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.
Paul Sturrock has insisted he will not sign players from Japan for the sake of it. Argyle have already been linked with Japanese international Keita Suzuki, but there are unlikely to be any arrivals from the Far East until January, when the J-League season ends. Sturrock said: "I would like to think that any Japanese players who come to this football club are going to fit the bill. There have been very few players who have come from Japan and been a success in this country. I have watched a lot of videos and it's all about getting the right players. The Japanese season does not end until January, so there are still a lot of opportunities for me to look at people."
Argyle's teenage striker Aaron Spear looks set to join Newcastle United, according to TV and newspaper reports. His mother said: "Aaron has agreed to join Newcastle and now we are waiting on the two clubs to agree a fee. We spent a couple of days up in Newcastle and met with Dennis Wise and were very impressed by what he had to offer." However, an Argyle spokesman said that as far as they were concerned, no progress had been made on Spear's move. He said: "We're still waiting to hear from him, or his family, about what his intentions are. They've told Sky Sports a lot more than they've told us."
Paul Sturrock has revealed central midfielders are on the top of his shopping list. He said: "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate we have moved on three or four of our centre midfield players. That's an area of the squad I would like to put some bodies in." Asked about the prospects of further arrivals before the start of pre-season training, Sturrock replied: "Quite good. Hopefully, Monday or Tuesday will be busy. I have made offers to a lot of players and I'm waiting on word back from them. A lot of players are still away on holiday, or are keeping their options open for the time being." Meanwhile, Hull City's pursuit of Peter Halmosi seems to be losing impetus. Hull have suggested a cash-plus-player exchange for Halmosi, but Argyle are against that. Sturrock would not go into detail about Hull's interest, other than to say: "There won't be any swap deals."
Paul Sturrock will hold talks with Marcel Seip about his future when pre-season training starts. He said: "He's a registered player at this football club and will report for pre-season training like everybody else. I will have a conversation with Marcel about his situation once we get back to work next Thursday."
Paul Sturrock is aiming to complete a couple more signings before Argyle begin pre-season training next Thursday. Sturrock has also admitted some foreign trialists are set to attend the pre-season training camp in Austria. He said: "I would hope to think we will have one or two more signings before next Thursday. We are working on it, and people are beginning to come around to thinking about things now pre-season is almost here. I'm looking at the loan market as well, but nobody is really biting on that at the moment. I think they will wait until pre-season starts and all their players come back. So, really, it's all up in the air at the moment." Sturrock is still waiting for answers in his pursuit of Russell Anderson and Gary Teale. Sturrock believes pre-season will be especially important for Argyle this year because there has been such a large turnover of players since last July. He said: "We have got a lot of hard work to do in a five-week period to be ready for this season coming. Hopefully, we will be having some trialists with us in Austria as well." Meanwhile, Hull City manager Phil Brown has claimed Argyle have inquired about a couple of his players as part of a possible deal for Peter Halmosi
Karl Duguid is excited by the plans that Paul Sturrock has for next season. He said: "I have spoken to the manager and he has told me about some of the other players he's trying to get in. He's looking to improve on last season, when Plymouth finished 10th, I think, and that's why I have come here. I want to improve and, hopefully, achieve things with Plymouth, like I did during my time at Colchester. If you improve every season, as Plymouth have been doing, what more can you do? We improved at Colchester, but it was perhaps too quickly for what was there. The Championship is a great standard and I have had a taste of it for the last two seasons. It was, without doubt, the most enjoyable time of my career, even though we ended up getting relegated. I think the Premier League is the best league in the world, and it's just a pleasure to know you are playing in the second tier of English football. This time last year, I don't think many people would have thought that Hull would get promoted. But they did, and fair play to them. When you look at that, it makes you realise what you are playing for." Duguid is convinced that Jason Puncheon, signed last week by Argyle, will prove to be a shrewd purchase. "I played against him a couple of seasons ago," said Duguid. "It was in the FA Cup against Barnet and he scored the winning goal. Had we beaten them, we would have played Plymouth in the next round. He's an exciting prospect and there has been a lot of talk about him in the last couple of seasons. So the fact he has now signed for Plymouth says a lot for the club." Duguid has been bought by Sturrock to take over from Paul Connolly at right-back and knows he has a hard act to follow. "I played against Connolly when I was on the left wing for Colchester and he's a very good player," said Duguid. "That's why a big club like Derby wanted to sign him. Right-back is my favourite position, and that's where the manager will get the best out of me. But I think I played pretty much everywhere for Colchester – apart from goalkeeper and centre-back." Duguid and has wife, Gemma, have a nine-week-old daughter, Tillie, and are looking forward to starting their new life in the South West. "When Marino Keith was at Colchester, he always used to say what a great club it was. He loved it in Plymouth," said Duguid. "My wife and I came down on Monday, when I had my medical, and it's seems a beautiful place. After I had been to the ground, we went to The Barbican for a meal. The sun was shining and it was lovely. I met a few of the club staff on Monday and they were all very friendly people. They made me feel very welcome, and it seems like a tight-knit, family club. I can't wait to get started now."
Karl Duguid could be in line to become the captain of Argyle next season. Asked whether Duguid would be a candidate to become the new skipper, Paul Sturrock said: "I'm not sure yet. I have got a few other irons in the fire for players I would like to bring to this football club. We need some more experience. We have lost Paul Wotton, who was a big character in the dressing room, and so were Lilian Nalis and Lee Hodges. This club is in a transitional period. It is very much revamping and renewing itself." Sturrock's description of Duguid is reminiscent of his predecessor Paul Connolly. Sturrock added: "He can play a lot of positions but his favourite one is right-back. I have watched him play there several times and he has been bought to play at right-back for us. He's very attack-minded, he gets forward and he's very athletic and quick. He wants to support the wingers all the time and go past them. In this day and age, good full-backs are vitally important." Despite the capture of Duguid, Sturrock could add another player to his squad with the versatility to play at right-back. "I like to have two people for each position so, hopefully, I'm not finished at right-back yet," he said. "We were very fortunate last season that Paul Connolly was a very fit player and he didn't get injured often. I just can't afford to take any chances, though, so I will maybe bring in someone else who has the versatility to play right-back as well as other positions." Sturrock experimented with Chris Clark at right-back in the penultimate match of last season against Blackpool but believes Clark is better suited to playing in midfield. He said: "Since Chris has been here, he has played in the centre of midfield, wide left, wide right and right-back. At this juncture, I plan to use him further up the park next season."
Paul Sturrock believes comparisons between Karl Duguid and Paul Wotton are pointless, as some fans wonder about the wisdom of allowing Wotton to leave for free, and paying an undisclosed transfer fee for a player with so many similarities to him. Sturrock said: "They are completely different types of players. Paul Wotton was a centre-back who was converted to centre midfield. I think trying to compare these two players is like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Some people might be saying we should have kept Paul Wotton because he could do the same positions, but he was never a right-back. And right-back was a key area we had to get sorted out."
Kevin Blackwell has denied any interest in signing Peter Halmosi. Reports yesterday carried quotes from Blackwell which seemed to suggest he wanted to take Halmosi to Bramall Lane, but he was adamant his comments had been taken out of context. He said: "If I was going to go for Peter Halmosi I would speak to Paul Sturrock and Paul Stapleton and we would take it from there. I can only tell you there isn't any interest from me."
Tony Campbell has revealed how he brokered the deal that led to Yasuaki Kagami becoming a director at Argyle. Campbell said: "I'm a huge Argyle fan myself. I have been following since the mid 70s – the Mariner and Rafferty era. Like every Argyle fan, I really want to see them progress. I was also aware, like every Argyle fan, that in order to progress they needed investment. It didn't appear as though there was going to be a lot of investment forthcoming in the UK. But I was in a very fortunate position, being in Japan and being in the investment world, to know a lot of very wealthy individuals. Mr Kagami was one of those I had been introduced to. So, I put a proposal together and put it in front of Mr Kagami. I told him about the benefits, not just commercially but what it could help deliver to Japanese football. The Japanese are very proud as a nation, but they are also very aware of the shortfalls in their game. They do tend to fail when it comes to the big stage, and part of the reason for that is their footballers aren't really exposed to the European or South American style of play. It's very insular. So we believe that now we can create an avenue for the best young Japanese talent to come and play at Argyle and learn their trade here. Ultimately, that will benefit Japanese football in the long run. The pitch was basically a commercial one, to benefit Argyle, but there is also a sporting benefit for Japan – and Argyle. If we can be the gateway to Europe for their best talent, and we can get the next Nakamura or the next Nakata, it's going to benefit us as well. Mr Kagami liked the idea. He liked the thought of being seen as a pioneer to help advance Japanese football." Campbell attended Argyle's monthly board meeting last Friday, and he added: "I have been in Japan now for more than a decade and I have got my own financial services company. I do a lot of consultancy work for Mr Kagami, assisting with his international business company. He's involved in deals in America and various other countries abroad. As far as the football deal is concerned, I'm the representative director for K&K Shonan Management because Mr Kagami doesn't propose to come here every month for board meetings. I will attend every board meeting and the vast majority of games. But, as you can appreciate, it's quite a long trip and I have to do some work in Japan. I would anticipate being here for probably 75 per cent of the games, and all of the board meetings – representing Mr Kagami." As an Argyle supporter, the chance to be closely involved in the running of the club is an exciting one for Campbell – but also a little daunting. He said: "Providing it's successful, then I will take a great deal of pride out of being able to help advance Plymouth Argyle on the pitch. But if it's a failure, then I'm obviously not going to feel quite so good about it. I'm not getting too carried away, but I do believe these are really exciting times for Plymouth. If a lot of the things we already have in the pipeline come off, then I'm very confident that Plymouth Argyle will progress and I will feel very proud to have been part of that." One possibility for Argyle is a tour to Japan in 2009. Argyle's new president is Yasuhiko Okudera, who holds a similar position with Yokohama FC. Campbell said: "It could well be that we might go out to Japan next year and perhaps have games against Yokohama and use their facilities."
Argyle today signed Karl Duguid from Colchester United. Duguid has agreed a two year deal and Paul Sturrock said: "I am very pleased to have Karl on board. He's a player who I have seen many times when he has played against my teams and he has always impressed me. He is a solid player and an honest individual who has got a fantastic engine, and is a versatile player who can play in various positions." Sturrock has initially targeted the vacant right-back spot for Duguid, and added: "He can fill the position, and it is one which will benefit from a player of his experience and his leadership qualities. He has played 80 games in the Championship and can more than handle the level. I honestly think the change will do him good at this stage of his career. I think he will benefit from the new challenge and it will bring an edge to his game."
Karl Duguid believes his vast experience can help Paul Sturrock's side progress this season. "It's nice to have experience," he said. "I know there are a lot of young players here - Jason Puncheon signed last week and he's only 22 - so it's nice for them to have older players around them to help them on. Plymouth have lost a lot of experienced players in the summer." Despite his long association with Colchester, Duguid insists the decision to leave was not a difficult one. "It's not a wrench," he said. "It's been a great 14 years at Colchester - I was there half my life - but I think it's time to move on. It's the end of an era for the club at the old ground - they are going to a new ground - and I felt it was the end of an era for me, too. I've moved on and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm a Plymouth Argyle player now." Sturrock highlighted Duguid's reliability and honesty as two of his assets and the man himself concurred. He said: "On the pitch, I am a consistent player - hopefully - that's what I like to be. I play in a number of positions and I always give my all to the team. That's something I like my team-mates to do, as well. If you give your all for the team, you've always got a chance. When I was at Colchester, I was captain for my last four seasons there, which was nice, just getting the team together and things like that. I played the season, captained the team, when we got promoted into the Championship, and, obviously in the first season in the Championship - what great season we had. Last season was very different - we lost a lot of players in the summer which probably didn't help us." Duguid is now getting used to his new surroundings before pre-season training begins on July 3rd. "I remember a few visits here," he said. "We stayed down here for a couple of days before a game once and went into town and had a walk round. It's a beautiful place. Everybody I've spoken to so far has said 'it's a lovely place - once you get down there, you won't want to leave.' Hopefully, that's the case and I can have some good times here. Like I say, I'm a Plymouth Argyle player now and I want to be giving 100% for Plymouth Argyle - hopefully, the fans will like that."
Argyle's youth team will take on Bristol City in a pre-season friendly at Home Park immediately following the first-team's match with Dundee United on August 2nd. The full pre-season schedule for the youth team is: July 15 v Watford (Lympstone 2pm), July 19 v Southampton (Marchwood 11am), July 25 v Manchester City (Alsager College 11am), July 26 v Liverpool (Liverpool Academy 1pm), August 2 v Bristol City (Home Park 5pm) and August 11 v QPR (Harlington 2.15pm)
Sheffield United have joined Hull City in the race to sign Peter Halmosi. Kevin Blackwell told United's official website: "He is a good player and, as such, I'm always interested in good players. In that regard, then, he would be in a list of good players I would be interested in." However, Paul Stapleton insisted there had been no offers for any Argyle players – including Halmosi. National newspaper reports over the weekend have also suggested that West Bromwich Albion could be keen on Halmosi
Argyle's new president, Yasuhiko Okudera, plans to get the club into the Premier League in three to four years time. He said: "There is a chance to get Plymouth Argyle into the Premiership. Ideally I would like to get them up next year, but realistically I think three or four years is a reasonable time frame to get the players and push for the Premier League."
Yasuaki Kagami has vowed to be a 'team member' for Argyle as they aim for further success. Kagami and George Synan arrived in England on Thursday, and after checking into their hotel – Boringdon Hall near Plympton – they went on a sight-seeing tour of the Barbican. They sampled fish and chips in Platters and had drinks from the nearby Three Crowns, as well as learning about some of the local history. Synan, who acted as a translator for Kagami, said: "We had a long flight but he was very impressed with the city and the history. We went to see the Mayflower Steps, and the bowling green made famous by Sir Francis Drake. He has been very impressed with the hospitality of the people and he's very much looking forward to working with the board of directors here, as a team member, and driving Plymouth in a very positive direction." Synan revealed they hoped to see some games at Home Park in the near future. "We would like to be here in August, and maybe in October," he said. "It could either be Kagami, myself, or some of our other directors, but we are very excited to see some of the games when the season starts."
Paul Sturrock can bring the best out of Jason Puncheon, according to Barnet boss Paul Fairclough. He said: "Jason has the ability to play at the very, very top of football. There is no question about it. His best position is out wide. He's a wide-left player, but if you want to utilise him up top every now and again, or behind the front men, then he can do that. Plymouth is a good club and it's a great opportunity for him to get his head down and work hard. Paul Sturrock is an excellent manager and if anyone will get the best out of him then Paul will."
Yasuhiko Okudera was able to reminisce about old times when he met with Paul Sturrock this weekend. The two played against each other in the 1982-83 UEFA Cup, when Dundee United beat Okudera's Werder Bremen in a third-round tie. "We both have very vivid memories of the games," said Okudera. "We played each other twice and remember each other very well. Paul scored the goal in Germany which won the tie." Okudera arrived in Plymouth on Friday evening after a flight-delay, but wasted no time in acquainting himself with Plymouth, in general, and Argyle, in particular. "I love the city," he said. "I've been very taken aback with the hospitality and how nice everyone has been to me. I enjoyed going out on Friday night and talking to people. Plymouth is a very warm and comfortable place. We met some fans in the bar we went to on Friday, and, on Saturday, we were in the Plymouth Argyle shop, talking to some fans, and it was very cordial. The fans were very hospitable to me and I enjoyed talking to them. We had a tour of the whole premises today, and we went around looking for some potential practice-grounds later." It was the decision of Yasuaki Kagami to join the Argyle board that paved the way for Okudera to accept the post of club president. "I have a personal relationship with Mr Kagami, and also an interest in English football," said Okudera. "This was the first opportunity that I had to be a part of something that a Japanese businessman like Mr Kagami had direct investment in, and I felt that Mr Kagami's investment in Plymouth Argyle had definite potential. I heard from the club, formally, a few months ago and I wanted to show Mr Kagami my support for the club going forward, and, with Mr Kagami's commitment, I was very excited about the opportunity." Okudera is eager to get down to business, and added: "There are four of us - Mr Kagami, myself, George Synan and Tony Campbell - working as a team in Japan to vet talent and to talk about sponsorship and support. I think we'll be very busy on the ground in Japan and Asia, trying to bring as much positive stuff to bear here as we can. I'd like to be here over here pretty soon to look possible clinics and coaching-camps for promising players, and I will come over here about four or five times during the regular season. We're going back on Sunday and we will probably be back, at the latest, late August or the first part of September. We have had a productive time. We've done everything we wanted to do and laid the groundwork for going forward." One thing for sure is that Okudera's involvement with Argyle will definitely not extend to the training-ground. "No, no," he said emphatically, "I have every confidence in Paul. We hit it off well. I'd rather sit back and play a more supportive role."
Argyle's new director Yasuaki Kagami has already made enquiries about bringing Japanese international players to Home Park. He said that talks had been initiated with four or five international players with the possibility of bringing them to Home Park in January, when the Japanese season ends. Kagami was accompanied by K&K's vice-president George Synan as he met his fellow directors at Home Park yesterday. Paul Stapleton welcomed Mr Kagami and said: "From my point of view, there are opportunities for all players of all nationalities to play for Plymouth Argyle, if they're good enough. But I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say we are actively looking at Japanese players." Synan added: "We're talking to four or five top Japanese names, but the main thing is that they have to fit the team and complement the team. The Japanese season finishes in December and most are contracted to January, so that's the time when we can go out there. Right now, we're in serious discussions with four or five, but, in terms of signing, we're realistically looking at January." Stapleton also welcomed the appointment of Yasuhiko Okudera as Argyle President. He said: "Mr Okudera has such a pedigree in football and he's able to recommend players to us. Of course, part of our arrangement is to try and release commercial revenues from the Far East and one way to do that is to have a top-quality Japanese player. It would not make sense not to do that and we are looking very closely at that. I think indeed Paul has identified one player, maybe two players, he'd like to have at this football club. There will be hurdles to cross - work-permits, international reviews - but the Japanese season ends in December or January so we're able to cross-border then without transfer fees. If you want to take someone now, it's a transfer-fee and a work-permit situation." Synan also mooted the possibility of taking up and coming youngsters and training them in England. He said: "We'd like to bring in top young talent on the developmental side, as well as young Japanese star players. Hopefully, training in an atmosphere like England will improve them as footballers."
Yasuaki Kagami wasted no time in sampling the delights of the Westcountry. Kagami and George Synan spent Thursday night and Friday exploring Plymouth and the surrounding area, before meeting the board at Home Park. Speaking through Synan, Kagami told a Press conference that he was very happy to be in Plymouth, and that he was impressed by the city and its history. Synan said: "We spent a good part of last night walking around the Barbican and visiting some locals bars, and the people have been great, very hospitable. We flew to Amsterdam and then Amsterdam to Exeter, then drove down to Plymouth. After we checked in, we went down to the Barbican and had fish and chips. Then we went to the Three Crowns. We look forward to spending tomorrow looking at different projects and how we can go forward. We've excited to be here. The next two days is me sitting down with Paul Stapleton and targeting where the needs are and how we can come in and support, and deploy our resources the best way. Our investment and what we've put in...profit is not our primary goal. Mr Kagami did not make this investment thinking that he would make a huge capital gain. The whole point of our investment here and the reason behind that is to build a pathway for Japanese footballers to come into a climate that's very hospitable, where they feel they can get the proper coaching, and create that avenue for young Japanese footballers to possibly benefit on summer camps, coaches clinics. He really wants to create crossroads to Japan that, up until now, was not there. That's the primary motivation and, again, we're doing what we can to continue with a successful run that Paul Sturrock's had so far, where he's taken his team in such a short time." Kagami added, through Synan, that he was very much looking forward to 'working with the board as a team member, and driving Plymouth in a very positive direction.' Paul Stapleton said: "We've got a weekend of activities, meetings, and visits to different places. I'm going to show them Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall, and we're going to have a few meals and conversations so that we can work together for the benefit of Plymouth Argyle. We do have a commercial arrangement, besides Mr Kagami being a shareholder-director. So, with the effort K&K are making in Japan, working on our behalf, they will therefore share if there are any revenues. They are working on a commercial basis for the benefit of all of us." Synan and Kagami are already looking forward to the start of the new season. "We plan to be here again in August," said Synan. "We'd like to come back, maybe in October or some time in the season. We're very excited to start seeing the games when the season starts."
The appointment of Yasuhiko Okudera as Argyle President has already made waves in the Far East. George Synan believes that is only the start of an interest which will pay huge dividends for the club. "It created a stir today, a media stir," he said. "Bringing Okudera into the limelight will create a huge press force when we get back in Japan. I'm pretty sure every sports paper in Japan is going to have Okudera's face and Plymouth Argyle on it tomorrow. What we've seen since the deal was publicised in Japan is that we've been contacted by many agents, showing us a lot of DVDs, telling us which players are interested in going to Europe. So we've received a lot of positive input from agents in Japan who now have a Japanese entity that they can communicate with directly, which is much easier. I think us establishing a link in Japan is going to make it much easier to recruit top-level talent, but they have to fit in with the scheme of things." Fans, too, will sit up and take notice. Synan added: "In American baseball, the Seattle Mariners are the worst team in the league but you can watch them everyday on TV in Japan because Japanese star players play. The Japanese aren't as focused on the team and where they're at, but rather their individual heroes. Japanese are very loyal."
Paul Stapleton welcomed the appointment of new Pilgrims' President Yasuhiko Okudera as 'a great coup'. Okudera was unable to be present at Friday's press conference after his connecting flight between Zurich and Amsterdam was delayed. However, Stapleton said: "We're very pleased to have Mr Okudera as President. He is a footballing legend in Japan and it is a great coup for this football club to be linked with someone so famous as him. He's like Bobby Charlton to England and Franz Beckenbauer to Germany. It will create extra links with Japan, and with Japanese players, and support in the Far East. So we're very, very pleased with that. We welcome him to Plymouth and to Argyle."
Argyle's new director Yasuaki Kagami is making his first visit to Home Park this afternoon. He is being accompanied by George Synan, the senior vice-president of K&K and will meet Argyle's four other directors and be shown around Home Park. The visit will heighten speculation about the possibility of Argyle signing a Japanese international player in the near future and one name that has been mentioned is midfielder Keita Suzuki, who plays for Urawa Red Diamonds. There is also the strong probability that Argyle could carry out a pre-season tour of Japan next year
Argyle have announced that the club has a new President, Japanese footballing superstar Yasuhiko Okudera. Okudera, who is currently also the President of J-League club Yokohama, was chosen by the Argyle directors to become the club's global ambassador and Paul Stapleton said: "We are delighted that Mr Okudera has accepted our invitation to become the new President of Plymouth Argyle. We consider ourselves highly honoured that someone with so great a standing in world football has agreed to take on such a hugely important role. Mr Okudera's standing in the Far East, and particularly in Japan, is without parallel. When he speaks, people listen. His name alone will open new doors and present new opportunities for us, especially in the commercial sphere, that would otherwise remain closed to us." Okudera was the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, when he joined FC Koln in 1977, and he also played for Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen. Okudera is due to meet the Argyle board today, along with Yasuaki Kagami
Paul Sturrock has confirmed that he is close to making further additions to his squad, following the signing of Jason Puncheon, and said: "I think there could be one or two more new faces in the next couple of days." Puncheon will complete his move on July 1st, and Sturrock believes he can make the same impact as Jamie Mackie. He said: "I saw Jason live two or three times last season. He's very tricky on the ball and good at set pieces. The boy can play wide on the left or right, or through the middle as a centre-forward, and he has got something to prove. He has had a wee taste of this division in the past when he was at Wimbledon, and now he has got the chance to make his name at this level. It's a challenge for him and it's up to us to get the best out of him. I signed the boy Mackie because I was confident he could make the step up to the Championship and I see Jason in the same way. There are rough edges to him, like anybody else coming up from the lower leagues, but he has got a lot of ability." Puncheon's arrival will increase speculation about the future of Peter Halmosi but Sturrock insisted he had not been bought as a replacement for Halmosi. He said: "Unless something dramatic changes, Peter Halmosi will be turning up for pre-season training on July 3rd like everybody else. I wouldn't say Jason's signing is significant to that in any way. His preference would be to play on the right wing. We are a hard-working team but we need people to open the door for us. Peter has been doing that down the left but we need someone to do that on the right as well."
Crystal Palace midfielder Carl Fletcher and Derby County defender James McEveley are thought to be targets for Sturrock
Peter Halmosi has admitted he would relish the chance of playing in the Premier League and he told a Hungarian newspaper that he hopes Argyle's asking price will not scupper his chances of playing in the higher division. Halmosi said: "This is a thing which has always prevented me from stepping forward in my career before. I hope I don't seem immodest but I think I had a great season, enough to be able to step forward. I admit I would like to do so, and I hope this time there will not be any financial block to this. I have a contract for two more years in Plymouth and I was informed the club would like to extend it. It seems my performances have caught the eyes of some clubs, but I don't know any more about it. It's better to say one thing – as I'm contracted to Plymouth the officials can ask as much money for me as they want. As far as I know, they have stated my selling price is £3m."
Argyle today agreed a deal to sign Jason Puncheon from Barnet. Puncheon is due to complete the formalities of a £250,000 move on July 1st, after passing a medical last week, and will sign a two-year contract. Paul Sturrock said: "I am delighted that Jason is coming to the football club. We have had him watched two or three times and I am confident he can make the step up to the Championship. Jamie Mackie has created a big impact since he joined us from Exeter and I think that Jason can do likewise. He is an exciting player who will bring something different to our squad."
Paul Sturrock has pledged not to use the controversial multi-ball system next season, as he believes it puts too much pressure on ballboys and girls. Ipswich Town made a proposal at the annual meeting of Football League chairmen in last week that the multi-ball system should be scrapped, but only seven of the 24 Championship clubs backed them. However, the proposal did lead to one concession – each club must now decide at the start of a season whether they are going to adopt the multi-ball system or not. Sturrock said: "I think the problem is that you are asking young kids to be very thoughtful in their approach to running the multi-ball system. If it was experienced men or women then it would be different. I could understand it more. But so many times the multi-ball system has been called off at half-time because of the lack of knowledge of the ballboys and girls."
Argyle are pressing forward with the plan to complete the redevelopment of Home Park, and the club has placed an advert in the national trade magazine Estates Gazette seeking a stadium development partner
Paul Wotton today joined Southampton
Hull City manager Phil Brown has confirmed his interest in Peter Halmosi, but has yet to submit an offer. Argyle are reported to want at least £2.5m for Halmosi, but Brown said: "He's certainly one that we would be interested in, but we have been given a quote by Plymouth that is way above our estimation of the player." Paul Sturrock was not prepared to fuel the speculation and all he would say was: "Peter Halmosi has got two more years on his contract at this football club. That's the way I'm looking at it. And I never discuss newspaper talk." Paul Stapleton also declined to comment. However, Sturrock did admit he could be about to make his first additions of the summer, and said: "I would like to think we would have one or two signings this week. I can assure the fans I'm working around the clock to bring in the players I think we need."
Paul Sturrock stressed the importance of a strong start after the fixtures for the new season were released yesterday. He said: "It's a hard league. It's a difficult start, but having the home games will benefit us to start off with so I'm really pleased with that. We've got two home games out of three, so, hopefully, we can get the results we need. I know it's a cliche that we football managers use, but there are going to be no easy games. You can't sit down and look at the fixtures and say 'we are going to win this one' and 'we are going to win that one'. It's going to be a long, hard season and we are going to have to fight for every point. But the important thing for us is to get off to a good start. Wolverhampton Wanderers is a stiff task because they will have added a lot of players to their squad, but we're going to be adding players as well." Sturrock also revealed that he is looking forward to facing the big clubs that were relegated from the Premier League last season as well as his former clubs. He added: "Sheffield Wednesday and Southampton are always nice fixtures to have. But there are big, big teams now. Reading are back down again, Derby are back down again, and so are Birmingham. They are huge places, huge clubs, huge stadiums." Last season, Argyle were forced to travel to Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester for midweek fixtures although this season the furthest they will have to go on a Tuesday is to Preston on February 3rd. Sturrock said: "We have got Sheffield Wednesday and Preston on Tuesday nights, which are fair distances, but the rest aren't too bad. Last season, we were on the eastern side of England for a lot of those games, so I'm reasonably happy with them this year. It evens itself out and we'll just have to overcome it. We've had to overcome it since the year dot so it's always been a trait of Plymouth. The important thing is we study it now, we make our plans as to which ones we're flying to, and how we're going to get the best out of the players when we travel away. Christmas looks a real benefit to us which we're very pleased about - looks like we're not going to be trekking miles and miles. In the end, you have to play everybody twice."
Paul Stapleton had some reservations about the fixture list but, overall, he was content with what it had thrown up. He said: "Wolves and Reading are two of the favourites for the title so it's an interesting start to say the least. The home games against Birmingham, Bristol City and Watford would probably have had more appeal on a weekend than a Tuesday night. But I'm quite pleased about playing Southampton at home on Boxing Day. It's an attractive fixture and, hopefully, Home Park will be full for that one. We have also got our regular Christmas visit to Cardiff on December 28th, which we always look forward to." Argyle's trip to Sheffield Wednesday on October 28th will be followed only four days later by a game at Sheffield United, and Stapleton added: "I'm not too enamoured about that, or about playing at Ipswich and Preston in back-to-back away games at the end of January and the start of February. That means we have got to go from East Anglia to the north-west in only a matter of days. But I suppose we have got to put up with that, and we are pleased our midweek trips this season are not as bad as last year." For the first time in three years, Argyle will end the season with a home game, and Stapleton added: "I did hope that would be the case. Going to Wolves on the final day of last season was an anti-climax for us. Who knows what we might need when we play Barnsley on May 3rd? Overall, I would say it's a very attractive and exciting fixture list."
Luke McCormick appeared in court this morning and his case was adjourned until 8th September with the charge of driving with no insurance being dropped. The prosecutor said it appeared to be an 'administrative error' that McCormick's insurance details were not on a national database, and that he had produced an insurance document which was accepted as genuine. McCormick was released on bail
Peter Halmosi is a target for Hull City according to newspaper reports
Argyle will begin and end next season at Home Park, kicking off the new campaign at home to Wolves on August 9th and ending it on May 3rd, against Barnsley. The full fixture list for the new season is available on the official club site
Paul Sturrock has warned that Argyle should not expect an easy ride when they play Luton Town in the Carling Cup first round. He said: "It will be a very difficult game for us. Even though they were relegated last season they had a decent home record. But, at this minute in time, my job is trying to put some players in green jerseys. It's a slow process, though, because players, agents and managers are all on holiday."
Argyle are thought to be in advanced talks over the possible signing of Barnet's attacking midfielder Jason Puncheon
Argyle have been drawn away to Luton Town in the first round of the League Cup. The tie will be played week commencing August 11th
Lilian Nalis is facing up to the possibility of retirement, having not had any contract offers for next season since his release by Argyle. Nalis said: "I feel fresh and I want to carry on playing, but it has to be at the right club. I really enjoyed my two-and-a-half years at Argyle and I don't want to go somewhere and not be happy. I will just wait and see if I get any phone calls." Meanwhile, Lee Hodges has joined Torquay United
Argyle are one of four clubs being linked with Austrian international Jurgen Saumel. Hull City, Barnsley and Birmingham City are also thought to be interested in the defensive midfielder, who is currently taking part in Euro 2008
Paul Sturrock has admitted his summer rebuilding of Argyle's squad will not be completed before the start of the season. He said: "I'm hopeful of maybe getting five players before the new season kicks off in August. But there could be one or two areas of the squad that might have to be strengthened before the transfer window closes at the end of August. That's the kind of timeframe I'm looking at. I want honest, hard-working players, but I also understand you have to have players who are the icing on the cake. They are offensive-type players who can win matches for you, and, as a result, they have more bargaining power and it takes time to get them. We are short of players – there are no ifs, buts and maybes about it. Do I race out and who knows what I bring back? But I can't guarantee the methodical way will work, either. It's very frustrating. I would love to have seven players being paraded in front of the Plymouth media, but it's not going to happen that way. We are going to pick up one here and one there. A lot of players are on holiday, a lot of agents are on holiday, a lot of chairmen are on holiday and a lot of chief executives are on holiday. June is always a difficult time to do anything. I'm realistic enough to understand that when we make an offer to a player they might go to another club and see if they can get better from them."
Argyle have to work far harder to persuade Premiership clubs to loan them players than other Championship sides because of their location, according to Paul Stapleton. He said: "Manchester United sent Frazier Campbell to Hull because they can keep an eye on him. For the big London clubs it is easier to send their young promising players to other London sides than to Plymouth, but we have to get on with it. It is disappointing to see the likes of Charlton and Crystal Palace pick up loan signings from other London clubs, and seeing the big North West sides loaning players out to other North West teams, but that's life. We understand that. It is geography. But, for example, French and Hungarian players don't know where Plymouth is, or they aren't worried about it, so they are happy to come here. All we can do is use our connections to do our best."
Argyle's pursuit of Gary Teale appears to be losing impetus. Derby want a £500,000 fee for the winger and it is thought Teale is seeking a lucrative three-year contract. Paul Sturrock said: "The transfer fee is a real problem at this minute in time. Gary has been a high earner for a long time so I have got to weigh up the whole scenario. We have been talking to Derby and to his agent to see if there is any middle ground. That's where it stands." Sturrock remains hopeful, however, that a deal can be done to sign Russell Anderson from Sunderland
Paul Sturrock has given up on his bid to re-sign Nadjim Abdou. Sturrock said: "He has turned us down. I'm understanding of the budget I have got to work with and we made a decision on what we thought Jimmy's value was. He feels his value is more than that and I'm now looking at other players for that position." Meanwhile, Sturrock has described the talks over contract extensions for Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar as 'very positive', and when asked whether he thought deals would be done before the start of the season, he replied: "I would hope to think so. They are both in Hungary at this minute in time, but their agent has been in discussion with the chairman. There has been a very positive approach from both players." Sturrock has also welcomed the decision of Liam Head to accept the offer of a two-year contract as an apprentice with Argyle, and said: "I spoke to his father and we had a chat about things. The lad has shown great potential in the games I have seen him play in. I'm very pleased he's agreed to sign for us."
Argyle's centre of excellence striker Aaron Spear could be set to sign for Newcastle United., having travelled to Tyneside last week for talks. One other unnamed Premier League club have also expressed their interest in Spear, and should he be lured away from Argyle, the club would be entitled to compensation. That would either be by agreeing a fee with the club concerned, or through an independent tribunal. Michael Dunford said: "Newcastle, and one other Premier League club, have expressed an interest in Aaron Spear. He has been given permission to speak to them. We would like to keep him but the lad appears adamant that he wants to talk to the Premier League clubs, which I can understand. We are waiting to hear from Newcastle whether they have decided to sign him."
Luke McCormick has been bailed for seven days and will appear in crown court next week on two charges of causing death by dangerous driving, one of drink driving and one of driving without insurance. McCormick appeared at Fenton magistrates' court in Stoke-on-Trent this morning. He was given conditional bail and will appear next at Stoke Crown Court on June 16th
Luke McCormick has been charged following yesterdays fatal crash on the M6. He faces four charges - two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, having excess alcohol in his blood and driving with no insurance
Luke McCormick has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He was arrested by North Staffordshire police early this morning following a crash on the M6 in which two young boys were killed. Emergency services were called shortly before 5.45am and a West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "On arrival, crews found two cars which had been involved in a collision. One of the cars had left the carriageway. One child was confirmed dead at the scene. A second was taken on blue lights to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Staff at the hospital had been put on alert awaiting the arrival of the child, who later died. A number of other people have also been taken to hospital." McCormick was arrested at the scene. In a statement, a spokesman for Argyle said: "The club is aware of an incident involving one of our players that occurred on Saturday morning on the M6. As the incident is subject to police enquiries, the club feels it would be inappropriate to make any comment at this stage." The club later added: "Plymouth Argyle sends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the two young boys who lost their lives. They are very much in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time."
Paul Sturrock has explained that the Scottish influence within Home Park may be on the wane. "The Championship is a tougher division than the SPL," he said. "The style of football is both different and quicker, so it takes a certain type of player to succeed. I still keep an active watch on the SPL, but there is nothing imminent in terms of signings from Scotland." Jim Paterson and Chris Clark were hindered by injuries in the first few months at Argyle, and Sturrock added: "We've already got Paterson and Clark. Chris is settling in, but will do well for us." Russell Anderson and Gary Teale were also both at Argyle last season, and Sturrock would like to bring both players back to the club. "Russell Anderson played really well on loan with us, and I would have liked to have him here permanently," he said. "We've stated our interest in him, and have left things for the time being with his club and his agent. Hopefully, a decision will be forthcoming soon, one way or the other. I'd also like to get Gary Teale permanently here, too." Wage negotiations could well be difficult, if the pair are made available for transfer, while family considerations have to be taken into account. "It can be hard to persuade players to sign because of the logistics," Sturrock added. "The truth is also that it is the wives or girlfriends of potential signings who present the big problem. They seem to have so many issues - something that can be really frustrating."
Argyle look set to miss out on Gary Teale, who appears to be joining Leeds United
Gary Sawyer insists Argyle can reach the Premier League after missing out on the play-offs last season. He said: "I think getting to the play-offs is definitely do-able, because any team in our league can beat the other. We had a good season and it was a shame that it petered out at the end, but that's just one of those things that happen in football. We just had a couple of dodgy results that affected us. It's a massive thing to get into the Premiership, but it's a possibility for us to do it. It all depends on all of us, the manager, the players, everyone at the club, pulling together to make it happen. It would be a great thing for the club if we managed to go up - and even if you come back down, you get parachute money which can really set your club up. I'm looking forward to next season. You have a little break and then you get into pre-season training. You have a couple of weeks off, then it gets a bit boring and you want to get back into it. You can't carry on, because you need a little break, but I'll be looking forward to starting again."
Argyle are hoping to avoid a host of midweek trips to the other side of the country this coming season, when the fixtures for 2008/09 are announced on Monday week. The club were unhappy that last year they had to travel to Colchester, Norwich, Ipswich and Scunthorpe on a Tuesday night and Paul Stapleton has revealed that they have asked the Football League if they can avoid a similar fate this coming year. "We have made an application to not have five Tuesday night cross-country trips to the likes of East Anglia," he said. "But it will all come down to the Football League computer. I will be looking out for them with interest. It is a case of what will be will be, but I would like to be at home on the last day of the season. Last year we were away at Wolves, but I would like to be at home this time. Who knows, we might need the backing of our fans to try and get a play-off spot." Argyle would also like to avoid clashing with Plymouth Albion as last season they played on the same day seven times. Stapleton admitted the club have in the past asked the Football League if they can avoid clashing with Albion but with little success. "Lots of people always say can't we avoid clashing, but the only way you can is if you share a stadium or if the police won't allow it," he said. "It is a shame as I think there's about 300-500 people who watch both teams. We have tried to avoid clashing and have made representations, but the only way is if you share a ground or if the police have objections. Maybe if Albion were in the Premiership then the police might have some objections." Before the league fixtures come out, Argyle will find out who they will play in the first round of the Carling Cup on June 13th. Argyle will be one of the seeded teams and could face newly-promoted Exeter. Despite the rivalry between Argyle and Exeter, Stapleton is delighted to see them back in the Football League. "I'm very pleased for Exeter that they are back in the Football League," he said. "Now I want Torquay to get back in as well. That would be good for the region. We do have a certain degree of rivalry but the last thing we want to see is these clubs out of the league."
Paul Stapleton believes the Championship will be far tougher next season with the new clubs coming into the league, but insists Hull's success has given Argyle renewed hope. "Last season was competitive, but this year will be even more so," he said. "None of the teams that came down from the Premiership the previous year have gone back up so that means there will be six clubs with parachute payments, which we've not had for a long time, plus you have got the likes of Swansea and Nottingham Forest coming up. Doncaster are also coming up as well, but the other teams particularly get good gates. QPR, Wolves and Ipswich have all stated that they will be really going for it, while Forest are talking about it as well. So I think it is going to be a more interesting and competitive league, but I'd like to think we can do even better. With Scunthorpe and Colchester going down it means we are going to be four or fifth in terms of lowest gates in the league. You see clubs like Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich all get regular 20,000-plus gates and I think someone worked it out that if we had 20,000 gates we'd have an extra two-and-a-half million pounds in the pot. So we are punching above our weight, but we are looking forward to the challenge. We count ourselves as an established championship club now. It's our fifth season in the league and we are going to be there fighting and we're looking forward to next season. I'm sure Paul Sturrock, in his first full season back, is relishing that challenge and I'm sure he's keen to add to his squad. It will be an exciting year, but it will be a challenge with six teams having those parachute payments. Those teams are getting an extra £12m, although some will be coming down with players on good contracts, but that's a bridge we and other clubs have to cross. We have to try and emulate Hull. Hull did not spend a lot of money. The players that they got in did not cost a lot in terms of transfers. They were lucky in loan signings and they had a few old experienced heads, but everyone is looking at them as the model. For me the team spirit Hull had was a big thing. They moulded a team, they had a strong defence and they did not pick up too many injuries or suspension." Stapleton, though, added that it would be great if Argyle could improve their attendance figures next season. "Gate income is important," he said. "I would like to think we can get our average gate from last year and maybe push on and get some extra people along, we'll certainly be trying our best to do that. We did very well away from home last year, but it would be nice to win a few more home games because that helps pull people in. And in some ways it's better to have Bristol City staying in the league than Hull because they'll bring 2,000 down to us and we'll take 2,000 up to them. When we first came into the league we sold out for the games against West Ham and Leeds, but people eventually get used to playing these type of teams. It would have been nice to see a new club come down, as we have played the three coming down in the Championship in recent years, but they are still big names. And with those teams coming down I think it is going to be harder than last year. There a lot of clubs from the Premiership or what was the old First Division in the league next season. But there's no guarantees for big clubs. Forest have spent quite a few years in League One, Sheffield Wednesday have been there and Leeds are there now. So there's no guarantees no matter how big you are. Everyone was surprised that Charlton and Watford did not go back up, but that can happen. Teams come down from the Premiership and maybe they find they don't have quite as much time to play and possibly don't get results early on. I think you do need a good star. But I can't see a team to running away with the league this season."
Paul Sturrock has reaffirmed his interest in signing Russell Anderson - and said: "We've stated our interest in the boy Anderson and have left things for the time being with his club and his agent. Hopefully, a decision will be forthcoming soon, one way or the other. It's often difficult to get a speedy response to your requests at this time of the year with players and agents away on holiday. But Anderson is definitely a player I'm interested in, but he's just one of several irons I have in the fire at the moment." Anderson stated last week he would like to have a 'real shot at things with Sunderland'. But although the fee and wages are likely to be a stumbling block to a permanent move, he has certainly left the door open to a switch to the South West. He said: "I enjoyed my loan spell with them and they seemed to enjoy having me as they said they wanted to make the move permanent. But as it stands I'm a Sunderland player and I don't know if they are prepared to let me go. So I'm planning to return for pre-season in July and I'm just hoping for a chance. A lot will also depend on the players the manager signs."
Argyle will play two matches during the Austrian tour next month. They will face Romanian side Jiul Petrosani on July 22nd, before playing Germany's FC Nuremberg on July 25th
Liam Head will be accepting Argyle's offer of an apprenticeship when he leaves school at the end of the month
Paul Sturrock has dismissed rumours linking him with a move for Alan Maybury. He said: "I don't normally comment on speculation but I just want to draw a line under his particular rumour. Alan Maybury will not be a Plymouth Argyle player next season. He is not on my radar and he never has been."
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