but I can't see a big problem."
Tickets for Ian Holloway's Home Park debut as Argyle manager have gone on sale, with the new boss barely able to wait to make his home bow. He said: "I can't wait to experience the backing of the famous Green Army - I know exactly how passionate they can be. It'll be nice to be on the same side at last. Please get out, get behind the lads, and get behind Argyle for this game and let's get the feelgood factor going as we approach a new and important season." Yeovil Town visit Home Park on July 25th and tickets for the game will be £10 for adults and £5 for concessions (under 16s, over 65s, students and the disabled). Meanwhile, Tiverton have announced their admission prices for Argyle's pre-season friendly at Ladysmead on July 12th. Prices for the game are: adults £5, OAPs £3, and children will be admitted free
The Argyle squad has visited the sports science department at Marjons university. The plan is to closely monitor all areas of the players' fitness as they are put through their paces by physio Paul Maxwell. Maxwell said: "The players have been to Marjons and done some work in the sports fitness laboratory. It was all planned last year and they monitor weight, body fat and fitness levels. They do jump tests, speed tests, agility tests as well as aerobic and anaerobic analysis." Maxwell also revealed that the players have responded very positively to the idea. He said: "The lads were great and it makes them feel good about the club, and the work we are putting in to look after their health. Nowadays, the players really want to look after themselves and they are very health conscious. It gives us a great idea of the level they need to be at to be ready for first-team action."
David Norris, is close to agreeing a new contract with Argyle. He said: "I think you'll hear something regarding the contract in the next couple of days, and everything should be tied up." Norris is delighted with the new regime at the club, following the arrival of Ian Holloway. "Coming back, players will have been wondering what was going on and feeling that we were in a bit of turmoil," he said. "The new manager has come in, spoke to us all and put a smile on everyone's face and he's given the place a big lift." Now that Norris appears to have settled his future with the club, pre-season training and building up his fitness is the top priority. He added: "The double sessions is what pre-season is all about. We've just had quite a tough session with lots of running, but we did play some football, which was nice. Pre-season sets you up for the season; it's tough but it's supposed to get you to your peak fitness. You want to get through pre-season without any injuries because it's so hard to catch up if you miss out." Norris and his team-mates know they have a lot of work to do, especially when the new manager is setting some of the best times in fitness trials. Norris said: "It's always a blow when you see the manager getting better times than yourself. He is fit as a fiddle, but we're looking to get there." It's all a long way from the sunny beaches of Mexico, where Norris spent his summer holidays. "I've had a good summer and feel refreshed; looking forward to the new season," said Norris. "I went to Mexico with my girlfriend which was really nice, and I've been back home a few times to see my family."
After speculation linking Paul Maxwell with a move to Stoke city, the Argyle physio has agreed a deal to keep him at Home Park. Maxwell said: "I've signed a pre-contract and hopefully everything will be tied up by the end of the week. Everybody knows I'm Plymouth through and through; my family is here, I've been a player here and I've been club physio for seven years. A lot of fans and players have been asking me about the situation, and it's nice that people are concerned. I like to think I've proved my worth over the last seven years and the board, thankfully, have recognized that and been great to me." Maxwell also revealed that the arrival of Ian Holloway has been an influence on his decision to stay with the club. "The new manager has come in and spoken very wisely," he said. "He is very confident that he can take the club forward, and I'm sure he can. The players have responded to him massively and he's given a lift to the whole club. He's had a lot to do with me staying and I couldn't have asked more from him in the last few days." Maxwell was also keen to express his gratitude to the Argyle board, as well as Tony Pulis. He added: "I've got to thank the board, and I'm grateful for the work Tony Pulis has done; I got on very well with him. Hopefully, I've improved the medical side of the club over the last seven years and the board are very keen to pursue that." Maxwell confirmed that there has been interest from other clubs, and he is clearly a very ambitious man. He said: "There has been some interest, and I'm very eager to take my career as far as I can. I've always said to people that I do want that England job; it may seem a pipe-dream but it is my dream, and I'm a determined man. The Premiership is another dream and, hopefully, that will happen here." Maxwell has been associated with Argyle for a total of ten years and it is believed that there is the possibility of a benefit in honour of his loyalty
Ian Holloway will not suffer fools gladly at Home Park this season. Holloway is open to adding creativity to his squad, but is not prepared to carry it. He said: "I like a talented player, but they've got to toe the line and my skill is making them toe the line. We've got to make sure we're all pulling together. Whoever comes in has to realise the work ethic of the group and if they don't mirror it they'll be out. A lot of really talented lads just rely on their talent and don't work hard enough. This is a very special club. It's got a very, very strong spirit, which was built under Paul Sturrock and is still here now. Tony utilised that and I've got to add to it - but they know I believe in it as well. That's the most important thing. I'm not coming here to use this club as a stepping stone - I want to build this place up. I want to stay here a very long time, and take this club on its next journey, which has got to be building towards getting in the play-offs and getting promoted. Tony Pulis had these lads doing really well, but I'm looking forward to the challenge and hopefully bringing some icing to the cake, because this club has got a wonderful cake mix. I've been an admirer of it for years - the strong characters they've got and the way they never give up. If I can add some finishers to that, some goalscorers who still care, it will be the icing on the cake."
Ian Holloway wants Argyle to emulate Watford and become a side to be reckoned with in the Championship. He said: "You've got to go into every challenge believing you can finish first. I believe Watford did that last season. Boothroyd had some money and he spent it wisely, but every day he made Watford believe - and it worked." Over the years, many Argyle managers have talked about the club's potential, but Holloway is in no rush to join them. "I don't like the word," he said. "Potential means it's in the future. It's very exciting right now. I like the squad, and I like the attitude amongst the players. All we need to move forward is to find someone, as quickly as we can, to score goals and put the ball in the net. I think you've lost a fantastic servant, probably one of your best ever, in Mickey Evans. You don't win two titles in three years and you don't keep doing what they did if you don't have something special. What I'm trying to do is add some players of the right quality. OK, I might not be able to pay as much as some clubs and I might struggle to attract players, but you have to believe in the dream. At this moment in time, I do believe in the dream. I understand the challenge, but you won't hear me talking about potential. We have to produce here and now." Holloway wants his players to share his sense of belief in the teams immediate prospects. Asked what he, as an experienced manager, can deliver to help make that happen, he replied: "You can give them structure. Tony did that magnificently in a very short time. You were hard to beat, and you were winning games on a regular basis. Paul Sturrock had already done that beforehand. Bobby Williamson took over and he carried it on. I know these players are well drilled. What we need as well is a bit of creativity in the right areas to add to that. Those are the players that cost money, and they are hard to find. Everyone is looking for the same thing, and it will be difficult." While Holloway knows that boosting the squad with suitable recruits will not be easy, it is a task he will tackle with relish. He wants the fans to enjoy their football. "I want to unite the area," he said. "I want to give people something to be part of and be proud of. The ground development is just part of that, because you have to get the balance right. All I can say is that I was convinced to come here because the board believe in this club. They have a good plan, they make good business sense and if I can forge a relationship then it's my job as well as their job to make sure we move forward. That's what we're all keen to do. I realise it's going to be hard, but I'm a great believer in people and I know you have some very special people at this club. The desire and spirit here is absolutely fantastic."
Nick Chadwick is confident he will be fit and raring to go come the beginning of the season early next month, despite an Achilles tendon injury. He said: "I am certain this injury won't still be affecting me and that I will be okay for the Wolves game. Of course, there are different niggles a player can pick up, but, as for this injury, I am confident I will be fully fit for the first league game of the season. The injury isn't as serious as it looks - it is just inflamed from running on roads and running machines throughout the summer. The boot came off after just the one day and Maxie put me on some crutches instead to help the injury heal quicker. It all looks dramatic, but, hopefully, over the next few days I can try to push on. Maxie has warned me to be careful and advised me not to rush things, but I hope to be back in full training by the end of this week and fully fit and ready for Wolves." Although he will have missed a week's worth of sessions compared to his team-mates, Chadwick has kept himself fit over the summer break doing a lot of running and feels he is in good shape despite being held back by his injury. "It is a little bit frustrating to miss the start of pre-season," he said. "But, hopefully, once I return to full training I shouldn't be behind the others as I have done a fair bit of work over the summer. I have only missed the first initial days and those sessions have been lightweight. Even though it will get harder, I hope to not miss too many of those sessions as I should be fit enough to take part myself." It is anticipated that Ian Holloway will bid to bring in new players to the club, with the striking department the number one priority. Chadwick would not be afraid of the competition, instead believing it would be a real boost for the club. "I am aware I am the only senior striker at the moment, but that doesn't make me feel under any more pressure when I play," he said. "I have always maintained that we will start the season with at least three or four new players and that should give everyone connected to the club a real lift. Players always expect new faces when a new manager comes to a club and I am sure Olly will look at the squad and decide where we need to strengthen. We have some quality players at the club now, but, if Olly can bring in a few more, we can look to improve next season and push on. I am looking forward to next season and playing an important role for the side. I am definitely hopeful of beating last season's goal tally and I know everyone is looking forward to doing well for themselves and the club. We are all working to ensure the club moves in the right direction and we will fight for each other to ensure that the club continues to improve."
Argyle have confirmed the details of four pre-season reserve friendly matches. They will play at Newton Abbot on July 19th at 7pm, at Saltash on July 26th at 7.30pm, at Plymouth Parkway on July 31st at 7pm and at Buckland Athletic on August 2nd at 7pm
Argyle have signed up six new apprentices to their youth set-up, two youngsters from Ireland joining four local lads, all six of whom have been groomed by the club for some time. Karl Byrne and Shane Duggan have both represented the Republic of Ireland at under-17 level. The four local boys all appeared for Argyle Reserves last season: Toby Davis, Bobby Hopkinson, Shane White and Daniel Gosling. Argyle also have four young trialists at Home Park. Ibrahim Balde from France is visiting his sister who is studying in Plymouth, and he has had trials with French clubs' Nantes, Bordeaux and Auxerre. The other three hail from Ireland. Mitchell Casey has made 10 appearances for the Republic of Ireland Under-16's and comes from Waterford, as does Gavin Roche. Daniel Corcoran from Dublin has made one appearance for the Republic of Ireland Under-16 team
Ian Holloway admits he is unsure whether he will be able to bring Gary Penrice and Tim Breacker to Argyle as his coaching staff. Like Holloway, both Penrice and Breacker have been on 'gardening leave' from QPR since February. "I have got two different problems," said Holloway. "I have got the first two days of pre-season training to make sure the lads get to know me and it is organised with a new set of staff that I don't know. I have met them before, but I don't know how they work, so their situation has got to be sorted as well. I have spoken to Tony Pulis - I don't know what is happening there. Hopefully that confusion will be sorted out one way or the other. I then need to ring my people who have been working for me to get my lists of players that I have had - because I pay people to do jobs and so I need to get all that from them. I haven't even got that yet. Gary Penrice has got my lists of names which I will have to get off him - he has been on holiday. Tim Breacker is also compiling everything that he did for me and I am going to have to bring that with me. Whether they come or not I don't know as they are still employed by QPR. But at the moment I have got some really decent people who have done fantastic for this club, who might go with Tony, might not - I don't know yet. I have had some fantastic people who work hard for me who are sat up there being paid by somebody else, so that is all being worked on."
Ian Holloway is aware Argyle's squad needs strengthening, but he will not make any rash moves. "I have got to get au fait with who is available and who isn't," he said. "I have got all sorts of letters from people that I have got to take a look at, but I have go to try and decide where and what and when, and who is coming. We are going to have a look at some players. We have got some exciting players that sound good, that I haven't seen yet. I have seen one on trial two years ago and I wanted to sign him at QPR. If he is available again he would be quite exciting for me. He is the right sort of age, the right sort of position, the right sort of player I think we need to add to our cake mix. But I will have to wait and see. I can't give any names because I wouldn't anyway and the first time anybody will know about them is when they have signed a contract hopefully. I am going to need to look. I have got to be very selective, but the good thing is I have got the spaces. Tony has left me very neat, very tidy, thank you very much, and I thank him for that." Holloway also explained that, unlike his predecessor, he intends to make his family home in the Plymouth area. "I want them down here," he said. "You cannot work for a club and not live right there, in my book. I don't work that way. I need my family right next to me. It's all about the balance."
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