A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have failed in their bid to sign Piotr Wlodarczyk ahead of today's closure of the transfer window. Wlodarczyk's advisor, George Macari, claimed the move would 'not now go ahead' due to Legia using stalling tactics 'to keep their star player'. He said: "Unfortunately, the deal for Piotr to join Plymouth will not now go ahead. The reason is that Legia have used every piece of red tape they could find in order to block Piotr's move to Plymouth. Consequently, we cannot now beat the transfer deadline. The blame lies entirely at Legia's end and not with the Plymouth board who have done a fantastic job all through. It's not Plymouth's fault that they have run out of time and it's equally frustrating for Piotr who was keen to complete the move in time. It means basically that the deal is dead in the water and we're all frustrated by this transfer window. Legia have used it to their advantage, using all the gamesmanship and red tape they could in order to keep their star player. It's such a shame as Piotr had been looking forward to joining Plymouth. The transfer window is frustrating for everybody involved, except Legia. The Plymouth board could not have done more and although the deal is now dead in the water as far as this season is concerned, it's possible Piotr could join later on this year, perhaps in the summer."
Luke McCormick has been linked with a loan move to Torquay United. The Gulls have a goalkeeping crisis after the sudden departure of Olafur Gottskalkson last week and Leroy Rosenior has just one keeper on his books - player-coach Kevin Dearden. However, Dearden has knee problems and it is believed that Rosenior will be looking to bring in another keeper before Saturday's game at home to Doncaster Rovers
Argyle's match against Crewe at Home Park on February 26th has been designated as a 'kid-a-quid' game and tickets will be available to Under-16s for £1
Tony Capaldi has been called up to the Northern Ireland squad to face Canada on February 9th
Argyle are in a race against time to sign Piotr Wlodarczyk. Wlodarczyk's agent, George Macari, confirmed talks were ongoing. He said: "We are still looking at it, and we will need to see what happens. But we are running out of time." Meanwhile, Dundee manager Jim Duffy has described the offer made by Argyle for striker Steve Lovell as 'totally insignificant'. Duffy is reluctant to sell Lovell, but sources in Scotland believe a bid of around £350,000-£400,000 would tempt them to let him leave. Duffy said: "Maybe people down there are a bit bereft of information from Bobby Williamson as this is old news. They made a bid weeks ago which was totally insignificant and not even considered. They phoned us up and suggested a fee but were told it did not even come close to our valuation of Stevie, but they sent an offer anyway. Unless someone comes in with decent money then he is staying here."
Argyle youth defender Jamie Laird scored for Scotland under-16s when they drew 2-2 against host nation Portugal in their second match at the Santarem Tournament. Scotland, captained by Laird, had been narrowly beaten 3-2 by Spain on Wednesday and are playing their final match today against Denmark
Argyle are in talks to sign Polish international striker Piotr Wlodarczyk, and have already had an offer to take him on loan for the rest of the season rejected by Legia Warsaw. Wlodarczyk's agent, George Macari said: "Plymouth have put in a loan offer, which has been rejected, and we are now discussing a proposal for a permanent contract. I'm doing everything I can to ensure we reach a positive conclusion so talks are on-going. Wlodarczyk is one of those traditional centre-forwards who are a bit of a rarity nowadays. His strengths are holding the ball up and his aerial ability. He's a good size at 6ft 1in and is well suited to English football. The fact he plays ahead of Grzegorz Rasiak of Derby in the national teams shows the reputation he has in Poland. Wlodarczyk is also extremely mobile and gets into the channels with good runs. Nothing would please me more than for Argyle to get someone of Piotr's quality."
Bobby Williamson has refused to comment on speculation linking Marino Keith with a move to Motherwell. The Scottish Premier League club are believed to have inquired about the availability of Keith, who will be out-of-contract at the end of the season. Williamson said: "There has been phone calls exchanged between myself and quite a few managers regarding players moving one way or another but nothing to talk about until things are concluded one way or another." Williamson has also revealed he has not received transfer requests from any of his players. He said: "If one had been put in, they would have been refused anyway because we need everybody we have got here fighting for the cause."
David Friio has not trained all week after a bout of food poisoning. Bobby Williamson said: "David has been struggling. I saw him yesterday morning and sent him back home again." Lee Hodges (back injury) and David Norris (knee injury) have also missed some training this week because of injuries
Argyle's game at Millwall scheduled for Saturday March 19th has been moved on police advice, as Charlton are also at home on the original date. The game will now be played on Sunday March 20th at 2pm
Argyle are stepping up their search for a new striker. Reports suggest that the club had approaches for two forwards rejected yesterday. Dundee have turned down an offer of £200,000 for Steve Lovell, while Yeovil Town have said no to a £100,000 bid for Bartosz Tarachulski. Argyle are also believed to be pursuing alternative targets at clubs in Europe. Any signings from Scotland or abroad will need to be made by Monday's transfer-window closure
Marino Keith is a transfer target for Motherwell, according to newspaper reports in Scotland
Peter Gilbert has been made to wait for promotion to the senior Wales squad. Gilbert has had to settle for retaining his place in the Under-21 squad for the European Under-21 Championship qualifier against Germany on Tuesday week
Bobby Williamson has backed Scott Taylor to help solve the team's goalscoring problems. He said: "Scott Taylor has come into the team and he knows where the back of the net is. We are just hoping he gets a break in front of goal. He has been unfortunate not to get off the mark yet. He is a good goalscorer with a good goals-to-game ratio in lower divisions, and I have given him the opportunity to see whether he can do it at this level. I am hoping he is able to do that but we need players from all areas of the pitch to contribute goals - like we have done in the past." Williamson admits the process of judging the players he inherited at the club is still 'ongoing'. He said: "I am still gauging the strength of the squad. Some players have not been selected and have moved on. It has been difficult as those players did ever so well for the club, but it is a big jump from one division to another. It is up to me to answer whether players are at that level and select the players I believe are capable of performing - and add a bit more quality to that. If there is a great player from the past not getting a game then that player has got to look at his situation - maybe move to a lower club or even one in this division. But nothing will be done radically and the guys already at the club deserve the opportunity." Williamson said he understood the fans' frustrations at current results - but re-iterated his belief that a change in fortunes is just around the corner. "This club has had a lot of success in recent seasons and is used to winning more than losing," he added. "At this moment we are losing, but it had to happen at some point. As I have said, I will deal with that. I have not seen anything in this division much better than us, but we have not picked up the results. I can understand the criticism from fans and I am happy to speak to them personally. If there are any supporters branches out there who want me to come along then I am open to invitations."
Argyle are reported to have renewed their interest in Mario Haas. Reports from Austria suggest Argyle have now contacted Sturm Graz officials to indicate they would be prepared to pay a fee for Haas
Argyle reserve's won 4-0 against Bristol City at Home Park last night, the goals scored by Stewart Yetton, Keith Lasley, John Hoyles and Chris Zebroski. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Aljofree, McKeever, Lasley, Summerfield, Adams, Dickson, Yetton, Hoyles. Subs – Evans, Bond, Zebroski (not used – Schofield, Routledge)
Bobby Williamson has not ruled out making another overseas signing before the transfer window closes on Monday. He said: "I'm not going to be pressurised into anything if I'm not sure about it. I'm not going to rush into decisions just because the window is closing. That just doesn't happen. If we do bring in a player between now and then it's because we have worked hard at it, and I could never say never regarding that. There are so many players that have been spoken to and it's just keeping the pot boiling along. If it comes together, it comes together. If it doesn't, that's just the way it is."
Argyle will field a strong side for tonight's reserve fixture against Bristol City. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, McKeever, Summerfield, Wotton, Aljofree, Lasley, Adams, Hoyles, Yetton, Dickson. Subs - Schofield, Routledge, Bond, Zebroski, Evans
Bobby Williamson has admitted that Argyle may not have the financial muscle to achieve the sort of squad rebuilding he is seeking. He said: "To be perfectly honest, no. I don't think that is in place at this moment in time. Everybody keeps saying that we're getting full houses and that there must be loads of money here. Sure, there's money here but we have to get the infrastructure of the club right before we can think about going on to the next step and attracting players worth £1 million or more. Even if we had a million and we spent it on one player, we'd have to pay him half a million in wages. We're not in that situation. We're not ready for that. Players of that quality can make you successful in this division but we can't afford them, so we have to work hard as a team to make sure we get the best out of each other and compete in this division." Williamson has also made it plain that giving one or two players a far bigger salary than the rest of their team-mates is detrimental to team spirit. Nevertheless, he remains determined to make the most of his limited purchasing power. "I want to get the best players I can to complement what we already have here," he added. "When we get them, our players have to accept the fact that the guy has joined us, and he's going to be pushing for a first-team place." Paul Stapleton revealed at last week's AGM that Argyle were considering the option of a share issue to raise funds for squad strengthening and projects like the completion of the redevelopment of Home Park. "It is maybe something that we could do to boost our finances," he said, "and raise interest in the club." Stapleton revealed that the club were seeking advice from Ipswich Town and Norwich City, two clubs who have undertaken successful share issues in recent months
Bobby Williamson thinks his team need to learn hard lessons at both ends of the pitch in order to survive in the Championship this season. He said: "If we defend like we did in the first half on Saturday, then we're not going to win games, it's as simple as that. We had chances to get our noses in front, and we never took them either. However, the most disappointing aspect for me was the second half, when we never got enough bodies in the box. We put a lot of balls into dangerous areas, but we never got anybody on the end of them. We've got to show the desire to go in where it hurts in order to get goals, but we've got to start off by building from the back and making sure we're hard to beat. We made it easy for Preston on Saturday. Their first goal was an exquisite finish. It was good technique. That's why they paid over £400,000 for the player. But we could have stopped it happening in the build-up to the goal. If we had defended properly, he would not have got his opportunity. I'm sure David was devastated after the second goal, we all were. But the fans have to realise he didn't do it on purpose. He didn't mean to play the ball back short. He tried to take the weight off the pass so that Romain could step on to it, but he took too much off it. It was a big blow for David, but nobody will be hurting more than him. He'll learn from the mistake. He's conscientious, and he wants to do well. All we can do is keep working. There's a very thin line between winning and losing, and unfortunately we're falling on the wrong side of that line at the moment. What we can't do is allow the confidence to drain away. It's up to me to keep the guys going in training and try to inspire them to go out and perform." Argyle do not have a game this weekend and Williamson said: "I've never been in favour of breaks. I always like working. I always like games coming thick and fast, especially after a defeat. You want the next game to come immediately, so that you can put the defeat behind you and win the next game. But it's out of our control. We've just got to knuckle down and get on with the job in hand, and keep believing. I do know that these situations turn around if you keep working very, very hard. That's what we're doing, and it will come." One positive aspect of last Saturday's defeat was the debut of Akos Buzsaky. Williamson said: "Akos will certainly be a player. You don't get signed by Porto if you're not a good player. He has strengths, but I'm sure he has weaknesses that we'll notice over the course of the season. We've got to make sure that we get the balance right, and if he has weaknesses then we've got to bring in players who can do what he's not very good at. We've not got players who can do what he is good at. That's why he's here. I've been working to get him for a while and thankfully it came together. The lad came over, he liked what he saw, he's enjoyed the training and he's pledged himself to us for the coming months. We're looking at making it a long-term signing in the summer. I'm hoping he hits form, makes a huge impact and then we get him permanently. He's got a bit of creativity about him. He keeps possession, and he doesn't give the ball away cheaply."
Akos Buzsaky made his debut for Argyle on Saturday and played for 64 minutes before he was replaced by David Friio. Buzsaky almost opened the scoring in the first half with a 25-yard shot which rebounded off a post. Bobby Williamson said: "We knew he would tire and that's why I started with him. He played the 90 minutes during the week and he came through. There was the mental strain there as well, with a young lad coming into a new country. I thought it would be better to start with him and get as much out of him as we could and then replace, rather than bring him on as a sub when maybe we were chasing the game, or a goal. The first impressions are that he's capable. His strike was a great effort but, unfortunately, it never went in."
Keith Lasley was disappointed with the loss, and his performance, on his return to the Argyle starting line-up on Saturday. He said: "Obviously, I have not played for a while but, at the same time, I'm still fit enough. I'm pretty self-critical anyway but I wasn't that happy with my own performance. No player likes being out of the team. The manager knows the players that have not been playing are not going to be happy. That's just football. If you are happy being left out of the team there's something badly wrong, but when you get your chance you have got to try to take it. Obviously, I was a wee bit disappointed with myself but, hopefully, I will get more chances before the end of the season. The goals we lost were a bit disappointing from our point of view. I think we had a decent spell in the first half when we hit the post and had a couple of other chances. In the situation we are in just now I think we need to start taking our chances and, unfortunately, we didn't do that. That's just the way it's going now. Sometimes you feel as if everything is going against you. We have just got to make sure we keep going and keep fighting away and I'm sure it will turn around. Preston are a decent side, they are on a good run of form and they have got good football players. They definitely make it hard for you, but especially in the first half, I thought at times we looked dangerous ourselves and we just didn't capitalise." There were some boos from Argyle supporters after the final whistle on Saturday, but Lasley understood their frustration. He said: "It's not nice to hear that but, at the end of the day, the fans pay their money. The fans have been absolutely superb and a lot of them were still there at the end. That's the support we need, and that's the support we have been getting to be fair. It has been excellent - away from home as well - but we have got to start repaying the fans. Hopefully, we can start doing that pretty soon."
Bobby Williamson pleaded with supporters to stay behind his team during their slump with the message: 'We're all in this together.' After yesterdays defeat he said: "The boos will come every time we lose a game. Rightly so. Our fans pay good money, whether it's here or travelling away, and I can understand their frustrations. It is very disappointing. They have got to understand that we are disappointed for them. We are disappointed for each other as well, because we do put a lot of effort in on a daily basis and on a Saturday. When the confidence seems to be affected, it's even more hard work. I just plead with fans to keep on encouraging us - as they did in the first half. They found it as hard to believe we were 2-0 down as we did. We needed the first goal. If we'd have got that, we'd have got a huge lift from it. Unfortunately, we conceded the first goal. It was disappointing, a bad defensive error, although it was a good finish by the lad. Credit where credit's due. The build-up to it was defendable, and we never did that; the second goal was poorer - we gave it to them on a plate. We've got to work very hard for our goals but we are giving away goals too easily, and that's disappointing. Preston kept things tight and defended as if their lives depended on it. We had chances to score, and they blocked them. We have got to get back to doing that and make sure we don't concede soft goals." Argyle have a fortnight's break before the next game and Williamson vowed to use the time to get back on the training-ground to iron out the defensive mistakes, as well as to look at possible new signings. He said: "I've got to keep looking to see whether there are players out there who could add to us or strengthen us - that's easier said, than done, to be honest - and we'll keep working hard with the players we've got at our disposal."
Argyle lose 2-0 to Preston North End at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Coughlan, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Gudjonsson, Buzsaky, Lasley, Capaldi, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Friio, Norris (not used - Keith, Wotton, Aljofree). Attendance - 13,663.and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Argyle have more meetings planned with Plymouth City Council next week as talks continue over completing the redevelopment of Home Park. Paul Stapleton told shareholders at the AGM last night: "We had a meeting with the council this week but there is nothing to be announced in public just yet. We have another meeting next week. We are a lot further on than we were but we have got to make sure it is right for the football club." A question-and-answer session followed the formal business, when Stapleton was put on the spot about the compensation Argyle received when Paul Sturrock left last March. Stapleton replied that Argyle had signed a confidentialy agreement with Southampton but did agree that the figure of £250,000 reported was not far wide of the mark. "We got 150 per cent more than what they said was their final offer," he added
Argyle swooped for Akos Buzsaky after a glowing recommendation from Jose Mourinho, and Porto have given Argyle the first option to sign Buzsaky on a permanent transfer in the summer should his loan spell prove to be a success. Bobby Williamson said: "He's a player who came to my attention a couple of months ago and I have been keeping an eye on his development. It's a loan with a view to taking him in the summer if he proves successful. I think he has got qualities that can add to us. I'm hoping he settles in quickly and he gets the breaks along the way. I have watched a tape of him in action and he has played with some top quality players. He comes highly recommended. I mentioned him to Chelsea assistant manager Stevie Clarke, who talked to Jose Mourinho, and he spoke highly of the boy. I have seen him in action and how he conducts himself and I hope he will be a good acquisition. He has played for Porto on quite a few occasions and you don't play at that level if you are a bad player." Argyle have been told by Porto of the transfer fee they will want for Buzsaky and Williamson said: "Every player you sign is a gamble. It can be hit and miss. If a player is good at one club it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to be good for another club. But I'm hoping he does settle in well and does get decent performances under his belt. There has been a figure being banded about how much Porto are looking for, and if he looks worth that money then we will certainly do our best to try to get him here on a permanent situation." International clearance for Buzsaky to play against Preston was received minutes before the signing deadline yesterday. Williamson said: "It was a bit of a rush. We tried to push everything through but it was difficult when the Portuguese FA take a break at a different time in the afternoon than the English FA. You are thinking 'are we going to get this through?' but, thankfully, we managed to get it concluded."
Paul Wotton is determined to play his part in leading Argyle back up the Championship table. He said: "We've been so used to winning that it is going to hurt when we lose, but people need to appreciate that we're in a higher league. We've had a bad run of results, but if our fans turn out in force and get behind us then we don't envisage any problems. There is no reason for pessimism. The players aren't panicking and neither are the management staff. We know we need to get back to some good honest hard work, grind out some results - and then we can start climbing the table again. We're enjoying playing in the Championship immensely and we've all worked incredibly hard over the past three years to get up to this level. There's no way we're going to give it up without a fight. Times likes this are when the team spirit is tested. It needs to come to the fore. In the run of games we're having at the moment, everything seems to be going against us. Referees' decisions, the break of the ball, they're not going our way. When things like that happen, it can be very difficult to turn it round. The only way you can turn it round is by biting, scratching and scrapping for every ball and by fighting for your lives in every single game. Eventually, I promise you, it will turn." Argyle today face a Preston team who are climbing the league. "They've had a good run," Wotton said. "They're a good footballing side. They like to pass the ball about, but if we can get about them and try and impose our game on them, rather than let them impose themselves on us, then we can get a result. We're at Home Park, and nobody likes playing here. If the fans can see that the players are giving 110 per cent, whatever the result, I think they can live with that. We're all doing our best and hopefully it will be good enough. I'm sure it will be."
Akos Buzsaky has joined Argyle on loan until the end of the season. The Hungarian Under-21 international captain's international clearance came through just in time for him to be considered for the starting line-up against Preston tomorrow. Bobby Williamson said: "I am delighted we have been able to get a player of his ability. He has qualities which will enhance what we have already got and that will take this club forward."
Bobby Williamson insists the biggest pressure he is facing is from himself and no one else within Home Park. He said: "I put myself under pressure every day, I don't let anyone else put me under pressure. I try and avoid newspapers, I don't read websites and I don't listen to radio phone-ins. As I said, there is a lot of negativity that flies about these things. If people speak to me directly then that's not a problem, I'll lift up the phone and speak to fans and hopefully put them right on a few issues. I try not to allow outside forces put pressure on me. I am just determined to do my best here and work as hard as I can, that's all you can do, that's pressure enough. I have belief in everyone at this club's commitment to the cause and that helps me as well." The manager insists he is no table-watcher: "I don't really pay too much attention to tables at this time," he said. "It's once you get to the run-in, then you look at it and see who you can catch or who can possibly catch you. Then you focus on it and set yourselves targets. At the moment there are still 17, 18 games to go, a lot of points to play for, so the table can change very quickly over a period of two to three weeks. It's not a major concern at this time. It just needs a decision to go in our favour or a bounce of the ball that can swing it back your way. We certainly got breaks at the start of the season, but it did not camouflage the performances I saw when we went undefeated. I knew there were going to be hard times ahead, so you take those when they come. It's when those hard times come around that you stay resilient, stay strong and believe in what you're doing and I certainly believe in that." Preston are one of the form teams in the Championship and will provide a tough test tomorrow. Williamson said: "It's going to be a difficult match, as usual. They all are. Preston have been getting results consistently, whether it's three points or a point. They have added to their squad and got in some decent players. We know we are going to have a hard-fought game so we have got to be up for it and I just hope we get the breaks on the day."
Keith Lasley is set to make his first start for more than two months when Argyle take on Preston tomorrow. David Worrell is also expected to be restored to the right-back role because Paul Connolly is starting suspended. Bobby Williamson said: "Keith has not played for a long time but he has always been in my thoughts. I rate him very highly. It has been trying to get him in the team, and other players have squeezed in ahead of him for one reason or another, but his opportunity is not too far away. I have got a lot of time for Keith Lasley. He works very, very hard - as do all the players at the club. The ones that aren't selected I feel sorry for because I'm denying them football on a Saturday afternoon, but I believe we need a squad of players that are capable of challenging and pushing each other on." Lasley, who was arguably Argyle's best player during pre-season, has only started 10 of their 29 games in the Championship and Williamson added: "Keith has not been happy, and I don't expect him to be happy. He has been in and expressed his disappointment to me. But if it wasn't Keith Lasley sitting the other side of the desk it would have been a Stevie Adams or a Lee Hodges or a Paul Wotton or a David Friio. If you are not in the team, you are not happy about it, but I pick the team I think is going to win the match, and I try to adjust that during the course of a game as well." Worrell will play after Connolly was shown the red card against Gillingham - when asked about the incident, Williamson said: "I have not really looked at it, to be honest. The referee has dealt with the matter and it will be dealt with internally. It's an emotive game and people do silly, reckless things at times. Whether he deserved to be sent-off is immaterial. He has been sent-off and he has got to deal with that and live with it. You don't give up your jersey as easy as that. It does take a long while to establish yourself in the team at times. David Worrell felt hard done by because he wasn't being selected but his opportunity could have come along." The same could apply to other players in the squad. Williamson said: "I'm thinking about freshening things up. I'm looking to change it about a bit and give an opportunity to people who probably haven't had an opportunity in recent weeks. We had a lot of games over the Christmas period and it was more or less the same guys who came through that, so maybe I have got to look at that situation."
Argyle are close to securing former Hungarian under-21 international Akos Buzsaky on loan until the end of the season following a trial period. Bobby Williamson refused to confirm the identities of the trialists who played at Torquay, saying: "We had a trialist (Mario Haas) in a few weeks ago and that was well documented and then everything went slightly pear-shaped. I'm not going to go down that road again. Once we conclude business then we have got a case to talk about." Williamson did however, make a general comment on the ability of the four trialists on show this week. He said: "They are all good players and they all come with good pedigrees. It's up to me to work out which ones I feel are better than what we have got or they can add to what we have got and to push the board to see if we can do that. But the board have been very supportive since I came in the door."
Paul Stapleton has urged Argyle's fans to keep the faith and turn out in force this weekend to urge the team to victory against Preston. He said: "We tried to say at the start of the season that we knew it would be a difficult league, and we knew that we had to get used to it. We knew that we had a new manager and that we had players who had done us proud over the last few years, but we didn't know whether they could carry it through. They've done very well so far, though, they've not been outclassed. New players have been brought in as well, and they need to be bedded into the team. We're going through an exercise that we knew we'd have to cope with, and it's no surprise that it hasn't been easy." Bobby Williamson has had his decision-making questioned by some fans lately, but Stapleton fully supports the manager. He said: "Bobby knows the board are behind him. We all loved Paul Sturrock while he was here, but Paul may have found it just as hard at this level. He has never managed in this division. While we like winning titles, and we've won two in the last three years, we knew that the Championship was going to be different. There are several teams at this level with recent Premiership experience. We've not had our fair share of luck, either, although that may change. We want everyone to remain positive. It seems to me that, because everyone is unused to being at the wrong end of a league and having to scrap and fight, people are starting to panic and get carried away. We're not complacent about what's been happening. The manager is working hard, we know that. Everybody is positive at the football club, but there are times when you have to earn the right to play at a certain level and we're doing that. We said at the start of the season that, if we finish just above the relegation places, that will still be an improvement on the previous year and then we can make progress from there. The plan is to work our way up the League, and we have to maintain our focus. We can't suddenly do rash things and panic just because we've lost a few games. I know fans will be disappointed. They want to win every game. So do we on the board. We're all fans. We have to work our way through it. We all know we have some strong characters in our team, we've found that out in the last three years. They've given everything for the club over those years, and they'll have to carry on doing that until the end of the season." Stapleton found last weekend's visit to Gillingham educational. "They weren't panicking about anything," he said. "They're quite relaxed even though they've been third from bottom for most of the season. It's when you start to panic that things go wrong. We have to be positive and confident and we want fans to bear with us and support us. That's what the idea of being a supporter is. It's no good shouting and screaming because things don't always go right on a Saturday. I'm not blaming the fans, they have every right because they pay their money, but I just want them to be positive and cheer us on and help us stay in the Championship this season."
Argyle will not be pursuing their interest in Christer George. Bobby Williamson is believed to have been unimpressed by George's performance in a behind-closed-doors match against Torquay United on Tuesday and will not be following up his interest. The trialist from Porto that played against Torquay is believed to be Hungarian Akos Buzsaky, who plays for the European champions' B side. Reports from Portugal suggest he could be available to Argyle on a loan deal until the end of the season. Meanwhile, Williamson has made inquiries about Derby County's German midfielder Marco Reich. The 27-year-old left sided player is out of contract at the end of the season
Argyle's FA Youth Cup run came to an end last night, as they lost 2-0 to Crewe Alexandra. Argyle: Stevenson, Drew, Routledge, Laird, McKeever, Bond, Evans, Summerfield, Dickson, Hoyles, Zebroski. Subs – Smith (not used - Mason, Nute, Robotham, Reski)
Bobby Williamson watched four trialists in a behind-closed-doors game against Torquay United at Plainmoor yesterday. Three of them were in the starting line-up, including Christer George. George played alongside Marino Keith, and scored one of the goals in a 5-0 victory. Two of the other trialists started in midfield, 20-year-old Jordan Fowler from Arsenal and a player from Porto, who also scored. Mustapha Jarjue was a substitute and played in the closing stages of the match. Keith Lasley scored two of the goals with Marino Keith also getting one. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Adams, Aljofree, Capaldi, Norris, Fowler, Lasley, Trialist, Keith
Bobby Williamson has admitted that there is a slight possibility that Argyle could resurrect their interest in Mario Haas before the transfer window closes at the end of this month. "We've spoken to Sturm Graz and they've told us about the size of the fee they were looking for, and we've declined to offer them that type of money," Williamson said yesterday. "That's the end of it as far as we're concerned - unless they phone us back and say they're prepared to take a lot less. We were made aware that Haas was being made available on a free transfer. The player was made aware that he could be allowed to go as well, and that was why he came here." Iin the meantime Argyle are pursuing other targets. "We've enquired about a lot of players recently, and we've made offers for a lot of players," Williamson added. "Unfortunately people are looking for a lot more money than we value them at, which is their prerogative. But I would like our fans to know that we are actively trying to strengthen the team, to complement the players we already have at the club. This is a big push for us now. We want to have as many players available for selection as we can get." Williamson may also turn to the loan market to boost his squad, having been reluctant to borrow players until now, but circumstances have changed. "It's a possibility," he admitted. "I've never hidden the fact that I'm not a big fan of loan signings. They're usually a knee-jerk reaction when a team is really, really struggling. I don't think we need a knee-jerk reaction, but if there's a player out there who is available who can help our needs and help his club's needs, then it's something we'll look at. I don't discard anything." Sources have suggested that Argyle made an enquiry about borrowing striker Kevin Campbell from Everton last month, who has since joined West Brom on a free transfer
In addition to Gambian Mustapha Jarjue, a second player, thought to be from either Russia or Ukraine is also spending the week on trial at Home Park but Bobby Williamson refused to confirm the identity of either player. "I'm not prepared to do that because I feel it's unfair on a player if we don't sign him, or they decline to sign for us because they don't like it here," he said. It doesn't send out the right messages and I don't want to harm any of these guys' prospects of getting a club somewhere. A week is never long enough to make a decision on anybody. You can get as much information as you want from other sources, and that's what we are doing. I will have a look at these guys and if I feel they have fitted in with us and they have worked well with us then, hopefully, the aim is to add them to us." Another player Argyle are reported to be chasing is midfielder Christer George, who has been transfer-listed by Rosenborg. The 25-year-old is also believed to be on trial at Home Park this week, although Argyle have not confirmed that. Jarjue was set to play for Argyle in a behind-closed-doors game against Torquay United at Plainmoor this afternoon but it was not clear whether George would be involved in that match
Bobby Williamson has urged Argyle's fans to stick together as the team face up to the challenge of preserving their Championship status. He said: "I know how frustrated the fans are, and I know how nervous they must be getting, but I can assure them that I have confidence in my ability and the ability of everyone at the club. A couple of victories will take us up that league, and we're only a couple of goals away from getting results. We're all frustrated, but I feel we've got the players in the dressing-room who can get us back up the table. Sometimes it's hard to get those results in the face of adversity, but I have faith in our players' ability. I'm an experienced manager. I've been at the top end and the bottom end of leagues, and I know how to deal with the pressure. We all have to stick together and believe in each other's ability, and we need the fans to keep backing us. When results aren't going for you, everybody looks at everything and some people look too deeply for an answer. For us recently, it's been a case of poor performances or decisions going against us. We've been looking very deeply at refereeing decisions that have gone against us recently, but they have gone in our favour previously this season and we haven't analysed them too deeply then." Willaismon is adamant that his players are trying their hardest and that they deserve the full backing of supporters. "These guys go out there to play their best," he said. "Sometimes their confidence can be affected at times when they're being criticised publicly, when fans are getting on top of them. Those are the pressures we have to live with as football people. We have to deal with them. We have to put them in context and take the opinions that you value on board and, if they're constructive, learn from them. We have been used to success over recent seasons. We've won more games than we've lost. It has been different this season because we're playing at a higher level, and there are still questions being asked of everybody - the players and myself. Those questions are being asked and we have to stand up and answer them. We'll do our best to do that. As a manager I'm not going to stand back and let us drift into defeat after defeat. But I don't think we've done that, to be honest. Quite a few teams have suffered runs of defeats. We've not really done that, we've almost always come back with a response and picked up a point or three points." The Scot still feels that Argyle are learning about life in the Championship. "We've got a mixture of young players who are learning their trade in this division," he said, "and we've got experienced players who haven't played in this division. I've not managed in this division before this season, but if Paul Sturrock had still been here that would have been the same. He hasn't managed in this division either. It would have been something new for him as well." After Saturday's defeat Graham Coughlan raised fears that defeats do not hurt every player as much as they should do. Asked for his reaction to Cocko's comments, Williamson said: "I can assure our fans that defeats hurt everybody. Some people get over defeats quicker than others. Graham is a very professional person and he wants to do well, and it hurts him when we don't. He has spoken emotionally in the immediate aftermath of Saturday's game. I can understand that. For younger players, with maybe 400 or 500 games ahead of them in their careers, a defeat is just a slight setback, a blip. And that's all a loss is, in that context. Defeats do hurt everybody, but some dwell on them a bit longer than others. We're up for the scrap. We certainly are. I'd be more worried if we aren't competing in this division, but we are. We're just losing bad goals at the moment, goals that are defendable, because our concentration levels have dropped at key moments. That gives me hope, that gives us something to work on, and believe you me we are trying to work on it."
Paul Connolly has been cleared of pushing referee Jarnail Singh after he was sent-off at Gillingham on Saturday. Connolly put both of his hands on the shoulders of Singh as he protested the decision but the referee will not be taking any action against Connolly because he did not believe he had been pushed. Bobby Williamson said: "I don't think he did shove him. He put his hands on the referee and nobody is condoning that. I think the boy was just frustrated at that stage in the game. He couldn't get possession and lashed out and the referee has deemed it a sending-off. We have got to live with that." David Worrell is the obvious candidate to take over during Connolly's suspension but Williamson is keeping his options open. He said: "We have got other players who can play in that position. I will pick the team that I think is going to win the game on Saturday."
Bobby Williamson has refused to comment on speculation linking two of his squad with Premiership clubs. Reports have suggested that Everton have bid £750,000 for Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, and that Manchester City want Romain Larrieu. "No comments on Press speculation," Williamson said. "You guys can make your own stories up." Paul Stapleton meanwhile, flatly denied the reports. He said: "I have been told about the speculation and that's what it is - just speculation. We have not heard anything from anybody. That's the truth." It was reported that Manchester City striker Jon Macken could move to Home Park as part of a swap deal for Larrieu but Macken's wages would make that highly unlikely. Stapleton insisted Argyle were aiming to strengthen their squad, not weaken it. "We know we have got to get used to this league and move on from there," he said. "We have come on great leaps and bounds in three years and the squad have done remarkably well. They might need some freshening up and there is always movement in football. We have great faith in the manager in doing that manoeuvring."
Gambian midfielder Mustafa Jarjue is spending the week at Home Park on trial. The 18-year-old and his agent watched the defeat against Gillingham and then returned to Plymouth on the team coach
Bobby Williamson has not ruled out signing Mario Haas in the summer. "It's not looking good to be honest," he said. "We spoke to Sturm Graz directly instead of leaving it to agents and they were looking for a huge transfer fee for someone who is coming out of contract in six months' time. So we might just sit and wait and take him in the summer." Williamson added: "I'm always looking to strengthen the team, whether it's in the striking department, the midfield or the defence. That's on-going. If somebody comes in sooner rather than later all the better. It gives us more competition." Sturm Graz have denied Williamson's claims he was not informed about a transfer fee for Haas but Haas himself has confirmed he was originally told he would be allowed to join Argyle on a free transfer. Heinz Schilcher, general manager of Sturm Graz, said: "I don't know what source of information Mr Williamson had, but we have always been open about our financial expectations. Mario is an Austrian international and our team captain. It would be careless not to ensure that his new employee was aware of his value." Haas said: "I cannot understand Plymouth's reaction. I know that Graz have not done anything wrong. As long as I am their player, they can ask for a transfer fee. Okay, if it's not going to happen now, I hope we can come to terms during summer when my contract with Sturm has expired. I still have the impression that Plymouth really want me and I would really like to go to England in the summer. When I went there for a trial Sturm president Hannes Kartnig told me he would let me go without a transfer fee. Meanwhile, he has changed his mind and I guess that's why the deal did not take place now. But I am not disappointed and still believe in my chance to play for Plymouth one day." Williamson also said problems over unpaid wages owed to Haas contributed to the problems but the player denied this was the case. Haas said: "It is not true that I haven't been paid by Sturm for three months. But it is correct that the bonus for the points we accumulated is missing. But that is not so important - I will do my best for Sturm as long as I'm here." Meanwhile, Paul Stapleton has spoken about the collapse of Haas's proposed transfer for the first time. He said: "It's disappointing that we might have built up hopes and then we didn't deliver. We don't want to do that. "I don't know whether it's something that will resurrect itself in the summer. There are a lot of targets at the minute so if Haas' name is crossed off we carry on from there."
Graham Coughlan has urged his team-mates to raise their game and stick together after the defeat at Gillingham. He said "It was a dog-fight, and the dogs won the fight. We didn't compete. I don't believe we deserved to win, maybe a draw might have been a fair result, but it seems to me that it's the same story week in, week out. A defeat like that hurts, but you have to ask one question. Does it hurt everybody? I know it hurts certain individuals, but you can count on one hand who it hurts. It's our jobs that are at stake, it's our livelihoods, and it's about time we started to realise that. Success doesn't come easily in football, nor in life, and unless we pull our finger out, as a group and as a team, we'll end up where we don't want to be." Argyle have shown at times this season that they can compete with the best teams in the Championship, but Coughlan is not blind to the reality of their recent record. "We've only won five of our last 23 League games," he said. "That doesn't fill me with confidence, but we have to try to be confident from now on. We have to start getting together, and digging each other out of holes that we're in and helping each other when we're having a bad day. For some reason that seems to have disappeared from our play. One or two players are going through a bad time. We always used to gather round and help them out. We've got to start being nasty again, too. I don't know when the last time was that I had an on-the-pitch argument with Romain or David or Wottsy. They used to happen just about every five minutes in the past. I think we're going to have to bring that back and start being nasty to each other - not in any bad way but in an encouraging way, so that we can get a little bit more out of each other. That's something that we're missing, but to be frank there are a whole load of things we're missing. I know these are harsh words, but the situation we're in calls for harsh words." Argyle were not helped by some puzzling decisions from referee Jarnail Singh on Saturday, but Coughlan added: "He was very poor, but we can't keep blaming the referees. They've been poor in every game. It's not for me to say, but maybe some of them are not up to it. But let's look at ourselves. I know I'll be looking at myself and asking myself a few questions, before I start pointing the finger at anybody else."
Paul Connolly faces a three-match suspension after he was sent off at Gillingham on Saturday. Connolly also pushed the referee with both hands as he protested against the decision and could face further sanctions from the Football Association
Argyle's reserve fixture against Bristol City has been re-arranged for a week on Tuesday, January 25th
Bobby Williamson will teach his players the qualities they need to 'fight and battle' their way to Championship safety following the loss at Gillingham. He said: "Gillingham are a team that have been in this division for a while now and they have been used to fighting these types of battle, and stayed in the division. We have got to learn to fight and battle now because this set of players are used to winning championships and dealing with all sorts of other pressures. As a manger, I've been at both ends. I've been challenging for Europe in Scotland; I've been fighting off relegation. I know how to deal with it, and that will hold me in good stead. If we can get that through to the players, we should be okay." Argyle were not helped at Gillingham by a referee who turned down strong appeals for a penalty. "It looked as though we had a valid claim for a penalty," said Williamson, "but decisions either go for you or against you and on this occasion again, it has gone against us. Capaldi was running into the box at pace and he had the ball under control. The referee said the lad got the ball. You're hoping these decisions go for you, rather than against you. In recent weeks, they have been going against us. If I knew Capaldi was going to play as well as he did in the ten minutes he was on, he'd have started the game. He came on and acquitted himself very well and has got every opportunity of getting in the team next week. The first goal was going to be very important, and we conceded that. We threw caution to the wind and pushed bodies forward to see if we could get a break in their box, but unfortunately it didn't materialise. I don't think we deserved to lose the game. I don't think there were many clear-cut opportunities for either side. The pitch, and this is no disrespect to the linesman, wasn't conducive to running with the ball. There were a lot of bobbles and the linesman had to be substituted because he went down a hole. We saw so many bobbles, it made players look stupid and it could be dangerous. We battled away but it was bad defending on our part for their goal. We know we can defend better than that and, on this occasion, we didn't. It's been very costly. I never felt we were out of the game at any stage. I never felt anyone dominated. We had as much possession as they did but the final quality pass just wasn't there on the day. We just didn't do enough to get anything out of the game." Asked why he only made one substitution, and declined to bring on Marino Keith, Williamson added: "I thought the strikers on the park were doing enough. I felt one of them would get something. To put Marino on would have meant taking off a midfield player and losing ground in the middle of the park. They took one of their strikers off and used five men in the middle, which made it difficult for us. The park was very tight as it was, which was why I wasn't prepared to go with out-and-out wide players from the start." Williamson had few sympathies for Paul Connolly, whose swing at Darren Byfield probably did not make contact. "It was reckless," said Williamson. "We've got to give the referee the benefit of the doubt and say he got it right, but there were a lot of decisions he was nit-picking about that should have gone in our favour but didn't." Asked if he was concerned about Argyle's position in the Championship Williamson said: "To be honest, we've always been concerned about our league position. People are not slow in telling you where you are, even if you don't look at it directly yourself. It's performances that matter to me, how we go about our business, and today I don't think there was much separating the teams. They got the break in front of goal, and they took it."
Argyle lose 1-0 at Gillingham. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Coughlan, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Gudjonsson, Wotton, Friio, Hodges, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Capaldi (not used -Lasley, Norris, Keith, Adams). Attendance - 8,451.
Scott Taylor is eager to make up for lost time at Gillingham today. Taylor has not played for Argyle since January 3rd as he was was ineligible for the defeat to Everton last weekend. "It has been a few days since I played," he said. "It was especially hard watching the game against Everton from the stand. I thought the lads did well, particularly in the second half. Their late third goal flattered them a bit, because we were pushing for the game. Maybe we gave them a bit too much respect in the first 15 minutes. Once we realised we could play, it was maybe a bit too late because they'd got their two early goals." Taylor is confident that he will not find himself in a relegation battle at Argyle as they travel to third from bottom Gillingham today: "We're going there to win the game. We don't look too far behind. It's a big game, but we can get a result there and push on in the next couple of games." Taylor has performed in the First Division for Tranmere Rovers and Stockport County and said: "The Second Division was more brutal and physical, but this division is more professional. The centre-backs don't just come and kick two lumps out of you."
Bobby Williamson has criticised Paul Sturrock for talking about his possible interest in signing Hasney Aljofree. Sturrock was asked whether Aljofree would be returning to Sheffield Wednesday in an interview and said: "It's possible. Hasney is one of those players that may feature in my longer term plans for this club. It's a shame he got injured when he did as he was doing very well, and would have gone on to do well over the next two or three games with us. But he has a contract at Plymouth and is a Plymouth player. It's something we will look at again in the future." When Williamson was asked about Sturrock's comments, he said: "I haven't read anything regarding Paul but I think it would only be nice and proper if he spoke to me about Hasney Aljofree, rather than speaking publicly. I go through the proper channels in speaking to the manager, or whoever is in charge of the club - whether's it's the chief executive or the chairman, and let them know the interest." Williamson admitted many managers often returned to their former clubs to sign players for their new employers. He said: "I see Craig Levein has brought a couple down from Hearts and a lot of managers are comfortable doing that. I never did that when I went to Hibernian. I never brought anybody from Kilmarnock. I brought Matt Doumbe down from Hibs on a Bosman because I knew he was capable and that has proved to be the case. I try not to talk about players at other clubs because it just unsettles everybody - players at our club and the players I'm talking about - and I don't think that's the proper way of doing business. We try to keep things as close to our chest as possible until we conclude. Unfortunately, the Mario Haas situation was in the public domain. I talked about it and it was probably premature."
Bobby Williamson has admitted that the deal to bring Mario Haas to Home Park looks 'dead in the water'. Williamson believes that Argyle were misled when they followed up an interest in the striker after he impressed in a trial last week. "It's looking as if it's dead in the water," said Williamson. "His club are looking for a transfer fee of a few hundred thousand pounds and that was not the information we were given when the boy came over. If that information was known to us, we would not have brought the boy over in the first place. He's out of contact in the summer. We'll keep an eye on his progress and maybe something will happen when he becomes a Bosman player. The situation has changed as far as we are concerned. The goalposts have certainly shifted. We're not prepared to pay the money that Sturm Graz are looking for." Williamson remains undaunted by the collapse of the deal and will now turn his attention to other targets, insisting that the process of strengthening the squad is ongoing. "I've not just been dealing with Mario," he said. "He knows that. Other players I am looking at and agents I am talking to know that also. That's ongoing The one who has the desire to be here will accept our offer. There's a few we are pursuing and time will tell whether we get them."
Bobby Williamson is keeping a cool perspective on Argyle's current situation ahead of the Gillingham game, which he hopes will spread to his players. "People outside the club will try and put a big importance on the game but I have got to let the guys go out and express themselves and try to play with confidence," he said. "I don't think anyone plays at their best when they are nervous. I will always try to instil that into them and alleviate that pressure. It would be nice if we could get the three points, and we will certainly be giving it our best, but there is a long way to go. There are a few games to be played and a few points to be won from now until the end of the season. I have not had any cause for concern about any performances this season, to be perfectly honest. I'm certainly enjoying the games, and I think, if the fans look at it as a whole, we have played a lot of good football. Unfortunately, decisions have gone against us and the breaks have gone against us at times. We have just got to live with that and move on. It's frustrating for fans, players and managers alike when the results aren't going as well as we would like, but I have great belief in these guys and if we play as well as we can do we are a handful for anybody." However, Williamson will accept a substandard performance on Saturday on one condition. He said: "I'm looking for a result, more than a performance, to be honest. We really need to start winning games. Gillingham are in amongst it and we are expecting it to be tough. They will certainly come out with all guns blazing. They are the home team and they have got to try to get forward and create chances and it should be easier for us to exploit any openings they leave. Not that we are going to go there to sit back and invite pressure on ourselves. The game will develop its natural course and the team that starts well will get the impetus to push on. I'm hoping that's going to be us."
Bobby Williamson is still convinced Mario Haas will sign for Argyle but it seems unlikely the transfer will be completed before the trip to Gillingham tomorrow. Williamson said: "Sometimes these transfers drag on a little longer than you would expect. But it hasn't dragged on any longer than when Scott Taylor decided to join us. Thankfully, we kept that quieter. Because you bring a boy in and he's about the place and everybody knows about it then you have really got to inform people. I think it sends out the right signals that international players are considering joining Argyle. Haas has enjoyed what he has seen so far and, hopefully, he can become part of that, but there is still some work to be done. We are just waiting for the green light. There has been a lot of talking done over the last fortnight and it's ongoing. He has got a problem with Sturm Graz - I don't think they have been paid wages for a while. He's due some money so once that's sorted out at that end we can move things forward at this end. I think everything has been agreed between us, the player and his agents. I'm sure it is actually. It's just a case of getting himself sorted at Sturm." Williamson revealed Argyle were continuing their efforts to add other new faces to the squad. "There are one or two people being talked to, and that will keep going," he said. "Once we do something, there will be a Press conference to let the fans know."
Scott Taylor is set to make his second start for Argyle against Gillingham tomorrow and Bobby Williamson is hoping he enjoys better fortunes than one of the other strikers at the club, Steven Milne. "He works hard at his game, the same as the rest of the guys do," said Williamson. "I'm just hoping he gets the breaks you need. Stevie Milne certainly hasn't had them since he joined us and I'm hoping that he gets over his injury very, very quickly." Apart from Milne, Williamson has no injury worries for the trip, with goalkeeper Romain Larrieu fully recovered from a thigh problem. "Romain is fine," said Williamson. "He has been training this week and has had no reaction. It was precautionary last week to sit Luke McCormick on the bench, just in case, but that was a cup tie. In league matches I'm more inclined to go with outfield players so I can change the shape of the team if necessary." Williamson does not want his players to worry about the implications of tomorrow's game. He said: "People outside the club will try and put a big importance on the game but I have got to let the guys go out and express themselves and try to play with confidence. I will always try to instil that into them and allieviate that pressure. It would be nice if we could get the three points, and we will certainly be giving it our best, but there is a long way to go. There are a few games to be played and a few points to be won from now until the end of the season." Argyle are aiming to complete the double over Gillingham after beating them 2-1 at Home Park in October and Williamson added: "We knew how hard it was going to be, and that proved to be the case. Unfortunately, I think our fans thought it was just a case of turning up and seeing how many we would get. Gillingham were fighting for their lives at the time - and still are. They are in amongst it and we are expecting it to be tough. They are the home team and they have got to try to get forward and create chances and it should be easier for us to exploit any openings they leave, not that we are going to go there to sit back and invite pressure on ourselves. The game will develop its natural course and the team that starts well will get the impetus to push on. I'm hoping that's going to be us." Argyle have only picked up one point from their last three games but Williamson is not worried about their form. He said: "I have not had any cause for concern about any performances this season, to be perfectly honest. I'm certainly enjoying the games, and I think if the fans look at it as a whole we have played a lot of good football. Unfortunately, decisions have gone against us and the breaks have gone against us at times. We have just got to live with that and move on. It's frustrating for fans, players and managers alike when the results aren't going as well as we would like, but I have great belief in these guys and if we play as well as we can do we are a handful for anybody."
Mario Haas has been told he has to play for his club, Sturm Graz, this weekend. Argyle had been hopeful of completing a deal by the middle of this week, however the deal has stalled, with Argyle suggesting that his agents are to blame for the delay. Haas had indicated his willingness to return to Plymouth as soon as the few remaining obstacles to the completion his transfer had been removed. He is reportedly due to meet his agents today for further talks. Yesterday, though, he was included in the Sturm squad for an indoor tournament this weekend
Bobby Williamson insists he would have no worries about starting with three strikers in a game this season having played a 4-3-3 against Everton. In the defeat, Bjarni Gudjonsson and Tony Capaldi pushed up to support Mickey Evans, in the absence of the cup-tied Scott Taylor. Williamson believes he has the personnel currently in the squad to start with three strikers. He said: "I feel we have got capable strikers here. I could have gone with Marino Keith on Saturday but decided to go with Bjarni, rather than him. If I feel playing three strikers from the start was an attacking option that would benefit us, I would do it. But you have got to get the balance right. We played 4-3-3 on Saturday but a lot of people did not pick up on it. Our left-sided midfielder was meant to push up but he ended up defending more and erred on the side of caution. What I would like to see is us keeping the opposition back in their end defending, if we decide to play that formation. The formation with three up did score us a very good goal, with Gudjonsson going beyond Mickey Evans. That's what we expect to happen if we play that formation. As far as I'm concerned you don't need three strikers to do it. Everton played 4-3-3 and did not have three strikers. When you get the ball and are going forward you play in a 4-3-3 formation. But we can play three forward as long as we are organised at the back. I will pick the team accordingly, but tactics are for the dressing room. A lot of people try to work it out but don't have a clue."
Steven Milne, who has not played since November due to a knee injury, does not appear close to an imminent return. "He is slightly worse than we thought but we don't set times or dates on how long it will take to recover," said Bobby Williamson. "It just takes time to get over these types of injuries. He is working hard on his rehabilitation and working hard with the physio."
Paul Stapleton believes the FA Cup tie against Everton may help attract higher profile players to the club. He said: "Of course it boosted our profile as a club and as a city. People up and down the country watched the game and saw a full house. Other games on TV had empty seats but we were packed out and the atmosphere was fantastic. It could attract players to us as a club. We have always had a problem with distance - people think we are out on a limb here. But this may create a bit more interest in us. We were on national TV against a big Premiership team and put up a good performance." Argyle's received £150,000 as a result of the BBC's coverage of the game and a further £9,000 came through BBC Radio Five Live airing the game live. Stapleton said the cash would only add to the club's ability to spend on the transfer market: "I have said all along there is money there for Bobby Williamson to spend. He knows the exact amount of money there is in the pot, and no-one else does. We spent money on Scott Taylor but got some money back from the Stevie Crawford deal. We are having a fairly successful year with attendances, although obviously we don't know what will happen with gates to come. Bobby is not the sort to waste money."
Argyle's reserve game against Bristol City scheduled for tonight has been called off because of the weather. A new date is yet to be announced
Bobby Williamson is convinced that the game with Everton had offered plenty of reasons to approach the rest of the current campaign with optimism. He said: "We did trouble a very good team, we got a very good goal, and if we'd got a couple of decisions in our favour we could have got a penalty kick, but it wasn't to be on the day. Credit to Everton, though, they came here and worked very, very hard for the cause, and they got the breaks. I felt they were very fortunate with a couple of their goals, with ricochets going in their favour but to be fair they took their goals very well, which you would expect from a Premiership team. We have got to take plus points out of the game. Even though we lost it, we were always in the competition right up until the third goal. Even then, we pressed forward to try and get another goal back, but it was always going to be a tall order to score three goals against any Premiership team." On Saturday Argyle will be travelling to Gillingham and Williamson said: "They're all tough games in this division and we've got to go there and give a good account of ourselves. They had a hard match at the weekend as well, and lost narrowly." The Argyle first-team were yesterday enjoying a break at a Westcountry leisure resort. "They're having a couple of days' away to regroup, after the heavy schedule we've had," Williamson added. "They have not got days off because they are not away with their families. They are still on club business with us. It's a case of watching a few match videos and looking over the past couple of weeks. Hopefully they'll be doing a bit of team bonding and that will kick us on for the rest of the season. It gives our new players an opportunity to get to know the other lads."
The signing of Mario Haas may take slightly longer than anticipated but is still set to be completed this week. Haas himself said: "This would be really nice but the reports are a little bit rash. The club and I are still a few little steps away from reaching an agreement but only details are missing. Concerning money there is no problem, as well as concerning the length of the contract which should be for three years. But so far I really know nothing about flying to England tomorrow. I will be at the training ground here in Graz. I will not fly before everything has been cleared - also between the two clubs - but I have no influence on the latter. Still I expect the okay for a transfer - maybe on Wednesday or at the end of this week. I really want to play for Plymouth in the Championship because they give me the feeling that they really want me." Sturm Graz manager Heinz Schilcher also insisted the deal was not finalised last night, claiming no transfer fee had been agreed with Argyle. He said: "Only after Mario and the club have reached an agreement, the agent will contact us again to talk about the transfer fee. And we still want 400,000 Euros for our best striker."
Argyle are thought to be trying to sign Aberdeen midfielder Markus Heikkinen
Luke McCormick was named among the Argyle substitutes on Saturday because there had been an injury doubt over Romain Larrieu. Larrieu had been troubled by a thigh problem in the build-up to the match. Bobby Williamson said: "Romain had been feeling his thigh in the last few days and so we have been easing him into this game. With it being a cup tie, I felt it was not worth taking a chance, so we put Luke McCormick on the bench just to cover him." Larrieu seemed to come through the game with no ill-effects from his thigh injury and Williamson added: "Once he declared his fitness, I couldn't care less how he is as long as he keeps the ball out the back of the net. Unfortunately for us, he never done that, but you certainly couldn't point the finger at him."
Bjarni Gudjonsson insists Argyle fans have still not seen his best form. He said: "My form is getting better. I am not fussed about positions - if I am playing, I am happy. It is just getting used to the team and the shape and everything. You always need some time to adjust, and I have not moved down yet, I am in the process of moving down. I have found a place but not moved in yet." Gudjonsson admitted he enjoyed playing in the hole behind Mickey Evans against Everton - and the space that allowed him. "I have played five or six games against Premiership opposition and you do find that," he said. "When you go up a gear, you find more space, and there is more room to play. When you drop down a division, it is more physical and fast." Argyle could feel hard-done by to lose on Saturday, but Gudjonsson admitted they could not put the blame on the referee for losing the game. He said: "It's not about the referee. We should be better and referees are not going to give us anything. Maybe we should have had a penalty in the second half, maybe not. I thought we did okay. Second half we maybe should have got more from the game. And they were lucky with their third goal, which killed the game off for us." Gudjonsson himself missed a chance to level the scores in the second half - but blazed over from yards out. He said: "I think Mickey got a flick on it and I just got in behind him and I managed to finish it off." Gudjonsson said he has found it easy to settle in the Argyle dressing room. "The team spirit is fantastic - the best I have known in the seven years I have been away from home," he said. The aim this season is to stay in this division and we should be capable of doing that, without a shadow of a doubt. The league is the most important thing. Even if we had gone on to get a draw or win against Everton it is a break from the league and something to be enjoyed. But Gillingham next week is a big six-pointer for us. A good result there and we are up and running again. I am always happy just to play football. It is a privilege to be playing football for a living."
Bobby Williamson praised the Green Army following Saturday's game against Everton. "They were magnificent," he said. "I have said since I have been here that they are the best supporters, home and away, that I have ever seen. The way they got behind the players was awesome. It makes a difference to the players that they will never really know, and it gave a great image of the club to everyone watching on television and listening on the radio. I think people now know that Plymouth is not some sleepy little backwater. It is a club that, on and off the pitch, is going in the right direction."
Argyle's reserve fixture against Bristol City at Home Park on Tuesday is in jeopardy because of the weather. Bobby Williamson said on Monday that the fixture was 'doubtful', given the amount of rain over the weekend
Mario Haas is set to complete his move to Argyle on Tuesday. Bobby Williamson said: "The indications are that he will be joining us tomorrow. He seems to have sorted himself out with Sturm Graz and will be back over tomorrow. We are pleased to acquire an international player of his standing. He wants to join us, and that's great. I normally don't like talking about these things until he's in the office, signing the contract, so I hope I'm not tempting fate." Haas has 37 international caps but, according to Williamson, that does not guarantee him a starting place. "He's got to come here and impress upon us why he wants to be selected," said Williamson. "That's great. It gives us more competition in the front line now that people like Ian Stonebridge and Blair Sturrock have moved on. Blair scored another goal for Kidderminster at the weekend, and we are delighted he is progressing in his league and we wish him all the best. It's not a case of letting players go and hoping they don't succeed elsewhere. He wasn't getting an opportunity here and he had to further his career. I do feel we're adding a bit more quality in the squad, getting international players to join us like Mario Haas. Scott Taylor is another one who has got the potential to score goals at this level."
Bobby Williamson felt great pride as his side pushed Everton all the way before going out of the FA Cup yesterday. "I've never had many opportunities to feel not proud of these guys," he said. "They work very, very hard for each other. Unfortunately for us, we've lost the game and are out of the cup. When you concede two early goals, the usual things go through your head 'If we capitulate, it could be a lot more; if we dig in and hopefully get that break, we can back into the game.' Thankfully it was the later that happened and we certainly were back into the game. The first goal was a decent move from them. They cut us open slightly and got a lucky ricochet which put it into the path of their player, and he finished it very well. The second was a long throw into our box which we didn't defend very well. I think Mat Doumbe had three opportunities to get something on it, and he did get something on it, but not enough." Williamson was unequivocal in his opinion of McFadden's tackle on Paul Connolly as Argyle pressed for an equaliser. "I thought it was a penalty, but I haven't had a TV replay to look at," he said. "Some you get, some you don't. I felt most of the 50-50 decisions went to the so-called bigger club. When the referee and his assistants had any doubt at all, there was only going to be one decision made. I'm not going to go down that road. We gave a good account of ourselves. Unfortunately we need breaks to go in your favour and I don't think they did. Even the third goal, I felt was a handball on the halfway line. It came when we were looking to push on and get the equaliser. At that stage of the game, you have got to have a go and that's what we were trying to do. We had half-chances but we never really troubled the keeper as much as I would have liked. Everton defended very steadily." Williamson praised Bjarni Gudjonsson's debut goal: "He took it very well," he said. "It was a great touch from Mickey onto him. He controlled his shot. That was pleasing. It shows Gudjonsson is a decent acquisition. We knew we could have beaten Everton if we got the breaks. We did trouble them at times, but we just didn't get the breaks."
Argyle lose 3-1 to Everton at Home Park, the goal scored by Bjarni Gudjonsson after 34 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Coughlan, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Gudjonsson, Wotton, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Evans. Subs - Keith (not used - Norris, Lasley, Adams, McCormick). Attendance - 20,112. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson is delighted that his team will be the focus of national attention today. "It is a great platform for us," he said. "As a player you want to play at the highest level possible and in live televised matches. That shows you are being successful. I want our players to let everybody see that they're capable of winning this game, but it won't be easy. I can't speak highly enough of David Moyes. He's proved himself as a manager and he's done a great job. He has worked very, very hard and he's had a great season." Williamsons priority this season is preserving Argyles place in the Championship, but he is still taking the prospect of an FA Cup run seriously. "I don't see this tie as a distraction," he said. "We want to do well in the FA Cup. We can progress. It's a one-off game, we're at home, and if we get the breaks on the day and progress to the next round I'll be more delighted than anybody. But if it doesn't happen, then our focus will revert to the League programme. If it does, then we have another tie to look forward to at the end of the month and that can help us along in the League programme also."
Argyle are hoping to complete the signing of Mario Haas on Monday. Talks are at an advanced stage but the deal was not sealed in time for Haas to be involved against Everton. Bobby Williamson said: "The player wants to join us and we want him to join us. We have just got to make sure the business is taken care of. That has been ongoing. There are about three or four agents involved, which is usual when you are bringing in a player from another country. It just takes time. Everything seems to be sorted but until we get the boy sitting here and signing the contract you are never sure that is going to happen."
Paul Wotton is looking forward to a game to savour against Everton today. He said: "It will be a full house and it's great if you're in the lower leagues to play against Premiership teams - especially a top side like Everton, who are absolutely flying. They're right up there in the Premiership on merit, they deserve to be there. For us, the Championship is more important but the FA Cup is a welcome distraction. We've had a tough old run of games lately, it's been a hard shift. Hopefully we can go out there against Everton and enjoy it, and play with no pressure and try and give a good account of ourselves. It will be a great test for us. Everton have some real quality players and a squad full of internationals. They've just signed James Beattie for £6 million, which I think is three times our wage-bill. It just goes to show the vast gulf between the clubs. It's the FA Cup. It's the greatest knock-out competition in the world, it's as simple as that. It's fantastic. I'm sure the big clubs don't relish it, and we've been on the end of a couple of non-League defeats as well. It's not nice. Everton will be trying their best not to let us beat them and we'll be trying our hardest to defeat them. It will be a great occasion for the city and the club." Wotton was on the terraces as an 11-year-old Argyle fan when Everton held Argyle to a 1-1 FA Cup draw in 1989, before Everton won the replay 4-0. "I remember Sean McCarthy, whom I played with later at Argyle, bundling one in and I remember Everton getting a penalty for handball against Adrian Burrows," Wotton recalled. "But it was never a penalty. I also remember Alan Miller making an absolutely world-class save from Stuart McCall. The whole city was really buzzing." Argyle have not beaten a team from the top flight in the FA Cup since 1984, when they won at West Bromwich Albion. "It's about time we beat a top-flight team again," Wotton said. "I've only played in one such Cup tie, against Derby, and we took a thumping. Hopefully we can make amends, but we're under no illusions. It's going to be very tough, because David Moyes has got a fantastic team up there."
Argyle are close to agreeing terms with Mario Haas. Bobby Williamson said. "There has been a lot of talking going on. The player wants to join us, we want him to join us; we've just got to make sure the business is taken care of. That's been ongoing. There's about three or four agents involved, which is usual when you're bringing in a player from another country. It just takes time. Everything seems to be sorted, but until we get the boy sitting here and signing the contract, you are never sure that is going to happen. The aim is to get it concluded as soon as possible, but this is far from concluded." Sturm Graz have revealed that their initial asking price for Haas was about £300,000, but Argyle should be able to negotiate a lower fee for a player who is out of contract in June. Argyle arranged a flight back to Austria for Haas yesterday, but will hope to see the striker back in England next week. Meanwhile, Williamson admitted he was not prepared to let any players leave Home Park during the transfer window. "I've had a few enquiries from clubs about taking players on loan," he said, "but I'm not prepared to let anybody go out on loan. We need all our staff here to compete for places."
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe is eagerly looking forward to tomorrows FA Cup tie. "When I was a young boy in Paris," he said, "the final was on television every year, and I always watched it." Doumbe has already seen James Beattie in action this season. "I was on the bench when we played Southampton in pre-season," he said, "and he's a huge guy. He'll be really difficult to play against. I'll come directly up against him but I have no fears. In Scotland I came up against top strikers such as Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton and John Hartson, and you simply have to do your best."
Graham Coughlan faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will be recalled to the starting line-up for tomorrow's game with Everton. Coughlan has the experience of marking James Beattie in the pre-season friendly against Southampton in the summer but Bobby Williamson insisted: "That doesn't come into my thoughts at all. It was a while ago and I'm sure James Beattie wouldn't have been firing on all cylinders then. I'm sure he will be up to speed now, but I'm not concerned about what Everton do just yet. I'm more concerned about getting our guys in the right frame of mind for the game. It shouldn't be too difficult, to be honest. I think they all want to be involved." When asked whether Coughlan would play, Williamson said: "He has got the same chance as the other players in that dressing room." Williamson would also not be drawn on how he thought Wotton and Doumbe had performed as a pairing. "If I keep going down this road you will be working out the team before I have worked it out," he said. "We look at it as a whole and how they do as a team. I'm not going through individual partnerships, or whatever way you want to try to work out how I'm going to select the team. We have lost the last game so everything goes back into the melting pot. I will pick the team as I see fit. Everybody has got an opportunity. I might play with one up and go with the extra man in midfield. I don't know, I haven't made my mind up yet. We are working on things and, hopefully, we do get that side of it right and the players go out and do themselves justice."
It has been reported that Portsmouth have offered Argyle the chance to take full-back John Curtis and midfielder Kevin Harper on loan. Phill Gill revealed earlier this week the club had also put in offers for two un-named players, and it is believed that one of them is Rochdale striker Grant Holt. Bobby Williamson said: "We have been speaking to a lot of people. It just needs somebody to pick up a phone and say 'yes, we have accepted this' or ' this is something that interests us' and we could move forward with it. There are plenty of irons in the fire. Sometimes it comes together and sometimes it takes a bit of time."
Bobby Williamson is confident his team can cause a shock against Everton. "If I didn't think we had a chance I wouldn't bother turning up," he said. "You have always got a chance in football. I think that's why the cameras are coming down here because they think there could be an upset on the cards. But Everton are well aware of what our capabilities are. There will be no surprises for them. They will have done their homework and watched us the same amount of times as we have watched them since the draw. You don't leave anything to chance in football. You watch them as often as you can do and you get people to get reports in. We have done that, and they will have done that. It just depends how much the Premiership players are prepared to take on board and how they go about their business on the night."
Mario Haas could sign for Argyle before the FA Cup tie against Everton. Bobby Williamson has been impressed by Haas during this weeks trial and when asked whether he would sign Haas before the tie, he replied: "There's every chance. We will work towards something. I have been impressed with him in training and I know he has got a good record. He's an international and has played at a great level. He's more than capable of adding to us. He's keen and he's eager. He wouldn't be here otherwise, to be honest. He has shown us the courtesy to take the time to come over here. He has obviously heard about Plymouth Argyle and what we are trying to do in this division." Williamson was unaware of what transfer fee Sturm Graz would be asking for Haas. "I don't know what the situation is with that," he said. "I try not to get involved in the money side of things. I think it should be kept quiet anyway and shouldn't be disclosed but there are so many nosey people out there who want to know other people's business."
Bobby Williamson insists that the FA Cup third-round tie against Everton is not the most important fixture this month. He said: "Gillingham away is the key game this month. The Cup is great to be involved in, and we want to progress as far as we can, but the League is more important. We've seen the results Gillingham have gained since Stan Ternent went there as manager. He's lifted them, and we'll have a hard game on our hands. Hopefully we can come through against Everton unscathed and have a full squad to choose from when we go there." Asked if he thought Argyle were caught up in a relegation battle, Williamson said: "I think there are quite a lot of teams who could find themselves down at the bottom of this league if they don't pick up points on a regular basis. It is very, very tight. We may be seven points away from a relegation spot, but we're not much further away from challenging for a play-off spot if we can pick up points. But we knew it was going to be a difficult season and nothing I've seen has changed my mind on that matter. It's certainly been a big learning curve for everybody at the club, but we're giving a good account of ourselves." With Scott Taylor ineligible against Everton because he played for Blackpool in the cup, Williamson does not have many options up front this weekend. Next in line after Mickey Evans and Marino Keith could be Stewart Yetton. "He's a possibility," Williamson said, "but I've got alternatives. We could change the shape of the team a bit. We've noticed how Everton have been playing recently, with one up front, so we could maybe change to suit and try and nullify them. On the other hand, we've got strikers at the club who could do an adequate job. We're not desperate."
Paul Connolly wants to send his favourite boyhood team crashing out of the FA Cup on Saturday. Connolly is a proud Evertonian but insisted there would be no mixed emotions when he gets out on the pitch. He said: "It's going to be really strange but, at the end of the day, it's my job. I'm playing for Plymouth Argyle. To pull off a FA Cup shock live on TV would be great. I just hope we get Liverpool away in the next round and we beat them. It would be fantastic to play at Anfield and score in front of the Kop. I had an Everton season ticket for five years and now I'm playing against them. It's a dream for me really. There will be a lot of proud people in the family at home watching it on TV. It's going to be brilliant for the players, for the fans - the whole city. There is football fever around the place at the moment. It's what the FA Cup is all about. It's live on BBC1 so there is no better occasion to pull off a shock. I think we have got a good chance." Connolly is convinced Argyle can give a good account of themselves against the Toffees. "I think Everton will give you a bit of time on the ball and, hopefully, we can get it down and play some stuff," he said. "It would be nice to show the country what we are made of because there have been a couple of times when we have been on Sky and we have let ourselves down. I thought we let ourselves down big-time against Brighton last season." Connolly does not believe Everton's players will relish making the long trip to Plymouth. He said: "A lot of their players will maybe think 'let's just get down there, do the business and get home as quick as we can'. But it will not be as easy as that. Hopefully, we can provide a tough game for them and come out winners." Connolly insisted the TV coverage would not be a distraction for him, or Argyle. He said: "It was my first time on Sky last season and I didn't really think at all about it. It was only afterwards when my uncle said he had watched it in the pub that I thought about it. I don't think the boys will let it affect them. There is too much going on and everyone is just too focused. Hopefully, it will be a real cup-tie atmosphere and the fans can make it as intimidating as possible." Connolly was thrilled when the draw was made. "It was unbelievable," he added. "I was in the house on my own and it came up Plymouth Argyle. For some reason I knew it was going to be Everton. I was sat there thinking 'Everton, Everton, Everton' and, sure enough, it came up Everton. I just jumped off the couch and my phone didn't stop ringing for about an hour. I was ecstatic. I have been an Everton fan ever since I can remember. My ma bought me an Everton kit and that was it. My favourite Everton player was centre-back Dave Watson and I have always aspired to try to be like him. He was very professional and honest. He did everything to the letter of the law. He was a really good pro and he had a great career."
Bobby Williamson has admitted he was disappointed with Argyle's points tally during the Christmas period. He said: "It was disappointing as I was hoping to pick up more points than we have. The performances have not been lacking - we gave a good account of ourselves. At Elland Road we were hard done by from a referee's decision and Monday was the same. These things are very, very costly. First goals are important in this league. We have just got to keep believing and these things will even out."
Stevie Crawford has joined Dundee United for a fee of £80,000. Bobby Williamson said: "We had high hopes when Stevie came to us in the summer, but, unfortunately, it did not work out. These things happen in football. For reasons which have been well documented, Stevie felt he had to return to Scotland, and it would have been wrong of us to stand in his way. I would like to wish the lad all the best. We knew he was not settled but we had to make sure we got the transfer fee. It is not compensation - it is a transfer fee. I wished it had not come out before the transfer window opened. We had to talk about it back then rather than wait until now. That was a major distraction and a distraction for the fans watching him perform. They started judging him and asking 'is he trying?' - so I was happy for him that he scored that goal against Leeds. It was good working with him and I would like to have worked with him a lot longer." Crawford thanked Williamson for allowing him such a speedy return to Scotland. He said: "I went to Plymouth because I've played most of my career in Scotland and thought going down there with someone like Bobby would be okay. Anyone with kids knows how hard it is to be away from them, but I'm not looking for sympathy because there are loads of people who work away from home. I just felt that I wasn't being fair to Plymouth because I was a lot quieter than I usually am and it was bound to affect my football. I always gave my best for the team, but when someone in the dressing room is unhappy it sends out the wrong vibes to the rest of the lads. I'm grateful to Bobby for letting me go and he just wished me all the best when I left."Argyle director Phill Gill, who handles the club's transfer activities, has revealed that the arrival of Scott Taylor does not signal the end of the boards to strengthen the squad. He said: "We have been talking to two Premiership players about joining us on loan -those talks are ongoing - we have offers in for two players and are speaking to others." Gill also revealed that Crawford's move to Tannadice had been a complicated and protracted one. He said: "If I wasn't involved I wouldn't have believed how difficult it is to get these things sorted."
Bobby Williamson refused to comment on the penalty award which gave Ipswich the first goal in todays game. He said: "I can't really comment, or I will end up getting myself into trouble. I noticed Joe Royle was giving the referee a big blast at half-time about what he felt was a penalty in the first half. I didn't think you could speak to referees at half-time - or full-time for that matter. It's supposed to be half an hour after the game. Whether that's influenced the referee, you will have to ask him. Sometimes decisions go for you, sometimes they go against you. On this occasion, it certainly went against us. I can't understand why he was just booked. If the referee has deemed it worthy of a card, it probably should have been a red one. Ipswich are a good team. That's why they are top of this division. Joe's been there a few years now and he's got a good squad of players. There two players up front are strong and reasonably pacy, but we managed to keep them quiet. That was good, from our point of view, but we never troubled them at their end of the park as I would have liked. We had a lot of territorial advantage and balls into the box, but that final bit of quality was missing. We've just got to learn from our experiences and look forward to the FA Cup game against Everton now." Williamson was pleased with the full debut of Scott Taylor: "He worked away," he said. "I'm sure there are goals in him and, if we can create chances for him, then, hopefully, that will the case. He's had a game under his belt, he's getting to know the lads, and hopefully, the longer he's here, the better he will come."
Argyle lose 2-1 to Ipswich Town at Home Park, the goal scored by Mickey Evans in the 87th minute. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Wotton, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Adams, Capaldi, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Gudjonsson, Keith (not used - Hodges, Lasley, Aljofree). Attendance - 17,923. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Austrian international striker Mario Haas will begin a week's trial with Argyle today. The 30-year-old plays for Sturm Graz, where he is out of contract at the end of the current season and is currently on a winter-break. "Mario is arriving in Plymouth today and he'll train with us this week," Bobby Williamson said yesterday. "It's been ongoing for a couple of months now. We're very proactive in trying to strengthen the squad here. Mario will join us for a week and we'll see how things go from there. He has a good reputation. We'll have a look at Mario and he'll have a look at us, and if I can think he can add to us we'll try and arrange that. I do have contacts all over Europe, and he's been highly recommended."
After scoring the goal which earned Argyle a point at Wolves, David Friio is eager to aim for victory this afternoon against Ipswich Town. Friio also has unhappy memories of Argyle's trip to Portman Road earlier this season, having missed a straightforward chance which could have sealed the three points. "I remember that," Friio said. "We played so well for an hour or so, and to go home with a defeat was hard to swallow. But we are going into the game on Monday with confidence. We are playing the top team but we are not worried by that, because we are always playing good teams. We are going to give everything, and if we play as well as we did in our last home game we will beat Ipswich. We didn't deserve to lose at Wolves. We battled well and we got back in the game and scored a goal. We weren't under that much pressure in the second half. I think we controlled the game and a draw was a fair result." Glenn Hoddle claimed that Mickey Evans had fouled Michael Oakes in the build-up to Friio's goal but the Frenchman said: "The 'keeper came for the ball and Mickey was there. Oakes was outside his six-yard box and was going for the ball. Mickey jumped straight and didn't put his arms out. The ball dropped on the floor, Mickey had another touch and played it to Bjarni, who put it across to me. It was a bit behind me, but I managed to get a touch. I think the defender slipped as I turned and hit it. I thought 'don't put it in the stand' and luckily it went in." Mathias Kouo-Doumbe prevented Argyle from falling two goals behind in the first half with a superb tackle to thwart Kenny Miller. Friio said: "It was fantastic. That was pure pace. Romain forced the striker to run a long way round him and Mathias was maybe four or five yards behind him, but in ten yards he managed to get back and make a great saving tackle." Friio relished the atmosphere of a packed house at Molineux: "That was the best atmosphere I've played in away from home for Argyle. It was fantastic. That's why we want to stay in this league, to play in games like this."
Bobby Williamson is looking forward to today's challenge. "We certainly troubled Ipswich at their place," he said , "but it will be a different game entirely down here. We were the away team, we could afford to sit back and hit on the counter-attack, but not at home. If our fans are expecting us to have a tough time, I'm sure they won't be disappointed. I'm sure Ipswich will come here and trouble us. It's how we defend certain situations and it's what we can do to trouble Ipswich that will count. The fans who didn't make it to Ipswich missed what was, for 45 minutes at least, probably the best performance we've produced this season. I hope we can play half as well as we did that day, and if we do that I'm sure we can win this game." Scott Taylor may make his first start today but Williamson said: "You might be surprised. Everybody is in contention." However, he added: "Lee Hodges had a fantastic game on Saturday, and yet I might have to think about resting him because he's played a couple of games in quick succession and not played for a long time before that. Gudjonsson is in the same situation, so I have to take that into consideration."
Bobby Williamson is spreading his selection net across the entire squad for tomorrows game. He said: "I will look at the complete squad, Steven Milne is the only injured player but everyone else comes under consideration. With the Ipswich game only 48 hours after Wolves I will have to look at everyone. Although all the players did well at Wolves I will probably have to freshen things up. It was a hard game and some players may not be ready for another hard game so soon."
Bobby Williamson paid tribute to Mathias Kouo-Doumbe after Argyle gained a point at Molineux yesterday. It was Doumbe's tackle on Kenny Miller, when the Wolves' striker was clean through on goal just before half-time, that elicited the praise fromWilliamson. "It was fantastic," he said. "Doumbe's got pace in abundance. Kenny Miller's no slouch, by any stretch of the imagination, and when he went round the goalkeeper there was only one man in our team who could get near him to catch him, and, thankfully, that was Doumbe. He got a good block in." Of Wolves goal Williamson said: "It was a wonder strike. We were a bit at sixes and sevens and we never got to him. He hit it as sweet as he could. I was right behind in and Romain couldn't do anything about it. Miller's opportunity, when he went round the goalkeeper, is the only chance I can recall Wolves having. I felt we had chances as well, without actually troubling the goalkeeper. We played well enough. I don't think there was much separating the two teams at all and we kept believing we could get back in it. Thankfully, we got that goal, and the honours are even." Wolves' players claimed that goalkeeper Michael Oakes was fouled as he attempted to reach Paul Wotton's cross that led to Bjarni Gudjonsson setting up Friio for the equaliser. Williamson said: "If a goalkeeper travels off his goal-line towards the ball and going into bodies, it's fair game; if he's on his line and players are charging into him, he's got a good chance of getting a free-kick. I hope the referee's got it right, but we've had decisions go against us. We saw one on Tuesday at Elland Road when we should have had a free-kick, play was allowed to continue, and we conceded a goal. Today, we've got a point because the referee allowed play to continue. I hope he's got it right; if he's got it wrong, it's an honest mistake." Williamson left Scott Taylor on bench until the 70th minute. "Nobody just walks into our team," he said, "whether we spend money on them or we bring them in on Bosmans or whatever. They have got to earn the right. There have been guys waiting patiently for their chance. Marino Keith, for instance, has waited a long time to get the opportunity to show what he can do. Tony Capaldi was also unfortunate to find himself on the bench today, but I thought we'd get more out of Norris than we could out of Tony." Argyle now have four points out of a possible nine during the Christmas period and Williamson added: "We were disappointed at Elland Road the other day. We put as much effort into that game as we did into this. Thankfully we got something out of this. That keeps us going and lifts us for the next game against Ipswich."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the goal scored by David Friio in the 58th minute. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Wotton, Kouo-Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Hodges, Gudjonsson, Evans, Keith. Subs - Taylor, Capaldi (not used - Lasley, Adams, Aljofree). Attendance - 27,564.
Keith Lasley may find a way back into the Argyle team over the next few days as the depth of the squad is tested to its fullest extent by three difficult fixtures. Bobby Williamson said: "We've got a strong squad, and Keith hasn't had much of a chance yet. I feel sorry for him. I brought him down from Scotland, but other boys have had their opportunities before him. But I can't be fair to everybody. I think I've been really unfair to Keith. He doesn't deserve to be left out of the team. I've had to ask him to be patient, and wait for his opportunity to come along. If he gets it and he does well, then I'll stand by him." Asked if Lasley might see some action during the New Year holiday period, Williamson said: "Yes, because of fatigue affecting players. People laugh and think: 'How can professional football players be tired?' But there is a lot of mental pressure put on these guys nowadays, and that certainly takes its toll."
Paul Connolly has revealed his delight at reclaiming his place in the Argyle side after spending much of the season out of the first-team picture. He said: "You can't beat playing. Before Boxing Day, the last time I'd played for the first team was Wigan at home in October. It's been frustrating, sitting in the Grandstand watching. As a professional footballer you strive during training to play each Saturday, and I haven't been doing that. To be fair, David has been doing well enough to keep me out of the team, so I can't knock him, but I've been patient and my chance has come. It's in my hands now. I've got to take it." With reserve games hard to come by, it had been difficult for Connolly to prove his readiness for a return to first-team action. "Reserve games do matter, to keep your fitness up," he said, "but at the end of the day if you're playing well against the likes of Bideford and Saltash - and this is no disrespect to them - it doesn't really matter how well you're playing. I knew that if David was doing well in the first team, then I wasn't going to get in anyway. I feel that I've been pushing myself in training and in the reserves, but it was out of my hands. But I was patient and now my chance has come. Before my first game back against QPR, I was very nervous. I was on the toilet about four times before I came to the ground, but I think it went quite well. I set up the winner so I was pleased with that. I got another assist against Leeds. I was really pleased with my performance at Leeds, although I might have done a bit better with their first goal. I know Gilly scored the own goal, but their lad got outside me leading up to it. Apart from that, I was really pleased up there. I could even have got my first Argyle goal as well. I gambled - I knew Chuck was going to miss a crossfield ball because he's only a small lad. I caught it as sweet as I can catch a ball, but it carried on rising over the bar. I was unlucky."
According to reports from Scotland, Argyle are keen on Hearts' Dutch striker Mark de Vries and a swap for Stevie Crawford could be on the cards. Hearts' manager John Robertson said: "Plymouth have intimated they would like to make moves for Mark de Vries and if that is the case we would like to bring Stevie Crawford to Tynecastle." Other sources in Scotland have stated that Argyle have made an offer of £100,000 for de Vries, who is out of contract at the end of this season
Scott Taylor is not concerned about becoming Argyle's most expensive signing in more than seven years. He said: "For me it's just about playing football. I want to start training, get to know the lads, enjoy my football and, hopefully, bang the goals in." Taylor heard about Argyle's interest in him last week but it was not until Wednesday morning that talks really started. He said: "It was backwards and forwards all day really and I think it was about half-past eight when they finally said 'get your bags packed, you are on a nine o'clock flight tomorrow morning'. I was up at half-past six on Thursday and came down here and had talks and then signed. It was a long day." As well as settling into life at Home Park, Taylor wants to find a house for his wife, Julie, and two young children, Alfie and Molly. "It's just a matter of getting the wife down when she can and driving around a few areas," he said.
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