A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Bobby Williamson, while admitting the league campaign is a priority, said he was looking forward to the Carling Cup tie with Peterborough United, as Argyle hope to progress past the first round of the cup for the first time since 1992. "I'm not sure if it is a good tie for us - time will tell," he said. "We will have to wait and see how they start the season and how we start the season. Our past record in the cup does not worry me - not much worries me in football. As long as we give it our best when the key games come around I will be happy."
Bobby Williamson expects all of his squad to be in reasonable shape when pre-season training starts following the summer break, but he will not be happy if any of his players have over indulged during the off-season. He said: "The players will be doing a double session on Friday. It won't be too heavy as it is the first of the season, but it will be strenuous for them. I expect the players to be coming back in good nick and they will have a problem if they come back in bad condition. I will be very disappointed if anyone does turn up in bad condition, but I don't expect that to happen."
Argyle will receive £60,000 from Sky for the televising of their game with Millwall on October 30th. Michael Dunford said: "It was a bit disappointing we only got the one Sky game last season so, hopefully, we could get a few more on top of this. It is an extra £60,000 for the club which is a minor windfall for Argyle. But it is not just about the money, it is also about the exposure of the football club. I don't even think the new kick-off time will be a massive inconvenience to supporters. People are used to altered kick-off times these days, particularly due to Sky." Bobby Williamson, too, admits he relishes the occasions when the TV cameras come to Home Park. "I don't look at it from the money point of view, though I am sure the chairman and the board of directors do," he said. "It is an opportunity to show the whole country what we are about."
Argyle have signed six apprentices as this year's intake to the youth set-up. Jamie Laird, Paul Kendall, Jamie Debbage, Martin Watts, Daniel Smith, Anthony Mason all signed two year modern apprenticeship terms with the club. Five of the players have been involved with Argyle already, playing for the youth teams and reserves last season, the one exception being goalkeeper Jamie Debbage, who is from Cramlington, just north of Newcastle. Stuart Gibson said: “Jamie came down for a week at the end of last season. He was ill and I think the way we took care of him must have left an impression. He played for the youth team at Rushden and did very well, at 16 he is 6'3" wears size 13 shoes and size 11 gloves, hence he has the right attributes to be a keeper. West Ham wanted him but I bided my time, made a move and I am delighted that he chose Argyle over West Ham.”
Bobby Williamson is prepared to trust the club's youngsters rather than be rushed into signing a new striker. Williamson admitted he would be more comfortable with four strikers in his squad but said he would not be panicked into a signing. "I never say never. I think we've got three quality strikers, but there are plenty of others who have been recommended to us," he said. "There are plenty available, it's just that I need to make up my mind who I think would be best for the job and I'll do that. But there certainly won't be a knee-jerk reaction from me, that's for sure. What you're looking for in a striker is someone who is 6ft plus, has got bags of pace, is strong and is good with his back to the goal and can score a goal. But those strikers are hard to get. If those strikers are about, then they're generally in the Premiership, and if they are in the Premiership then there is no chance of getting them in the Championship. So, yes, there are strikers out there who will score goals in this division. But we've got strikers here, who'll score goals in this division. I would be more comfortable with four, to be honest. We've got three and, touch wood, it won't happen, but if one of them got injured then, obviously, we've still got two. And if two get injured, we may have to change the shape of the team a bit and play with a midfield player just playing off the front. So, there are plenty of options to get round it. And we have also got a couple of youngsters like Jon Hoyles and Chris Zebroski coming through, who may just snatch that carrot that's dangling in front of them. I believe if you keep putting too many obstacles in front of them, then they're never going to get an opportunity. It's there for them, if they prove they are capable, then they'll get a chance. But I'm not going to put pressure on their shoulders, by expecting them to come to the fore this season. But that goes for all the youngsters at the club if they work hard and show the right application they will all get their opportunity, if, for example, a player got injured or was suspended. It's never been a problem for me, if you're 16 or 36, you'll always get a chance. But, as I've said, there are players out there, it's up to me to try and get them. The board have been fantastic in their support, financial as well as vocal in what I'm doing, and if I can identify the talent I'm sure the club will back me."
Argyle have been drawn at home against Peterborough in the first round of the Carling Cup. The tie is to be played during the week commencing 22nd August
Argyle's game at Cardiff City on Boxing Day has been moved to a 1pm kick-off instead of 3pm
Argyle's match against Milwall scheduled for October 29th has been moved to Sunday October 30th and will be shown live on Sky Sports
Lee Hodges will miss the start of the new season because of his persistent back injury. Hodges has been to London to see top specialist Malcolm Read, who decided surgery was not an option and, instead, has recommended that Hodges has a series of injections. Paul Maxwell said: "Lee went to see the specialist in London and he ruled out any surgery. What he wanted Lee to do was to have a series of injections. They tighten up the back where the ligaments have become loose over the years. The trouble is they take a long time. He's going to continue with the injections and then he's going to be doing cycling, swimming and core stability exercises. We will see the specialist again in August and, hopefully, he will get the all clear to slowly start building himself up. Then it will take as long as it takes."
Paul Wotton has revealed talks are still 'on-going' about the staging of his testimonial match, but it will not be either of Argyle's two home pre-season friendlies next month. Wotton said: "I would like to thank everyone for the support I have had for my testimonial dinner and golf day. It has been amazing. I will be having a testimonial match but it's just a case of sorting out the right opposition. It's an on-going process and as soon as I know anything we will let the fans know. They have been great to me over the years and I really do appreciate that. I'm really looking forward to the new season. With the fixtures coming out it's very exciting and everybody is full of optimism."
Matt Villis has left Argyle and signed for Torquay United. Villis spent the whole of last season on loan with The Gulls and only recently signed a new one year contract at Home Park, but has opted for a permanent move to Plainmoor. Argyle will receive 50% of any future transfer fee should Villis be sold. Stuart Gibson stated: "I am very pleased Matt has got the chance to carry on in professional football. Matt came late to us but is another product of Argyle's youth system. Argyle's advance through the league's reduced Matt's chances of first-team football. Matt has done well because he his a good listener and learner, he worked hard at his game. Matt showed great application in his time at Argyle where he played for the Under 18's and captained the reserve team for almost a season, this effort was rewarded when he was taken on loan by Leroy Rosenior at Torquay".
Rufus Brevett cannot wait to begin working with Bobby Williamson. He admitted he had been impressed with what Williamson had to say in talks with him before his move to Home Park. He said: "Bobby is just a breath of fresh air as far as I'm concerned. I have been impressed by everything about him. He talks well and tells you how it is basically. I think he will be someone you can go and talk to, whereas I never really had that at my last club. But I'm looking forward to putting all that behind me, getting here and starting work." Brevett believes it is important that all the players pull in the same direction. He said: "Eleven players don't do anything, it's about a squad and keeping that squad happy. I think Bobby can do that because of the way he is. If we all stick together and head for the same goals I honestly think we will do okay." Brevett missed almost all of the 2003/04 season after badly breaking his ankleand revealed that he thought his injury should have been treated better. He said: "It really should have been a four-month injury and it ended up being a whole season. I didn't see the right people, I didn't have the right treatment and it was frustrating. When you are out for a year it's a big blow, but that's in the past now." While Brevett was sidelined, Alan Pardew took over as West Ham manager. Brevett said: "When a new man comes in and you have been injured for a year it's not easy. I think you are going to need a few games before you start finding your feet but he got someone else in. That's football. He has his ideas and that's how it is."
Stuart Gibson believes Argyle’s pre-season tour to Sweden will be perfect preparation for season. During the trip the team will play IFK Holmsund, one of several clubs Gibson played for during a 12-year stay in Sweden. He said: "Swedish teams are always very well organised and difficult to break down. They will have three good games as a stepping stone towards the two home friendlies when they get back home." When Argyle play Betsele IF in their opening game they will be in Lapland, which has been described as 'the last wilderness in Europe.' Gibson said: "It's very rural in that part of Sweden. There are lots of forests and there is plenty of fishing and plenty of trapping. In the winter there are snow scooter safaris and ice fishing. When our lads are out there it will be warm, but not tropical. It will be ideal for training in. The locals will bend over backwards for them and give them such a warm welcome because they are going to their area. They are very grateful to anybody who puts themselves out to travel to the north of Sweden." Argyle will not play Umea at their home ground - Gammliavallen - because it has an artificial pitch. Gibson said: "Their home ground is called Gammliavallen which has got a fourth generation synthetic pitch, which is FIFA and UEFA approved. Umea IK, who are the women's European champions, also play there. I think there are five or six grounds in the Allsvenskan (Sweden's Premiership) with these type of pitches. Winters in Umea can be quite severe so it gives them the same competitiveness as the teams in the south. But I think, quite rightly, it wouldn't be conducive to our pre-season to be playing on a pitch like that."
Bobby Williamson is determined to see Argyle improve their away form next season. He said: "Our away form last season rankled with everybody. Our fans pay good money to travel away and maybe at times I was a bit cavalier in my approach by playing with three forwards. I did feel that if you are going to pay all that amount of money I would hate to go home with a 1-0 defeat. I would rather have a go and lose by two or three, as long as we are going to be positive. But I have spoken to a few fans who weren't happy with that and would probably rather see us keeping it tight. Paul Sturrock's mentality was never to lose games, keep things tight and if you sneak a goal, great. I don't think that's entertainment, but we are not just here to entertain. We are here to pick up points and win games. If that means getting everybody behind the ball and scraping a 1-0 win away from home, so be it. I'm all for that as well. As long as Plymouth Argyle keep improving and our away form gets better next season then it's a step in the right direction." Argyle are hoping their plans to fly to more away matches next season will see an improvement in their results. Williamson said: "I remember reading an old programme from a few years back and Paul was going on about the away form then and he felt it was becoming psychological and didn't want to speak about it any longer. So it's not something that has just happened since I have been here. It has been going on since one of the club's best managers was here, although it might have been in his earlier period here before he got things up and running. It's a big hindrance when you are travelling away but everybody at the club is doing their best to rectify that situation, with travel arrangements and hotels - the lot. It's all geared up to pushing onwards and upwards."
Argyle will begin next season away to Reading on Saturday August 6th. That will be followed by home games against Watford on August 9th and Derby County on August 13th. The new fixture list can be found in full here. The opening games pleased Bobby Williamson, who said: "Two home games out of the opening three is all you can hope for. A good start to the season is very beneficial and I would like to aim for the same return as we had last year with 10 points out of the first 12 in the opening matches. It set us up well and that is important. The opening games concern me but as we go down through the list it means very little and I would rather not comment on those matches. It all depends on how we are doing and how the opposition are doing when we meet them. We will take each and every game as it comes, it is a cliché but that is the way you have to handle it, concluded the manager."
Rufus Brevett has insisted that even at the age of 35 he still has a lot to offer to Argyle. He said: "I think you have got to have ambition in any walk of life and I have still got ambition. I love playing football and I like to be successful. Hopefully, that's what we can achieve here. The proof is in the pudding. I'm going to have to go out and show what I can do. I have no qualms about that. If people think that, they will just have to wait and see how I perform." Brevett visited Plymouth shortly after the end of last season, when he met Bobby Williamson and Phill Gill. He said: "I'm very impressed with the place and I'm very impressed with the manager. It wasn't what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. The ground is very good, the town is very good. I'm just happy to be here. I could have gone to a couple of other clubs but first impressions last. My first meeting with the gaffer and Phill Gill went a long way to making up my mind. After that meeting I said to myself 'that's the place I want to go'. I want to play football. I have got to work to try to get in the team and once I get in the team, I want to be as successful as I can at Plymouth." Brevett is the second experienced full-back to be recruited by Argyle this summer, following Anthony Barness. Brevett said: "Nowadays in football, you need a squad of good players. Everyone is going to be fighting to get into the team and once you are in there, it's about staying in there. Obviously, I have a bit of experience and whatever I can pass on to the young lads I will do that." Brevett has experience of football at Championship level, having won the old Division One with Fulham in. He said: "It's a difficult league to get out of. There are so many teams that can beat each other. We have just got to work hard and focus on what we want to achieve. There are some big clubs in there and they will be beating each other. Anyone can beat anyone in this league and you saw that last season. With a bit of luck we might be able to do something." Brevett was welcomed to Home Park by Paul Stapleton at a Press conference yesterday. Stapleton said: "Rufus has had a look around. He has been down more than once and he has seen the area. He has met some of the board and the chief executive and, obviously, talked to the manager. He understands our ambitions. He's very keen to get started on pre-season - I say that with a smile because I'm not sure if any footballer wants to get started on pre-season. We are very pleased to have made our fourth signing of the summer. Hopefully, it will not be our last. We know what the league is about now and we know that we need more experience and players of the quality of Rufus. We are very pleased to welcome him to Plymouth Argyle."
Argyle are refusing to comment about their talks with an un-named Hungarian midfielder, who is believed to have been at a hotel in Plymouth on Tuesday night. Bobby Williamson said: "I have talked to quite a lot of midfield players. Once they are sitting at this table then that's concluded. If they are not at the table there is nothing to talk about."
Bobby Williamson has promised to try to spend his transfer budget as carefully as if it was his own money. He said: "The squad is getting bigger. It needed to be improved and we are certainly doing that. It's down to the board for all the hard work they have put in behind the scenes to make sure we have got a budget that's available for me to spend. I will spend it as if it's my own money and I will try my best not to waste it. The players that have joined us are coming with a determination to be successful. Sometimes it doesn't work out. I have seen players go to clubs and it has just not happened for them, for one reason or another. I wish these guys all the best. I hope they can add to us and that the rest of the players rise to the challenge. If there is a player out there who can improve us and is available then I will be knocking on the chairman's door again. It says a lot for the club that we are attracting players from West Ham, Bolton and Rangers. It's great we can attract players of that calibre to the area. Once we get them down here they can have a look about and see the attraction. It's Championship football. They don't want to come here and dwindle their days away. They want to come here and prove something."
Bobby Williamson wants Paul Connolly and Peter Gilbert to rise to the challenge after the summer signings of Anthony Barness and Rufus Brevett, admitting he was hoping for a positive response from them both. He said: "If we don't get that then they are never going to be cut out to play at the top level. Every player has got to have competition for their place or they get complacent. Everybody suffers then. All I have tried to do is bring players to the club who can push these guys on. And if they get left behind they have found their level. They have got ability, it's just whether they can do it consistently enough. I do believe there is a certain age where it drops with players how to get through games on a weekly basis. It's not there yet with these two guys, but they have got everything at their feet and it's up to them to relish the challenge and try to get in the team. I have brought in experienced players, rather than players of the same age as them, who they wouldn't really learn much from. These guys will be able to pass on their knowledge, but Rufus and Anthony are here to get in the team and play well to stay in the team. We have got that competition now in a number of places and that augurs well for Argyle, I feel."
Argyle have signed defender Rufus Brevett, who was recently released by West Ham United, on a one-year contract. Bobby Williamson said: "I enquired about Rufus during the January transfer window and I'm delighted he's here now. He gives us the experience we've been crying out for. He's a good professional, and he'll help our younger players develop. I'm looking for a positive response from Connolly and Gilbert, and if we don't get it then we'll know they'll never be cut out to play at the top level. Every player has to have competition for their place, or they become complacent and everybody suffers. Last season, especially away from home, I felt we lacked mental toughness. We crumbled on a couple of occasions. I feel we've brought players to the club who can rectify that, and will be able to keep possession when we're under the cosh away from home."Brevett will meet his new team-mates for the first time when the squad begin pre-season training next Friday. Williamson added: "He has been about a while now and he has had many a pre-season, and he has got another one to look forward to. It's testimony to Rufus that he is still challenging. He could have sat back and been a pundit on the TV or radio, or for the papers, but he wants to play football. I have spoken to a few of his past managers and he's a competitor. He wants to win and that rubs off on people, especially younger players, who may not have developed that mentality yet."
Argyle have sold more than 7,500 season tickets for next season. The deadline for Green members to renew their seats was on Saturday and the club has been encouraged by the response. Michael Dunford said: "We are just over 7,500 at the moment and with the season not starting until August 6 we are quite pleased with that. It's still early days yet and once the fixtures come out tomorrow that really excites a lot of people."
Argyle have finalised details of the three matches they will play during their pre-season tour of Sweden. They are: Betsele IF on Tuesday July 19th, Umea FC on Thursday July 21st and IFK Holmsund, on Saturday July 23rd
Argyle are thought to be close to completing the signing of defender Rufus Brevett, and are also reported to be in talks with a Hungarian midfielder about a move to Home Park
Michael Dunford has again insisted Argyle are not interested in selling Scott Taylor to Oldham Athletic. His comments came after Ronnie Moore admitted he wanted to take the striker to Boundary Park. Moore was quoted as saying: "Taylor is a goalscorer and he's the type of player who would suit us so, hopefully, something will be agreed this week." Oldham chief executive Alan Hardy stated they had not made contact with Argyle 'at the moment' about Taylor. He said: "Ronnie Moore may give Bobby Williamson a ring to see what the situation is. If we knew the player might be available, I would contact my counterpart Michael Dunford, who I know quite well from his days at Everton." Dunford said: "We have still had no contact from Oldham and nor are we encouraging any contact from Oldham. To read such comments is, to say the least, very disappointing as nobody from Plymouth Argyle has had any conversation with anybody at Oldham Athletic."
Paul Stapleton thinks the arrival of Bojan Djordjic, Anthony Barness and Akos Buzsaky this summer has emphasised Argyle’s growing status within the Championship. He said: "We know what this league is all about now. We know it's going to be tough again this year, but we're in the mix and we're in there fighting. We are where we are, and this is where we belong. When we talk to other chairmen and other directors, the message we get is that Plymouth are in the right league. By signing players like Bojan, Anthony and Akos, we're showing the right intentions. It augurs well for the future. This time last year we had a squad of players who had come up through two divisions. They did very well, but it was always going to be a break-up year. We always knew that. Bobby had to handle that as well as the new league. We're better for it. The manager has gained experience of the Championship, and he's come back to the board and said he'd like to sign these three new players. It's another three blocks in the building process, and there might be two or three more signings to come. It's a natural next step. We want to make sure the team is strong enough to improve on last year's position. Progression is what matters. By the time we replace the grandstand and can bring in non match-day income, we can push for the next level. It's a bit of a dream, but you can see it coming as long as we keep our feet on the ground and do things sensibly. This used to be a backwater club, but no longer. When we went to the Football League AGM, they all knew about Plymouth. We're talked of in the same breath as clubs like Leeds and Wolves. We've arrived."
Bobby Williamson is hoping Anthony Barness will be a good role model for Paul Connolly and Peter Gilbert. He said: "It must have been frustrating for Anthony not to have played as much football as he could have done, but that is a manager's prerogative I'm afraid. He will get that opportunity here. He has got that versatility to play right-back, left-back and even centre-back. I have spoken to a few people about Anthony and his background and the good thing is he will be able to pass his experience onto our younger players. Obviously, he's going to be competing for a place in the team and he will give it his best I'm sure. But his experience could help them progress as players as well and they shouldn't feel threatened, although one or other of them might find themselves out of the team to be replaced by Anthony. That's just the way football goes. It's a case of bringing good pros to your club to help your young lads develop as players and people. Anthony can pass that knowledge on." Williamson was impressed with the enthusiasm and hunger Barness had for the new challenge of playing for Argyle. He said: "It came over loud and clear when I spoke to Anthony that he had that desire to play week in week out. If I thought it was just a case of him coming here to sit back and take it easy for a couple of years we would never have got as far as this. He showed me a desire and attitude that he wants to be playing first team football on a regular basis."
Argyle yesterday denied that Oldham Athletic have made a £100,000 bid for Scott Taylor. Newspaper reports suggested the clubs had agreed a fee but Michael Dunford last night dismissed the story as 'utter rubbish'. He said: "I have no knowledge of that whatsoever. It has never cropped up." Bobby Williamson said: "I'm not going to get caught up in all the speculation and nonsense that goes on during the course of the summer." Williamson is looking forward to working with Taylor, along with Mickey Evans and Nick Chadwick when the players are back in training. "Once Chadwick and Taylor get a good pre-season under them, they can compete with Mickey Evans for the two positions," Williamson said. "There are plenty of players out there who I have been keeping an eye on. I've been talking to a lot of players and agents. If I feel three forwards are not enough, then I will strengthen the squad. I'm ambitious, and the board of directors are ambitious. We want to keep on improving the quality of the squad. That's been ongoing since the day I walked in the door. Last year, when I came in, I didn't want to do anything too radical. I wanted to see how the guys I inherited fared at Championship level. There weren't many wholesale changes. We brought in players to add to the squad, not as first-team players to walk into the team. Stevie Crawford and Keith Lasley were the only two of my summer signings who started the first League game. It will be the same this year. We've got guys in the squad who kept us in this division," the Pilgrims' manager added. "We added to the squad gradually as the season wore on, and now we're adding to it again. That will be ongoing throughout my tenure at the club. I've been delighted to capture players of the calibre of Bojan, Anthony and Akos Buzsaky. Signing players from the Premiership and clubs like Rangers and Porto shows you how far this club has progressed. It says a lot about this club, and I'm very grateful for the backing of the board. We've got a good squad of players now, and everyone will get a fair crack at it. I'm sure they'll all work hard in pre-season and then I'll pick a starting XI. I'll do that, and then it will be up to them to stay in the team for as long as they can do after that." When asked about his target for the season ahead, Williamson said: "To do better than we did last season. That is always the aim. I'm not going to promise anything, but we've got to keep progressing as a club. We're gradually going forward, and that's the right way to go about things."
Anthony Barness has no doubts he will settle into life in the South West after signing for Argyle. He said: "Initially, I thought Plymouth was going to be too far. But when I looked into it I saw there are flights that connect to pretty much wherever you want to go. It was something we had to consider quite a bit. It's pretty much a long way from anywhere. We knew people - family and friends - who had lived in Plymouth or been down for holidays or weekends. We got good recommendations from them so we were quite happy with that. We are looking forward to getting out of the city and enjoying some nice rural life." Barness knows one of his new team-mates because David Norris also used to be at Bolton. Barness said: "I got on quite well with him. He was just unfortunate at the time not to be able to break into the first team. He always looked one of the better younger players. It was just a case the manager was trying to push on with the immediate future. You could see how enthusiastic he was. He was always doing extra in the gym, trying to build himself up. He went out on loan to Boston and did well for them but then he came back and still didn't get a chance. From what I hear, the move to Plymouth seems to have worked out well for him."
Argyle could take some trialists on their pre-season tour to Sweden next month. Paul Stapleton said: "Pre-season training starts on July 1st so you would hope to have any new additions to your squad by that time, other than perhaps some trialists. There is already talk of trialists coming along to Home Park at the start of pre-season, and it has been known in the past we have taken trialists away with us on pre-season tours, so that may happen."
Bojan Djordjic will start his new career with Argyle closer to home than he might have expected, returning to his adopted country of Sweden next month. Djordjic is looking forward to the trip and believes it will be very useful preparation for the new season. He said: "It's always nice to go back, speak some Swedish and meet some new friends. We are going to be in Holmsund, which is a small town. It's a Division Three club we are going to be playing against and Umea are in Division Two. It's good to get away in pre-season. You get nice weather in Sweden in the summer but it's quite cool. It doesn't have the heat of somewhere like Portugal or Spain. Djordjic's father, Branko, was a successful player for Red Star Belgrade and was also a Yugoslavia international. "With Red Star he played in the semi-finals of the European Cup and the final of the UEFA Cup," said Djordjic. "He won league titles with Red Star when they were one of the best European sides. For me to have him behind me is good, but he is not one of those dads who forced me to play football. If I had wanted to do ballet I think he would have said 'no problem' because I was his son, and that's what I always appreciate about him. I never got pushed into things so I had to make my own choices." The only time when Djordjic's father took a decision for him was when he left home in Sweden and moved to Manchester United in 1999. He said: "He said 'they are the only club we are letting you go to because you are going to a football school'. I went there to learn to kick a ball, to pass a ball, the English passion for football, the tackles - everything. English football is all action. It's 100 per cent all the time. You have skills, you have tackles, you have snow falling around and you don't get carried off the pitch if you're not hurting. That's what you need to know because football is about fair play. It has to be played the way English people play it, even though I'm not a typical English player." Djordjic followed in his father's footsteps by playing for Red Star during a season-long loan 2003/04. "It was emotional," he admitted. "I went on loan, not because I didn't want to stay at United, but because I wanted to play more than three or four games a season. I went on loan to play 30-35 games - however many games I played for Red Star. I played in the UEFA Cup and I won the league and cup with Red Star, so that helped me a lot. When we played derbies against Partizan Belgrade there were 75,000 people there and it was quite hostile." Djordjic also played league games against OFK Belgrade, who visit Home Park for a friendly next month. Djordjic said: "They finished fourth in the table last season and third when I was at Red Star. We have some unfinished business, I think, between me and them because when you play for Red Star everybody wants to beat you. They are hungry for success because the country is quite poor if you look at the average salary they get compared to the other countries in Europe so they want to get out. It's going to be a good game. They are a good footballing side as well. I don't know whether the gaffer is going to play me in that game but, hopefully, he will. It would be nice because I was born in Belgrade, but it would be even more special for me to play against Red Star."
Bobby Williamson will not rush into signing a new striker despite the departure of Steven Milne. Williamson said: "There are plenty of players out there who I have been keeping an eye on and if I feel three forwards are not enough I will strengthen it."
Bojan Djordjic sees his move to Argyle as a fresh start to his career and is determined to make the most of it. He said: "The past is in the past. People only remember what you did last week. That's how football is. The only thing I'm trying to do now is to start off well with Plymouth and give myself a chance to become the player that I think I can be." Djordjic admitted Argyle were one of a number of clubs, both in England and across Europe, who were interested in signing him. He said: "There was one Premiership side but, for me, the step wasn't going to the Premiership again, even if I would get more money. I'm not going to lie about it. Most players think about money, more than thinking about playing football. The thing is, I didn't want to think in two years' time 'maybe I should have chosen Plymouth.' So I have given myself a chance to stand on my feet again and become a player. I don't want to be 35 and think 'I used to be talented and wasted everything I had.' I know quite a lot about the Championship. I played in the old Division One when I was 18. The Championship next season is probably going to be one of the toughest leagues around. You have Norwich, Southampton and Crystal Palace coming down, as well as big clubs like Leeds, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester and Wolverhampton. They all have ambitions to be at the top. We are there, and we are going to be fighting as well. I think it will be a good season for us." Djordjic travelled to Home Park last month for talks with Bobby Williamson and agreement was soon reached. He said: "I wouldn't have come down here for talks if I didn't think I was going to join Plymouth, to be honest. If it didn't attract me, or I didn't think it was good enough I would have just said 'no.' I wouldn't have misled anybody. I spoke to Bobby and I appreciate the fact that the gaffer rang me himself. It's always good to talk to the man who picks the team. It means a lot to me, when somebody has faith in you. The only thing I can do is repay him for this. It's easy to speak about how many games you are going to play, but it's hard to say. It's your form that decides that." Djordjic made his debut for Rangers in a Scottish Cup defeat away to Celtic. He said: "I was just thrown in at the deep end at Celtic Park. I handled that well and showed to myself I have the character to play in those sort of games. I want to play in front of big crowds. Playing for Manchester United reserves at Altrincham in front of 20 people and a dog is no good. It's good when you are 16, 17 or 18, but when you come to a certain stage in your career you need to get away from that."
Anthony Barness is relishing the prospect of regular first team football with Argyle after two 'wasted' years at Bolton Wanderers. He said: "I have had two years that I feel, to a certain degree, have been wasted. I have been working as hard as I can but with the size of the squad and the club progressing as it was I still wasn't getting in. That was what was frustrating me. I knew I was doing the job that was asked of me and still not getting a regular run-out. I have certainly got the desire to keep going and keep pushing but I'm under no illusion that I'm just going to walk into the team. I know I have got to have a good pre-season to even get in for the first game. The next thing I have got to do is make sure I'm fit and play well enough in pre-season to warrant a position on day one. I don't expect favours just because I'm coming down from the Premiership. I have got the hunger to want to play week in week out and I'm determined to make this a successful move for me. To be honest, right or left-back suits me down to the ground. I have probably played each position fairly equally." Barness finalised his move to Argyle after talks with Bobby Williamson on Monday. He said: "I think I'm coming to a club that seems very solid and has the ambition to progress from what has happened over the last four or five seasons." Barness does not believe his age was a factor in his release from Bolton. He said: "The manager felt they were moving on and he was obviously proved right by the fact they got into Europe. There were plenty of players there older than me. I don't think age comes into it. If you are fit enough then you can carry on playing as many games and for as many seasons as you feel good. I don't feel my age is going to hold me back." Barness admitted he was impressed by the set-up at Home Park. He said: "I knew before I came down for talks that the crowds were good last season. It's a very well supported club. I was pleased with everything I saw too. I had to go away on holiday or else I could have probably wrapped this up earlier." Barness has won promotion to the Premiership three times, so he knows what to expect next season. "I think it will be a really strong league," he said. "It has had to improve to try to keep up with the Premiership. With the more quality coming into the Premiership, the more quality is filtering down into the Championship. I do think that season by season it's getting a stronger and tougher league to compete in."
Bobby Williamson was all smiles yesterday, as Bojan Djordjic and Anthony Barness completed their transfers, a pair of players he had been chasing since January. Williamson said: "Anthony is a player I have been well aware of for a few years now. I have watched his career and what I could offer Anthony was a chance to play in a team on a regular basis. At Bolton I don't think he got that opportunity for one reason or another. We started speaking to his agent in January. I was hoping to bring Anthony to the club until the end of the season with a view to taking it further. But his manager wanted to keep him at Bolton and, rightly so, because I think just after we made our initial inquiry one of their players picked up a bad injury and Anthony was used again. So it wasn't as if he wasted four or five months of his career and never got a game. He was used by Bolton Wanderers and you have to respect that. I'm just delighted to have attracted a player of his calibre to this club. It shows you how far the club has come that we keep getting guys coming out of the Premiership. I'm sure there are other clubs who would have been desperate to get Anthony on their books but, thankfully, he decided to join us." Williamson also tried to sign Djordjic in January, when he was still at Manchester United. Williamson said: "I tried to get him to join us around about January. I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson and he felt it would be wrong of him to let him go out on loan because his contract was up in the summer. So I was disappointed to discover he had moved on to Rangers, but they agreed a fee so that if it worked out well they would compensate Manchester United. I spoke to Alex McLeish about Bojan and he told me the reasons why there wasn't a contract in place for him from Rangers at the end of the season. I spoke to Bojan, who was delighted to join us. It didn't take me too long to convince him this was the next step in fulfilling his potential."
Steven Milne has left Argyle, joining St Johnstone on a free transfer. Milne said: "It is great to be back up the road. At Plymouth, I had trouble with an injury and it did not really work out the way I would have wanted. St Johnstone are a Premier League club trapped in the wrong league, but I am confident that can change. I certainly believe I will be happy here and can score goals for St Johnstone." Bobby Williamson spoke of his disappointment after allowing Milne to leave. He said: "St Johnstone approached us and spoke to Steven, and they can offer him a longer-term contract than we were prepared to. I didn't want to stand in the lad's way so he will be going back to Scotland to further his career. I think he's been a victim of circumstances, to be honest. He came here with high hopes of establishing himself in the team, but, unfortunately for him, for one reason or another, it never materialised for him. I am very disappointed for him. Circumstances were against him every step of the way. I signed Steven and then Stevie Crawford became available. I brought Stevie Crawford into the side at the start of the season, and Steven had a bit-part on the bench. Then, when we were short of strikers - Stevie Crawford had gone back to Scotland; Nathan Lowndes, Blair Sturrock and Ian Stonebridge had moved on - Steven was injured, and we had to go out and strengthen that area of the team. He then found it difficult to get back in and it was only in the latter part of the season that he did overcome his injuries. It's disappointing for everybody, and none more so than Steven. He goes with our best wishes. He's a lovely lad, and was never a problem. I can understand if he was frustrated but most players are frustrated at some stage and I just hope he goes on to bigger and better things."
Paul Stapleton cannot wait for the start of the new season after the double signing of Anthony Barness and Bojan Djordjic. Stapleton believes their arrivals, along with the earlier capture of Akos Buzsaky, shows the ambition of the club. He said: "Bojan has got a very good pedigree but, also, he has got the right attitude to form part of our team for our second season in the Championship, which we are looking forward to with relish. We welcome him to Plymouth and wish him all the best. He has signed a three-year deal and we are hoping it's going to be longer because that will mean he has been successful and we have been successful. We have tried to show Bojan that we are ambitious. We have had a taster of this league and we finished 17th, which was very commendable. We always said that if we finished fourth bottom that would have been a good season, and we finished higher than that. We know what the league is about now and we know it's going to be tough this season, but we also know we are in the mix and we are fighting with these other teams. We have a young man here who has played for Manchester United and Rangers and is a Swedish under-21 international. It augurs well, we think, for the future and we are very pleased that we managed to get Bojan to sign for us because he was being chased by quite a number of clubs." Stapleton also believes Barness will also be a valuable addition to the squad. He said: "What has impressed the board and the manager about Anthony is the experience he has of playing at the highest level. We need players at this football club who have tasted the Premiership and the Championship, and we have found one. We have found somebody who will fit in very well in the dressing room. He's the right-type of person to join this family football club, with ambitions to progress. It's another block in the building process."
Alex Ferguson has tipped Bojan Djordjic, who completed his move to Argyle today, to be a hit next season. Bobby Williamson talked to Ferguson about the midfielder, who joined Manchester United in 1999. Williamson said: "He has got the potential to be a top player. We are giving him a stage and it's up to him to fight it out with the rest of the midfield players to stake a claim for the start of the season. I spoke to Fergie and Alex McLeish and they both rate him. They feel he has got the potential to do very well at this level, and climb higher. All we are trying to do is give the lad an opportunity to progress his career and, hopefully, we will get the benefit of that." Djordjic is short of first team experience in British football but had two season-long loans with European clubs during his time in Manchester, Aarhus of Denmark in 2002/03 and Red Star Belgrade the following year. Williamson said: "Bojan played the whole season at Red Star when they won the double so he was involved in that. He has got a desire and a hunger. He's a very intelligent lad and I'm hoping he gets the breaks you need to progress his career." Williamson was not surprised Djordjic found it so difficult to make any impact with Manchester United. He said: "Manchester United and teams of that ilk are seen to be spending millions every season. When you are doing that, you can't leave a player who you have signed for £3-4million in the stands to play a kid. That's just the nature of it, I'm afraid. If these managers are seen to be putting in youngsters instead of their £3-4m players then they get castigated for it, so it's difficult for them to progress. That's why he has had to move away from Manchester United, so he can progress. 'm looking forward to seeing him perform and, hopefully, he will become a fans' favourite very quickly." Djordjic can play as a out-and-out left winger or in a central midfield role and that versatility appealed to Williamson, who said: "I'm certainly looking for players who have got that bit of versatility about them because I don't want to have a massive squad. You are always going to get players who are disgruntled when they are left out of the team and are sitting in the stand. So the less disgruntled players you have got about the place the better. I would rather go for the quality than the quantity and supplement that with talented youngsters. I'm hoping young Ryan Dickson and Luke Summerfield will pick up the mantle and push on again next season, and also for one or two others to push harder and try to stake a claim."
Argyle today signed Anthony Barness on a free transfer after he was released by Bolton Wanderers and Bobby Williamson is looking forward to the full back adding his Premiership experience to the defence next season. Barness is another player who fulfills the Williamson criteria of versatility, being able to play anywhere across the back four, although his favoured position is right-back. "I have not decided whether or not to go with three or four full-backs this season," said Williamson. "Anthony is a right-back who can also play on the left - for some reason, there aren't many left-backs who can play on the right - and will give us that cover. He's just on 32 and comes with a good knowledge of the game. He's played at this level, and he's played in the Premiership for the majority of his career - that's where he's used to playing. He'll add to us and his experience will play a big part throughout the season."
Argyle are taking over the organisation of supporters' coach travel to away games from the start of next season and Michael Dunford has promised there will be transport to every fixture, whenever and wherever it is played. The Plymouth Argyle Supporters' Club had been responsible for arranging coach travel over recent seasons. Dunford said: "If people are coming down to buy match tickets it's sensible they have the opportunity, at that point, to buy travel tickets. There will be no price increases for Travel Club members next season. They will see very little change. We will always guarantee to make sure there is transport available to every game, which hasn't always been the case. We want as many of our supporters at away games as possible."
Bobby Williamson has admitted it is decision time for the players he has targeted as potential signings. Williamson is set to add another three new players to his squad before the start of the season. He said: "I think most managers and players are all back from their breaks. Players will be getting anxious, wanting to get themselves sorted out and settled down with clubs. I have been speaking to players and agents for long enough now. I'm just waiting for a few decisions to be made. If I'm looking for a particular position I will speak to three or four players I'm comfortable with, and then it's up to whoever comes back to me. I don't speak to players I don't want to sign, that's for sure. Something might happen in the next hour and something might happen in the next week. It just needs somebody to lift the phone and jump on a plane and get themselves down here, or drive down, to get business done." Paul Stapleton said yesterday the club were hopeful of signing an un-named defender this week and there has been speculation it could be Anthony Barness, who was released by Bolton Wanderers at the end of last season. It is an uncertain time for all managers, not knowing whether their targets will sign up, but Williamson is taking a laid-back approach. He said: "I don't get frustrated. Sometimes you are disappointed when a player goes elsewhere, or there is a player you think could add to you and it doesn't materialise for one reason or another. But things can change very quickly, and players can become available at the drop of a hat."
Argyle are set to make their third signing of the summer later this week, a defender on a free transfer, according to Paul Stapleton. Stapleton would not confirm the identity of the player, but it is not Jason Dodd or Marc Edworthy. "I'm hopeful there might be another signing, in addition to Djordjic, but I will know a lot more in a couple of days," he said. "We made an offer to someone two weeks ago before they went away on holiday." Stapleton attended the Football League's AGM last week and there he spoke to Rupert Lowe and inquired about the availability of Dexter Blackstock. Lowe made it clear Blackstock was part of Harry Redknapp's first team plans following their relegation. Stapleton said: "I did have a chat with Rupert and I thought 'nothing ventured nothing gained' but he said Harry would not be letting any youngsters go." The League announced during the AGM they had agreed a new three-year, £110 million television contract with Sky Sports and ITV. Under the existing TV deal, Argyle will receive around £674,000 next season and that will increase to £1,040,000 should Argyle be competing in the Championship in the 2006/07 campaign. Stapleton said: "Anything which is up on before is good, but when it is up 40 per cent it is even better. When you are looking at forward-planning, it's very helpful for me to know what the TV money is from the start of 2006/07."
It seems unlikely midfielder Jeff Whitley will be signing for Argyle. Whitley was released by Sunderland at the end of last season and Argyle approached him, but he is thought to be reluctant to move so far south
Michael Dunford believes Argyle can increase their number of season-ticket holders for next season. He said: "We are on target for retaining the existing level of season-ticket support that we enjoyed in 2004/05. I think, maybe, a number of people are waiting to see how the club progresses on the pitch. There will be new faces coming in prior to the start of the season to strengthen the squad, but they can't just be brought in to meet season-ticket deadlines. It's about availability and most of the transfer activity at clubs normally takes place during July, once the players have reported back and squads have reassembled. But I will be very surprised if there are not at least three or four more new faces in the squad by the start of next season." Dunford defended the decision to introduce a £5 fee for supporters who pay for their adult Green memberships by credit card. He said: "We, as a club, are charged, as most people are, a commission when we actually take credit card payments. All we are doing is levying a cost on the supporter of approximately 50 per cent of what we are charged. Whenever there is any price increases or change in policy you will get a number of supporters who will grumble. I accept that. But I do think genuinely the board have tried to be very level-headed and understand the commercial reality and the economic environment in Plymouth that we are working in. We are not working in London or one of the great, big commercial centres in England. I would imagine the average take home pay of our supporters would be appreciably less than supporters in other areas of the country. We have to be mindful of that and I think our pricing does reflect that. But if we are to progress as a club - and we are competing against teams who will be enjoying attendances of over 20,000 - the commercial reality does sometimes hurt. If you take the original divisions one, two, three and four, this club has always been in two or three, apart from five years I think I'm right in saying. At some point in the future we want to break into the Premiership. That has to be everybody's aspiration, whether you work for the club, as a director or a supporter. Unfortunately, in today's economic environment, somebody somewhere has to pick up the bill. But it has to be done in building blocks and over the last five years I think the board have done remarkably well to take the club from where it was to where it is today."
Argyle today confirmed that they will play Belgian Champions League qualifiers FC Bruges on July 26th, and then face Serbia & Montenegro UEFA Cup qualifiers OFK Belgrade on July 30th. The match with Bruges will kick off at 7.30pm, with the game against OFK starting at 3pm
Argyle are close to revealing whether work on phase two of the redevelopment of Home Park will start next summer as planned. Michael Dunford admitted an official announcement was 'imminent' and would be made by the start of the new season in August. Dunford said: "The board see phase two very much as being an income generator to help support team building over a period of time. And it's another sign that Plymouth Argyle, and the city of Plymouth, are going forward by working together. I would imagine there will be some sort of formal announcement before the start of next season. There has to be. There is a plan in place for phase two to start next summer, but no contracts have been signed yet and there is still a lot of detail to be finalised. This is quite a huge commitment for the club so we have to cross all the t's and dot the i's. It will probably take 12 months to complete a project of this magnitude. During the initial period of reconstruction it would bring the ground capacity down to around 13,000. We hope, maybe, during that season a section of seating might be released in advance of the opening of the stand generally to bring the capacity up, but that detail is not finalised yet." Barr Construction built phase one and could return to Home Park to complete the project. Dunford said: "We are in a tendering situation at the moment but, obviously, Barr are in a prime position given they did an excellent job for us in the phase one development."
Michael Dunford has again insisted that Argyle do not want to sell Graham Coughlan - to anyone. He said: "We are still in discussion with Graham. You can't force players to sign new agreements. There is a wish within the club to see Graham stay as a Plymouth Argyle player but it takes two sides to reach an agreement. Graham said things publicly and that's for him and the manager to discuss. Those things should remain in private, I think, rather than using the Press as a sounding board. We hope that Graham stays, but if he doesn't wish to players now enjoy freedom of contract. Graham will be 31 when his contract expires and he will be free to make a choice. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that." Dunford added that Argyle were 'looking to improve the squad all the time' as they prepare for a second season in the Championship. He said: "Our supporters will know there have been a number of changes in the playing squad over the last two years and that will continue. They have seen the gradual break-up of the two championship-winning teams we have had here, but that's natural. Players get older, players come and go and new players will come in. Provided supporters see an improvement in the general performances of the club they will be happy." Argyle have been linked with several potential new signings, including Jason Dodd, Marc Edworthy and Jeff Whitley. Dunford said: "I would think by the start of the season you will see three or four new players in the club. Bobby knows the areas of the team he wants to strengthen and the board are supporting the manager in that quest. There is an incredible amount of work going on behind the scenes to do that, but things just don't happen at a drop of the hat."
Bojan Djordjic has agreed a three-year contract and will complete his transfer next Wednesday, when he will have a routine medical. Michael Dunford revealed Djordjic has already made one fact-finding visit to Plymouth. "As far as Bojan is concerned, I have to say that deal was relatively simple," he said. "He was out-of-contract with Rangers this summer and we contacted him. He was very keen to come down to see Plymouth. Once we get players and their families down to Plymouth and see what a beautiful place it is, then that's half the battle. But, initially, when there is an interest from Plymouth Argyle they think it's the other end of the earth."
Gary Sawyer is to spend a second successive season on loan to Exeter City. Sawyer has returned to Exeter after signing a new 12-month contract with Argyle. He said: "I have come through the youth scheme so it's not something I want to chuck away. I have got to try to play as high as I can. Every player wants to progress in the game. But, at the moment, I'm more than happy at Exeter."
Argyle reserves will play in an unchanged Wales and West Division in the Pontin's Holidays Combination next season
Michael Dunford has denied that Argyle broke the club transfer record when they signed Akos Buzsaky. Argyle refused to disclose how much they had paid but sources in Portugal claimed the transfer fee was 500,000 euros - about £350,000. Dunford said: "The Akos deal was dealt with very professionally. We had a good relationship with Porto. We had a pre-contract agreement with them, where we had the first option to buy Akos. Once that was activated, it probably took from start to finish maybe about a month - but that's not uncommon these days. We have an agreement with Porto that the fee will not be confirmed publicly, but it was a substantial one by Plymouth Argyle standards, yet fell below the club transfer record. You can draw your own conclusions from there. If you actually look at the regulations, Football League transfer fees are supposed to remain private. But those days have obviously gone because some clubs are PLCs and you have to quote the transfer fees involved."
Argyle have confirmed details of two of the friendlies they will play on their pre-season tour to Sweden. The squad will be staying in Holmsund, in the north-east of Sweden, from July 17th –24th. The first tour match will be on July 19th, with the opposition still to be finalised. The second game will be against Umea FC on July 21st and the third against IFK Holmsund on July 23rd. Michael Dunford said: "We are staying in a hotel with a sporting environment, with training pitches close by. From what I have been told, Umea and Holmsund are good quality Conference teams or League Two standard. We are waiting for confirmation of the other game we will play out there within the next week." Dunford also revealed Argyle's planned pre-season friendly against Celta Vigo has been cancelled. The club are now in talks about playing a club from eastern Europe who have qualified for the UEFA Cup next season. The first of Argyle's home pre-season friendlies will be against FC Bruges July 26th. Dunford said: "We had hoped to reach an agreement to play Celta Vigo but they had a dispute with a TV company. I don't quite understand the reasons why they rejected it. It was something to do with Spanish TV rights. That was their problem not ours. Bobby is delighted to play a team of the quality of FC Bruges in pre-season. With the other team we are hoping to play, it gives the Plymouth public a chance to see some top class European opposition for a change."
Michael Dunford today denied that Sheffield Wednesday had made a £50,000 bid for Graham Coughlan
Bojan Djordjic wants his move to Argyle to turn him into a first-team regular for the first time in his career. "The most important thing is that I get to play 30 to 40 matches a season," he said. "Plymouth have ambitions to fight at the top of the Championship standings. The manager is a Scot and he believes in me." The deal is due to be completed when Djordjic arrives in Plymouth in the middle of next week. "It is correct that we have discussed a contract but no papers are signed," he added. "I haven't had a medical yet."
Lee Hodges is to see a specialist in London next week for further consultation over his long-term back injury. The specialist has been highly recommended to Paul Maxwell, who said: "We have been in the gym at The Devonshire nearly every day. He has been doing work to strengthen the area around his pelvis. Lee has been doing really well, although he still gets some twinges every now and then. The specialist he will be seeing has been recommended to me by a friend of mine, Gerry Docherty, who is the physio at Millwall. We are going to get an idea on where we go next and whatever he says I think we will go along with. It's either a case of cracking on as we have been doing or taking an alternative view. Lee is going to have to look after his back for the rest of his career, as a lot of players do. But I can see no reason why he can't continue playing for quite a while yet." Bobby Williamson is hoping Hodges will be fit for pre-season. He said: "He has been working away with Maxie and that will be ongoing throughout the summer. Hopefully, when pre-season comes around he will be fighting fit and up for the challenge of trying to contest for a place in the team."
Tony Capaldi has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad for their friendly against Germany tomorrow because of an abdominal problem
Sheffield Wednesday have been linked with Graham Coughlan. Coughlan has a year to run on his contract at Home Park but has been involved in talks with Argyle about an extension to his deal. Bobby Williamson insisted there had not been an inquiry from Paul Sturrock about Coughlan, but he did not rule out the prospect of the defender moving on. Williamson said: "Graham Coughlan has still got another year left on his contract. If anybody comes in and makes us an offer and the player wants to go then we have got to take that into consideration. As of now, we have not heard anything from Sheffield Wednesday regarding Graham, or any of our players. The speculation will mount I'm sure, but until we receive an offer for any of our players there is nothing to talk about." Williamson was unhappy Coughlan had spoken out about his contract talks. "I think Graham was wrong, but I'm not conducting my business publicly," he said. "These things will go on behind the scenes until they are concluded one way or another. I'm not prepared to talk about any player's situation."
Paul Stapleton insists the club must 'maintain last season's great level of support' if they are to continue to progress next term. He said: "As we're looking to push on again at Argyle, it's vital that the fans continue to give us the same kind of backing as last season. We need to make the improvements both on and off the pitch next season, if we are to stay in what will be a very competitive league, to say the least. When you look at the quality of the sides coming down and those coming up, it's obvious that it will be a tough league next season. But there will be some great matches to watch as well. Not only is our old manager coming here, but also big clubs like Hull City and, of course, our old friends Luton Town. And we've got Crystal Palace, Norwich City and, of course, Southampton to look forward to next season. Southampton and their chairman, Rupert Lowe, by the way, I have a lot of time for - they've always been considerate towards us. They let us have Dexter Blackstock and Jason Dodd last season, when we needed some help. It'll be interesting to see how we get on against not only them, but the other new teams in the league. It's essential for our ambitions at the club to maintain last season's great level of support. We've still got much to do, but I feel that Bobby Williamson and the players have shown that we've got the basis of a very good side already. Season ticket sales are going well, but we need our overall average to be up with last season - which was very good. We've already invested in the future with the signings of Akos Buzsaky, Nick Chadwick and Scott Taylor. In fact, we spent more on those players than Derby County did, for example, last season. And look how far they went last year - making the play-offs after being nearly relegated the year before. So, we have to say 'look at where we are now compared to four years ago' and we don't want to go back to those times, do we?" Stapleton confirmed that Argyle still plan to have a pre-season tour of Sweden, although opponents and dates have yet to be confirmed. "It's definitely between July 17 and July 24, but where we'll be going in Sweden, I'm not really sure of yet," he said. "Although fans will probably make their own way there once they know more, this year's pre-season won't be like our previous tours of Austria where it was organised for the supporters to come as well. We had considered going back to Austria again, but there was a problem with the calibre of pitches last year. And we looked at going to Spain, but it was thought that it would be too hot there for the players' good, at that time of year."
Argyle are reportedly interested in Icelandic international midfielder Olafur-Ingi Skulason, who has just been released by Arsenal, and have also been linked with striker Bruce Dyer, who has not been offered a new contract by Watford
The future of Jason Dodd remains unclear with Argyle, Brighton and Hove Albion and Cardiff City all being linked with him. When asked about Dodd, Bobby Williamson said: "I'm not going to comment on individuals. I think that's the wrong way to do business. I can assure the fans there are a lot of quality players out there who I have been speaking to, but I'm not going to name names." However, Williamson has denied expressing any interest in Swansea City defender Izzy Iriekpen. Williamson said: "I didn't speak to the player, his agent or his club. This kind of speculation is not good for Plymouth Argyle but there is not much I can do about it."
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