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 beat Southampton 2-1 at Home Park, the goals coming from Nick Chadwick after 45 minutes and a Paul Wotton penalty (84). Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Aljofree, Norris, Wotton, Nalis, Buzsaky, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Djordjic, Connolly (not used - McCormick, Hodges, Zebroski). Attendance - 15,936.
Bjarni Gudjonsson has left Argyle after having his contract cancelled
Nick Chadwick has been officially credited as Argyle's goalscorer in the 1-1 draw with Norwich City at Home Park. The Press Association, who compile statistics at all Football League games, have agreed to amend their records following the intervention of former Argyle midfielder Danis Salman, who works for PA at Home Park. Salman said: "I got a phone call from Rick Cowdery at Argyle asking me to look at some video footage they had of the goal, which I did. It showed a different angle of the goal and, in my opinion, Nick definitely does get a touch on it. I then phoned the Press Association to explain to them what I had seen and that it warranted being changed from an own goal to a goal for Nick Chadwick. I left it in their hands and they said they were going to change it."
Tony Pulis is refusing to be held to ransom by money-grabbing agents and clubs as the transfer window comes to an end. Pulis was busy on the telephone all last night and this morning, trying to finalise deals for players but would not divulge any details about his targets – he did though claim it would be a 'major coup' for the club if they put pen to paper. With the clock ticking down to the deadline, Pulis has also had to prepare his players for the Championship clash against Southampton and he could not see the sense of playing a full round of league games on the same evening as the end of the transfer window. He said: "Sometimes you look out in astonishment at the people who organise and run this business of ours. There are lots of things happening but we haven't tied anything down as a definite yet. I think people have got to understand this is not it finished. There are possibilities and opportunities to loan players in a week's time, which we have done quite successfully. The longest you can get is three months and that actually covers you for the rest of the season. Everybody panics and chases around but unless you are actually splashing money out you can still do deals. It's looking after the club as well. That's the important thing. The club has got to come first when you are doing these deals. Sometimes people overspend on players because it is such a short time away. I don't think we can afford to do that." Pulis and his staff have seen several games over recent days, but he insisted his potential new signings were long-term targets, not ones they had just come up with. He said: "It's not people we have only just started pursuing. It's people we have been chasing for six or seven weeks."
Tony Pulis has done his homework on Southampton ahead of tonights game. He saw Saints draw with Crystal Palace last Wednesday, and also witnessed their win at Leicester on Saturday. Despite all the controversy currently surrounding Southampton, Pulis still has a very high regard for the club. He said: "I have watched them twice and they have got some exceptionally good players who can cause you problems. They have got Fuller and Jones on the bench. I had Kenwyne at Stoke and he would walk into most Championship sides. He's a good, talented player."
Akos Buzsaky is set to be recalled to Argyle's starting line-up for the game against Southampton tonight. The Hungarian will probably replace Tony Capaldi, who is serving a one-match ban but Tony Pulis also has the option of replacing Capaldi with Bojan Djordjic. Pulis said: "It's a decision of do we bring Akos back, or whether we play Bo. Those are the two vying for Tony's position. Akos has looked really, really bright in training, but we will see. If he starts, I shouldn't imagine he will get through the 90 minutes. If we get a good hour out of him, we will be pleased. It's amazing really. We have played eight games and lost only one of them and everybody seems to have forgotten about Akos. Before that, everybody was saying that if we lost Akos the team would fall to bits. We have done very well without him, but he's an exceptional player and one who we desperately want to be fit and raring to go. We are certainly not a one-man team. I think with the group of players we have got we are a team - and we have got to remain a team to pick up the points we need to stay up this season." Pulis is also hoping Paul Connolly could be fit enough to be included among the substitutes tonight. He said: "Paul is still struggling with his thigh a little bit but, hopefully, he will be fit enough to get on the bench. We will not make that decision until the last minute." Pulis has seen his side pick up seven points from their last three matches to move away from the relegation zone, but he knows there is no room for any complacency. He said: "We have got to get to 52 or 53 points as quickly as we possibly can. Then we can sit down and plan the future out for the football club. At the moment, you are just going from day-to-day fire-fighting. I will not relax until we get the points. This is no disrespect to anybody, but I think at certain clubs you win a couple of games and everybody takes their foot off the pedal. Then, all of a sudden, you slip back again and everybody starts panicking. We are not out of it by a long, long shot. We have really got to work as hard as we have done over the last couple of months to get the points we need to stay up. It's going to be close, don't worry about that. Derby are spending money, Millwall are buying players and Crewe will as well, I'm absolutely convinced. Dario will not see this as the end of it. You have got clubs out there who are going to improve and we have got to make sure we stay totally focused and committed. Tonight is a big game. Southampton have got some fantastic players and I think it will be exciting for the fans."
Nuno Mendes has left Argyle after his contract was cancelled. Mendes has recently had a trial with New York/New Jersey Metro Stars, and may be planning his future on the other side of the Atlantic. Tony Pulis said: "No disrespect to him, but he's not been anywhere near. He needs to move on and we need to move on."
Tony Pulis has insisted Argyle should not be content with making up the numbers in the Championship and sees no reason why the club cannot become a force to be reckoned with. But he has warned the perception of the club needs to change for that to become possible. Pulis has found it difficult to sell Argyle to potential new signings during the transfer window, and players with proven ability are seemingly reluctant to move to Plymouth. The problem was highlighted in comments made by Dexter Blackstock about his three-month loan spell last season. After joining Derby on loan Blackstock said: "They are a massive club like Saints and I enjoyed every minute of my time there. I scored a few goals and learned a lot. I had been on loan at Plymouth the previous season, which wasn't quite as good because they weren't such a good side. They are a bit out on a limb down there and perhaps don't attract the best players, but I still enjoyed my time there and managed to get four goals." Pulis was not surprised by Blackstock's comments as it is something he has come across regularly in the last four months. He said: "People are thinking that way about this football club and I think it is a challenge for all of us to change that. The board are desperate to pick up the baton. They are committed to the cause, and so are the supporters, who I think have been fantastic. The spirit you can galvanise by being isolated from other clubs is absolutely first class. The problem you get is the fact that people do see it as an outpost and somehow we have got to try to get around that. It's no good just burying your head in the sand and thinking 'it will change'. We have got to find ways of changing that. We have still got a long way to go before we get enough points to keep us safe this season. But I think we have got to sit down as a football club and try to put ourselves in a position where we can bring the better players at this level to Argyle." Pulis had an illuminating conversation with Dario Gradi after last Saturdays game at Crewe. He said: "At this present moment, we are one of the sides that other teams will expect to beat. When we played Crewe last week, I spoke to Dario afterwards and he had put it down as a must-win for them if they are to stay in the league. At this stage of our development, I think a lot of clubs are looking at us that way. My argument to Dario was that, maybe at the moment, the club is in a fragile position, but when you look at the crowds and the potential, there is no way this club should be looked upon in that light. If we were a top 10 team, we have the potential to attract between 16,000-20,000 every week. We must not get away from the fact that we can't stagnate and feel as though being mid-table is enough. Phase two of the ground development is getting closer every day, but that must not detract from what everybody in Plymouth wants - a successful football team striving to compete with the bigger boys in this league. I think we have got to try to drag ourselves away from the stigma that we are a nice little club but we are out of the way. Everybody has got to realise this is a different level and, week-in week-out, clubs are pushing on and improving. I have spoken to the chairman about improving our facilities and he has been very good. He and the directors have been very receptive to a lot of things we have talked about. I have been very fortunate to work at what I would class as decent clubs, especially Stoke and Portsmouth. Their training facilities and everything else are first class, and that does impress players. I understand we can't get there overnight, but we have got to maybe move a little bit quicker through the gears."
Mickey Evans, who played Premiership football with Southampton in 1997, was at Home Park when Paul Sturrock left for the Saints, and is delighted Argyle are now playing Southampton on a level footing in the Championship . "Football changes," he said. "When I came back here, we were in the bottom division and were only getting gates of about 4,000. Southampton were flying high in the Premiership. It's great now for our fans to see us playing against the big boys - and see us beating some of them. Our record against the top-ten sides has been quite outstanding. We're looking forward to Tuesday's game. They're struggling to pick up points and they're near the bottom with us, but we're on a good run at the moment. We're confident." In Tony Pulis' first match in charge of the team, Argyle played well in a 0-0 draw at St Mary's last September. "I got a great reception from the fans," Evans said. Next week though, Trigger wants to see the visiting supporters leave Home Park with nothing to celebrate. He has been in outstanding form to help Argyle claim seven out of the last nine available points, yet he is well aware that he has not scored a goal with Pulis in charge. That fact does not worry him unduly. "If it was just about goals, I don't think I would have played the game," he said. "It would be nice to get on the scoresheet, and it hasn't been for the lack of trying, but the way we play means I'm usually the one who sets up chances. If I do score, then great, but if I don't it's not the end of the world. I know I'm doing my best on the football pitch, and that's all that matters to me."
Tony Pulis is not expected to sign any of the three trialists who played for the reserves against Cheltenham Town on Wednesday. Argyle have not revealed the names of the players, but reports suggest two of the trio were Polish - Legia Warsaw striker Marcin Chmiest and midfielder Krzysztof Bak, of Polonia. The third trialist was believed to be a central defender from Estonia
Argyle are no nearer reaching a contract settlement with Bobby Williamson more than four months after his departure. The club have tried to agree a pay-off with Williamson over the remainder of his contract, which does not expire until June 2007, but, much to the frustration of Argyle chairman Paul Stapleton, no deal has been done and Williamson remains on the wage bill. Stapleton said: "Bobby seems to be quite happy to pick up his salary and there's nothing we can do, really, so we just say 'okay'. If you are contracted for a period of time, that's fair enough. You get your wages. We thought he might have wanted to do a deal where he got paid-up and go onto pastures new, but he seems quite happy to pick up his salary. We will just have to live with it. It's frustrating because in my profession I like to get things in boxes and ticked off, and sort out where I am. But we can't force Bobby to do anything." Williamson was linked with the recent managerial vacancy at Rotherham United but Stapleton was not surprised he did not take up the post. He said: "It was only a six-month contract on offer and, also, they have got some problems behind the scenes. So I understood fully, why, if he had been offered the job, he wouldn't have wanted to take it at that time. If it was a buoyant club with a two-and-a-half year contract then he might have had a serious look at it." Argyle may also have to reach contract settlements shortly with out-of-favour trio Rufus Brevett, Bjarni Gudjonsson and Nuno Mendes. Stapleton said: "We haven't experienced this before. We might have had people on the fringes - like Marino or Nathan - but then they came back into the team. But in this situation people obviously don't figure in the new manager's plans. That's what happens when you change the manager. Not only do you have the upheaval of the old manager going, but you also have the upheaval of the players."
Argyle reserves, including three un-named trialists (a striker, a centre-half and a central midfielder) drew 2-2 with Cheltenham Town at Tiverton last night, the goals were scored by Keith Lasley and 'trialist midfielder'. Argyle: McCormick, Lasley, Trialist, Laird.S, Hodges, Gudjonsson, Summerfield, Trialist, Djordjic, Trialist, Zebroski. Sub – Reid
Tony Pulis has dismissed rumours linking Argyle with a big-money bid for Cheltenham Town striker Kayode Odejayi. He said: "No, we're not going to do that. People have speculated that he is a target for us because we looked at him. I know Kay well - he's a good kid - from my time at Bristol City when I was the manager and he was a youngster, there. But there's no truth to that particular story. However, I shall be out and about over the next few days, looking at players recommended to us." Bournemouth forward James Hayter has also been reported as an Argyle target, but Pulis said yesterday: "Hayter is a player we've watched, but that's not something we'll be following up."
David Norris admitted fatigue had been a factor as Argyle won against Leicester last night. He said: "We have played two teams in four days who are both below us, so to take six points is massive for us. The boys are over the moon. We played some nice football in the first half. I had a couple of chances which they managed to clear away. In the second half, I think you could see we were tiring quite a bit. We have had a couple of tough games and it's mainly the same players in the team because of the small squad we have got. We just dug in, we defended brilliantly and I think, in the end, we deserved the three points." Norris came close to putting Argyle ahead in the 12th minute but was again denied a goal, a regular recent occurrence. He said: "I think I just need that bit of luck and, maybe, sometimes that bit more composure in front of goal." Norris was full of admiration for the way Paul Wotton scored from a free-kick, and added: "It was a great goal. We know he has got that in his locker and he has done it for the last few seasons for us. He hit one in training earlier today, when we were doing set pieces very similar to that, and it flew in the top corner." Argyle are now not in action again until next Tuesday, so the players have been given two days off by Tony Pulis. Norris said: "The gaffer has given us a couple of days so we can rest our legs and prepare for Southampton, which will probably be similar to tonight's game. With them struggling as well, I think we have got a great chance of taking three points and moving even further up the table."
Tony Capaldi will be suspended for the home game against Southampton next Tuesday after he picked up his fifth booking of the season last night
Argyle are thought to be showing interest in two Polish players - striker Marcin Chmiest and midfielder Krzysztof Bak. Tony Pulis has confirmed he is still continuing his pursuit of new players to bring to Home Park and he said: "I have been confident of getting people in for two weeks and not been able to do anything. Things slip through your fingers. We are looking for what I would say are good players, and we are competing for them with other clubs. We have got to hang on in there." Reports suggest that two trialists will play for Argyle reserves in their game against Cheltenham Town tonight
Argyle took a massive step towards Championship safety with victory over Leicester City last night, but Tony Pulis is not getting carried away despite recent results. He said: "If you lose three or four games other teams, as we have seen, can pick results up and you are back in it. The important thing is you remain relentless in the pursuit for the points you need. You can't afford to take your foot off the pedal. We are not good enough, as I have said before, to swan around. We need everybody in the team 100 per cent committed every game - home and away." Paul Wotton has now scored eight goals this season and Pulis said: "He's a massive asset for the football club and it was a fantastic free-kick. Tony Capaldi had one in the same position in the first half and we were disappointed he didn't score. In training, the two of them are very good on dead-balls. We are trying to put two or three people in the wall so we block the keeper. That usually attracts their players to ours and it makes it very difficult then to see the ball until the last minute. If they are hitting the target they have got a good chance of scoring." Wotton's free-kick came after striker Mickey Evans was fouled by Patrick Kisnorbo. Pulis said: "Mickey has been the talisman for us in the last couple of weeks. I'm very pleased with him." After taking the lead, anxiety and fatigue crept into Argyle's play but they defended solidly. Pulis added: "We got a goal up and, I don't know why, but we are nervous. We tend to sit back and people pull others in. They are getting two days off - a nice little break - but we will talk about it on Friday. Even Chuck, he was almost playing on top of Anthony Barness. I think it's just a psychological thing. We are desperate for the points, everybody knows it's a big game and they get a little bit uptight. Let's not forget what players Leicester have got. They brought two on, one who cost £500,000 and the other one was £250,000 When you compare the size of their squad to what we have got here, we certainly didn't under-estimate them. They are a big club, they get over 20,000 a week watching them and they are a couple of years outside the Premiership. We knew it was going to be difficult but I thought the lads showed great spirit, especially in the second half."
Argyle's fans have been given a massive pat on the back following the victory over Leicester City. The game was a re-staging of the match that had been abandoned because of waterlogging in November and fans were admitted free to the re-engagement as long as they could prove they had been at the original fixture - a unique occurrence at Home Park, and one with potential problems. However, a combination of goodwill and good organisation by supporters and staff produced a trouble-free evening. Michael Dunford said: "Our fans excelled themselves. They took notice of the messages we put out, via the Box office, on the club website, in the match-day programme and through the local media, and responded magnificently. Tuesday night was a real one-off and no-one truly knew how things would pan out but, as a result of sensible co-operation between our staff and supporters, the entire evening went as smoothly as we had hoped for. We would like to say a big 'thank you' to our marvellous fans for responding to the situation as they did, and we are glad they were rewarded with a splendid victory."
Argyle beat Leicester City 1-0 at Home Park, the goal coming from Paul Wotton after 47 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Aljofree, Norris, Wotton, Nalis, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. (Subs not used - McCormick, Djordjic, Hodges, Zebroski, Buzsaky). Attendance - 12,591.
Tony Pulis believes it is only a matter of time before David Norris starts getting among the goals on a regular basis. He said: "I don't care who scores as long as we win, to be honest. I have always been like that. I'm more concerned about the performances and the way we are playing than about individuals, but Norris has looked as bright as anybody. He's a good player and I'm very pleased with him. He has been unlucky not to score in the last couple of games but if he keeps getting in there then eventually he will score goals, without a question of a doubt." Pulis has been pleased with the team's recent performances, but is still not satisfied. He said: "If there is a criticism maybe, it is that we have got to slow down a little bit when we get the ball, but you can't take away their enthusiasm and effort, which has been absolutely fantastic. We mustn't lose that whatever happens. Unless we are full tilt, 110 per cent at it, then we will have problems." Pulis has warned that Argyle will have to be at their best tonight against Leicester. He said: "Excuse the pun, but the first game has been washed away and we know it will be tough tonight. They have got a very good squad of players and I think it's a surprise to everybody in football that they are where they are. We are under no illusions it's going to be a tough game. They have got five or six forwards who are more than capable of scoring goals in this league. It's a massive game and coming off two good performances, against Norwich and Crewe, I just hope people come out and support us. We need the atmosphere and spirit from the terraces that we had against Norwich." Pulis is still trying to add strikers to his squad but, so far, without any success. Cheltenham Town's Kayode Odejayi and Leon Best of Southampton, are two of his latest targets. He said: "I'm still hoping the ones that we have been chasing we will catch and be able to bring them in. I haven't given up the hope of that at this present moment. We have inquired about Best but I think there's interest from other clubs. We will have to wait and see what happens there. We have got to be relentless in the pursuit of the better ones. There is always a back-stop around the corner, but we aren't even thinking about the back-stops yet."
Tony Pulis has denied making an offer for Yeovil Town's Darren Way before the midfielder completed a transfer to Swansea City last week. He said: "We inquired about Darren but there was never any bid. We didn't get in a price war with Swansea. Obviously, it's nice that Swansea think Plymouth are such a big club that they would nick someone off us. It's very nice of them"
Lilian Nalis has vowed to put friendships to one side when Argyle take on Leicester City tonight. Nalis, who spent two seasons with Leicester, has already played twice against them this season and is relishing the prospect of a third meeting with his former team-mates. He said: "I wear a green shirt now so they are friends before the game and they are going to be friends after the game, but not during the game. I have got some good memories of the club so I will be happy to see everybody." Leicester are currently in 22nd position in the Championship and Nalis said: "I think it was always going to be a transitional year this season. The manager got rid of all the players he didn't want to work with and he brought all these new players in, and now they are struggling. I think Leicester are a big club and that's why it upsets everybody to be down in this league. We are in trouble as well though. Like I say, I wear a green shirt now so I just need to give everything, and it's going to be exactly the same, whether it's against Leicester or another team." Nalis has impressed in his two appearances for Argyle and he added: "I think we have got two great results, and it could have been better because we should have beaten Norwich. There are some good players here and the manager is working hard tactically. We are well organised on the pitch and we are not conceding goals on a lot of occasions so I think that's a good point." Nalis confirmed there had been interest from Argyle in signing him when he left Leicester last summer. He said: "I was in contact with Plymouth but I chose to go to Sheffield United. That's football and I'm happy to be here now."
Argyle have an injury doubt tonight over Tony Capaldi, who suffered a dead leg in the win at Crewe and Paul Connolly is rated 50-50 by Tony Pulis after missing out on Saturday because of the recurrence of a thigh strain. Pulis said. "Tony Capaldi has got a little bit of a dead leg, a thigh strain, and we'll have to watch him carefully. We'll see what he's like in the morning. Paul Connolly is still a concern for us. He's 50-50, I would say, but since we've got seven days until our next game we might take a chance with him, knowing he's got that rest." David Norris had to have a leg wound stitched up after Saturday's win, but he will line up on the right side of midfield tonight. "Chuck will be OK," Pulis said. "Chuck is a different animal."
Paul Stapleton has admitted Argyle could soon break the club transfer record on a new striker. He said: "At the start of the season, you just hope the budget you give the manager is sufficient, which it was, and which now it clearly isn't because we need to spend more. We are not daft in that respect. We know what we have got to do. I think we will listen to anything the manager puts to us at the minute. We have to. There's no way we want to be in a different division downwards next year so we have got to make sure we spend wisely. You have already seen that with the loan signings that have come in. And I have been very impressed with Lilian Nalis. He seems to be a good acquisition so no-one can criticise the club since Tony Pulis has been here, for bringing in players who don't quite fit, which might have been levied at the previous manager." When asked whether Argyle would break their transfer record, Stapleton said: "Yes, it's a possibility. Buzsaky was close to that. If you can get a good one at that price you have done really well these days. When you look at some of the players we have got - Buzsaky, Capaldi and Norris - you would be saying they are worth much more than that. So, in reverse, you may have to go out and pay a chunk of money." Stapleton revealed Tony Pulis had decided against making bids for strikers such as Nathan Tyson and Grant Holt. He added: "We have looked at the Holts and the Tysons - people of that nature - and the thought is 'not interested'. It might come back to bite you but the thought is 'not for us, not proven in this league'. Tony is a man of his own opinion and he will not swayed by directors saying 'what about this and what about that?' He knows what he wants to do, and we are happy with that." Some Argyle supporters have been frustrated by the lack of transfer activity this month, and have criticised the board for not making money available. Stapleton said: "Tony wants to make sure he brings in the quality that we need, and because of that it takes a bit longer to get the players in. We know that he and his coaching staff are working non-stop to bring people in. To all the fans who look at the board and say 'why haven't you spent money' well, we are not going to spend it, it's up to the manager to do that and the manager is saying 'don't panic.' We know for a fact he is working very hard on it and, hopefully, people will arrive. We are keen to bring players in and we have not turned Tony down on anything that he has asked for so far. It's fair comment what he has said. You could easily go to Scotland or somewhere and get five players, but would they enhance the team?" As for the futures of Rufus Brevett, Bjarni Gudjonsson and Nuno Mendes, Stapleton said: "I think there will be movement, perhaps on all three, before the window closes." Mendes is currently having a trial with the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars
Paul Wotton did not try to play down the importance of Argyle's 2-1 victory at Crewe. He said: "It's absolutely massive for us. The gaffer did a good job of making sure we were up for the game. It was easy last week against Norwich in front of a good crowd at Home Park, but it's different playing at Crewe in front of a lower crowd shall we say. It's hard to get yourself up for it sometimes, but I thought that didn't come into question today. The boys knew how big a game it was and, credit where credit is due, we have come through it. We will take the three points and get on with Leicester on Tuesday now." Wotton put Argyle into the lead with a penalty and grabbed a second goal in stoppage time at the end of the first half with a 25-yard free-kick. He said: "To be honest, I haven't got a great deal of recollection about the free-kick. I would think the keeper would be a bit disappointed. I didn't strike it particularly well, but if you hit the target you have always got a chance. Maybe that's the bit of luck we needed. Today, Mickey had one cleared off the line and the same thing happened to Chuck against Norwich." Luke Rodgers cut the deficit in the 68th minute, which meant some anxiety for Argyle in the closing stages of the game. Wotton added: "It was a poor goal to concede and it did get tense. I think it's inevitable because they were piling people forward but I thought we soaked it up really well. The boys stood up to it and we were strong. I was glad to hear the final whistle. We weren't hanging on but there was a bit of pressure. It's a huge three points." Crewe included Gareth Taylor in their starting line-up after he was signed on loan from Nottingham Forest last week, but Argyle coped well with the Wales international. Wotton said: "Taylor is a handful. He's a proven player at this level and he has been about a long time. He's a big lump as well and we knew Crewe were going to play a little bit more direct. It's very difficult not to when you have got a player like that in your team. He won his fair share of flick-ons but we got the three points. That's all that matters today." Argyle play their re-arranged home game against Leicester tomorrow, knowing a win would put them nine points clear of the relegation zone. Wotton said: "We are fully aware of that, but we will just get back to Plymouth, get recuperated and get ourselves ready for the game. We will deal with that when it comes on Tuesday. Fingers crossed, we can get another good result."
Wednesday's reserve match against Cheltenham Town, which is being played at Tiverton, will now double up to become both a League and Cup game. Both teams have agreed that it is senseless for Cheltenham to travel down for one game, then try and schedule another fixture before the end of the season
Tony Pulis was understandably pleased with his team after yesterdays victory. "We created so many chances in the second half," he said. "We've hit the post and the 'keeper's made an unbelievable save from Chadwick. We still had to defend well; they get the ball up to Taylor quickly and pack players around him. They're not as silky as Dario would like, but they're fighting." The early penalty, according to Pulis, was the correct decision. He said: "I thought it was a penalty, and we may have got another later on. We're very pleased with the three points because it's a difficult place to come to. The crowd get behind them and they've got some good players." Pulis was full of praise for the effort and attitude of the opposition. "Fair play to Crewe, they kept going." he said. "They played more direct football than normal but they're in a difficult situation. We needed the second goal, and a third would have killed them off because they got one back and it put us under pressure." Pulis was particular pleased with the backbone of the team, with sterling performances from Romain Larrieu, Elliott Ward, Lilian Nalis, Michael Evans and Paul Wotton. "The spine of the team played very well, which is what we need," said Pulis. "As the game went on, Nalis got stronger and stronger." Argyle are now unbeaten in their last four away league games and Pulis added: "It's a long way to come, and I'm delighted for the supporters. Our away record is improving but we have got a lot of games to go."
Tony Pulis has confirmed that Elliott Ward will stay at Home Park for another month. He said: "Elliott will be staying for another month which is a bonus for the football club. I spoke to Alan Pardew, and we'll go month by month and take it from there. I always feel comfortable when the ball comes in the box in the air because Ward is so dominant. We're very pleased with him, the ball always hits his head and that's no coincidence."
Argyle won 2-1 at Crewe Alexandra, the goals coming from a Paul Wotton penalty after 3 minutes and a Wotton free-kick in first-half injury time. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Aljofree, Norris, Wotton, Nalis, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs – Hodges (not used - McCormick, Djordjic, Zebroski, Lasley). Attendance - 5,984.
Tony Pulis has revealed he is keeping even Argyle's board of directors in the dark over his transfer targets. He said: "I don't think it's a case of me wanting something and the directors not wanting it. I think it has been a case of both sides working together in unity, to try to get the better players we need to push the club forward. They have been very supportive, but I think they have been a little bit surprised I don't tell them exactly what's happening, until it happens, but that's the way I work. I like to get things sorted out and then go in and say 'this is what I want, let's get it done'. I rang all the directors on Wednesday, just to have a quick chat with them and tell them what I was doing. They all now know I'm going to be working a little bit differently from other managers here previously. That's no disrespect to anyone. It's just the way I think it should be done, with one person in control - and that's the chairman. I think it's important that people realise I will work very closely with Paul, and it's up to Paul then to liaise with the directors." Pulis also has a close working relationship with chief executive Michael Dunford. He said: "Michael has been very helpful and very efficient in one or two things we have asked him to do, which has been pleasing. There is a chain of command, and I'm used to having a chain of command, not where you are telling everybody - where Tom is telling Dick and Dick is telling Harry. Then, before you know it, you are in for seven or eight players you have never even heard of. Plymouth does like a little bit of gossip."
Argyle have scrapped plans to replace their home kit next season. The current Puma strip will continue to be worn until the end of the 2006/07 campaign. However, Argyle will have a new away kit for next season, and it is set to be unveiled in April
Nick Chadwick is aware of the massive importance of Argyle's trip to Crewe this afternoon. "Crewe is important," he said. "They're down there fighting for their lives and we've got to go there and try and get some points off them. We have to get on the front foot and take the game to them. If we do that, we can put them under pressure. We're confident we can come back with three points." Chadwick believes that Argyle are in decent form at the moment, having had the better of last weekend's draw with Norwich. "We did well against Norwich," he added. "We only took one point, which we were disappointed about, and we've got to start turning good performances like that into three points. We had a couple of chances that we should have scored from, including one that fell to me, last Saturday, but that's gone now and we've got to look forward to the Crewe game. We're confident we can get a good result there." Confidence will not turn into complacency, however, as far as Chadwick is concerned. He said: "They're a good passing side, and they've been in this division for a few years now. That's not down to luck, because they're probably one of the best passing sides in this league even though they're at the bottom. Finances are the problem for them, which is why they've never kicked on. They play good football, and we're not taking them lightly. They're at home and they'll be trying to win the game. We'll be trying to do the same, and it's up to us to try and stamp our authority on the game. The start of the match will be important and, if we can kick off on the front foot and take the game to them, hopefully we can come away with the points."
Tony Pulis is wary of the threat Crewe can pose, despite their recent run of poor form. "It will be a difficult game - they've just had a spanking at Derby, but they are a very different proposition at Gresty Road," he said. "I won't be underestimating Crewe but it will probably be the first game we've gone into as slight favourites." Pulis was extremely pleased with the performance against Norwich, and reiterated his determination to carry that form forward into Argyle's forthcoming fixtures. He said: "We proved against Norwich that we can give anybody a game but we have to be at full tilt. We haven't got the quality in the squad to play with our foot half off the pedal. If we are competitive in every game we'll get results." Pulis was also determined to stick to his principles and focus on Argyle's approach to a game, irrespective of the opposition. "I like to focus on our tactics and not worry too much about our opponents," he said, "the only time we've changed our system was against Wolves, and that was because I didn't think we were getting close enough to their players. Sometimes you have to react to what you see on the pitch, particularly against quality players." Pulis is still well aware of the pedigree Crewe possess. "Crewe have pulled out great results down the years and we must not underestimate them," he said. Pulis is no stranger to Dario Gradi, and faced the 'Railwaymen' during his time as manager of Stoke City and added: "I had many battles with Dario during my time at Stoke - it's always a challenge. They've proven that they are an established Championship side."
Lilian Nalis is looking forward to the challenge ahead as Argyle approach two huge games in their attempts to move clear of the relegation zone. "I'm settling in very well at Plymouth Argyle, the lads have been great with me," he said. "I've had a few training sessions and everyone has been really friendly. The French lads have also helped me to settle." Nalis is clearly determined to make an impression. "I want to repay the club for giving me the chance to play games," he said. "I'm going to be a fighter on the pitch and I hope to use my experience to help the team. It's been a frustrating season, I started well but I got tonsillitis after three games and never had another chance to play." Nalis played five matches for Coventry City on loan earlier in the season but the commuting was very difficult for his family. He said: "I enjoyed myself on the pitch at Coventry. I scored a couple of goals, and they offered me another month, but it was tough for my family. They are not English, which makes the situation tougher. It's the same for a lot of foreign players." Nalis snapped up the opportunity to move to Home Park, and he can't wait for the excitement of playing in big games. "I have a great feeling about the place. We have two very important fixtures ahead of us," he said, "two great results can change the whole season. When you are in this position in the league, these games are never easy but we are tactically well organised and we work very hard." After Crewe, Argyle face Nalis's former club, Leicester City, on Tuesday night. Nalis added: "I think I must be the player in the league who has played against Leicester the most times. By the end of the season I will have played them on five different occasions. I played them twice with Sheffield United and once with Coventry. I helped beat them at Bramall Lane at the start of the season but lost the other two games at the Walkers Stadium."
Nick Chadwick has admitted he made a faster than expected recovery from the hamstring injury that sidelined him earlier this month, and he was keen to thank Paul Maxwell for getting him out on the pitch again so soon. Chadwick said: "I was a bit worried because hamstring injuries are things that once you do get they are hard to get rid of. But Maxie did really well with me and now it's nice and strong. We worked together all day, every day for two weeks and he was great. I might not have played against Norwich had he not taken so much care with me."
Tony Pulis has warned that Argyle should not under-estimate Crewe tomorrow. "It's going to be a difficult game for us," he said. "There is no way in a million years I will be going up there thinking it's going to be easy and we can just stroll around for an hour and a half and get a result. If we aren't at full pelt, we aren't going to get a result. It's as simple as that. I have watched them a lot of times at their own ground and they have given people games you wouldn't believe. They have pulled games out of the bag from nowhere. Let's not get too carried away with ourselves. Let's show them a little bit of respect." Crewe drew 1-1 with Argyle in September, and Pulis was at Home Park that night, on a low-profile, fact-finding mission as he prepared his case to take over the hot-seat. He said: "I actually watched that game, but I know what they are about. They have just taken Taylor from Nottingham Forest, who will certainly beef them up a bit." Pulis has been encouraged by his players' mood this week, following the draw with Norwich City last Saturday. "The players trained well yesterday," he said. "They looked really sharp, and that's pleasing. They know their task and they know their jobs. We will be fine-tuning it a little bit today and they will be under no illusions what will be expected of them." Argyle came badly unstuck when they visited Crewe last season, when they were soundly beaten 3-0. Pulis said: "I think they are a team that can do that to you. The young lad Billy Jones is a terrific player in midfield, I have always liked Steve Jones and they have got Johnson on loan from Manchester United. They have now taken Taylor and all of them have played well at this level. Vaughan, on the left of midfield, is being touted around as a Premier League player, so they have got people who can hurt you." Akos Buzsaky is still sidelined by a pelvic injury, but Pulis revealed he could return to training next week. Argyle's only other injury worry tomorrow is Paul Connolly, who suffered a recurrence of a thigh problem against Norwich. Pulis said: "We have had it scanned and there is a small tear, but we are hoping he will be fit."
Tony Pulis has drawn a blank in his bid to add to his squad before the visit to Crewe tomorrow. He said: "It's all quiet at the moment. It looks as though we are going to have to go with what we have got. We need a striker in now desperately with Scotty going, but that was a good deal for the football club and for Scotty, irrespective of what happens. We are looking for better players but better players are being touted around to every Championship side so we are in the market with other people. I drove all the way up north on Wednesday and I could have brought a busload of players back who would like to sign for Plymouth Argyle, but whether they would be good enough is another question. We can't afford to do that here. We have got a few on board that have just fallen short of what we want and we are still paying their wages and carrying them a little bit. That's no disrespect to the players." So far, Lilian Nalis is the only signing Pulis has made during the transfer window and he added: "I think Ward, Jarrett and Nalis have proved we can bring players to the football club who can improve us, but it doesn't happen overnight. There is not a glut of them out there. When you are looking for players of that quality there are other clubs involved. You sift and sift through the sands until something comes up. We have to know where the strikers are. We have to be out there looking, and if one deal falls through you move on the next one and then the next one. We've targeted players that people haven't even thought about. We have to be careful. It's nice to have gossip, but we have to move very cagily and when we do pounce we have to make sure that we get the players that we want." Pulis has made no complaints about the backing he has received from the club's board so far. "Paul Stapleton has been very supportive about what I'm trying to do, and there have been a lot of positives," Pulis said. "We have been working together in unity, and that is important."
Swansea City have claimed they beat off competition from Argyle to sign Plymouth-born midfielder Darren Way in a £150,000 transfer from Yeovil Town
Bjarni Gudjonsson has rejected a move to Lokeren. He said: "I was expecting a much better offer from them as their coach was very interested in getting me into their team." Gudjonsson may have other offers to ponder before the transfer window closes though. Norwegian club Stromsgodset have made an enquiry, while a Scottish side and other English teams are taking an interest. "There are a lot of things for me to think of, and it's possible to come back to Iceland if nothing works out," he added. "My wife is in college and I am interested in getting more education than I did before I went professional."
Argyle's next signing may already have spent some time with the club's first-team squad. Three trialists have been with the team on the training pitch at Harper's Park this week. Tony Pulis would only say: "All of them are foreign, and we'll see how they get on."
Tony Pulis hopes to have two new players in his Argyle squad for Saturday's game at Crewe Alexandra. He said: "It's a priority now to bring new players in, especially with Scotty going and Bjarni close to moving on. I am hopeful of having two new faces on board before Saturday's game at Crewe." One of those new faces is unlikely to be Hibs' striker Konte. "He has been on trial with us, but it's no big deal - we're just having a look at him," said Pulis. "It's happening all the time, to be honest - there are hundreds of players queuing up to come to Plymouth." Of the speculation linking Chris Baird with Argyle, Pulis added: "I know all about Chris Baird - I remember him when he played for Walsall and Watford. But if you say we're one of the clubs said to be interested in him, I'd say it's more like his agent is touting his name around. Also, and I mean no disrespect to anyone, it would be all too easy to shovel in rubbish in order to fill in the gaps. We want to shovel in quality in order for this club to move forward. We've got our targets and so all of us are going to watch matches, both in the afternoons and evenings looking at players."
Tony Pulis has said the club's decision to stage reserve team fixtures away from Home Park was 'unavoidable'. But he has apologised to fans who face a 120-mile round trip to Tiverton. He said: "I can only apologise to the supporters, but because of the fixture pile up and the weather lately we really had no choice. Our pitch has been dealt a number of blows this season and it's vital that we keep it in the best condition possible. I feel sorry for the fans who want to see the reserves play - and don't worry so do we - it's been that long. Unfortunately, it is unavoidable."
Tony Pulis has insisted he will not be rushed into signing a new striker after the sale of Scott Taylor. He said: "Sometimes you hope that you can turn something around very quickly. But we are looking at players maybe the football club haven't looked at before because we are at a different level now. There are loads of conundrums to be sorted out before any deals are done. Of course I wouldn't be happy to go into Saturday with only two strikers. I don't want to go into games with only three of them, but the deal for Scotty was good for him and good for the football club. There's no way in a million years I would have allowed the kid to lose out on a deal like he has got. He's a great lad and his attitude and application ever since I have been at the club have been absolutely first class. I haven't got a bad word to say about Scotty and it's nice when that happens. I do wish him all the best." When pressed on whether a new striker would arrive before the weekend, Pulis said: "We have got loads of irons in loads of fires and we are hoping one or two will come out for us. What people have got to understand is that we are at a different level to what the football club is used to. We have got to be looking to bring in better players than we have got already. When you are working at this level, unless you have got masses of money to throw at it, you are always working very hard to manipulate and manufacture deals." Pulis, who is believed to have checked out Hibs' Mali striker Amadou Konte, added: "They have got to be the right players. You can't have a situation where you are bringing in players who are not going to improve the squad. They have got to be better, and I think Nalis proved that on Saturday. He made an immediate impact." Argyle have been linked with a move for Stoke striker Bruce Dyer but Pulis added: "I don't know anything about that."
Argyle are ready to release Bjarni Gudjonsson should he agree personal terms with Lokeren. Tony Pulis said: "I have had a chat with Bjarni and he's waiting for Lokeren to come back and make him an offer. I think he knows that if he can get himself fixed up then the football club will not stand in his way." It will be the second time Gudjonsson has left a club managed by Pulis, after moving from Stoke City to VfL Bochum in June 2003. Pulis said: "Things didn't work out at Stoke and it hasn't worked out here either, and that's nothing against him. It's not a personal vendetta, a grudge or anything like that. I know his dad and he has got a lovely family. I haven't got any problems with Bjarni."
Scott Taylor is looking forward to making up for lost time at MK Dons, after what he described as a 'year out' at Home Park. He said: "I'm glad to be here. I went to Plymouth and sort of took a year out. I never really got a chance there, so I'm looking forward to coming here and having the opportunity to play again." Taylor was grateful to Tony Pulis for not being obstructive when the chance of a transfer cropped up. "You see what you get with Tony," he said. "His cards are on the table. He told me that, if I had a chance to get away in January, he wouldn't stand in my way. I've got a lot of respect for Tony. He's been different class in helping me get a move, so I thank him for that."
Nick Chadwick believes he and Mickey Evans are really starting to hit it off as Argyle's strikeforce. He said: "We are understanding each other a lot better. Mickey is doing a great job for us this season, he really is. All the forwards were taking a little bit of stick from everyone at the start of the season and it's nice to see we are turning it around. We are, in a nice way, sticking two fingers up to all the criticism we were getting because I think we are causing defences problems." Norwich's centre-backs Gary Doherty and Craig Fleming will not have had many more uncomfortable afternoons all season than they had at Home Park and Chadwick said: "I think Doherty and Fleming probably went back up bruised and knowing they had had a tough time. That, as forwards, is what we have got to try to do. We have got to give defenders tough times and I thought the pair of us did that on Saturday." Chadwick believes he and Evans are starting to benefit from playing alongside each other on a regular basis. He said: "There's no way you can create an understanding between two people when you are playing for two weeks, then you are out, and then you are back in again. When you play together for eight, 10 games on the run you do get that understanding. I know Mickey's game inside-out and I'm sure he knows my game inside-out. We know when to have a go at one another and we know when the other one has done well. I think we are forging a good partnership." Chadwick is the teams joint top scorer this season and Evans has scored three goals, but none of his have come since September 17th. Despite this, Chadwick insisted that Evans played a very important role for the club. Chadwick said: "Even though Mickey has not been among the goals lately he has probably contributed to many of the goals we have scored. So credit to Mickey because he's doing really well, but credit to all the lads. We are thin on the ground as a group of players but I think we are doing really well."
Argyle have announced plans to move some reserve games away from Home Park. They will play next Wednesday's fixture against Cheltenham at Tiverton's Ladysmead ground, and have plans to play one more reserve there before the end of the season. The decision has been taken for several reasons, not least of which is to take the pressure off Home Park that has been caused by a fixture pile-up which has affected both the first and reserve teams this season. Michael Dunford said: "We have really been left with no option but to look elsewhere to play a couple of our home reserve games as an emergency measure. Along with the league, we looked at a number of grounds in both Devon and Cornwall, and Tiverton's was the only one which fitted the exhaustive requirements of the league. We're delighted with the arrangement that we have come to with Tiverton - I have no doubt they will be marvellous hosts - and both clubs are looking forward to a mutually beneficial partnership. Although we will not be playing at Home Park for a couple of games, we will still play four more reserve team games at Home Park this season, and we know our supporters will understand the compelling reasons behind our decision. We apologise to the few hundred regulars who look forward to attending matches at Home Park who will be affected by this, but I am sure they will understand that the decision was outside our control. It does mean that members of the Green Army further upcountry can get to games they might otherwise have been unable to see. All Green member season-ticket holders will, of course, still be allowed into the games at Tiverton free of charge."
Scott Taylor has left Argyle to join Milton Keynes Dons for a fee of £100,000. Tony Pulis said: "From the moment I walked into the club to this present day, Scott Taylor has conducted himself as a model professional. He's been fantastic around the place. He's not always been involved in the team, or in the squad, but his attitude and application has been first class. I wish him all him all the very best at his next club. I'm sure he'll go there and get goals for them."
It is a sign of their renewed confidence that the Argyle players emerged from their dressing room disappointed after Saturday's draw with Norwich. "It was a point, but perhaps two dropped in the end," Mat Doumbe said. "Everyone is feeling a bit disappointed because we played well, played tight at the back, and did not let them play. We had chances as well, a couple of which we felt deserved to go in. We are disappointed we didn't win. We feel like we deserved to win, but at the same time you don't want to be greedy. You don't want to lose at home, so perhaps it was a good point for us." This weekend Argyle travel to Crewe Alexandra who, like Argyle, are desperate for points in their survival battle. "The Crewe game is very important," said Doumbe, "This is more of the type of game we need to get a win from, simply as they are down there with us. They are battling like us, so if we get three points from there it will be a good job for us." if last weekend's display is anything to go by, Doumbe and Argyle will head into this game in confident mood. He added: "The team is getting more confident. OK, we had a bad loss against Leeds at home, but before that we had a couple of draws and some wins, so you could see the way we are playing is much better." Together with Elliott Ward, Doumbe has provided a solid look to the heart of the Argyle defence. A point not lost on Tony Pulis, who said: "Mat has done well. He's a bit frustrating at times. He does some very, very good things and then he'll let himself down by doing some stupid things. I don't know if he's ever been coached. He's got things to learn, but he's a genuine and honest kid who is good to have around the football club." Doumbe has set himself the target of remaining as an ever present for the remainder of the season. He said: "You always want to be constant in the team, especially when you play at the back. I would like to play like that all season and try to finish every game. For the moment, I'm really pleased. I'm going to try to stay focused and be careful with my fitness."
Tony Pulis has allowed Lilian Nalis to have a couple of days off so he can collect some personal belongings from his home in Sheffield. Nalis trained with Argyle at Harper's Park yesterday morning before returning to South Yorkshire and Pulis said: "He has gone up north to get all his gear, to make sure he's settled in down here by Thursday. He trained well yesterday. He looked sharp and I think he enjoyed his debut on Saturday. I think he showed enough to let people know he has got the quality we will need."
Argyle have invested in an anti-frost pitch protection cover for Home Park. Michael Dunford said: "The board has acted promptly after the postponement of the Preston game in deciding to invest in an anti-frost pitch cover, which we now have. Hopefully, there will be no recurrence of games being postponed at Home Park due to similar weather conditions that prevailed against Preston. It is a substantial investment but we want to ensure games take place on the scheduled dates to avoid inconvenience to Argyle fans and travelling supporters. We now hope that supporters can see we have acted positively to avoid a similar situation in the future."
Lilian Nalis felt that Argyle were unlucky not to win on Saturday against Norwich. He said: "The team needed a win today and in the end we were not too far away from that. There was some really good commitment from all the players, and I was really pleased with that. The team was ready to compete today and were really organised to play against Norwich. I think it was a good game, but sometimes little things make the difference." With Crewe Alexandra next up for Argyle, Nalis knows that the team face another testing encounter next weekend. He added: "When you are in this position in the league, you have got big games every week. You just have to make sure you are ready for it. Everybody can beat everybody in this division. I thought we defended well today; we were very organised, but, if you make a small mistake against a team like Norwich, they are going to put it in the net, and that is what happened. Even in the second half, though, we had lots of chances and good things happened for the team." Nalis added that he is looking forward to playing a key role for Argyle between now and the end of the season. "I just want to get back to my level, play games, and get my fitness going," he said. "I feel it can only get better. I need to keep working hard and try to learn about all the players. It is sometimes difficult because when you arrive you do not know everything. I only had one training session, so I am happy to get a week to work with everyone and try to learn more about them."
Nick Chadwick ended the debate about who scored Argyle's goal on Saturday by insisting: 'It was mine.' He said: "Obviously, it's my job to get across the near post and Tony put it into that area. I thought their lad was going to clear it and I just managed to get in the way of him and, in doing that, the ball deflected off my shin, through my legs and crept over the line. Things like that weren't going for me when I first came here and I'm glad they are going for me now. It was definitely over the line. As I checked over my shoulder, I knew their lad was struggling to clear it. But it was still nice to see the referee and the linesman give it." When asked about the goal Tony Pulis said: "I don't care who scores, whether it's their player, Tony or Chadders. It doesn't really matter as long as it ends up in the net." Today however, Pulis added: "It's Chadwick's. We've got it on the DVD - Chadwick gets the last touch. So it's Chadders' goal. If he's got the touch, it's his goal. He was straight in here, first thing this morning. I think he's watched it again a few times as well!"
Tony Pulis was frustrated Argyle did not take all three points on Saturday but had no complaints about the endeavour shown by his players. He said: "We are disappointed not to have won. I thought it was a cracking game. They have got some good players and, unfortunately, from one of the mistakes we made, they punished us. We had lots of opportunities again to go and get the second goal. We need to score more than one goal. It takes the pressure off the team and people can relax a little bit more. At 1-0, especially against the better teams, you are always worried that someone, like an Ashton or a Huckerby, will pull something out of the bag. It was disappointing defending. I think there was a little foul on Anthony just before the first challenge. Huckerby tried to clip his heels. Unfortunately, the referee didn't see it, but I'm not criticising the referee. I thought he did okay today. With the second challenge, Anthony should have cleared him out, but he didn't. Huckerby had two nice bounces and finished it off with aplomb. Last week, they played without Ashton and Huckerby and this week they played with the two of them, and they were always the dangermen. That's sometimes how your luck goes, but I was very pleased with the commitment of the players and their performance. I thought we played at a good tempo and everybody - everybody - worked very hard. It was a little bit different than what it was last week at Wolves." Lilian Nalis made his first appearance for Argyle and Pulis said: "I was pleased with him. He hasn't played a lot of football for the last couple of months, so he had to work to get to the pace of the game, but I thought he played well. He showed some good touches, has got good experience and the keeper has made a good save off him at the start of the second half." Soon after that save Darren Huckerby grabbed his spectacular equaliser. Pulis said: "It was a bad time to concede a goal. It knocked us flat a little bit but, having said that, even in the second half, I was very pleased with what the lads did." One of the best performances came from Mickey Evans who, at 33, still plays an important role for the team and Pulis added: "I thought he was fantastic. Mickey was really, very good. He caused the two centre-halves all sorts of problems. They will be pleased to get on the bus and get back to Norwich and not see him again this season. I thought there were some good performances out there. Norris - how much ground did he cover? He just got through it. Nalis did well and Wotton was unglamorous, but he did all the bits and pieces and won us a fair share of the play."
Tony Pulis wants to further extend the loan stay of Elliott Ward. He said: "Elliott enjoys it here and likes it here. I have spoken to Alan Pardew and we will, hopefully, talk again this week. I think everybody likes it in Plymouth once they come down. When you talk to some players, I think they see it almost as a different planet, but once they come down here they see it's such a fantastic place to live and a beautiful area. The people have been very warm and friendly to me and I think the big thing with Elliott is that they have been the same to him. It's a football club that welcomes people and it has got that nice feel about it."
Tony Pulis felt that Simon Charlton's goal-line clearance of David Norris's first-half shot was the crucial moment in yesterdays draw. "We're disappointed not to win the game," said Pulis. "It was a cracking game. They have got some good players. We had lots of opportunities again - good chances to have got a second goal - and we need to do that. It takes the pressure off the team. People can relax a bit more. At 1-0, especially against the better teams, you always worry that someone like an Ashton or a Huckerby will pull something out of the bag. Unfortunately, one of the mistakes we made, they punished us." Pulis was pleased with the contribution of Lilian Nalis and said: "He obviously hasn't played much football recently so he had to work to get to the pace of the game, but he showed some good touches. We need that. I'm very pleased with the commitment from the players. I thought we played at a good tempo. Everybody worked very hard and did their best for the team."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Norwich City at Home Park, the goal coming from a Simon Charlton own goal after 24 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Barness, Buzsaky, Wotton, Nalis, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs – Taylor (not used - McCormick, Djordjic, Hodges, Aljofree). Attendance - 13,906.
Lilian Nalis was enthusiastic about the opportunity to sign for Argyle on a short-term contract and philosophical about his short-lived stay with Sheffield United. He said: "I started the season but after three games I got tonsillitis and when I came back the team was doing well. I had a month's loan in Coventry but when you are a professional footballer you are looking for first team football. I think I did my job for three games at Sheffield and after that I was unlucky. I'm hungry about football and I just want to play and enjoy myself. I will keep my head down and work hard." Nalis flew to the South West on Thursday night and trained with his new team-mates for the first time at yesterday. He said: "We were preparing for the game so it was no pace. The manager just explained to me what he wants from the team and what he wants from me. I'm going to give it everything I can. I'm a hard player and I can't do anything less than that. I'm 34 years old so you never know what's going to happen next. I feel quite good now so maybe at the end of the season I'm going to say 'I will carry on'. For the moment, it's only six months and that's what I need to be focussed on." Two of Nalis' new team-mates are French compatriots Romain Larrieu and Mathias Doumbe. Nalis said: "I know both of them because I played against Plymouth for Leicester last season, but not very well. It's a good thing for a start because I'm sure they will try to help me out and everything. But all the lads were fine with me this morning so I really enjoyed it." Nalis is following in the footsteps of David Friio as a Frenchman wearing number 4 for Argyle. "I played against him last season as well, but I don't really know about the success he had with Plymouth," said Nalis. "I know he's a good player and he signed for Nottingham Forest, which is near Leicester, so I have heard about him." Nalis added: "I just want to adapt myself as quickly as possible and do my best to get on with all the lads and enjoy my time here."
Jason Jarrett is expected to start for Norwich at Home Park today and David Norris, who played alongside Jarrett throughout December, said: "It will be strange to play against Jason. He did really well when he was here, but maybe one of us will have to give him a little early knock!" Argyle lost 1-0 at Wolves in the FA Cup last week and Norris added: "We didn't do ourselves justice at Wolves, where we probably sat back too much. We've not played as well as we can do, and we want to put that right this Saturday when we're at home. We've got to put some pressure on Norwich. Hopefully we can put in a performance. Norwich have come down from the Premiership, so they're still full of quality. They had a bad start, but recently they've put a few results together and they're climbing back up the table. We know it's going to be a difficult game." Argyle are aiming to reproduce the form they showed in their last home win, against Crystal Palace before Christmas. Norris said: "We did really well as a team against Palace, and we've been working hard this week in training to try to get back to how we were in that game. We need that sort of performance again."
Tony Pulis has reiterated how hard it is for Argyle to compete in the Championship, given the vast gulf between the club's resources and those enjoyed by many of their rivals. Pulis said: "We might lack a little bit of quality and guile, but other clubs have paid a fortune to get that. We haven't got that. We've got what we've got. We have to show commitment so that teams don't find it easy to play against us. For me, if you're not competitive, there's no excuse. At clubs who have been successful over a period of time, people turn up expecting you to win regardless of who you're playing, even against teams like Leeds. They don't sit down and look at where the club is in its development. People have to realise that you need stability and development. If you get that, then you've got a chance. If you don't realise that, you start jumping and yelling because you can't beat a team with four £1 million strikers in their team, a team with a wage bill six times higher than yours and a team with 38 professionals when you've only got 18. Sometimes you want to shake these people and say: 'Are you really on this planet?' Let's be realistic. We're not playing the likes of Bury any more. We're not the big bullies in the playground. We're the small fry up against the big bullies. We have to build ourselves up and be a bit stronger before we take to the ring, and that will be done over a period of time. It won't be done overnight. When I joined this club, I didn't say it would be easy. I didn't say it would be done straight away. It will be done over a period of time. That's the challenge."
Lilian Nalis is happy to have signed a deal to stay at Home Park until the end of the season, and is not even thinking about Tony Pulis's challenge to win himself a longer contract. "The most important thing is what happens on the pitch," he said. "I'm not looking to next season. What I want to do is to bring the most I can to the team until the end of the season. After that, we will have to see. It's been a difficult six months, not playing a lot. I played in the first three games and, after that, I got tonsillitis and got dropped form the team; the team was playing really well, so I was just waiting for a recall. I've been at Coventry for a month, played five games and scored five goals, and enjoyed myself for a month, but it was difficult, driving to Coventry from Sheffield all the time. I had to go back to look after my family, which why I decided not to stay at Coventry. I'm just happy to settle here and bring all I can for the team." Nalis has played in Italy, as well as his native France, but puts those both behind his experiences in this country. "The most enjoyable is England," he said. "There's nowhere in Europe where football is more popular and enjoyable. England is the best, after France and Italy. English football is passion." Nalis is the third Frenchman currently on Argyle's books - after Romain Larrieu and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, but Nalis has not come across his compatriots too often. He said: "I played against Romain last season, but I don't know Mat - he's 24 years old and he's not my generation."
Lilian Nalis has joined Argyle for the remainder of the season from Sheffield United and Tony Pulis is hoping the experience of the French midfielder can help the team maintain their Championship status. "We're very pleased," said Pulis. "The fact that he's had Premiership experience, as well as Championship experience, helps, but the big thing here is that he's waived an 18-month contract at Sheffield United to come here from now until the end of the season. It shows he's not going to just sit around and take his money. He wants to come here and play, and impress everybody and try to get a contract for next season. He's given up 18 months just to get six months. He's a good passer of the ball. We need more players who have played in this league, who have got experience of this league, for the run-in and he has played a lot of games at this level. He has been promoted to the Premiership with Leicester City, as well, so he'll add to the squad."
Tony Pulis is looking forward to the challenge of facing Norwich at Home Park on Saturday. He said: "Norwich are a fantastic footballing team, they were in the Premiership last season and we know it's going to be a tough game. We've watched them the last few weeks, they've had good results away from home. It's another challenge for the players and we have to rise to the occasion." The possible absence of Dean Ashton from the Norwich line-up was of little relevance to Pulis. "Ashton may not play but they've got Leon Mckenzie, Peter Thorne and Darren Huckerby - all good players," he added, "We've got to play to our strengths and focus on what we can do. It was a bit of a damp squib against Wolves and we need more fire against Norwich, If we perform and work hard, and get the breaks, we'll give them a tough game." Pulis was also keen to point out the progress made by the club in recent years, and said: "The players have been fantastic and we must remember how far this club has come." The return of Nick Chadwick from injury and the cup-tied Elliott Ward is a welcome boost . Pulis said: "We're hoping Chadwick will be fit, and Ward will come back into the side. Akos is struggling though - he's feeling the injury again and needs rest. Although he's not causing himself any damage he is uncomfortable and I don't think he wants to play with that pain. I think we are looking at him being out for maybe two or three weeks. We have diagnosed it and it's bruising on the bone, around by the pelvis. He's still feeling it and he's saying it's sore when he's playing. He can go about 75 or 80 per cent but not full tilt. It's not comfortable for him and he wants to be full tilt when he plays. We have just got to rest him. We can't do anything else. We can't treat it. We have kept him off it. We have kept him away from training and just asked him to turn up for games but, unfortunately, he's still feeling it."
Jason Jarrett will be back at Home Park tomorrow, playing for Norwich, not Argyle. It means he will come up against Paul Wotton, after the pair forged a good partnership in central midfield during his loan stay. Wotton said: "We know a lot about Jason, because it's still fresh in our minds from playing in the same side as him. He's a good player and I got on well with him while he was here. I will wish him all the best after the game. We were getting a little understanding going and it was working well. We had some good results as well. He's a nice lad, so it will be nice to see him after the game." Norwich's injury crisis ended any hopes Tony Pulis had of extending Jarrett's loan, or even trying to complete a permanent transfer. Pulis said: "We were delighted with Jason's attitude, his efforts and his performances while he was with us. Jason is a good Championship player and we were disappointed not to keep hold of him. It will be nice to see him again. But he is now a Norwich player and his first priority on Saturday will be to help his side get the three points. He's making a very quick return but, to be honest, I haven't given it a second thought. I'm more interested in what we, as a club, are trying to achieve. However, I will no doubt have a little chat with him before the game and ask him not to play well!" Despite the injuries at Carrow Road, they still possess a squad capable of challenging for a play-off spot and Wotton added: "On paper, they have probably got one of the best squads in the league. They were in the Premiership last season and it took them a bit of time of adjust back to the Championship, but they are flying at the minute so it's going to be another tough game for us." Dean Ashton will have a late fitness test and Wotton would not be sorry if he failed it because he holds a high opinion of the striker. Wotton said: "I would say he's probably the best centre-forward in the league. He proved last season he could score goals in the Premiership. He's honest, strong, has got a good touch and good movement, and he can finish with either foot. There are not many weaknesses there, really. He's a good lad as well." The visit of Norwich is the first of three home games for Argyle before the end of January, which gives them the chance to pick up precious points in their battle to stay clear of the relegation positions. Wotton said: "It's important we win our home games and nick the odd point away from home. They are three games to look forward to. It feels like a long time since we played at home, but we will get Norwich out the way and then worry about the other two afterwards."
Bjarni Gudjonsson looks set for a transfer to Lokeren during the transfer window. He is currently training with the Belgian side in Malaga, after they made an inquiry to Argyle about his availability. Tony Pulis confirmed that Gudjonsson is spending 'a couple of days' on trial but he would not comment about the player's future until he had spoken to the player himself. " Lokeren approached the club to ask about the possibility of Bjarni being able to train with them and permission was granted," said Pulis. "No decision will be made about Bjarni's future until I have spoken to the player myself. And, of course, he would need to agree terms with the club before any move was forthcoming. But, yes, he is training with Lokeren at the moment, although he is due to return to us later this week." Pulis confirmed that he is making inquiries of his own to add to his numbers of playing personnel. He said: "Should Bjarni leave - and added to the loss of Jason going back to Norwich - it would leave us a little short. But I am aware that we need to strengthen the team in all areas, not just in midfield." Pulis is aware that he has to be careful with returning midfielder Lee Hodges. "We are very pleased with Lee and to have him back in the fold is a real bonus for the club," he said. "Yet there is a risk that we could ask too much of him, too soon. We need to look at the situation regularly and see what Lee is up to. But Lee coming back to fitness is like signing a new player."
Marcus Martin has been released by Argyle and has joined Truro City
Tony Pulis has tried to reassure Argyle supporters he is busy trying to bring new players to Home Park. He said: "The board have been very supportive. Yes, we haven't come out with any names but I prefer to do my business very quietly. I don't like to let other people know what's happening. That proved to be the case when we signed Ward and Jarrett on loan earlier in the season. We were very fortunate then, and I'm just hoping and praying we will be fortunate with one or two others over the next couple of weeks. I have spoken to Paul Stapleton and the rest of the directors and they see the same things that everybody else sees. They are supporters and are desperate for their football club to push on. In the conversations we have had over the last three or four weeks, I know they have seen the difference a Ward or a Jarrett can make. They can see if we can bring players of that quality in it will give us an opportunity to push on. They are not silly. Let's put it this way - they have been nothing less than encouraging." Wage demands are clearly going to be a problem for Argyle when they are competing at the same level as several former Premiership clubs, and on top of that, they must compete with their rivals when it comes to substantial transfer fees. Pulis said: "It's very difficult. Leicester, for instance, have just paid £750,000 for Fryatt. They also spent £500,000 on Hume at the beginning of the season, £250,000 for Hammond and a little bit more for de Vries as well. They have spent good money, and I think most of the teams at our level have done that on their forwards. We know, as a football club, that if we are going to get that little bit more quality we are going to have to try to find the money to invest in these players. We have set ourselves targets and people we want to try to bring to the football club. On Monday morning we started ringing clubs up to see if those players are available and, if so, making offers for them. The squad is short of quality and numbers and we have got to try to fill those voids. There's no doubt we need to lose one or two as well."
Akos Buzsaky may have played his last game as a striker for Argyle, following last weekends unsuccessful experiment against Wolverhampton Wanderers. As he reflected on the loss to Wolves, Tony Pulis said: "I wanted to see Akos alongside a centre-forward, where he could try to find more space, rather than be bogged down in a wide area where players are up against him all the time. Having seen him there last Saturday, I think he's better off bogged down in a wide area, because the game really passed him by, without being too disrespectful to Akos. I don't know why. Being a footballer with natural ability and instinct, you would expect him to find that space. I thought he would make that spare man for us, to help us pass the ball, but I think he went through a spell where he gave away seven balls consecutively. I thought Akos would really enjoy the opportunity of finding those spaces. We told him to play anywhere. He wasn't asked to come back and do any work defensively. We might do it again, but I'm not sure. He's still short of what he was before he got injured, and that's going to take him time. But we need him flying and playing like he was before he got injured, because he was controlling games and making things happen. It's sharpness as well as match-fitness which Akos is lacking at the moment. He's the type of player who has to be 100 per cent right. People have their ups and downs. They have good games and they have bad games, but we know what Akos can do. He's a vital member of the squad."
Paul Stapleton has put on a brave face after coming close to a money-spinning FA Cup tie against Manchester United at Home Park. Argyle were beaten 1-0 by Wolves on Saturday, who were then drawn against either Burton Albion or Manchester United in the next round. Stapleton estimated Argyle could have made £750,000 had they got through, and he said: "Unfortunately, we were a little bit short on Saturday. This just makes you realise the merits of the FA Cup. I know Tony Pulis is quite keen on cup competitions and he picked his strongest possible side against Wolves. It's frustrating when this sort thing of happens but I don't budget for money from the cups so anything is a bonus, especially at this time of year with the transfer window open. It's disappointing, but who's to say that had we won against Wolves Steve Perryman would have picked out our ball to play Manchester United?" Stapleton admitted he received many telephone calls following the draw yesterday, including some from his boardroom colleagues. "Had we played Wolves in a replay and beaten them and then drawn Manchester United at home on Sky TV we could have been talking about £750,000," he added. "You only need one of those a year and the balance sheet is fine, but there's always next year. We will be a stronger team next year, I have absolutely no doubt about that. Everybody said on Saturday we would be able to concentrate on the league now - that old football cliché. It was done in tongue in cheek but that's all you can say when you have lost in the FA Cup."
Tony Pulis has spoken of his delight at seeing Lee Hodges return to action. "I'm pleased for Hodgy, he's sore but glad to get through 60 minutes of first-team football," he said. "He's a great kid and you want to see people like him get on. It's nice to have another addition to the squad and I was pleased with his performance." The one negative aspect for the manager is the absence of reserve team games, which forced him into re-introducing Hodges to the first-team without a proper game under his belt in almost 12 months. Pulis said: "At Stoke City we had 30 teams within an hour's drive but here, we are limited to Torquay and Exeter. We have to just work the players hard in training. I feel sorry for them because they want to play." There is hope for the future with the possibility of a Championship reserve league being established, which would be divided into north and south divisions. "We'd have 20 odd games and I'd be more than happy with that. I'm not concerned with the traveling," added Pulis
Tony Pulis is hopeful that Nick Chadwick could return to the side next weekend. He said. "We're hoping he will be ok. Hamstrings are difficult because you feel like you can push it but, if aggravated, you face six weeks out. I'll leave it to our Physio, Paul Maxwell and the player to decide, they know better than anyone." Another recent injury concern, Akos Buzsaky, was also in the managers' thoughts. "He's still short of what he was before the injury," said Pulis, "we need him back to the form he was in before the injury because he was flying, controlling games for us and making things happen. He's still lacking a bit of sharpness and match fitness." Pulis was slightly disappointed that Buzsaky was unable to influence the game at Wolves more and added. "As a player with natural ability, I hoped Akos would find more spaces behind Micky Evans, and make the extra man in midfield count. He's looked a better player on the right flank, but we know what he can do. Chuck seems to relish that spot and Akos has also played well out there - I could, maybe, play him on the other wing."Reflecting on the cup loss Pulis was unimpressed by the quality of the game. He said: "I thought the match was well below-par for both sides. With only 11,000 people in the ground, it almost felt like a testimonial game. If you draw a team in your own league it seems to take away some of the flavour of the cup. There were 25,000 at Molineux the week before and the atmosphere picks everybody up. I'm not making any excuses and I'll have a pop at the players today."
Lee Hodges made a shock comeback on Saturday and no-one was more surprised than him. He said: "I didn't find out I would be playing until today when we had the team meeting. It did come as a bit of a shock but I just wanted to be involved eventually. Other than the result, I really enjoyed it out there." Hodges was grateful to Paul Maxwell for nursing him back to full fitness following such a long lay-off. He said: "There have been times where I thought to myself 'maybe this is it' but deep down I hoped it wasn't. Maxie has done brilliant for me. We have been together so long now I think he has had enough of me. After I had the injections in the summer time it started to improve month by month and it has got to the stage where I feel okay now. All I have got to worry about now is the journey home. Hopefully, I will be able to move when we get back!" With no reserve team fixtures planned until February, Pulis decided to throw Hodges in at the deep end against Wolves. He added: "There are just no reserve games going around at the moment. It's frustrating for me because all I want to do is try to get match fit. I have been training for over a month now and it's not the same as playing matches. The manager has given me an opportunity today and I was really pleased." Pulis was thrilled with the successful return especially as he only has a small squad at the moment. He said: "I have been desperate to get Hodgie a game for the last couple of weeks and that hasn't happened. With the three players we were missing today, it was a chance to put him in there. I didn't tell him until this morning. I kept it quiet. We worked on stuff in training yesterday without him actually being in the team but I always had it in the back of my mind I would give him an hour today. I thought he did very, very well."
Argyle's recently postponed match against Preston North End has been re-arranged for Tuesday March 7th at 7.45pm
Tony Pulis admitted that his team had not deserved to go into today's draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup after yesterdays defeat. He said: "I thought the best team won - I've no qualms about that, but I think it just shows that, if you take three players who have been very, very important to us out of the side, what we've got left is not enough really to compete with the best teams. Having said that, we've played Wolves now for three hours and they've come out on top by the odd goal. They bring on a striker who is £2m worth, and I think that's the difference between the two teams. You have to keep everything in perspective. Have a look around the place, at the size of the squad, the money they've spent, what they've got - we're not there at this present moment. If Wolves don't get promoted, there will be a massive disappointment around this place - they will expect to be there - and we're not at this level at the moment, nowhere near it. Our expectations are to consolidate and mid-table.We've got a lot of work to do to catch up." Despite his admission, Pulis believed his team got stronger as the game went on. "We did better in the second half than we did in the first half," he said. "I thought we were very much on the back foot in the first half, just waiting for things to happen. With 20 minutes to go, they had not scored the second goal which would have killed the game. They get nervous and you are hoping you can get something out of the game, take them back to Plymouth on a Tuesday night." One bright spot for Argyle was the return of Lee Hodges, who played for the first hour, making his comeback after nearly a year out through injury. "I've been desperate to get Hodgy a game for the last couple of weeks, but that's not happened," said Pulis. "With what we have and haven't got, it was a chance to put him in there. I didn't tell him until this morning. We worked on stuff yesterday without him being in the team, but it was always in the back of my mind to give him an hour today.I thought he did very well. He just wants to play. He was pleased and I think the players were, as well. He's been very good in training and his attitude has been first class."
Argyle lost 1-0 in the FA Cup third round at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Hodges, Capaldi, Evans. Subs – Taylor, Djordjic (not used - McCormick, Lasley, Zebroski). Attendance - 11,041.
Paul Wotton and his team-mates will not be taking today's game lightly, despite their position in the Championship. He said: "It's the FA Cup, with all its tradition, and it will be a fantastic game to play in. The League is more important to us in the long run, but it's a game of football and it's there to be won. We're fully aware of what Wolves are capable of, because for the first half hour last week it was like playing against Barcelona, but we got to grips with them and we did very well in the end." Argyle would probably settle for another draw against Wolves, but will be going to Molineux to win. "We'd like to get it over with first time," Wotton added. "We've had a lot of games lately, and the last thing we need is another game, but if it's a draw then we'll have to deal with it and try to win the replay back down here." Argyle will not be at full-strength today, but will not shirk the challenge they face. "We're a bit thin on the ground at the moment," Wotton said, "but all the lads are involved in training so everybody knows what is expected of them. For anyone who hasn't been in the team lately, this game could give them a chance to impress."
Argyle's line-up today will have a very different look to the team that played Wolves last week. Argyle's scorer a week ago, Elliott Ward, is one of four absentees from that squad as he is forbidden from taking part as his club, West Ham, do not want him cup-tied. Jason Jarrett and Matt Derbyshire have returned to thir own clubs whilst Nick Chadwick is still suffering from a hamstring problem. Tony Pulis said: "It was a tough game seven days ago, and that was with Jarrett, Ward and Chadwick in the team. They were three big players for us - you can imagine how tough it's going to be without those three in. We know how tough it's going to be, but we'll give it our best shot. We've got what we've got and we've got to get on with it. I'm just disappointed we're not going up there with a full-strength team and maybe upset them again, but we'll see how it goes. If we had the team I wanted to put out, then we could go there and say 'Come on, let's have a right go at these' but you take three players from us and it affects us. Even Sheffield Wednesday can lose three players and put three experienced players in - I don't think we've got that at the moment. It'll give Has and one or two others - Djordjic hasn't played much, Lasley - a chance to stake a claim in the team and we can see what they are made of." Pulis, who is also taking Chris Zebroski and Luke Summerfield to the midlands, made no excuses after Monday's defeat by Leeds, but has revised his opinion since. "The second half was a disappointment," he said, "but I've watched the tape and, first half, we were the better team - we actually took the game to Leeds. Again, we had great situations where we should be scoring goals, and we're not. We're getting on top and letting teams off, and we can't afford to do that. The first goal changed the game. We became tired, heavy-legged and a bit disjointed, and I don't think we are a team that can chase games. We're okay when we are leading and hanging on - we'll fight like hell - but I think we lose a little bit of heart when we're chasing games. Maybe that's because we're not a very free-scoring team."
Argyle's reserve game at Swansea, scheduled for next Wednesday, has been postponed. No new date has yet been agreed
Tony Pulis appears to have failed in his bid to add to his squad ahead of tomorrow's FA Cup tie at Wolves. Pulis is short of numbers and options for the game after Jason Jarrett and Matt Derbyshire were recalled from loan spells and Elliott Ward misses the game at Molineux because West Ham do not want him cup-tied. Nick Chadwick is definitely out with a hamstring injury and there is a doubt over Akos Buzsaky, who is still struggling with an on-going abdominal problem. However, Pulis has refused to be rushed into buying, despite the transfer window opening. "If there are deals to be done, and they're good deals, let's do them - if they're not, let's not do them," he said. "I'm not going to panic and sign just anybody because we are short - and we are short. I think we have got to get players in and get players in quickly. Once we do push away from the bottom, I think there will be a lot of changes during the summer. The chairman has said there's money available if I want it. Obviously it will be within the limits of what we can afford, but there's money there to spend. But it's getting the right ones at the right price for the right football club. I'm not going to rush. There's no way in a million years I am going to rush. I want to try and get the quality we got with Jarrett and Ward, because it makes a difference. It has made a difference over the last month at our football club. We know we've got to improve if we are going to stay up and push on in this league." Tomorrow Argyle make their second trip to Molineux inside a week and despite the loss of Chadwick, Jarrett and Ward, there is good news. David Norris, who missed the Leeds game due to suspension, is available again. Pulis said: "You can write Chadwick off now but Buzsaky will be a late decision. With a hamstring injury it is very, very difficult to take a chance - especially as it's going to be a tough game up there. If it goes against you, you are looking at two or three weeks out instead of just 10 days. Although Nick's improving slowly, I've had many hamstring injuries myself, so I know what it's like. We're concerned. We don't want to lose him for maybe two or three weeks. So there's no Chadwick, no Ward and no Jarrett, so it's going to be a really good test for everybody. I will probably take Chris Zebroski and he'll probably be on the bench tomorrow. But we've got Chuck back and it will give Has a chance to get back in the team and it will give one or two others the chance to stake a claim in the team. We'll see what they're made of."
Tony Pulis would enjoy heaping more pressure on Glenn Hoddle by knocking his team out of the FA Cup tomorrow. The third round tie has been spiced up after Hoddle criticised Argyle's style of play last week and there is history between the two managers, with Pulis holding the psychological edge both as Argyle boss and last season when he was in charge at Stoke City. Pulis laughed off Hoddle's jibe and instead of becoming angry used wit instead of a blade to stab home a well-aimed riposte. He said: "When Stoke played them last year, they were desperately disappointed that we took four points off them. We beat them 2-0 at the Britannia and drew 1-1 at Molineux - and they scored in the 94th minute. For a manager who has got £20million worth of players to a manager who is only working with £2million worth of players - I'm sure Glenn would have gone back to see Eileen and ask her what's going wrong." Pulis admitted the love affair he had with the FA Cup as a youngster has stayed with him throughout his career, both as a player and as a manager. He said: "The cup games are the icing on the cake. If you can get a decent cup run and get a few decent results it lifts everybody around the place. Supporters enjoy it as much as anybody. I think it's traditionally the third round, fifth round and then the final. When I was younger, I used to think that if we get through to the third round then the big boys will come in and if you pick one of them out then the television will come running. So I've always looked forward to the FA Cup. I'm not sure what the crowd will be up at Molineux - whether it will be as big as it was for the league game, as season ticket sales won't count. But it's always something special and it certainly is for myself and my generation anyway." Hoddle is under pressure to halt his side's spluttering promotion campaign and produce a result, after losing at Coventry earlier this week. Pulis added: "They are a good team, but then they should be good with a high wage bill and top internationals on the bench. If they aren't in the top six this year, then something has gone drastically wrong. I don't think there will be any excuses for them not getting into the top six. Their supporters expect it."
Tony Pulis is refusing to be rushed into making signings in the transfer window, despite admitting his squad is short of players. He said: "I'm not going to panic and just sign anybody because we are short - and we are short; we know we've got to improve if we are going to stay up and push on in this league. The chairman has said there's money available if I want it - obviously it will be within the limits of what we can afford, but there's money there to spend - but it's getting the right ones at the right price for the right football club. If there are deals to be done and they're good deals, let's do them; if they're not, let's not do them. I'm not going to rush. There's no way in a million years I am going to rush. I want to try and get the quality we got with Jarrett and Ward, because it makes a difference. It has made a difference over the last month at our football club. I think we have got to get players in and get players in quickly. Once we do push away from the bottom, I think there will be a lot of changes during the summer."
Lee Hodges is set to make his comeback from long-term injury in the reserve game at Swansea next Wednesday. Paul Maxwell said: "We are just waiting on Hodgie getting a couple of games behind him. He's training every day and pretty much doing the same as everyone else, although there are certain things we have got to be careful about." The determination of Hodges to overcome his serious back injury, despite a lengthy lay-off, has earned the admiration of Maxwell. He said: "We are three months ahead of where we were told we would be when he had the injections so we are pleased with that side of it. It's one of those where he has tried two or three times to come back and it hasn't worked out. At his age, we didn't want to go down the route of back surgery and having the injections seems to have tightened everything up. He's going to have to carry on doing his weights to make sure the back stays strong. To be fair, he has worked really hard. He has had his good days and his bad days but he's a great lad so it has been fine. He has stayed pretty positive all the way through and very rarely have I had to pick him up. He's that type of lad. I think he knew it was going to take a long time and at this stage of his career we had to make sure we got it right."
Paul Stapleton has sent a New Year message to Argyle fans, in which he asked for patience as the board strives to improve the club's fortunes on and off the pitch. Stapleton wrote: "Last year was a year of change for our club. Our previous manager left us in September, when we began the procedure of looking for a new manager to take us forward. We think we've found that with Tony Pulis. One of our priorities was to find someone with a proven track-record. Tony is an ambitious man and he wants to reach the Premiership. These ambitions are shared by the board and, no doubt, by all of you. We think we can do it. Tony Pulis thinks we can do it. We've already seen improvements in shape, fitness, morale and team-spirit. I like the way he works and I like what he is doing for this club, and I particularly admire his ambition to get to the next level. We've never achieved it in our 102-year history but there is no reason why we can't get there in the next five or six years. However, it won't come cheap and that's why we have to work together to ensure the finances are right. We want to make sure we are a solid Championship club. This is the league to be in until we can proceed further." Off the pitch, the completion of the redevelopment of Home Park remains a priority and Stapleton continued: "We're getting our facilities right. People have been very pleased with the recently developed three sides of the ground, and we've spent a tremendous amount of time this year working on the next stage of the development. We're working very hard to achieve our goals, and we will strive to overcome any problems that we encounter. Besides helping the manager financially, we've also got to look after the long-term stability of the club in relation to the ground and the grandstand. We're confident our plans will come to fruition in due course. We are conscious that people are keen to be kept informed of developments, but we've got to make sure everything is sorted with Plymouth City Council, with lenders, with builders and all sorts of people. When the time is right, we shall make any announcement to the fans. It's not always possible to tell supporters everything about the club at every stage, and sometimes you can be misconstrued, but I think we have got past the previous negativity surrounding the club and we now have the infrastructure in place to progress. We hope supporters will turn out in 2006 and continue to support us in what promises to be an enjoyable ride this year, and over the next few years."
Home Park will host an England Under-18 schoolboy international against Scotland on March 24th
Matt Derbyshire has returned to Blackburn as his loan spell at Argyle has been brought to an end. Derbyshire was meant to stay at Home Park until the end of the season, but Tony Pulis explained: "Matt is going back to Blackburn. They might be sending him to another club. They want him to play games."
Nick Chadwick missed the loss to Leeds with a hamstring injury, and is not expected to recover in time to play in Saturdays FA Cup tie. Chadwick is not the only injury worry for Tony Pulis, who said: "There are a few people carrying little knocks and niggles now, and there is a little bit of flu still hanging around."
Jason Jarrett, as predicted, has returned to Carrow Road. Tony Pulis said: "I think he's played his part over the past couple of weeks. Jason has been first class and he's a great kid. I've really enjoyed the opportunity of having him back." Pulis would love to sign Jarrett on a permanent basis but wasn't overly optimistic about the chances of this becoming a reality. He said: "At this present moment, I don't think there will be a deal that can be done, but who knows?" Jarrett finished on the losing side in his final game in an Argyle shirt - but hopes that he has played his part in what he feels can be a successful fight against relegation. He said: "It was unfortunate that it ended on a low note, but I've enjoyed my time here. We didn't want to finish the Christmas period like this, but I think we've done well over the last five games. I can't see Argyle going down." Tony Pulis has indicated that Argyle might be unable to match the wages Jarrett earns at Carrow Road and Jason added: "I'm a Norwich player and I've got two and a half years left there. I'm going back there and we'll see how that goes."
Tony Pulis attempted to put his side's first defeat of the Christmas period into context after Argyle lost to Leeds. He said: "I think we have got to put things into perspective here. Leeds have spent £1m on a left-back, never mind the £6.5m they have spent on their front line. You give me £7.5-8m to spend on a team and send that out and there's no way I'm going to criticize the players. We haven't got the quality at the moment to chase the better clubs. The first goal was going to be vital today, they got it, their better players stepped up a little bit. We didn't want them to get the first goal. When teams score first, we find it difficult to chase the game and that showed again today." Pulis substituted Paul Connolly to try and curb Eddie Lewis's runs and crosses down the left, switching Anthony Barness from the left flank. "I thought Lewis was causing Paul all sorts of problems on our right-hand side and I thought Anthony did a little bit better," he said. "To be fair to Paul, he's only a young kid and he'll learn from that." With the transfer window now open, Pulis will look to strengthen his squad but does not, however, see himself selling Akos Buzsaky, despite rumours again linking him to a move to West Bromwich Albion. "We're desperate to get players in," he said. "I'll be amazed if Akos is not here after the deadline." Buzsaky was one of the few plusses for Argyle in a game that was fairly even until half-time. "I thought the first half was fine," Pulis said. "It was a competitive game and I thought we did well enough, without having a cutting edge. We got in some great crossing positions when we got round the back, Buzsaky and Connolly especially on the right-hand side, but we kept hitting the front man. As soon as Leeds got the goal I think we looked a little bit leggy, went a little bit raggy-arsed, and were chasing the game. One or two of their better players then stepped up to the plate and started to play."
Argyle lost 3-0 to Leeds United at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Barness, Buzsaky, Wotton, Jarrett, Capaldi, Evans, Taylor. Subs – Djordjic, Derbyshire, Lasley (not used - McCormick, Aljofree). Attendance - 17,726. The usual excellent coverage can be found on
On Screen Argyle showed that they can compete with anyone in the Championship at Wolves on Saturday, and after the game Nick Chadwick said: "In the first half I had to check whether we were playing Wolves or Brazil. They were knocking the ball around so well, it was like we were up against 12 or 13 men and we couldn't get near any of them. We changed our shape at half- time and it worked for us. We wanted to press the ball and stop them being so comfortable in possession, and we wanted to put them under a bit of pressure. I think they found it difficult to cope with, and at the end we had a couple of chances ourselves. I thought in the first half we did well to restrict them to one goal, and in the second half I thought we were magnificent. We have to be happy to take a point. In the first half they played so well they would have opened most teams up, and Romain was magnificent for us." Elliott Ward's goal came from a corner. "We always fancy ourselves to score from set-pieces," Chadwick added. "It was probably a bit undeserved at that stage of the game, but if you can stay solid at the back and score goals at the other end then you're always going to have a chance in games."
Tony Pulis admitted he felt lucky that his side reached half-time on level terms at Molineux but was ultimately disappointed not to come away with all three points. He said: "I thought Wolves were fantastic in the first half. They are the best footballing team we have played this year and they caused us all sorts of problems. We were very, very pleased to go in at 1-1 at half-time. They should have come in at least two or three ahead. Their movement was good, and so was their shape against our shape, and they have got better players when in possession of the ball. No disrespect to Plymouth Argyle, but when you look at Wolves, and what players they have got and they brought Ince on, they brought Soel on, they brought Ganea on - we brought on, with respect, Keith Lasley. People will ask 'Who's Keith Lasley?' There's a massive gulf with clubs like Wolves in respect of Plymouth Argyle, but, if you have got good spirit, good organisation, and a little bit of luck, you can sometimes get results. We changed it for the second half, matched their system and got up against them a little bit more. We thought, as the game went on, we would create more chances because they are desperate to win their home games, and we missed three good chances at the end, which was disappointing. We were right behind Mickey's chance when it dropped for him and unfortunately the lad slipped over and stopped it from going in, and I thought Chadders could have done a bit better; he could have had another touch and finished it, but he rushed it." Pulis was not tempted to make changes during the game, despite the first half, because his players had never practiced the 5-3-2 formation they adopted after the break. "Sometimes you do that and the players don't know what they are doing. At least they knew the shape we were working to in the first half; at half-time, you can actually sit down and show them what you want them to do. We've never worked with five at the back. We wanted to get a little bit tighter and stop Wolves from bringing the ball out. We talked about that for ten minutes, got it sorted out. We could still have done better but they stuck to it very well." Pulis added: "I thought Ward and Jarrett were again outstanding - they have certainly raised the bar since they have come to the club - but there were 12 people who deserve a lot of credit for the way they worked, especially off the ball; maybe their passing and movement was erratic at times, but you can't fault their commitment. It's a tough place to come. They have got some top players, especially for this level, and depth. Glenn made five changes and still all the players that he is playing are household names. It's nice to be in that position."
Tony Pulis will be 'doing his damnedest' to make Jason Jarrett's Home Park loan permanent when the transfer window opens on Tuesday. He said: "At this moment, I think he's going back after the Leeds' game. If the mathematics were right, then we'd try to sign him but Norwich are a Premiership-stroke-Championship side and their wages may be a little bit more than what we can afford at present. We'll do our damnedest to get him signed up if we can. I'd love to sign Jason, I'd love to sign Elliott - they are the sort of players we should be looking to bring in. I know the chairman and board of directors are exactly the same: they have seen two lads come in who have raised the bar. They are two lads who have embraced the football club and the players. They are not big-headed, there is no edge to them. They have really mixed into the dressing-room very, very well. They are the ones we want - it's just a case of finding them and affording them. That's the difficult thing. We need to strengthen all over. If we lose Elliott and Jason, if they go back to their respective clubs, then we are short in those areas. I'll be the same as every other manager in the country next month - I'll be looking to bring one or two in if I can."
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