A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Paul Stapleton has confirmed that the Argyle board are willing to consider turning to outside investment to help the club challenge in the Championship. He said: "At the end of the day, we have to look at what is best for this football club. If we look around and there are opportunities that will push this club on, we've got to take them. We are not a closed shop. We won't rule anybody out. Obviously, they will have to fit in with us, but we will take it as it comes. We know that at some stage - maybe in January, if we are in this position then - you have to take a decision about having a go. Whether that is from within or without, we'll have to look at it." Stapleton denied that the board had been holding any discussions with Dan McCauley and also rebuffed a rumour doing the rounds at present that another Westcountry-based multi-millionaire - Truro City chairman Kevin Heaney - could be on the brink of becoming involved at Home Park. "I know Kevin Heaney," Stapleton said, "but we've had no contact with him. He hasn't made any approaches to Plymouth Argyle, as far as I'm aware. He's very happy at Truro, and it is just a rumour. There's no truth in it." Stapleton was keen to stress that the club have not been unwilling to spend big amounts of money within the past year. "For Plymouth Argyle to spend £1.3 million in the last 12 months is fantastic," he added. "We paid money to get Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, we paid money for Rory Fallon, we will have to pay money for Jermaine Easter in the New Year. We broke our transfer record to sign Peter Halmosi. Marcel Seip was a free transfer, but we had to pay agents' fees. Krisztian Timar was £75,000. What price those two now? You look at it and you have to say: 'It's not bad, is it'?"
Lee Martin and David Norris will face fitness tests before Argyle play Scunthorpe United tomorrow. Norris suffered a knee injury during the second half of the defeat by West Brom on Wednesday. Paul Sturrock said: "David over-extended his knee the other night. We are going to give him and Lee Martin every opportunity for tomorrow." Norris was signed for Argyle by Sturrock for £25,000 from Bolton Wanderers in 2002, and since then has made 233 first team appearances. Sturrock said: "I think David should be very pleased with himself. He has worked hard and he's an excellent player. He was one of several young players at the club when I was here before. Tony Capaldi has blossomed and Peter Gilbert is also in the Championship. I'm very pleased for all of them that they have progressed so well." Resolving the future of Norris is one of the many tasks facing Sturrock as he settles back into Home Park. He said: "It's only my third day at work but that's something I'm going to look into. At the minute I'm bringing together all the data on who's in contract and who's out of contract at the end of the season. We have got a board meeting on Monday when we will sit down and discuss how we are going to take the club forward." One player Sturrock is looking forward to working with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. He said: "I thought Sylvan worked very hard on Wednesday. There are a lot of things in his game we can help him with, but I think he has all the tools to be a top-class striker." Sturrock admitted he was overwhelmed by the reception from the fans when he was re-introduced to them before the game against West Brom. He said: "It was a fantastic welcome back. It left a lump in my throat. It was something you never expect. I was disappointed with the way we performed in the first 45 minutes but I was very pleased with the response of the players after what we said to them at half-time. They adapted to what we wanted them to do and showed me they had a good tactical awareness." Scunthorpe have not won any of their last six league games, but Sturrock will warn his players not to under-estimate them. He added: "They are a very honest, hard-working side. They play at a high tempo and if we don't show the right attitude we could cause ourselves a lot of problems."
Jermaine Easter has set his sights on securing a regular place in the Argyle starting line-up, having scored his first goal for the club on Wednesday. He said: "This is only my third week at the club really because I have been away on international duty for two weeks. But they are a good set of lads here and they have made me feel welcome. I just want to get a run in the team now and keep on scoring goals. That's what I want to do, but I wouldn't say my fitness is up to scratch just yet. I think it's going to take maybe two or three 90-minute games until I get my momentum back. I wouldn't say I'm fit as I would like to be, but that will only come with games." Argyle will play their second home game in four days when Scunthorpe visit tomorrow. Easter said: "It's important we bounce back this weekend. If we can build on our second-half performance against West Brom and take it into the Scunthorpe game, I'm sure we can take the three points. Everybody beats everybody in this division and although it wasn't an ideal result on Wednesday night, we can bounce back and get three points. That is just what we need really - we need another win."
Paul Connolly thinks tomorrow's game against Scunthorpe at Home Park is a 'must-win' match, and admitted that Argyle had fallen some way short of their best against West Brom. He said: "I think we paid them too much respect in the first half. We stood off them and the gaffer was the first to tell us that at half-time. To be fair, if you look at West Brom, they are probably still a Premier League side. But if we had played the first 45 minutes like we did the second, I think it would have been a totally different result. We could have sneaked an equaliser but, to be fair to West Brom, it would have been harsh on them if we had got it. They dominated the first half so much so that they deserved the three points. We weren't just good enough at the end of the day. But as long as we move on tomorrow it will not be a problem. The defeat does put a bit of pressure on us. It turns tomorrow into a must-win match because if we want to stay in the top half of the league, let alone the play-offs positions, we have to get the three points. Scunthorpe are going to come down here, they are no mugs, and they will battle away. It's going to be a different kind of game to Wednesday night because it will be up to us to break them down, as opposed to standing off them. It will be up to us to try to reproduce the second half performance against West Brom for the whole match and, hopefully, take the three points." Connolly has welcomed the return of Sturrock, who gave him as first team debut as a 16-year-old. He added: "Paul was the manager who gave me my debut so he certainly set me away on my career. It's strange that he's back, but it's good because he definitely knows how to win games. The fact he has been here before and some of the players know him will make it easier for both him and us. He's quite approachable anyway, but he has come in and told us what he wants and I reckon it will be okay for the whole squad. Paul has only had a couple of days training with us so I wouldn't judge us just yet. I would probably judge us around January time when he has had time to make his mark."
Liam Head started for England in their 2-1 victory over Scotland last night, which secured the Victory Shield
Argyle reserves' game with Exeter City, which was scheduled for December 11th, has been postponed because Argyle are playing Coventry City in the FA Youth Cup on that date. No re-arranged date for the game has yet been agreed
Argyle today confirmed that Tim Breacker, Des Bulpin and Gary Penrice had all left the club to join Ian Holloway at Leicester City
Paul Sturrock's second spell as Argyle manager started with a defeat by West Brom last night, but he was encouraged by the response from his players after half-time. He said: "Their football was absolutely different class. They are a team that will be promoted if they keep to that standard. I did feel it was after the Lord Mayor's Show for us. I saw a tape of the game on Saturday and the players gave everything then. But they didn't seem to be at the pace of the game for the first 25 minutes, which set the tone for the whole of the half. There was a wee change at half-time and we had a wee chat and I think we were much better in the second half. We got in their faces. West Brom have assembled a very good squad and I think they were probably the best side you have seen down here all season." Jermaine Easter scored his first goal for Argyle in the 84th minute, but West Brom held on for the win. Sturrock said: "We got the goal back but it was probably a bit too late. There are lots of things I saw tonight that I will have a wee think about, but we are not going to play that kind of opposition every week. I think we have got to have a sensibility about that. They went to Coventry a week ago and won 4-0. At least our players showed a bit of bottle in the second half to roll their sleeves up and battle even harder. I thought there were some reasonable performances in the second half, but the first half set the tone." Sturrock admitted that Jimmy Abdou had made a difference after coming on at half-time. He said: "We needed somebody in there who would stick his foot in and get in their faces. It was too easy for them in the first half. We allowed a space to develop between our back four and our midfield, and Teixeira terrorised us. That space wasn't there in the second half, due to the two centre midfield players (Abdou and Lilian Nalis). It meant we got more possession further up the football pitch." Sturrock tried to sign Easter for Swindon from Wycombe earlier this season but was unsuccessful with a six-figure offer. He added: "I had watched him several times and he has definitely got attributes. He's a hardy bit of tin. He wants to put himself about, he works hard and he scored a really good goal tonight. I was also very pleased with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's contribution. I thought his workrate was excellent, and he had a difficult job in the second half." Argyle were without Lee Martin because of a hamstring injury he picked up in training on Monday. Sturrock said: "We will give him every opportunity for Saturday but he was short for tonight's game." Sturrock continued: "I was very pleased the players reacted to the criticism they were given at half-time and adapted to what they were asked. But I do feel there was definitely something amiss in the first half. I have talked to a couple of people and they said 'That was not a typical Plymouth performance in the first half', but you have got to give credit to West Bromwich Albion. I have seen quite a lot of the Championship this season and that was quite scary to watch in the first half. I think that kind of performance, with the size of squad they have got, will easily take them up into the Premier League."
Jermaine Easter feels Argyle were unlucky not to snatch a draw in last night's defeat to West Brom. He said: "West Brom are a tough team and in my opinion, a Premiership outfit. In the first half they controlled the game and Bednar took his goals well. In the first half they looked a really good team and I fancy them to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. But I think we got in their faces more second half and I felt we competed well. We did put them under pressure late doors, but I think it was a case of too little, too late, really. However, I thought we were unlucky in the end not to nick a point." Easter opened his Argyle account with a well-taken finish from a cross by David Norris, and admitted it was a relief to get off the mark. "It is always nice to get your first one, it is out of the way now, and I can relax a bit," he said. "The lads have been doing really well, so I have had to be patient, and I will continue to be patient. When the manager gives me my chance, I will be itching for the opportunity to have a good run in the team."
Argyle's visit to Ian Holloway's Leicester City will now be shown live on Sky Sports. As a result, the kick-off time of the game on Saturday, February 9th has been moved from 3pm to 5.20pm
Argyle lost 2-1 to West Bromwich Albion at Home Park, the goal scored by Jermaine Easter after 84 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Doumbe, Seip, Hodges, Gosling, Norris, Nalis, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs Abdou, Easter, Fallon (not used McCormick, Sawyer). Attendance - 14,348
Romain Larrieu has not been surprised to see the return of Paul Sturrock as Argyle manager. He said: "He always made it clear that Plymouth would hold a special place in his heart and I actually think he meant it. Football is such a funny world that you never know what is going to happen. He chose a way which anybody would have chosen and he probably felt the time was right now to come back. The team is winning and I think the boys are looking forward to working with him. It's a good move for the club. A few of the players know him and that should help him to get his message across to the ones who haven't worked with him before." Larrieu is one of the six members of the current squad who played during Sturrock's previous spell as manager, and he added: "His return is special for me because he gave me the first chance I ever got. Since then, it has happened for me. Of course, I was happy when his name was mentioned, but you always worry because you know there are so many things that can make a deal not happen. I have enjoyed working for him. I have had a few good years under him and I'm looking forward to some more." Larrieu is hoping the return of Sturrock will see the fans flock through the turnstiles for the game against West Brom tonight. He said: "I think all the Green Army were pretty down and low last Thursday morning, but they must be feeling a lot better now and I hope they come out strong tonight. We need them because it's a massive game for the club. It's one of the biggest games I will have ever played in, if you consider our position in the league." Sturrock was at the training ground yesterday as Argyle completed their preparations for the game, and Larrieu added: "They asked us to do our normal shape work that we do the day before a game. They were just watching and they only intervened maybe once. We then did a couple of things by position - defenders, midfielders and strikers - and that was it. It was just like the old days."
David Norris has welcomed back Paul Sturrock, and revealed he had not been 'overly-surprised' by his return to Home Park. He said: "I think once we knew that Ollie was definitely going, it came into a lot of people's heads that Paul Sturrock might be the one to come back. And with the problems they have at Swindon and with us being where we are in the league, I wasn't overly surprised that he has come in. But it's nice to have him back. He brought me to this club in the first place and set me on my way in my career. I had been playing reserve team football at Bolton at the time, so I have got a lot of respect for him. His qualities as a manager are that he is a good motivator and the training is always good. It's good to have him back."
Paul Stapleton was delighted to reappoint Paul Sturrock as Argyle manager, and yesterday said: "They say a week is a long time in politics. Well, it certainly is in football as well. We have got to look forward and we are very pleased to have this man. We drew up a list of what we would like and our criteria. It said: achievements - four promotions. Personality, ambition, ability to work together, public relations and the unknown, and there is no unknown at Plymouth Argyle for this man. Paul Sturrock, irrespective of whether we knew him before, would have satisfied our requirements for a manager of this football club at this exciting time. When he left, just as we were coming up to the Championship, who would have thought we would have three years of continuous growth and be challenging at the right end of the Championship. The squad of players is probably the best that I can remember in my time at Plymouth Argyle FC, either as a supporter or a member of the board. It is such an exciting time that we needed to keep the momentum and we needed to bring in someone who could hit the ground running, and not be fazed by anything at the club. We needed someone we knew had tactical experience and ability. We had to move very quickly once we knew we had a vacancy, which was only last Thursday. We asked Swindon for permission over the weekend and I was able to speak to them on Sunday, and then to Paul on Monday. I am very, very pleased that Paul, and of course Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley were all available and, more importantly, willing to come back to a club they have been to before because sometimes that can be a problem. They were anxious to come back and join our adventure. We are all very pleased. We are all unanimous in this decision. We are looking forward to the game tomorrow, the rest of the season, and the seasons to come." The need for a swift appointment has, however, left certain areas yet to finalized, namely Sturrock's contract. "We have not had the chance to discuss it yet, but it is not going to be short," said Stapleton. "It has all happened so quickly that we have got to iron out some points, but Paul said he would come and we will talk about it, which is fine for me."
Paul Stapleton publicly thanked Ian Holloway yesterday. He said: "This is all about Paul today, but I would just like to say 'thank you' to Ian for what he did for us while he was here. He was very positive when he came. We thought he might be here for the long haul, as he had spent five years at his two previous clubs, but he left. We thank him for what he has done and we thank him for the platform, because we have a platform now. We could be down the bottom but we are not. We are high up in the Championship and we thank Ian Holloway for what he has done for the football club and the players he has brought here." Stapleton admitted any chairman would find it difficult to match Milan Manderic's millions at Leicester, but he is promising to back Sturrock in the transfer market, just as he did with Holloway. He added: "We have not had the chance yet to sit down and talk with Paul about where we are. We had been looking to help the old manager in the transfer window. We are very positive about what we can do and we will look at what we can do in January. When you look at the money Milan Manderic has got, it is hard to compare that with anybody else, but Ian cannot say that, at any time, we did not go for a target that he suggested."
Paul Stapleton is eager to clear up any charges that the Argyle board had misled fans last week. He said: "I would just like to set the record right on Ian, really. When I said we hadn't had an approach from Leicester, it was right at the time. But by the time that was printed in the paper I had had an approach. Leicester said 'Don't mention it to anyone' but I did mention it to Ian Holloway. Ian was not sure what to do. He took a couple of days and came back to me and said 'I would like to go'. I said 'no' on behalf of the board 'you're not allowed to speak to Leicester' and his head was turned from that time. But while Milan Mandaric had come out and said there was no truth in the rumour - he knew because an associate had rung me. But I said to Ian 'I didn't call you a liar and I didn't say that you didn't know about it'. I didn't say that 'you knew before I did'."
Paul Sturrock made his return to Home Park today, and has no doubt that what lies ahead of him is as tough as it gets. "This will be the hardest job I've ever had to take over," he said, "but I am very, very pleased and looking forward to the challenge." Argyle's current situation is a far cry from the positions Sturrock has found himself in when appointed to his previous jobs. He said: "The bottom has been out of most of the clubs' trousers as far as the position they are in the league - all of a sudden, I'm taking over a team that's fourth in the Championship and flying. It's a difficult one. I do feel I have taken a difficult job because of the expectation-level. Plus, there's also the old onion that you should never go back to try again. But I feel very comfortable with coming back. I think I can fit right back in again, and the chairman and I have a relationship that means I am looking forward to working with him again. I'm just hoping to be honest, to make sure supporters know where I'm coming from." It is 1,363 days since Sturrock left Home Park and now he is back, he is aiming to complete unfinished business. "There was no way I would have left for any other standard than the Premier League," he said. "I've been to the Show. I've had a wee taste. I've pitted my wits against the top men. I think everybody has that ambition in them. Had it been even another Championship team, I wouldn't even have contemplated leaving because I have a dream for this football club, a long-term dream to take it where it would like to go. From then on, politics has been very much a part of my problems at every football club. The one good thing that I have done since I've been away is that I pride myself that I have left teams I took over in a better shape than when I took them over. So, at least I've done a professional job at every club. At Southampton, I had Rupert Lowe, who things didn't work out with; at Sheffield Wednesday, I got promotion and then had a taste of the naughty side of football. Then, at Swindon, it's been very zany, getting promotion and then having four months of turmoil when people have been taking over the football club, then not taking over the football club. Finances were very low, there was an embargo of players so you can't sign anyone - then, you wake up last Sunday and, lo and behold, we're three points outside of the play-offs. It's been hard, hard, work, but very pleasing work, but I pride myself that I and my coaches have done the job asked of us at the football club. It's really been off the park that the problems have been at the three clubs I have been since." Argyle have agreed a compensation package with Swindon, not only for Sturrock, but also Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley, and Sturrock is delighted to keep his team together. "They have done a fantastic job," he said. "I can trust them, and leave them to it because I know they are going to do things to the standard I would expect. Summers has got all the badges, now; Sloop has got all the experience, so it's worked very, very well. It's like what's happening on the football pitch - why break it when it's working?" When asked whether he will ever be a Premiership manager again, Sturrock replied. "That's what we're down here for. At the end of the day, we're going to have a go. I can't promise you anything, but I can assure you that everybody on the staff will be working towards that. With the backing of the fans, which has always been fantastic, and the attitude and work-rate of the players, and a very strange league - everybody seems to beat everybody else - if we can turn the home form to be a real fortress, and continue the way the team is playing away from home, who knows what we can achieve?"
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle fans should forget about the nature of Ian Holloway's departure, and appreciate his legacy. He said: "The important thing is that he did a fantastic job here. There's no doubt about it. You just have to look at the squad of players he assembled. You just have to look at where we are at this moment in time." Sturrock has no intention of changing much. "Players can carry on doing what they have been doing," he said. "Why break up something that's working? I'll be indebted to Crudgie to tell me what their basic week is and we'll just go down the road of that until it doesn't work. But there'll be no dramatic changes to what the players have been used to doing. It seems to be working. There seems to be a good spirit among the players, I'm told, so that's great and there's a work-ethic. All the things I like about a football team seem to be being generated here. The manager before me has left a good taste in the mouth as far as performances are concerned and the standard of play at the club. I'm not going to change anything of that."
Paul Sturrock believes that his relationship with Paul Stapleton is the key to Argyle's continued success. "The chairman, the board, and I will have to sit down and discuss all that," he said. "I am a great believer in long-term plans for the simple reason that everybody then knows where we are coming from. We went on a five-year plan when Paul first took over, and they have achieved that - to win two promotions and then solidify yourselves in the Championship was something special. The three managers since me have done a fantastic job in allowing that five-year plan to work. Every time I've had a successful relationship with a chairman, I've had a successful team. At St Johnstone, I had five years, played in Europe and played in a cup final, and that was with a great relationship with the chairman. The first year at Sheffield Wednesday was very pleasing, and I had a great relationship with the chairman. Even at Swindon, things worked out very well. It's just that this take-over business, and lack of finances, has really affected the club. Paul and I don't see eye to eye on everything - he has an opinion and I have - but we know what direction we want the football club to be going in and we both want to achieve that: he through off-the-park activities and me on the park."
Paul Sturrock will be taking a watching brief for the first few days of his second stint as Argyle manager. He will watch Wednesday's clash with West Brom from the directors' box, and envisages a similar role when Scunthorpe visit Home Park on Saturday. "I'll be taking a bird's eye view on Wednesday," he said. "There's no point in me in me sitting in the dug-out when there's six or seven players I have never seen, so I'll be sitting with the chairman and having a look. The first two games are going to be observation as much as anything else. I've got every DVD as well, so I'll probably have sleepless nights, because I think it's important I get the insight. We'll have a look in training, as well, and hopefully a reserve game will come up so we can see the rest of the players. I think that's important." Sturrock has no intention of imposing anything on his players that is different to what has brought them so much success this season. If anything, it is them that will force his hand. "The players are different from the types we have had in the past but I do not want to change anything to the style of play at the football club because it is working," he said." I've got to jump on the bandwagon, quick. Normally, some managers change everything for the sake of changing to the style you want, but I don't believe in that. If it's working, I'll have to adapt to make sure the success that we have had so far keeps happening on the football pitch."
Gary Sawyer was thrilled to make his comeback from an ankle injury in the win at Sheffield United on Saturday. He said: "To come back from the injury so quickly and then be given a chance to come on was a good moment for me. Me and Maxie worked really hard through the two-week break we had. I feel really good. I just need to get my fitness up to par with everyone else and then, hopefully, go for a full game." Sawyer's injury was a setback to the good progress he had made in the opening three months of the season. He added: "They originally thought I would be out for six weeks but I was back training in just under three. Maxie did really well for me and put me through everything, and I pushed it as much as he told me to basically. I had to go through a little bit of pain, but it's all worth it when you come on and get three points away to somewhere like Sheffield United. It was a fantastic performance by the lads to go up there and get a result like that. It's not a one-off. We did it against Charlton the other week but it definitely puts us on the map, especially after a tough week with the gaffer leaving. It was nice to put it right on the pitch. We had some really good chances. I think we carved them open at times. They were always going to press us towards the end, but our back four was superb, all the way through. I thought Hodgie, Marce, Matty and Shells were fantastic, and so was Ro behind them. But, to be fair, everyone dug in and everyone defended from the front. It makes it a lot easier for you at the back when everyone is doing it." Sawyer and his team-mates are now preparing for the visit of West Brom tomorrow. He said: "It's another big game and they are another big club. It's all you get in this league really."
Argyle this morning confirmed that they have agreed a compensation package with Swindon Town for Paul Sturrock to return to the club. They have also agreed terms for Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley. There will be a Press conference at Home Park at 1pm today
Paul Sturrock is expected to leave Swindon Town today and will start his second spell as Argyle manager tomorrow. John Blackley and Kevin Summerfield will also re-join the club. Tim Breacker and Des Bulpin are set to complete moves to Leicester City today
Paul Stapleton had nothing but praise for Tim Breacker and Des Bulpin for the way they prepared Argyle's players for the game against Sheffield United. He said: "I'm so proud of Tim and Des. Those two men have acted so professionally. Even though their mentor and the person who brought them to the club has gone, they have shaped the team so well. The spirit out there was tremendous. I was so emotional at the end of the game. This is one of the best days I can remember. I remember going to Notts County in 2004 after Paul Sturrock left and we had a great following there that day and we got a 0-0 draw. But today, to come to Sheffield United and win, is just fantastic. To win at Charlton was great, but we played so well today and created so many chances. The team spirit was absolutely brilliant and what a squad we have got. What players we have got. The substitutions worked very well. Tim needs a lot of credit for what he did today because he must be a bit all over the place, not knowing what his future holds. The same with Des. They have been fantastic. I couldn't have asked for any better from anybody. Ian Holloway rang this morning and wished us all the best and, in some respects, that's easy. But I do think a part of him was still here. We have just got to move on. We are fourth in the league and we have got home games against West Brom and Scunthorpe coming up. It's an exciting time."
Argyle's youth team were knocked out of the Puma Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday, losing 5-0 to Brighton and Hove Albion
Tim Breacker was delighted after Argyle's 1-0 victory over Sheffield United. "It wasn't just a 1-0 smash and grab," he said. "It was thoroughly, thoroughly deserved. We played at the right times; we passed the ball well when we could in quite difficult conditions; we carved out some good chances. It was a fantastic day all round. It was an absolutely amazing performance, to be fair, considering the sort of week the lads have had. I can't speak highly enough of them. They are a good set of lads, fantastic guys. As a club, we haven't won here for 69 years. That says it all." The victory took Argyle to fourth place in the Championship, and Breacker believes they have reached that position on merit. "It's been a difficult week," he said, "but all the squad, all the staff at the club, everybody's been fantastic. They have been very professional, as they are always. I said, before the game: 'It will hopefully be a day that you will remember for all the right reasons. The position you are in the league, if anything, is false, we could be higher.' We are not lucky we are up there. There are not many teams in the league that we feel we can't compete with on our day, if we are doing the things we know we should be doing right." Peter Halmosi took a pass from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to notch the winner and Breacker said: "It was a fantastic goal. It would have been nice to get a second one but, in some ways, it was nicer to just hang on. We had four senior players who were great. They led it for us out there and we kept our heads. You always get that feeling that, if you don't get that second goal, you are going to end up conceding and not get what you deserve but I felt we hung on in there really well. They threw everything at us but we changed a couple of things to make sure we weren't as open as we looked at times, and we were delighted to see it through. A 1-0 win is fantastic because you have to play all the way to the end and I thought they did that magnificently. We did all those today and it could have been a bigger win. I said to them afterwards: 'Don't get too high with it - you are where you should be. Keep going.'" Breacker knows that the victory might be his only in charge of the team but it is one that will stay with him for a long time. He added: "Whoever takes over will get a great set of people, not just footballers, but good people with the right morals and ethics, and that showed today. That's very important. That's what we believe in. I really did enjoy it today, I must admit. I thanked the lads afterwards and told them it was a day that I would never forget. Hopefully, it was the same for them. It was something to remember. Yes, I really enjoyed it."
Barry Hayles made a happy return to Bramall Lane yesterday. Hayles, who spent a short time at United three years ago, said: "It could have been three or four. They hit the bar and we cleared one off the goal-line but, apart from that, I thought we dominated the game. The game was tough. We had a lot of chances, and if we'd put them away, I'd not be saying that. But, at 1-0, it's always tough. When you don't take your chances, you are always vulnerable. Sheffield United are a good side but we did well defensively. We shut them out but, on another day, they could have got a point or maybe nicked all three. It was a great goal. Peter got his timing right and Sylvan found him brilliantly. Credit to us, I thought we deserved it and we were the better side. The win is right up there with the one at Charlton, but Charlton was a lot tougher, to be fair, no disrespect to Sheffield United." Hayles was brought to Home Park by Ian Holloway but has no desire to follow him to Leicester, and paid tribute to Tim Breacker and Des Bulpin for stepping in. "I'm a long way from home but I am thoroughly enjoying it," he said, "so it's not a case of I'm not happy because Ollie's gone. The boys are buzzing and I'm part of it, so I'm happy. Credit to the coaches - they made it a normal week - and the boys played really well. We thought that, if we didn't perform, we had a load of excuses, but we played well. As part of the build-up, Tim said to make sure we went and applauded the fans afterwards because we are all in it together - not just them and us."
Argyle won 1-0 at Sheffield United, the goal scored by Peter Halmosi after 24 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Doumbe, Seip, Hodges, Martin, Norris, Nalis, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs Sawyer, Easter (not used McCormick, Fallon, Abdou). Attendance - 23,811
David Norris and Paul Wotton both believe that Argyle will rise to the challenge of coping with this week's departure of Ian Holloway. Norris said; "When Paul Sturrock left, it was a similar situation at an important time of the season. To lose our manager now, with how things are going coming into the busy period we're going into, is going to be a big test for us - but it won't affect the players as much as people might think. We know it comes with the game. As players, we could be off at any time ourselves. We expect this sort of thing to happen. It could be an excuse for us now, but we have to make sure we don't use it as an excuse. We all know it's part of the game, and we just have to get on with it. We'll try and keep things as normal as possible, and get on with the games we've got coming up. It is a massive loss - I don't think you can under-estimate losing somebody like Ian Holloway as your manager - but as players we've just got to get on with it." Tim Breacker will be in charge at Bramall Lane, where Argyle will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to three matches. "We'll have some continuity with Tim," Norris said. "It's a huge game, but we're coming off the back of a couple of good performances and we're confident." Norris has no hostility for Holloway. "Ian is an ambitious manager," he added. "I know he talked about loyalty while he was here, and I know he liked the place, but sometimes things come in front of you and you have to make a decision. He'll be thinking of his family and his career. I don't hold any grudges against him for going on to try and do better things." Paul Wotton said: "At the end of the day, Ian has done what he feels is right for himself and his family, so you can't argue with that. I'm very surprised by what has happened, and slightly disappointed, but there's not a lot that players can do about it. Managers come and go, but the trouble this time is that there are lot of players out of contract, myself included. It's up to us to prove ourselves to the new manager in the next six months. It's not an ideal scenario. A lot of those lads are young lads trying to make a career for themselves. It's difficult. It's part of football. It's bad timing, but is there ever a good time to lose a manager? I don't think so, but it's up to the lads and the people around the players to regroup and go to Sheffield with a positive attitude. It's a big game, and at the end of the day we're one point outside the play-offs. We have to look forward. The harsh reality is that Ian Holloway is history. He did a great job for us while he was here, and a lot of the lads have a lot of respect for him, but he's not here." Wotton will not be part of Argyle's squad today, but he has been back in full training this week and a reserve-team comeback is imminent. He added: "The knee feels great. I'm trying not to get too carried away, but it's gone well. I'm really pleased. I just need reserve games and I need them quick."
Argyle's search for a new manager is progressing smoothly, according to Paul Stapleton. He said: We had a productive meeting this morning, and are making good progress. As things stand we are confident that we will be able to swiftly bring the search for our next manager to a conclusion."
Tim Breacker and Des Bulpin were both keen to express their admiration for the Green Army ahead of todays game. Breacker said: "Since I have been at the club I have been amazed by the amount of miles fans have covered to watch the team. I remember driving back from Charlton and the number of coaches we were passing was unbelievable. They are getting back at five or six in the morning and going straight into work. The Green Army have been amazing to me and I am sure they will be the same at Sheffield. They will be right behind the lads and I know the team appreciates that." Bulpin added: "The supporters have been great for me. I live in a little place outside Plymouth and I like my private life to myself, but the people here have been brilliant and I enjoy Plymouth. I am basically a Westcountry boy and I think they will get behind the team because they know we have got a lot of honest players."
Des Bulpin has come to the defence of Ian Holloway, and insisted Holloway cared about Argyle and the Green Army, despite resigning as manager on Wednesday. Bulpin said: "I just think it's a very difficult situation. All I want to say about Ian Holloway is that I had him as a player and I have had him as a manager and he's a good bloke. The situation will sort itself out between the two chairmen and Ian." Bulpin has admired the way the Argyle players have coped with all the uncertainty over Holloway this week, and his departure. He said: "The boys wear their hearts on their sleeves. In training they are outstanding and they work hard. They are good lads. I think a lot of them are upset because they had a close bond with the manager, but they understand what a funny game football is. I know Ian Holloway cares about the supporters and cares about this football club. Now, people can believe that or not. But I know he will want the team to win on Saturday."
Mathias Doumbe will return to Argyle's starting line-up at Sheffield United tomorrow, as Krisztian Timar is serving a one-match suspension. Des Bulpin is convinced Doumbe will rise to the challenge. He said: "I think Krisztian has got better and better with the work we have done with him and he has shocked a few people. To be fair to Matty, he has worked hard in training and deserves this chances. He trained very well today and I'm confident he will play well." Bulpin will work closely with Tim Breacker in the build-up to the game, as well as during it. He said: "I'm the first team coach and I had a lot of say in the coaching and how we played when Ian was here. I just sat there quietly on the bench and I stuck my six-penn'th in, and Ian made the decisions. I have got a good relationship with Tim. He will pick the team - which basically picks itself because we played so well against Norwich - and I will do the same job for him as I did for Ian. I will voice my opinion and Tim will make the decisions."
Argyle last night announced that a compensation package had been agreed with Leicester City, and Ian Holloway was announced as the Foxes new manager. Details of the compensation package are confidential, but thought to be in the region of £250,000
Ian Holloway is set to be unveiled as the new manager of Leicester City at a 7pm press conference tonight. It is thought Argyle and Leicester have reached an agreement over compensation for Holloway but details have not yet been announced
Des Bulpin insisted it is business as usual for Argyle, despite Ian Holloway resigning yesterday. He said: "Whether I am sat here or Fred Bloggs is sat here, the most important thing is the football team is still here and they win games. Managers come and go. Today was a normal day with patterns of play. We showed the players a film, as we normally do, and looked at it. I thought we were outstanding against Norwich. We played the way we play properly. We moved the ball quickly with high tempo and good pressure. The lads have trained like that all this week for me and it was the same last week. I would just like to thank Geoff Crudgington, who I don't think gets enough praise. He is stood in there with me every day, as well as Maxi." Tim Breacker is expected back at training tomorrow after missing the last three days because of family commitments. Bulpin added: "Unfortunately, he has had a few problems at the hospital with his partner, but he will be in tomorrow." Des was full of praise for the Argyle players, who he considers to be the best group he has worked with in his years in the game. He said: "I have had 14 clubs and I have been at big clubs. The boys here are the best bunch, along with those at Stockport County. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. In training they are outstanding, they work hard and I think a lot of them are upset because they had a close bond with the manager, but they understand what a funny game football is." The only break from normality today was Paul Stapleton and Robert Dennerly addressing the players on the events of recent days. Bulpin said: "The chairman spoke to the players today and I thought he was very good. He spoke well of Ian and he has told everybody what the situation is and his feelings, and he conducted himself very well."
Ian Holloway has broken his silence over his resignation as Argyle manager. He said: "It's a really difficult situation for myself. I feel like I was getting stereotyped in having no money to spend. I'm sick and fed up of losing my best players all the time because they outgrow what I can pay them, and I'm not sure that will happen at Leicester. It's a whole new role for me and it's something that I don't feel I could turn down. I have worked hard for 11 years and I have always been the bridesmaid, never the bride, to this type of thing. It's a challenge for me, and everybody needs a challenge, but that doesn't belittle the relationships I have had before. I don't know what the people at Plymouth are going to be feeling about me today but I'm ever so sorry. I just felt my heart wasn't there once I knew this might be here. What can I say." Lawyers have spent the morning thrashing out a compensation payment for Holloway, with Argyle thought to want £400,000. He added: "That's beyond me. That's for other people to deal with. All I am is a football manager. The people who are more experienced above me will have to sort that out."
Argyle and Leicester City are in talks about a compensation fee for Ian Holloway. Reports state that this is going on while Holloway is discussing the possiblity of taking over at the Walker's Stadium with Milan Mandaric. A Leicester spokesman said: "He has arrived and is holding talks." Leicester are optimistic that they could be in a position to unveil Holloway as their new manager as early as this afternoon
Des Bulpin will hold today's pre-match press conference ahead of Argyle's away game against Sheffield United on Saturday. Tim Breacker is on leave from work today, but this had been planned for some time, and he is expected to be at training tomorrow
Luke McCormick is confident the departure of Ian Holloway will not have a negative effect on the side's performances and results. "The boys are obviously disappointed because he was a popular guy in the dressing room," he said. "It isn't ideal what with the game at Sheffield United this weekend. Sheffield United is a tough place to go at the best of times. But it is even tougher when you go there without your manager. However, it is a case of knuckling down and getting on with the job in hand. We are going there to do a job and we will get our heads down and work hard and, hopefully, come away with something. The players cannot do anything about it, so we just need to put it to the back of our minds and concentrate on the most important thing - winning matches and picking-up points. There is no reason why we cannot carry on from we are now and continue our push for a play-off place." McCormick believes it is the club's current standing which has contributed to Holloway's departure. "The club are probably a victim of their own success," he added. "The team has been doing well - that has been illustrated by the interest shown in some of our players - and it is inevitable that other clubs start to look at the manager too. Unfortunately, that is football and the way it is. It will be disappointing to see him go, but I am sure all of the boys will wish him well for the future." McCormick has every faith in the Argyle board to find an adequate replacement for Holloway. He said: "The board have made some good appointments in the past, and hopefully, they will do the same again when the new manager comes in. It would be nice to see a manager coming in who is prepared to give every player a fair chance. Whoever comes in, it is going to be a case of proving yourself again to a new manager. Each player will have to go through fighting for their place again. But it is an opportunity for every player to stake their claim and show what they have got."
Paul Sturrock is one of the favourites to take over from Ian Holloway as Argyle's next manager, but many other names have been reported as being in contention for the job. These include Steve Cotterill, Russell Slade, Mike Newell and Martin Allen. Argyle are likely to ask Tim Breacker to take control of first team affairs temporarily, and should he make a success of that, Breacker could become a candidate for the manager's role
Barry Hayles admitted to being surprised and disappointed at being 'left in the dark' by Ian Holloway, after he resigned from Argyle. He said: "I'm quite surprised at the news of Ollie's leaving - I didn't see it coming at all. And no, I have not been told anything and neither have the rest of the first-team squad. Like the others, I've been left in the dark about things and I have kept myself updated on news by reading the papers and also on the teletext service. We trained as usual yesterday and Tuesday, with Des Bulpin, and so our fitness levels are fine. The mood among the lads was quiet, as you would expect, but Des did a good job in lifting our spirits. Ollie has done a good job here but I haven't spoken to him and maybe he'll say his goodbyes to the boys later in the week." Argyle have 18 players out of contract at the end of the season and whoever takes over will have to tackle those negotiations and make decisions about the playing staff. Hayles acknowledged that would be a problem, but insisted the team would not be lacking in spirit for Saturday's match at Sheffield United. "We're a good team with a lot of spirit, which Ollie encouraged, and we won't be letting our heads drop," added Hayles. These things happen in football and as a player you get used to it. You just have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it - there's no good worrying about it. The manager leaving at this stage of the season and with three-quarters of the playing staff's contracts up for negotiation, could hardly be worse, it's true. But we're all professionals, here, and we'll be doing our best for Plymouth Argyle."
Lilian Nalis admitted to being surprised by Ian Holloway's decision to resign. He said: "I haven't heard from the manager, just what I've read in the newspapers and on the sports stations. Anything I do know has come that way, but like the rest of the lads, I'm not letting it affect me. I was surprised all the same, but then again these things happen in football. Ollie has done a good job at Home Park and he has now made a decision to get a good deal for himself. That's not unreasonable or unusual, to be honest. If a club can offer you more money it is obvious he will have to consider it. I'm sorry he's left and wish him well all the same. As for Saturday, we will be pushing hard all the same and if my former club think we'll be easy opponents, then I for one will be pushing all the harder."
Jermaine Easter won his sixth cap when he came on as a substitute during Wales' 0-0 draw in Germany last night. Meanwhile, Peter Halmosi won his seventeenth cap in Hungary's 2-1 defeat to Greece
Ashley Barnes has joined Oxford United on loan
Ian Holloway has resigned as Argyle manager. The club released the following statement: "Plymouth Argyle confirm that Ian Holloway has tendered his resignation as manager of the club. The club has convened a board meeting for Friday this week where this will be considered. In the meantime, Ian continues to be employed by the club and subject to the terms of his contract of employment. No further comment will be made pending the board meeting this Friday."
Ian Holloway has remained silent despite the rumours over his possible appointment as the new Leicester City manager. Reports suggest that Holloway is one of three contenders in the frame to take over at the Walkers Stadium, but neither Argyle nor Leicester have made any comment yet on the speculation. Holloway was at Home Park early yesterday morning but he left at some point before lunchtime. It is believed he held a two-hour meeting with Paul Stapleton, and both Holloway and Tim Breacker were absent when the squad trained. According to sources, the players and staff were completely in the dark about Holloway's future and had not been given any information by the club
Jermaine Easter is hoping to play a part for Wales in their final Euro 2008 qualifier, against Germany, tonight. He said: "It's going to be great to be a part of this game. It's a massive experience for me. I would say Germany are one of the top three or four teams in the world so it doesn't get much better than this. I played for Wycombe against Chelsea in the Carling Cup semi-final last season, but this is a full international. It will be one of the biggest occasions in my career." Easter thought Wales were good value for their 2-2 draw against the Republic of Ireland last weekend, and said: "It was good to play in a decent part of the game. I definitely think we deserved something out of it. You get a lot less touches on the ball in international football than you do in league football. Strikers at international level are also a lot more clinical when they get a chance. There are a lot fewer chances, but they take them more often."
Dan Gosling won his first England under-18 cap in their 2-0 win over Ghana last night
Milan Mandaric last night denied he is set to appoint Ian Holloway as the new boss of Leicester, and Paul Stapleton also confirmed that the speculation is incorrect. Mandaric said: "There is no truth in the rumour. I haven't contacted Plymouth and he hasn't been in my thoughts about getting the job." Stapleton added: "There is no truth it. I spoke to Ian at lunchtime today about loan transfers and contract talks for other players."
Argyle's FA Youth Cup tie against Coventry City will take place at Home Park on Tuesday December 11th at 7pm
Argyle's reserve fixture at Yeovil Town tomorrow has been postponed, due to bad weather over the weekend leaving the pitch in poor condition. A new date for the game has not yet been arranged
Argyle's youth team won 3-2 at Bournemouth on Saturday, the goals scored by Toby Davis, Jarred Stevens and Shane Duggan
Argyle are ready to offer an extended contract to David Norris. Paul Stapleton, who has told Norris of the club's intentions, said: "I really like David Norris. Don't forget, I was here when he first came to the club. I have seen David progress from a Premier League reserve team player on loan to a top quality player in the Championship, so I have got a lot of time for him. I have had a long chat with David. He's a young man with a lot of potential who hasn't perhaps played as well as he could this season, although I think in the last few games he has been back to his best. It's true to say that we turned down offers for him. I think David would maybe have liked the opportunity to have at least spoken to Southampton, but we didn't want to lose one of our best players. And I have told him that. I have said to him we are looking at his deal with our club, which runs out in 20 months. I did tell David that whatever happens we would look at his situation seriously in January, with regard to his contract and his pay. I also said if anybody came in for him we would tell him about it, but we are not looking for offers for David. We think he's a key part of Plymouth Argyle and the way the team is progressing. I think David wants to play in the Premiership and earn good money before he retires from football. He has got many more years to go and, who knows, with a fair wind he might be able to get it with Plymouth Argyle. I know sometimes you look at the stadium and you look at the training ground and think 'Will we?' I can understand that. But as I said to David, we are trying to do our best on all fronts and sometimes it takes a bit of time." Stapleton insisted Argyle did not need, or want, to sell any more of their top players. He said: "Let's be honest about it, we are a football club and it's a market place. Anybody at any time might come and say 'We fancy your full-back' or 'We fancy your winger'. You just don't know, but we have got no need to sell anybody in the January transfer window. It's not like Preston, who had to sell David Nugent because of their losses and because they needed some money for their training ground. We have got none of that. We had inquiries at the start of the season for Dan Gosling. Well, he's an important part of our future so why let him go now?"
Paul Stapleton has denied there is a 'closed shop' when it comes to the boardroom at Home Park. Some supporters believe the board have taken the club as far as they can and want the current regime to either sell up or to find new investors. The criticism, though, has hurt Stapleton, and he said: "There is always room around the table for other people. There are commitments financially in being on the board, but it's not a closed shop. I very often take criticism personally. I can't help that. It's my nature. Maybe it's because of my job and I have to make sure that in my profession that I get things right. When it comes to the football club, all I can say is that in the last three years we have done exceptionally well in the Championship. Yes, perhaps we have punched above our weight. If you look back in history it's probably the best period we have ever had." This time last year there were six members of the board, but Nic Warren and Damon Lenszner have resigned since then. Stapleton added: "We haven't put an advert out to say 'Is anybody going to come to our football club and help us?' But we do get phone calls now and again from people asking if we are interested. We are not averse to looking at all avenues which will help this football club. I don't envisage I will be here forever. Dan McCauley did 10 years as chairman. I will have done 10 years as a director next year, of which three were with Dan. Next year will be seven years of me and there comes a time when there is a natural progression. But for people to say 'The board has gone as far as they can' I think they have got to stand back sometimes and see where we are. We are in the top 10 of the Championship and people should judge us from where we go from here. You hear people saying 'I bet you sell the best players, I bet you go down the league, I bet you do this that and the other'. Who's to say we are going to do that? Who said? Someone wrote to me and said 'We are all a bit worried about your plans for investment. Can you tell me what they are? Well, hang on a minute, we are running a £8m business here which is very much in the public domain anyway and everybody wants to know the ins and outs of everything. Then a group of individuals want to know the ins and outs of our investment plan. Well, whatever they are they will come to light when they come to light. All I'm saying is we are not just sitting here, watching the football and twiddling our thumbs. We are actually making plans to progress this football club." Stapleton pointed to an approach by an un-named club for Dan Gosling to explain his point. He said: "We turned down a telephone inquiry for him and we made sure Dan was happy with his progress, we spoke to his mother and we made sure he had a decent contract. You do things for the well being of the club. You also say to Southampton 'Sorry, David Norris is not for sale'. All the time we are doing things to help the club progress and move on. At the end of the day, what's the aim of Plymouth Argyle? Yes, it's to be the best club in the South West but, ultimately, it's to be in the top division. That's the ambition. If you don't have any aims you will never get anywhere. We don't just want to be 16th in the Championship every year. We have been 17th, 14th and 11th in the last three seasons, and to beat 11th is not easy. We are seventh at the minute but it's so tight it could easily change. We know that, but that is progression. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but as long as we are still progressing I think it's very difficult for anyone out there to criticise us." Argyle's average home attendance is 11,967, which is a fall on last season, but Stapleton hopes it will improve in the coming weeks. He said: "All the time you are hoping the gates improve because that shows you have got an audience who want to come and support your football club. My budgeting skills on gates have been pretty good over the last five years but this season I don't even know where I should start. Everything I have budgeted so far has gone out of the window, and I don't know why. But I have not gone in the paper and moaned about it because people make their own decisions. Obviously, we try to do things to make it attractive for people to come. One way they will come is probably if we are top of the league. When we won the championship in 2003/04 the gates before Christmas weren't that brilliant. It was when we got to February and we had a sniff of the title that people came out. You understand that."
Paul Stapleton has revealed that Akos Buzsaky moved to QPR despite agreeing terms over a new contract with Argyle. Argyle had agreed a deal with the Hungarian until June 2010 but there was a dispute over a payment to Buzsaky's agent. Stapleton said: "Contrary to public perception, Akos had agreed a deal with Plymouth Argyle on his wages. Then we came across a stumbling block, which was a fee payable to his agent, Sam Stapleton. We weren't willing to pay a substantial amount to the player to pay the agent because the rules are you can't pay agents directly if they are acting for a player. I spoke to Sam Stapleton about it and I told him I didn't think it was right. But, to that, he said Akos had signed a contract with him to say he would have to pay the agent's fee. I rang the manager and he was not happy and did not want to pay it. He had the same view as me but I had to get his view on it." QPR were willing to pay the agent's fee, however, and Buzsaky signed for them instead. Stapleton added: "Akos actually went to QPR and got slightly higher wages, but that wasn't the be-all and end-all of why he went there. I have got emails which say he was happy to sign for us for significantly improved figures, so it's not a question of Plymouth not being prepared to pay enough money." Stapleton, however, insisted he did not hold any grudges against his namesake Sam Stapleton, Buzsaky's agent. "He was the one who brought us Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar and I think we did reasonably well in those deals for the football club and those players," he said. "That has worked out very well, so you have to appreciate the fact that you may come across these people again." Stapleton has also wished Buzsaky well for his new career at Loftus Road. He said: "When Akos first came here, I helped him personally. We looked after him because he was a bit lonely. When the other two boys came in he was really, really happy. Now he has gone to QPR and I wish Akos all the best. In the cold light of day, it's a good deal for Akos and it's a good deal for Plymouth Argyle. No-one loses. Everybody's happy and we are all friends."
Paul Stapleton has admitted that Argyle's board have let Ian Holloway do the talking for them over recent months. He said: "I do realise we haven't said very much and I think we have been criticised for that. One of the reasons is that there have been little hold-ups on things like the redevelopment of the stadium. We are working on it, but if we keep saying we are working on it where do we go with it? The other thing is we have a manager who says enough for everybody, and I'm not being unkind with that comment. Ian is passionate about it and sometimes you think 'Why do they want the chairman or the board saying a few things?' because he will fill the papers. Now we haven't always had that. Pulis, at times, could be a bit terse in what he said. I don't think Paul Sturrock was always overly keen on saying too much. He would say certain things but, generally, he would let things go along. But Ian will talk about anything. He will tell you about how he has done this and how he has done that, so we have sat back and let him get on with it. Somebody did remind me that it would be nice if we sometimes said the odd thing, and I understand that. Obviously, people will wonder what we are doing. Ian is such a great character and he's the highest-profile manager in PR terms we have ever had and I'm not going to compete with him. But every so often it might need me to come out and say the odd few words."
Jermaine Easter won his fifth cap when he came on as a substitute during Wales' 2-2 draw with the Republic of Ireland today
Paul Stapleton has insisted completing the redevelopment of Home Park remains an important priority for the club, but cannot give a date on which work would start on demolishing the Grandstand and replacing it with a new structure. He said: "What has happened since we bought the freehold from Plymouth City Council in January is that we have become very firmly a part of their Life Centre plans. If you drive past Central Park you can see some boards are up saying that work on the Life Centre will be commencing in 2008. I know that is gathering significant pace and, although we are looking to do our own thing, obviously we have to talk to the council about what they are doing with transport issues and the whole infrastructure. All I can to say to our fans, without making too many promises, is that it hasn't gone to sleep if you like, and we are working really actively on it. If people say 'We will believe it when we see it' then so be it. The redevelopment is not as important as making sure the team is alright, but it's important for the long-term well being of this football club because of the revenue we could attract on a daily and weekly basis. That would help the overall running of the club. If we don't have to rely totally on gate income we would be much better off. I would imagine by early in the New Year we will have a really good idea of where we are going." Stapleton had a meeting with council leader Vivien Pengelly yesterday about the club's stadium plans. He continued: "We are doing everything we can to push on with it. It's our aim to make sure this ground is worthy of a Championship club. We are also talking to the council about extending the lease on Harper's Park. We want to put a changing room, a gymnasium, a physio's room and maybe some other facilities there. The council have agreed in principle to that, but actually getting the legal document done takes ages. We haven't come out before and said we are doing that, but all the time we are trying to improve the infrastructure of the club because we know how important it is for the players, the management and everybody else. The manager came to us and said the gymnasium wasn't very good and he needed one on site, so we put one on site. The youth team also needed a gymnasium, so we put one on site. We are making the best of what we have got but, at the same time, we are still continuing to look for the progression."
Argyle have been drawn at home to Coventry in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. The game will take place at Home Park before December 15th
Damien McCrory yesterday made his second appearance of the week for the Republic of Ireland Under-18 team in their 3-2 win over Germany. Meanwhile, Dan Gosling is in the England Under-18 squad for their friendly against Ghana at Gillingham next Tuesday and Liam Head has been called up for England Under-16's decisive Victory Shield international against Scotland on November 29th
Marcel Seip has been pleased with his form for Argyle this season. He said: "I have maybe had one or two bad games but I think I have been quite consistent so I'm happy with that. It's going well." Seip has developed a good partnership with Krisztian Timar over the last two months, and added: "I think we are doing well. It took a while in the beginning to build up an understanding with Krisztian, but we now know each other's strengths. That's why he played brilliantly in September, and even in October. I think we are both doing well but, more importantly, so is the whole team. If the team is struggling it's difficult to perform well yourself. It's easier if the team are playing well. Krisztian goes for the headers and I just go after whatever drops. It's perfect really." Argyle are currently seventh in the table, but Seip is not getting too carried away by their start. He said: "It's important we keep it going. We have to be up there at the end of the season and there is still a long way to go. I remember it was exactly the same last year and then we gave it away in December. Hopefully, we will do better this year." Seip and the rest of his team-mates have been given the weekend off by Ian Holloway and will not return to training until Tuesday. Seip added: "I don't mind having a break now because when we come back there are a lot of Tuesday games, and the FA Cup will be starting soon."
Paul Stapleton has promised the club's board of directors will continue to support Ian Holloway to the best of their ability, and insisted he and his boardroom colleagues had a 'very good relationship' with Holloway. His comments come after two stories in national newspapers which speculated about the future of Holloway, and another which claimed Holloway had become disillusioned with life at Home Park because he did not feel he was being backed in the transfer market. Stapleton said there had been no contact from Leicester about Holloway, and added: "As for people making up stories about disillusionment, we seem to have a very good relationship with the manager. To be honest, while I have been on the board, this is the time when we have actually pushed the boat out on players. Look at the players we have gone for and got, and look at the players we have gone for and didn't get. In June 2006 we approached Southampton about Kenwyne Jones. We had an indication that they would accept a £750,000 fee, but we were told he was not for sale. The reason I'm mentioning it now is that he went for £6m, or whatever it was, to Sunderland in August, and you think, 'That would have been a good buy'. It backs up the recommendation made to us by the manager and Gary Penrice about the player. My understanding of Ian is that he has been unsettled with regard to his house, and having to move three times in a very short period. He has also had to deal with some problems with schooling for his children and the sad death of his mother-in-law. We have given him every assistance that we could in all those areas and I don't think we could have been any more accommodating or understanding than we have been. I'm sure Ian would be the first one to appreciate that." Stapleton continued: "We don't want anybody coming to pinch our manager. We have had it once before. All we can do as a club is try to back the manager and make him feel wanted and work together with him. He has categorically said that one of the reasons he came to Plymouth Argyle was because of the board of directors. Ian spoke to Tony Pulis and Paul Sturrock and he told us, 'You were made for me'. I think Ian is honest enough to come and talk to us if he has got any fears or problems. Obviously, every manager wants to take their team into the highest league they can and win trophies. But we all want that. At the moment, we are seventh in the Championship. When have we consistently been as high in this league?"
Paul Wotton is already planning a career in coaching once his playing career ends. Along with former Argyle player Kevin Nancekivell, Wotton has been coaching the club's under-15s, and he said: "I have got the final assessment for my UEFA B licence coming up very soon. It's something I really enjoy and it's something I want to get into when I finish playing. It has given me the opportunity to work with the under-15s, with Kevin Nancekivell. I love it. They are at an age now where they are only 14 months from maybe becoming an apprentice. It's an important time for them. I have been doing some of the games as well. I went away to Liverpool with them. It's not the same as playing, but I do get a little buzz out of them taking on board some information I'm trying to pass on. They train on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Ivybridge Community College and they play development games on Sundays against the likes of Exeter, Torquay, Bristol Rovers, Swansea and Swindon. Hopefully, I will get my B licence out the way and then get on with my A licence in the summer, which, by all accounts, is very tough. I really enjoy it and Mike Pejic has been great with me as well and given me lots of advice." Wotton admitted his injury lay-off had focussed his mind on the possibility of moving into coaching whenever he retires. "I think it has always been in the back of my mind," he said. "I'm that type of person. I feel I have got something to give. I think I have got decent experience that I can pass on to people and I love doing it. Now I have turned 30, and obviously been out injured for a while, it has made me think about what I'm going to do when I finish playing. I would love to do it, but there are loads of people who would love to do it."
Ryan Dickson has joined Brentford on loan, initially for a month
Scott Laird has extended his loan to Torquay United into a third and final month
Romain Larrieu wants to make up for lost time after his return to the first-team. He is out of contract at the end of this season and now he is back playing wants to push his claims for a new deal. Larrieu said: "That's what I have been waiting for. I'm not going to lie about it. Maybe he thought I didn't deserve a run in the team the other times he has played me. If that's what it is, that's fair enough. But I feel good and, touch wood, my body is fine. I can't wait to play more games and I'm gutted we have two weeks off now. I think the more games you play the better you feel, that's just the way it is." Larrieu found out about his recall to the first team on the day of the game against Colchester. He said: "I had felt ready for a long time and I was just so happy that he chose to give me that chance. It went well. I was quite happy with my performance. I thought I was unlucky with the goal. It was a good save in the first place. I couldn't get up in time to make the second one, but nobody was there to help anyway. It was just one of those goals." Larrieu then kept a clean sheet against Norwich, although the Canaries did hit the crossbar and the post during the second half. He said: "They tested the frame of my goal, but they didn't test me. I was a bit lucky, but that's part of football. When it's on your side it puts a smile on your face." During his absence from Argyle's first team, Larrieu had a one-month loan spell with Yeovil, and had a successful time with them. He said: "I thought I needed to play for someone because I felt sharp and if I wasn't playing I would lose everything. When Ollie rang me and told me that Yeovil wanted me on loan I thought about it for two hours. I thought if I wasn't going to play here for the time being I might as well play a few games for them. I got seven games in the month, which gets you into a good rhythm, and they were playing good teams as well, like Forest and Leeds. They are a good club and I'm quite glad I did it because all the sharpness I got from those games I will be putting into the games I'm going to play now. Hopefully, there will be many." Argyle are seventh in the Championship and Larrieu is optimistic about the prospects for the rest of the season. He added: "Since we have been in this league, little by little we are going up and up. Hopefully, if we can carry on that momentum who knows where we will finish up at the end of the season? There is a lot of belief in the manager and his staff, and there is a lot of belief in the group of players. It's just up to us to make it happen. If we can reproduce the performance we put in against Norwich on a consistent basis, not many teams are going to beat us. You could see Norwich couldn't handle us playing like that."
Damien McCrory played for the Republic of Ireland under-18s in their 4-0 defeat in Germany on Tuesday
Paul Wotton is set to return to full training with Argyle next week. Wotton made his comeback from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in August but ended up also needing a minor cartilage operation at the end of September, but has now recovered from that too. He said: "I have been progressing really well. I'm running at full pace, twisting and turning, forwards and backwards, heading and kicking. I'm still with Maxie at the moment, but we are recreating match situations, such as one on one defending and one on one attacking - everything you can do in football, really." The second operation was carried out in London by the same surgeon, Dr Andrew Williams, who repaired the torn ACL. Wotton added: "I had to have a clean up of the knee basically. There was a bit of cartilage removed. It was a bit of a blip, but I feel good now." Wotton has been trying to stay positive despite his long absence from competitive action. He said: "It has gone past frustrating now. It's just getting on my nerves now. Although I'm at a good place at the minute, frustration finished months and months ago. It's heartbreaking really, but it's part of football. The knee feels really strong and I have finally come to terms with the fact it's never going to feel the same as the other one, but that doesn't mean it's any weaker. It's just different. It has got different bits in there from other parts of my body doing the same job as before, and doing it just as well. It's just different. No worse, no better. I get the odd twinge, but I get that all over my body anyway. If I hadn't had the operation I wouldn't have worried about it. When I run my ankles click, but I don't worry about it because I haven't had an operation on them. It's just accepting this is how it is and it's going to be fine. My cruciate is as strong as anyone's in the squad." Wotton is reluctant to set a target for when he could start playing for the reserves, but it is not too far away. He said: "I'm very close to joining in with the first team and then it's down to me and Maxie when I think I can play a game. I'm pretty optimistic. I feel fit and my lungs feel fit because I have worked really hard with Maxie. After one or two games for the reserves I will be knocking on the gaffer's door, don't worry about that." Meanwhile, Wotton has been impressed with Argyle's start to the season, and he said: "I have only seen the home games. I haven't seen any away games. We beat Norwich 3-0 on Saturday and although they were poor you can only play what you up against, and on the day we played well. The boys are in good spirits and we are only four points off third place. I haven't seen anything to even be half concerned about down here, apart from Wolves in the first half. When we get firing on all cylinders consistently I think there will be absolutely nothing to fear. There is a very good atmosphere around the place at the minute."
Gary Sawyer faces another fortnight on the sidelines, while he recovers from the torn ankle ligaments and tendons he suffered in the reserves' win against Cheltenham on October 30th. Paul Maxwell said: "We thought Gary would be back in around four weeks so he has got another fortnight to go. We are being pretty aggressive with it and he's doing really well at the moment. He tore the ligaments and tendons in his ankle so it was a pretty severe one and it took a little bit of time to settle down. But he's not far away now." Maxwell also revealed that Nick Chadwick was on the mend after a hernia operation. Maxwell said: "He had a femoral hernia, which is slightly different to a normal one. It's a little bit lower down. He has had the staples out now and he started some jogging yesterday."
Ian Holloway is hoping to arrange some friendlies for Argyle's reserves against Premier League opposition in the coming weeks. Argyle have only played five times in the Pontin's Holidays Combination this season, and Holloway said: "What we might try to do is get a few games against higher opposition, like Portsmouth and maybe go up to Chelsea or Arsenal or something like that for the young lads who are coming through."
Ian Holloway has distanced himself from a story in a national newspaper claiming he could be about to quit as Argyle manager. He said: "Ask anybody who knows me how I feel about Plymouth Argyle and they will tell you the truth. If you need me to say it again, I'm in love with the place. It's absolutely magnificent. Ask my players who I'm trying to talk into staying here how Ian Holloway feels about Plymouth Argyle. I think they will tell you the truth. It's all poppycock, if I'm allowed to use that word. It's absolutely pathetic. But the media is a very powerful thing and, unfortunately, a rumour can become a bigger rumour. I don't know how these things get in there, to be perfectly honest with you." Reports also suggested that Holloway was on the short-list to become the new manager of Leicester City. Asked about the story, he replied: "We are playing well and we are winning matches. That's all that matters. If we weren't, nobody would be saying these things anyway. There's not a scrap of truth in any of it. Every time I have wanted a player the Board have bought me one. It's as simple as that. Peter Halmosi was available and were we going to sign him? Yes we did. He was our record signing. We spent £1.1 million last season. If they hadn't bought me a player I would probably be moaning, and the first people I would moan to is them. That's how it is. These things just get totally out of hand and I can't understand it. The answer from me is that it's absolute rubbish. As far as I'm concerned, we are giving it power now by even talking about it. Let's move on. Next question please."
Lee Martin was pleased to play a part in Paul Connolly scoring his first goal for the club on Saturday. He said: "Funnily enough, me and Shelly had a conversation at half-time and he told me he hadn't scored since he was seven, so it was kind of a coincidence. To be fair, I just put the ball into an area and, luckily, he was there. He made it look like a good cross. He took it well, and all credit to him. I was pleased for him." After losing at home to Sheffield Wednesday, Argyle have bounced back with four points out of a possible six. Martin added: "We knew Colchester wasn't going to be an easy place to go, and I think the lads did well. I think we should have come away with the three points, but it wasn't meant to be, and we showed what we are all about on Saturday. Obviously, Norwich are in a bit of bother but I didn't think they were too bad. We had to play our football the right way. The main thing was we got in their faces and I don't think they managed to deal with that, so credit goes to us for that." Against Norwich Martin put in one of his best displays for Argyle since his loan move from Manchester United at the start of October. He said: "When I get the ball I always enjoy my football. I think sometimes I can go missing just because I don't really get the ball. That's just the way it goes sometimes, but when I do get the ball I try my best for the team." Martin opened the scoring in the game with an overhead kick in the 26th minute. "It was one of those where the crowd were getting a bit frustrated," he said. "We play great football at times and we just need the end product. When we relax that's when we start playing our best football, and you saw that on Saturday." Argyle have no game on Saturday because of the latest international break, and Martin added: "I'm going to go back to London to see my family because I haven't seen them for ages. I will grab a few bits while I'm up there and, hopefully, I will move into my new apartment soon."
Akos Buzsaky is free to play for QPR against Argyle at Home Park on Boxing Day. Buzsaky will officially complete a £500,000 transfer at the start of January, but there is no clause in the current loan deal preventing him from playing in the fixture. Ian Holloway said: "If Akos plays for QPR I will be desperate to beat him and beat them. If he was just on loan, I would have put a clause in there that he couldn't play against us, but these deals are already done. I think you will find in January that people will be quite happy when they see what we have managed to do. Instead of a Tony Capaldi situation we have managed to do a new thing - an Akos Buzsaky situation, which is much more beneficial for my club." As well as Buzsaky, QPR have also taken Scott Sinclair on a one-month loan from Chelsea. Holloway said: "When I was there, I was never allowed to sign most of the players I wanted. Now I have had some good ones at Argyle, they seem to be snapping them all up. Isn't it quite funny?" The deadline for 'emergency' loan signings is November 22nd, and Holloway has admitted there could be new arrivals at Home Park before then. He said: "If I see anybody that I might want, I think I will have the possibility to bring them in. Until I see them, I won't be bringing in anybody, but I will have an opportunity to do so. I have had people wanting one of my strikers, but I'm not letting them go. I haven't spent 18 months building up a stock of strikers to let them go at the moment." There is one exception to that, though, in Ashley Barnes. Holloway added: "If anybody wanted Ashley Barnes on loan I might consider doing that. He's improving under our tuition here and I like what he's doing. He's just 18."
Argyle's Pontins Combination League fixture at Forest Green Rovers on November 19th has been postponed, but the reserves will now play at Yeovil Town the following day, November 20th
Ian Holloway has said he 'does not take kindly' to his players partying into the night during the football season. His comments come after Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning following an incident outside a nightclub. Holloway said: "We have had a couple of incidents in the 18 months I have been here which I dealt with and thought I had got to the bottom of. Now this is another one. I wonder how many incidents there are in Plymouth every night? Just because an Argyle player is alleged to have been involved in one of them it all becomes news. I'm sure if anybody did anything wrong it will be brought to light and the court will deal with it as they do. I have just got to deal with whatever happens. If a serious incident has happened then I'm going to have to deal with that internally with the club. But I think in this country we have a great policy that you are innocent until you are proven guilty. I don't take kindly to the fact that one of my players is all across the papers when we don't know if anything has happened yet. Somebody at the police station obviously tips off the local Press because names shouldn't even be given out, but I can't stop that can I? I don't like it, and I don't take kindly to my lads staying out until all sorts of hours but when we haven't got a game for two weeks, which we haven't, I can understand it. When you play as well as we did on Saturday you are allowed to celebrate every now and again. If you ask me, I don't think staying up until all hours of the morning is necessary. I like to have a nice Sunday myself, where I go and do things with my family. But, obviously, some of the younger element of the city - not just my players - haven't got those commitments, so they let their hair down on a Friday and a Saturday night. I haven't clapped a curfew on people and I expect them to behave in a respectable manner because they represent our club at all times of the day and night. I could show you the letters where the lads have gone out and represented the club in all sorts of scenarios. Generally, I'm very, very proud of them."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has been released on police bail after being questioned by police about an attack at a nightclub. The striker was arrested in the early hours of Sunday in Plymouth after a doorman's head was cut by a bottle and police said CCTV footage from the Candy Store in Union Street was being studied to find out more about what happened. The was released on police bail until 3rd January. A club spokesman said: "We are aware that an incident took place in the early hours of Sunday morning. As it is the subject of a police inquiry, we feel it would be inappropriate for the club to comment further."
Paul Connolly yesterday scored his first goal in 149 games for Argyle, but it did not come as a surprise to him. Connolly said: "The gaffer was caning me at half-time, saying I had not scored after playing x amount of games. I actually said to him that I would score in the second-half. I told him the last time I scored was when I was playing against my granddad in the kitchen as a seven year-old. As soon as the gaffer started killing me at half-time, I should have had a bet with him. I have got a sneaky feeling some of my family back home might have had a bet. They normally have a bet on me scoring at about 66/1, so I am hoping they are going to phone me with a nice cheque. It is too many games before your first goal, but I am so glad it finally came. I thought it was a decent connection with the header after a great ball from Lee, but, goodness knows what I was doing in the six-yard box. It was a good goal and a good win." Connolly was delighted to open his scoring account, although he insisted it should actually be his second career goal. He said: "I actually scored a fair enough goal in the Championship-winning season at Oldham. The ref gave a foul for a push, but the player I pushed was one of ours - Buster." The victory against Norwich was welcome, given that Argyle had only picked up one point from their last three games. "It was comfortable," Connolly added. "We played much better in the first-half but, funnily enough, we scored more goals in the second-half than the first. I thought our performance in the first-half was immaculate, especially considering the last three games when we have not had a win on the board and confidence has been low. We took our foot of the gas in the second-half but it is so hard to stay on the gas. We have worked so hard and travelled all over the place, and all the boys eased off. I remember when we first came up, we beat Crewe and Sheffield United consecutively on a Tuesday and a Saturday, both 3-0. Those two and this game were our best Championship victories. Although Norwich are down the bottom, they still have a half-decent side. We have made them look a poor side today. We were in their faces and the boys are all knackered, which tells the whole story. All the boys could feel a bit of doom and gloom around the place, and there is no way there should be any doom and gloom because we are doing so well, and we just proved it."
Ian Holloway was delighted with yesterdays 3-0 win over Norwich City. "Some of the football we played was terrific," he said. "If Plymouth have ever played better than that, I would have liked to have seen the team and I would like to have seen the game. It was exciting, bright, and we could have run away with even more goals." Lee Martin's overhead kick gave Argyle a half-time lead, before Paul Connolly and David Norris sealed the victory. "Lee scored probably the hardest chance - how he managed to do that, I just don't know," said Holloway. "We missed easier chances than that. Chuck's smashed his in. What a great strike, by the way. Anybody who tells me that boy can't shoot, have a look at that goal. How good is that boy, by the way? Lee Martin, Peter Halmosi, and David Norris - who was back to David Norris today - were absolutely marvellous; Lilian Nalis and everybody. Every one of my players had a good day today. You need that at this level. At Preston nearly every one of them didn't have a good day. But all you can ask is that they learn. I felt we have moved on from last week, when I wasn't happy with the set-piece lapse at all. I thought we could have won last week's game if we had been as focused as we were today, even when we were one-down. We didn't give anything away today - we really didn't - and I didn't think that Sheffield Wednesday were any better than Norwich City - and that's no disrespect to them. I think we have stepped on because we should have won last week like we did today. Sometimes we need to be a bit more clinical, but well done to the lads - some of the football was great and goals change games don't they? We have got a great bunch of lads, as I keep on telling everybody."
Argyle beat Norwich City 3-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Lee Martin after 26 minutes, Paul Connolly (47) and David Norris (50). Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Timar, Seip, Hodges, Martin, Norris, Nalis, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs Easter, Abdou, Gosling (not used - Doumbe, Fallon). Attendance - 11,222
Argyle reserves' away game against Swansea City, scheduled for November 14th, has been postponed and will now be played on March 5th
Renewed speculation about a possible move to Southampton for David Norris has been dismissed by Michael Dunford. He said: "There has been no further approach from Southampton and nor will be any welcomed. David has still got 18 months on his contract left to run and Ian Holloway sees him as an integral part of Plymouth Argyle. David has not rejected a new contract. That's rubbish."
Argyle's youth team beat Yeovil Town 3-0 today, the goals scored by Josh Grant (2) and Joe Mason
Ian Holloway has admitted he does not know what to expect from Norwich City when they visit Home Park tomorrow. He said: "Glenn Roeder has been a bit of a firefighter in his career and he will be relishing the chance to do something about it. They are down the bottom because they weren't doing things right and I'm sure their new manager will have a thing to say about that. They showed fantastic character in their local derby last Sunday when they came back from two goals down against Ipswich Town to draw 2-2. They are bound to take some strength from that, yet their last result was a 3-1 smashing at home by Watford, which would not have felt very nice. So the truth is I don't know what to expect from them. I don't know what Glenn's going to say to them and I don't know what his tactics are away from home. If he had had one other game away from home then I would have had more of a clue." Holloway is surprised Norwich are at the bottom of the Championship, and he does not expect them to remain there. "I'm sure they would love to swap with us at the moment," he said. "Will they be there at the end of the season? I doubt it very much, with the size of the club, with the size of the gates they get and the standard of their players. I'm sure Glenn can't wait to get his teeth into it and sort that out. I have spoken to him a few times. I can't say I know him that well, but we have got a common ally. He knows my chief scout Gary Penrice really well. Penny played for him at Watford. Glenn actually bought him for £500,000. I have had contact with Glenn through that but, to be fair, he has always been higher than me really. Norwich have got some very talented boys and just because they are down the bottom I don't want our fans expecting us to beat them. We are going to have to earn the right to win. It's as simple as that." Holloway has urged the fans who are at Home Park tomorrow to show their support for the team. He said: "I want everyone to come along anticipating and optimistic about a very good performance and, hopefully, a good result. I'm optimistic about my choices and I'm optimistic about my team's chances, but I'm never expectant. I wait and see what happens and then I try to do something from there. Our fans can play a massive part this season - they really can - by encouraging the lads. We have got one more point away from home than we have got at home, and we need that to change. When you have got a good atmosphere around the ground it's like having an extra man. I will try to encourage my players to give such a vibrant performance that everyone is off their seat and on their toes, but sometimes we need the atmosphere to be like that anyway. I don't want to be the most optimistic person walking into Home Park. I want our fans to feel like that. I don't want them to be expectant. I want them to be unbelievably optimistic, because if they don't believe then my players aren't going to."
Paul Maxwell has been vindicated in his assessment of the injury to Larrys Mabiala. Ian Holloway said: "He has had his operation and is now in rehabilitation. We were right. My physio was right and that is why I gave him a new contract when I first came here. I am very proud of that man. Maxi is very, very, very, very good at what he does. The fact is he will have a chance now of not ruining his knee long-term." Larrys will continue his rehabilitation in France with Holloway and Maxwell convinced the injury sustained at Argyle was an aggravation of a long-standing problem. Holloway said: "He will recover with PSG. I don't want the responsibility of this so-called wonderkid. I am glad we stuck to our guns. They wanted a letter to say he had done the injury over here. This was done before he came here, and then he landed on his knee and it was flapping about. We feel it had been a problem for a while. He is such a highly-rated talent, apparently. We keep hearing people say 'how the hell did you get him because he is such an unbelievable talent'. We don't know that yet because we have not seen him play." However, Holloway remains confident that Argyle will eventually get to see Larrys in action. He said: "He should still come back because, technically, he is our player for the season. It is a bit of a nightmare really. I have signed someone as loan cover and he is not fit, which is unreal." Thankfully, Mabiala's case has been a rare blip in what has been an excellent record for Holloway in the transfer market as Argyle boss. He added: "I must say, not too many things have gone wrong like this. I signed Barry Hayles and he could have been an absolute throw-away load of old rubbish, but he hasn't. Sylv could have nosedived and been rubbish, but he isn't, so, touch wood, some of the things we have done with our dice have worked. You have got to get 75% right, even with your substitutions. You won't get 100% right."
Ian Holloway will assess the fitness of Barry Hayles before finalising his team to take on Norwich City tomorrow. Hayles was hindered by a sore neck at Colchester on Tuesday, and was eventually replaced by Jermaine Easter. Holloway said: "Barry Hayles struggled to move his neck before the game on Tuesday, and during it. We will have to see how that is, but it needs to settle down." When asked whether Easter had played enough first team football recently to be considered for a call-up tomorrow, Holloway replied: "Probably not. Out of Easter and Fallon, who came on the other night, I thought Rory did the best. He and Peter Halmosi helped us change the game. I thought Jermaine was quiet, which he is going to be because he hasn't played enough games yet. Rory came on and won some headers. That's all I have been asking him to do, and I thought that made a huge difference to it."
Romain Larrieu and Luke McCormick have been sharing Argyle's goalkeeping duties for several seasons now, and the situation seems set to continue. Ian Holloway has mainly relied on McCormick, but Larrieu took his place in the draw at Colchester and Holloway is now looking to give the Frenchman a run of games. He said: "I went to bed thinking about it and I woke up thinking I wanted to change the goalie. McCormick had not deserved it, but that's life. There has been this shadow hanging over my management. I keep hearing 'Romain Larrieu - what a 'keeper, what a 'keeper,' but he has not had a batch of games under me. He played four games for me last season when he had not had a pre-season. I then loaned him out and he was gone for the rest of the year. He played three games at the start of this season for me and then played six for Yeovil. I am just waiting to see this wonderful goalie that we should have because the young kid has done fantastic for me. I just felt we had let in four goals in two games and I needed to roll my dice a little differently."
Ian Holloway has offered a vote of confidence to David Norris. He said: "He has had all the speculation that other people wanted him and there is no way he should criticise himself in the newspapers. I have had a go at him about it. He has been absolutely outstanding over the last couple of seasons and every now and again you will get a dip in form. I just think the kid never stops trying. I will have that all day long. I don't care where his best position is. He's an integral part of my team at the minute and I love him to bits. He can play brilliantly in the centre of midfield or on the right." Norris had been used in the centre of midfield against Sheffield Wednesday, but Holloway reshuffled his midfield at Colchester with Jimmy Abdou coming into the side and Norris moving to the right-side. Holloway said: "I just felt with my two wingers, he was going forward a little bit too much and we were a little bit too wide open for the Colchester game. Lil needed a little bit of support and I didn't know which one of Halmosi or Martin to play. I spoke to Peter and he's the most professional player I have ever worked with in my life. He does what the team needs and he takes the decision that the manager makes in the right way. I knew he was a little bit tired from all the travelling he has done with Hungary, and he also had sore groins. But what a performance he gave when he came on as a substitute. I have to say, I thought he was the best player on the pitch, but perhaps I'm biased." Meanwhile, Holloway explained why he recalled Romain Larrieu in preference to Luke McCormick. He said: "Young Luke has done terrifically well for me since I have been here but before the game at Preston he had a hamstring problem. I just felt it was right to roll the dice this way, particularly when Colchester were going to smack the ball on Platt's head. Romain is about three or four inches taller, and have I really been to fair to him? Has he had a chance yet? At the end of the day, I have got to make decisions. That's what I'm paid for." Holloway was pleased with the contributions of Abdou against Colchester, and added: "I think Jimmy has to settle, but he did very well. In training he doesn't give the ball away. He probably feels like he's on trial, because he's only got the rest of this season with us, but I really like the kid. I needed him tonight because Izzet keeps running forward. He takes gambles. I wanted to hold them until half-time and then it was going to open up and I was going to use Peter Halmosi."
David Norris felt that Argyle were back on form in Tuesday's draw at Colchester. He said: "I thought we played some nice stuff. We did well, but we let them have a goal from what I think was their only real chance. Romain made a good save, and they followed it in better than we did. That put us on the back foot. The first goal was always going to be massive. I think if we'd got it we would have been OK, but as it was I think we showed great determination. We kept going, and we got our reward. We didn't feel too threatened by them, and if we'd come away with a 1-0 loss we'd have been devastated." Asked to describe his goal, Norris said: "I remember Sylvan getting the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the six-yard area and turning. I just took a gamble that he was going to attempt to smash it across, and luckily I was in the right place at the right time and I managed to volley it in with the inside of my foot. It was great to see it go in." Whether or not it was caused by a positional switch, Norris came up with an impressive display at Layer Road. "I think I'm getting there," he added. "I was a little bit better tonight, and if I can have another couple of good games I think I'll be back on track. I enjoyed it, and to get a goal was nice." The next target for Norris and his colleagues is a return to winning ways at home to Norwich City on Saturday. "If we'd gone into that game with three losses in a row, it could have started to affect our confidence," he said. "Although we felt we should have won here, at least we played well and we got that point. All round the team, we did well."
Ian Holloway claimed Argyle did not get what they deserved from their draw against Colchester United last night. He said: "That's just the way it's going for us at the moment. On Saturday we got no points and deserved at least one, possibly three. Tonight, it looked like we weren't going to get anything after a performance like that. I'm bitterly disappointed that we didn't get all three points in the end. We have got to sharpen up our finishing. People are in the dressing room saying 'Sorry about that' but I will take a performance like that all the time. Last year we were clinging on for grim death and we won 1-0. This year I felt we dominated spells of play, even when we were behind. We have got to realise how well we are doing and the challenge that is ahead of us. We have got 46 games to try to be up and around the top of the table. For me, I can't ask any more from them, apart from smacking it in the back of the net." Holloway made two changes to his starting line-up from the defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, and he added: "I didn't drop Peter Halmosi. I left him out because he has had a sore groin. He showed how good he is when he came on. I have got to try to utilise the squad - I have got to get as many good results as we can. The fact is that you will find your level. And in this division there are some big-spending teams down the bottom at the moment. Will they be there at the end of the season, who blooming well knows? So we have got to keep going, keep sticking together and if people want to go and they choose somewhere else, so what? Let's get on with it. Onwards and upwards. That was as good a performance as we have had for the last couple of the weeks. It was probably better in the second half than when we scrambled a 2-1 win at Charlton. Tonight, we didn't get what we deserved." Colchester's goal came after the recalled Romain Larrieu parried away a dipping shot from Mark Yeates, and Holloway said: "They have probably had three shots all match, on our stats. And from one of them Romain has made a good save and it has rolled out to their bloke's feet. I'm disappointed with my defenders. They should always be there first, but these things happen. Their keeper made a save and it rolled just inches past Rory Fallon, and it looked like it was going to be one of those nights. We could have had five or six but, luckily for us, we got one in the end. I just need them to believe a bit more. I need everybody to believe a bit more, and I'm not so sure people do at the minute."
Jermaine Easter has been named in the Wales squad for their Euro 2008 qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland and Germany later this month
Argyle drew 1-1 with Colchester United, the goal scored by David Norris after 88 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Timar, Seip, Hodges, Norris, Nalis, Abdou, Martin, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs Halmosi, Fallon, Easter (not used Gosling, Doumbe). Attendance - 4,833
Ian Holloway is looking for inspiration from the past to help his team sharpen up at defensive set-pieces. He said: "I think we have lost our sharpness in defensive set-pieces. How long did we take to get organized for that set-piece on Saturday? It has got to be sharper. We can't get blasι and start expecting to beat people. I am not on about the fans, I am on about the players, and they are going to get the biggest kick up the bum they have ever had from me. I have got some proof. I've dug it out. It is a different level now but they were Champions here for one reason. They were regimented and disciplined, and that is how they beat QPR here 2-0. Their sense for danger and getting back in shape was quite outstanding. We have to make sure we do that again because this division is so tough. They are going to see the evidence of how they used to do it here, and how we have dropped of it a little bit. The set-up was not right at all. They are going to be chained to each other, so everybody knows." The first goal for Sheffield Wednesday came from a seemingly innocuous throw-in on the right wing, and Holloway said: "Lee Martin was never in the right place. He should have been because I told him, and he wasn't. He should have been barked at by other people to get across, but wasn't - goal! It is all about reminders. Terry Venables is quoted as saying 'all players are stupid and they forget'. He did not mean it nastily but I do have to say things over and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Footballers just go out there and want to play and I have to make sure the focus is on the right thing. I have seen the second goal and I don't like it." Sheffield Wednesday's winner was particularly disappointing, and Holloway added: "Their bloke took a chance and started running. My defenders who went forward for the corner should have started running back quicker. Their bloke took a gamble and we didn't see the danger before he did. The minute it was cleared to the edge of the box, we should have been on our way back because we did not have the ball. It is all about getting your focus right." Argyle have the chance to return to winning ways when they visit Colchester United tonight and Holloway will be hoping for a repeat of last season's 1-0 win. He said: "Every single game in this division is tough, which is why it is such a wonderful, wonderful challenge. I am delighted with where we are, but disappointed because I feel we are better than we have shown in the last two games. We did not deserve anything at Preston. We deserved all three points on Saturday but we got nowt. We can learn from this, and we need to because we will be bombarded at Colchester. It is a very small pitch, a very tight pitch. I have won at Colchester a few times because my teams like to close and press. I am going there with a positive, attack-minded team, who better sort their lives out defensively." After the disappointment of successive defeats, Holloway is looking for his team to not let the leading runners get too far ahead in the marathon of the season. He said: "I think we are doing quite nicely thank you but, just because we beat Charlton the other day and reached the dizzy heights, does not mean we are going to stay there. I can see Haile Gebrselassie moving away from us. We are looking at his shorts - are we going to catch him up? We are going to Colchester and we have to earn it."
David Norris has admitted he has been disappointed with his form for Argyle this season. He said: "There is definite room for improvement. In some games I do well and then there are other games where I don't play well. Before, in the years I have been here, my consistency has been my biggest thing and I just feel I have been a bit up and down. There was the stuff in the summer and I think it might have affected me a bit. I spoke to the club then about an extended contract and I was told it wasn't an option. All I want to try to do now is just get on with the football and try to get back to playing well and whatever happens from there happens." Norris shared the frustration of the fans after the defeat by Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. He said: "We played some nice stuff going forward in the first half and we looked reasonably solid. Once we got the goal I thought we would settle down a bit and go from there. But we conceded a poor goal really by our standards pretty soon afterwards. Then they got another one on a breakaway from one of our corners. They were two disappointing goals to concede in a game we really should be looking to win at home." The visit of Wednesday was Argyle's first match since the departure of Akos Buzsaky and Norris added: "It was a little bit disappointing because we need all our players really, but the club have to make a decision on players who are out-of-contract. That's the way it goes, and I think they made a profit on it anyway. Akos was a good lad and we wish him all the best. We just have to get on with it. Players come and go but the fans and the club will always be here."
Ian Holloway believes his players are not getting the support they deserve. "All I need is people supporting us," he said. "Who the hell expected to go to Charlton and Preston and win? We hoped we would, but you should not start anticipating that, should you? All I am saying is 'Let's create something realistic'. I told you it would be hard, but don't make my life even more difficult." Holloway also called on the local media to get behind the team after being angered by a newspaper column from a local journalist. He said: "He wrote the biggest crock of rubbish I have ever seen the other day: 'This is typical Argyle - promise everything at Charlton and then don't turn up at Preston.' We had to write something on our website to put him right. Some of that football in the first-half against Sheffield Wednesday is better than you have seen here for years. Any chance of making the players feel that? The breakaway goal against Charlton - what a fantastic goal that was. That is one hell of an attacking team, with Lee Martin and Peter Halmosi on the wings. I remember the route one stuff and pick up the pieces: hit Evans and get the bits; let Friio run forward and not defend; playing 4-5-1 even at home. Maybe we should start saying that, and maybe our lads would start feeling great about themselves. Some of the football, and the way my lads are playing, is terrific, but we need to be more clinical in front of goal and absolutely ruthless at the back. What I don't need is some complete muppet who calls himself an Argyle fan slaughtering us for losing at Preston. He is the one who needs to change his thinking and get behind his team. I am the one who believes. Does he? Make your article more positive or don't write it." Holloway also wants the Home Park crowd to lift his team, and added: "Our fans did not stop singing at Preston, but all I could hear today was Sheffield Wednesday, even before they were 2-1 up."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is Argyle's only fresh injury concern ahead of Tuesday's trip to Colchester. Ian Holloway said: "Sylv always gets a bit of a sore back. When you have a sore back, anything can happen. Ask anybody with a sciatic problem and they will tell you it is absolutely horrific. He has got do his exercises to keep it all in place and he has to train as well, so he has got to be careful. That is him and his body is still developing, believe it or not, so goodness knows how strong he will eventually be. There is a slight imbalance, so this is what he has got to do."
Ian Holloway was in a state of shock after the loss to Sheffield Wednesday. "It was a bad day at the office. I never expected it and didn't see it coming," he said. "We gained the ascendancy in the second-half. I thought it would be one of our wide men breaking forward that would win us the game. We got a goal, thoroughly deserved it and were much the better team. We had 16 shots at goal to their six. Unfortunately, we have missed the target 12 times, which is not good enough. We got in the lead and I was sat there feeling pretty comfortable because we were doing an awful lot of things right." The game turned on a misjudgement from Krisztian Timar and Holloway added: "We faced a throw in a situation where one of my defenders suddenly, crazily, thinks it is going out. Big Krisztian thought it was going out and all he had to do was step forward, put his left-foot through it and kick it towards Saltash, and I think we would have won the game. Their centre-forward got his foot to it and whipped it in the top corner. Before you know it the whole situation had changed and my lads tried too hard to win the game, just like we did last year. It was a set-piece we rehearsed and got a free header at goal, and then one of their blokes goes up the other end and scores, so I am absolutely flabbergasted. To be fair, if you play like we did, you deserve at least one point, if not all three. It is infuriating. Their fella ran from his own box. The number eight was stood on the edge of his box, so where was everybody? I am sick and fed up with Sheffield Wednesday because they did that last year, but you have to be resilient, strong and keep doing the same things. We went up to Preston, and they have been one hell of an organization for the last five years, and we were almost the favourites. We could not deal with it and they were better than us on the day. Today, I can't say Sheffield Wednesday were better than us but the facts are two to them and one to us, and we have got to deal with it."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Home Park, the goal scored by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake after 47 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Seip, Hodges, Martin, Norris, Nalis, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs Fallon, Easter, Gosling (not used Larrieu, Doumbe). Attendance - 12,145
Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi had to bid farewell to Akos Buzsaky this week - and they will miss him. Timar said: "We are not happy now that Akos has gone, but that is how life is in football. He has been here three years and he was very happy when he was here, but what can we do? It was Akos's decision. It is his life and we will support him and wish him all the best. We will keep in touch with him." Halmosi added: "I will miss him because I thought we played very well together. He is a very good footballer." Asked if he was surprised that Buzsaky had joined QPR, rather than a team near the top of the table or a Premier League side, Timar replied: "Yes, a little bit, because a lot of people think Akos has enough quality to play in the Premier. But there are new owners at QPR and they have a lot of money so maybe it is a good deal for him. Maybe there is a good plan for the future. He will know why he has gone there or maybe he just wanted a change and he doesn't have time to wait for a chance in the Premier League." When he was asked if Argyle would find it easy to replace Buzsaky, Timar said: "The team will miss him. There are a lot of good players here, but maybe we need a similar type of player. We need someone like him when we play passing teams like West Ham or Charlton." Timar and Halmosi have been getting ready to face Sheffield Wednesday at Home Park today. Timar said: "We have to win at home, but it will be a hard game. We lost last week and we need to start another good run." Halmosi added: "We were a bit tired last week and the pitch was massive, but we have had a rest at the start of this week and now everybody is ready for the next game." Halmosi will hope that he can maintain the good form they have shown in recent weeks. He said: "I think I've improved and I've got used to the habits here. I've had to work hard, and I know I'm going to have to keep doing so to stay in the first team, but I'm enjoying it. I'm very happy here." Halmosi has been included in Hungary's squad for European Championship qualifiers against Moldova and Greece later this month, but Timar's fine form has not earned him his first summons to the squad
Argyle's Liam Head made his England Under-16 debut last night in the 2-0 Victory Shield international victory over Wales. Argyle Centre of Excellence manager, Allan Evans, who accompanied Head of Youth Coaching, Mike Pejic, to the game said: "His link-up play was excellent - it wasn't until the 41st minute that he gave the ball away for the first time. There are still a lot of things for him to work on and improve, but he should be pleased to have done so well on his international debut."
Jermaine Easter may have to wait for his Argyle debut, Ian Holloway being reluctant to plunge his new recruit straight into the Championship cauldron. Holloway said: "He has not played all season but he has got some good work under his belt He looks bright and can certainly find the net in training. I am glad to have him on board and he is settling in now. He knows what our training ground is like and he knows the routine of the lads now. It is all still new and I am sure Akos feels the same up at QPR. It is a huge thing to happen in your life when one minute you think you are here and the next you are over there. The good thing is he comes from this country. He has not had to move his family from goodness knows where. He has just come up the road from Wycombe, so it should be a lot easier for him." The form of Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake makes it unlikely that Easter will start against Sheffield Wednesday, and when asked about the possibility, Holloway said: "Match-fitness and the way my other lads have been doing so far makes it doubtful. I did not want to put him in the reserves on Tuesday because he only came back that morning and it is all about preparation." Holloway is expecting a tough game against Wednesday, despite their position in the Championship. He said: "It's going to be a very tough one again and we will have to be pedal to the metal to win it. I don't think anybody in this league is better than anybody else. We are out there on Saturday trying to entertain our fans, so get down here and cheer our lads on." Referring to Buzsaky's departure, Holloway said that the move would earn Argyle a profit. He added: "We're still seventh and we won't look regretful that Akos has chosen to go somewhere else. He said himself that he was sad to leave Plymouth, but by January he would have made us a nice profit."
Peter Halmosi, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Lee Martin are doubts for tomorrow's game with Sheffield Wednesday. Ebanks-Blake and Martin were hurt in training ground accidents on Thursday and although Holloway said that the three injuries were not serious - he admitted he was touching wood that they would be taking part in the game. Holloway felt the competitiveness during yesterday morning's training showed his squad's 'good spirits and good habits', and he said: "I was delighted with their freshness yesterday morning. It's just one of those mornings - normally you've got to rev them up, but I was trying to tell them to calm down. They're up for it and ready to go. I think they're a bit disappointed that their run has ended and now they've got to start a new one." Holloway, though he stressed that none of the latest injuries were serious and he was hoping that they would be fit for tomorrow, said: "They're all a concern, because we're pretty short again. If Nick Chadwick was fit, that would give us more choices." Holloway said Ebanks-Blake had gone down heavily under a challenge from Krisztian Timar, who he referred to as 'the Hungarian monster'. Martin was 'limping around' after a collision with Dan Gosling, while Halmosi was sore after suffering a groin injury. He said of Timar's tackle on Ebanks-Blake: "He hit him everywhere - he went through him. It was an uncompromising number five's tackle, straight through you, as though you are not there. I was thinking 'for God's sake, Kris, this is training and that's your player'."
Ian Holloway will not be afraid to put his faith in the pick of the clubs young players, if his diminished first-team squad shrinks any further. The loss of Gary Sawyer means that Argyle can ill afford any further defensive absences. "It's a blow to lose Gary," Holloway said. "He'll be out for a while. My physio didn't want to put a time on it. Gary needed a game, so I stuck him in the reserves and I've lost him at a vital stage of the season. The transfer window for loans is going to shut in a few weeks' time. We can't sign anybody during December, and that's a very busy month. You can't foresee who's going to get injured." Last season Sawyer, Lee Hodges and Tony Capaldi were all used to fill the left-back slot. Of that trio, Hodges is the only one now available. Should Hodges succumb to injury or earn a suspension, Holloway might well choose to dip into the youth squad. Martin Watts, a first-year professional from Cornwall, has been impressing at left-back in reserve games this season, and could be considered for promotion to the senior squad. "I've got young Wattsy," Holloway said. "He's done very well so far. I've got other options. Ryan Dickson and Peter Halmosi can play at left-back as well. Ryan needs to go and play for somebody else. He's blocking up the other young ones. He's been to Yeovil and Chesterfield for trials, and I can't understand why somebody won't take him. He's got to be better than what other people have got, but is he going to take me to the Premiership at the moment? I feel he needs to drop down a little bit and get some games under his belt. But if I run out of one or two more, he might get a chance here." While Dickson's short-term future might lie elsewhere, Watts has not been the only first-year professional to catch Holloway's eye. "Some of the young lads are really stepping up," he said. "Jake Moult, Dan Smith and Wattsy are starting to look like the other lads. I don't think they're far away. I'm proud to have them on board and I'm sure they're proud to be Pilgrims."
Barry Hayles has admitted that Argyle have not got into top gear so far this season, and he expects more players to be drafted in by Ian Holloway to help give the team a kick-start. Hayles said: "I haven't had too many chances so far, to be fair, and there's definitely more goals to come from me. I think, as a team, we have got a lot more to come as well, because we've not quite clicked into gear yet - we have got to perform better. There are games we probably should have won, but that's the way it's gone for us this season. We weren't at the races last weekend. You can have two or three players not playing well if the other eight are on form, but none of us played well." Hayles blamed breaks for international matches as one reason why Argyle appeared to lose focus after putting together a promising run of results. He said: "I think the breaks come at the wrong time - we just get ourselves going and we get a break. Once the international breaks are over and we've got a settled team, we'll do better. I'm sure the gaffer will bring more people in to freshen the squad up a bit. Our squad isn't that big anyway and we've got players coming back from being long-term injured. I think for any team to progress, you need to freshen up the squad." Hayles agreed that Argyle were unused to being in a position where they were pushing for a play-off place, and added: "It's all about self-belief - teams like Watford and Wolves have been there before and they know what it takes to get into the Premiership. But I reckon we've got a decent chance, although I don't think we've got going yet."
Ian Holloway believes that Argyle can cope with the loss of Akos Buzsaky and other talented players, as long as he is able to secure adequate replacements. "I don't want our fans to get upset and nervous, but I did warn them," he said. "I don't hold all the cards and, the closer we get to the top, the more people will be looking at our. We're not looking like relegation fodder, although we could slip into that zone if we don't win any of the next four or five games. That's life, it's a very tough division, but I think we're looking at the other end of the table because of the way my players have been playing. Hopefully there's optimism around the place, and I'd like to think I've brought some of that. We've got some quality players but, if we lose all our quality players to other clubs, then we're going to struggle. I think we all know that, I think the board know that, but, if we can get some more money in for some more of our out-of-contract players, I'm sure I can find the right targets and I'm sure the board will back me. My goal is to get to the Premiership, but it won't happen if we keep selling our best players all of the time, unless we bring in some that are fresher and better for us." Nick Chadwick, who is due to have a hernia operation next week, has been replaced as one of four strikers in the squad by Jermaine Easter. Holloway added: "The minute Nick Chadwick was injured, we immediately go and sign another striker." Holloway is expected to give Easter his home debut on Saturday.
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