A Round-up of Argyle News
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Paul Connolly has called on the fans to remain patient as Argyle fight for points in the Championship. He said: "We are all in this together and we have got to stick together to get out of it. When I took throw-ins in the second half some of the fans were moaning and saying this and that, and the other boys noticed it as well. I know they pay their money but they have got be patient with us because we are working as hard as we can." One of Argyle's best chances fell to Akos Buzsaky and Connolly said: "To me, it looked like it was inches away. If that goes in, everyone relaxes and we start knocking it about. But it didn't go in and the more it went on it got more edgy and they started creeping into it in the second half. It was a real battle. We knew it would be because they are bottom of the league. I think they came here for a point but in the second half they were counter attacking and, to be fair, they looked dangerous at times." Argyle pushed forward later in the game and left themselves vulnerable on the break. Connolly said: "I don't think the gaffer likes that. He wants it to be more compact but it was quite open. We were going for it but, at the same time, you have got to go for it sensibly. I was at fault at times. I was maybe getting too eager to get forward and try to create a goal, whereas I'm a defender and I have got to do my defensive duties. We were at home and we have got to try to press, but we have got to do it right. We can't just go gung-ho. We have got to learn from that." Argyle face Leicester at Home Park tomorrow and Connolly added: "If you ask any footballer, they would rather be playing games rather than training but, to be fair, this one is a bit close. We need to go for the win but, like the gaffer said, we can't go crazy. Leicester have got players who can hit you on the counter and score so we have got to get the three points sensibly."
Hasney Aljofree, after yesterday's draw, said: "We worked hard and tried to get the ball forward to Mickey. The way we play is all about getting the ball up to Mickey early, but their defenders coped well and we weren't able to break through. This is the most honest team I've ever played in, and I don't think anyone would ever give less than 100 per cent. It isn't nice to come off the pitch and hear boos. We all want to win. I know how good Argyle fans are, but it is disappointing to hear boos when we're not getting beaten. They can see the effort is there, we're trying to win the game. The amount of pressure we put on in the first half deserved a goal. I had a header which skidded off my head when Akos put a cross in. On another day that might have gone in. We were getting wide and we were getting men forward, but you have to give credit to their defenders. There's only a third of the season gone. We're not far off. You can see how tight the bottom half of the table is. Two wins and you're up in the top half. We're not panicking. We're going to keep working hard and things will turn our way. The gaffer has installed a really good work ethic, and hopefully one of these days we'll turn all this hard work into goals."
Tony Pulis issued a rallying cry after todays draw with Millwall. "We mustn't get too despondent - that's only one defeat in seven - but we know we need to improve in certain areas," he said. "The big disappointment for me today was that, for a majority of the game, I thought we were better than Millwall - we created the better chances, had the better opportunities. That's four times in the last two games that we have hit the post. We need a little bit of luck. We have created the opportunities to go in front, and we have not taken those opportunities. We have got round the back of them a few times, got crosses in, but we are not looking as though we are going to score. That is worrying, obviously, because you have got to score goals to win games." Pulis did everything he could to win the game, with his determination to keep pushing forward sometimes leaving only goalkeeper Romain Larrrieu between the team and a defeat. "We made three substitutions, bringing all the forwards on that we had on the bench to try and win the game," said Pulis. "To be honest, we were stretched in the last quarter of an hour but that was because we were trying to win the game. We were playing Akos Buzsaky wide on one side, Bojan Djordjic wide on the other side, trying to push the full-backs on, and it gave Millwall the opportunity to create one or two chances. I didn't think they did anything up until that point. Romain made three very, very good saves and we are indebted to him up but that's because we were pushing forward, trying to win the game." Pulis asked fans to be patient with the progress of Matt Derbyshire, adding: "We do need that little injection of pace at times, and I brought Matty on, who's got good pace, but he's only a young kiddy and I don't want a situation where the supporters' expectations of Matty are higher than they should be. He's a young kid playing in Championship football, and I would ask those people who were moaning and groaning just behind me to get Matty on to be a little bit patient. I know everybody gets frustrated, nobody more so than me, but he is only a young kiddy." Pulis also spoke in glowing terms of Akos Buzsaky but feels he has yet more to offer. "Akos does some fantastic things in possession of the ball - he opens the door," said Pulis, "but Akos has got to play with the team as well. There were two occasions in the second half when he could have cost us a goal by not doing the simple things. Look at Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips at Chelsea - the way they help people out is absolutely fantastic. I don't think Jose Mourhino would have those players in the team if they didn't do that. Akos has got all the attributes you need, We need him to work for the team at times. Then he will be a very, very good player."
Argyle drew 0-0 with Millwall at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Derbyshire, Djordjic, Chadwick (not used - McCormick, Lasley). Attendance - 11,764.
Mat Doumbe has been a key figure in Argyle's form in recent weeks - playing alongside Hasney Aljofree. Doumbe said yesterday: "We have been doing great work. Even though Hasney and I didn't play together last season, we trained together. When you train with somebody, you know his quality and what his game is like. With that work on the training ground, it was easier for us this year. I know the way Hasney plays and he knows how I play. I am glad we are doing well." Doumbe and his team-mates have had to listen to a host of different voices at training this term. Now it is Tony Pulis and coaches David Kemp and Mark O'Connor. "The gaffer has made us more focused in training," Doumbe said. "We are working hard, but it is difficult when you change managers for the players to get used to new techniques in training. But we are getting better, and we are more involved in everything in training now." Wins may have been scarce for Argyle but Doumbe is not too disturbed by that. "The fact we haven't been losing is a good thing," he added. "Even if you only draw, it is good for the team. We have been fighting hard, and we have come back from being a goal down against Sheffield Wednesday and Luton. The spirit is there. It is a really tight league. We just need that little something extra to win games, but the fact that we haven't been losing is really important for us." Argyle could do with a win rather than a draw against Millwall, who thrashed Plymouth 3-0 at The Den last March. However, Doumbe insisted: "It's not about revenge. We need to win. We need the points. We need to play the football that we know we can play, stay organised and try to win this game."
Tony Pulis will resist the temptation to include Matt Derbyshire in his starting line-up tomorrow. Instead, he is expected to choose between Nick Chadwick and Scott Taylor to partner Mickey Evans.Pulis said: "I have been pleased with Matty but he's a young kiddie and we have got to be a little bit careful with him. He certainly livened things up for us last Saturday. But you have got to remember he's a young lad who is away from home for the first time and it takes time to settle. He has worked hard in training and he's a lovely kid. We are pleased with the way he's going." Pulis played down the importance of the clash between two teams both in the bottom six of the Championship. "Everything is so tight in this league," he said. "You have got to work your socks off in every game to get three points. Hopefully, if we are honest enough, we do our jobs properly and have a little bit of good fortune we will get the result we want tomorrow. On Tuesday Millwall played Barry Hayles, Ben May - who is a decent young player - and Carl Asaba up front, so that isn't bad to start with. In midfield you have got Jody Morris, Don Hutchison and Dave Livermore in midfield, which isn't bad either. Then you have got Adie Williams and Matt Lawrence in defence and the goalkeeper Marshall, who has played in the Premiership. They have got a lot more experience at this level than we have got so I think it just shows again what we are competing against."
Tony Pulis has hit out at the imposition of transfer windows in the Football League this season. Pulis believes the system favours the wealthier clubs in each of the four divisions and said: "It's difficult for us. The top clubs in most leagues have got the biggest squads and they are the ones who have got the money to spend. These windows actually effect the clubs at the bottom of the tables more so than people at the top. It's common sense really. They have got more money and can afford to have bigger squads and keep players on. We need to wheel and deal and, at times, need to go out and improve because we could pick one or two injuries up." When asked whether he could see any point in the transfer windows, Pulis replied: "None whatsoever. It should be free trade like everything else. The situation is ridiculous. We have had four exceptionally well-run divisions for over 100 years and for people to interfere with it is just beyond me." Despite Argyle's three matches inside a week, Pulis will not adopt a rotation policy among his squad. He said: "I will pick what I think is my best team to win each game. That's the way I have always worked it. I played quite a few years ago now, but over holiday periods we would play Friday, Saturday and Monday and nobody mentioned rotation then. It was £10 appearance money. I needed that to keep the family going."
Paul Wotton believes a convincing victory by Argyle over Millwall on Sunday would both ease relegation fears and also help sell the club to potential transfer targets. "It's an old football cliché, but it's true we desperately need three points from the match with Millwall," he said. "It's nice that the club are on television, but I can assure you that will not be on our minds. But I agree that if Argyle can get a decent result on Sunday it could impress not only other team's fans, but players who might not have considered us. I know a lot of other clubs think of us as country bumpkins and to be honest, I'm happy with that. It's often better to be under-rated by the opposition. But when people see the passion of the fans, the great stadium and a good football side, it might open a lot of eyes to the potential of Plymouth. And if people think that we won't be taking Millwall seriously because we've drawn at Queens Park Rangers and Luton, they're very wrong. Not only that, they would be guilty of a massive misconception if they thought Millwall were not a good team. They are, and a much more dangerous team by virtue that they are in the position they are. As we all know and have said before, this is a tough division where any team can beat any other. Look at the recent result when Crystal Palace, who were going great guns, lost at home to Brighton, who had been struggling. Yes, we've had some good results lately, but we won't be resting on our laurels, that's for sure. We now need to move up to another level. It's important that we turn the draws into wins - don't forget we've got another hard match when Leicester come down next Tuesday. Two hard matches in three days, but that's the reality of life in this division."
Lee Hodges could return to training 'in the not too distant future', according to Paul Maxwell. Maxwell is reluctant to put a timescale on when Hodges could return to action but has been encouraged by the progress he has made. Maxwell said: "Hodgie is nearing the end of the first stage of his rehabilitation and he has come through it quite well. It's early days and he's still a bit stiff but it's nothing to get too worried about. He's progressing well and he's stepping up his weights gradually. Next we are going into proper fitness work. I'm not putting any timescale on it but, hopefully, in the not too distant future, he will be there or thereabouts to get back into training. He will probably have a few weeks training before he is ready to play in some reserve team games." Maxwell stressed it would take time for Hodges to get back into shape after such a long lay-off and a cautious approach would be needed. "There is no point taking this long to get it sorted out and then putting him straight back in only for it flare to up again," he said. Meanwhile Ryan Dickson has had a bone scan to try to find the cause of a back complaint which has sidelined him for most of this season. Dickson and Maxwell travelled to London last Friday to meet a top specialist, Jonathan Johnson, at the Princess Grace Hospital. Johnson's verdict on Dickson, which matched that of Maxwell, was that Dickson was suffering from a body growth problem. The outcome of the scan will determine the next course of action and when he could make a comeback
Tony Pulis has admitted he is unlikely to make any loan signings before the game with Millwall on Sunday. Pulis saw Millwall beat Mansfield Town in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and said: "I took in a couple of games on the way back. It has been a case of flying around and trying to gauge what's out there and what's not. It's proving difficult to get people in at the moment." Pulis would not reveal the identity of the two trialists who played for Argyle reserves on Wednesday, but admitted: "We will be taking a look at them in training."
Tony Pulis has insisted he will not get into a bidding war in order to land Billy Paynter and Sam Collins - or any other player. He said: "I have said before I'm not going to get in an auction with any club over players and I haven't changed my mind. If other clubs want to go down this road that's up to them, but I can only say this club will not be."
Argyle reserves won 4-3 at Yeovil Town last night, the goals scored by Luke Summerfield, Matt Derbyshire (2), and a trialist. Geoff Crudgington, in charge of the team for the trip, said: "Matt played very well - his pace and his awareness definitely unsettled Yeovil. He took his first goal well and picked himself up after being brought down to put us 4-2 ahead. As for a first team chance, well, he certainly has not done his chances any harm." Crudgington added: "Overall, it was a good display, we should have been leading three or four goals at half-time. Apart from the last 15 minutes when the game became a bit scrappy, it was a good performance by the team. Yeovil played well, as they always do. They set out looking for a win, but really we shouldn't have had to endure a nervous last 10 minutes. I thought we were always the better side." Argyle (from): McCormick, Gnohere, Mendes, Laird, Gudjonsson, Lasley, Summerfield, Martin, Derbyshire, Zebroski, Reski, McKeever, Bond, Reid, Trialist, Trialist
Tony Pulis has called on Argyle's supporters to play their part in the club's fight for points. He said: "My experience in the game tells me when you have got a group of fans behind you, like we had against Sheffield Wednesday, it pushes the players on. They played a massive part in the performance that day. The one thing I will ask is that if we can get level of noise and commitment week-in week-out it will give us a better opportunity to get the points we need to stay up. You have got to be looking to win your home games and we need the supporters behind us. I was very, very impressed with the level of commitment from the supporters for the Sheffield Wednesday game, especially when we were losing." Pulis hopes the fans will still turn out in force despite Sundays game against Millwall being televised. He said: "We need them at the ground and it's also nice for supporters from other clubs to turn on the TV and see a full stadium. The feeling around the country is that this football club has the potential to fill a stadium every week if the team is winning and doing well. The game on Sunday is a great opportunity to create a superb atmosphere in front of a lot of people watching on television from outside Plymouth."
Argyle and Norwich City are both reported to be chasing Portsmouth centre-back Linvoy Primus. His agent, John Mac, said: "Norwich and Plymouth are both keen on Linvoy. I have spoken to Tony Pulis and Nigel Worthington and they would like to have him on loan with a view to a permanent move. I am planning to have a meeting with Portsmouth to see what they want to do regarding Linvoy. Having spoken to Linvoy, I think he would like to stay and fight for his place, but if they want to let him go then he may have to leave."
Tony Pulis will battle on with the resources he has at his disposal, if Argyle are unable to change their luck in the loan market before the end of next month. Asked how he would react if he was unable to augment his squad until January, he said: "We'd have to get on with it. We are looking, we are trying to get players in. We're not sitting still. We've got targets and we're trying to bring those targets in. I think there'll be a lot of movement in the January window." Despite the fact that only Sheffield United have managed to beat Argyle since Pulis came to Home Park, he knows that there is no room for complacency in the. "There is a lot of work to be done at this football club, and I don't think anybody should get carried away by the results we've had of late," he said. "They don't hide the fact that we are strong in some areas, and weak in others." Nevertheless, Pulis has praised the attitude and hard work of the players he has inherited. "I'm delighted with the effort and commitment they've put in," he said. "In all the games since I've been here, they've been putting in maximum effort, and I think that's all you can ask for."
Tony Pulis has insisted Rufus Brevett is still part of his first team plans, despite Tony Capaldi and Anthony Barness playing at left-back recently. He said: "Rufus is being paid by the football club and I have had a chat with him. He has had problems, obviously, which have been well documented, and we will just see how things go. With Anthony playing there it was just another thing you look at. We decided to go that way and I thought he did all right. He has played left-back before so it wasn't new to him. He was happy with it and we just went from there" Brevett could be involved in tomorrows reserve-team fixture at Yeovil Town. "We need to use these games for people who have not been playing, so that they can top up their fitness," Pulis added. "It should be a pretty strong side at Yeovil, but if we get any injuries in training during the week then we'll have to pull people out." Meanwhile Argyle's televised game with Millwall on Sunday has meant a change in training schedule for the players. Their day off this week will be on Thursday, and not tomorrow as usual. Pulis will be away from Home Park tomorrow on a scouting trip so David Kemp and Mark O'Connor will take charge. "We will have them in Friday and Saturday before the game on Sunday," said Pulis
Paul Stapleton thinks Tony Pulis has put the spirit back into Plymouth Argyle. He was encouraged by the way Argyle came from behind to draw at Luton. Stapleton said: "I was just so pleased that we battled again and got another point. It showed the spirit in the camp and what Tony Pulis has brought to the team. We have got two home games to come against Millwall and Leicester and they are the ones we have got to try to win now. That would push ourselves up and away from the bottom of the table. If we keep playing like we are we are not going to lose many. I don't think we played particularly well on Saturday but, at the end of the day, we got a point. Millwall are below us and I reckon it will be tense to start with. They have got Barry Hayles, who is a good player, but we can go out and win that game." Before then, Argyle could have added at least one loan signing to their squad. Stapleton said: "We are making every effort to get players in before Sunday. We have already made efforts and I just hope some of them come to fruition to strengthen the team. But you saw against Luton that the boys are battling, which is absolutely fantastic." Any new arrivals will be on loan because clubs cannot make cash signings until the transfer window reopens in January. Argyle have been strongly linked with Port Vale pair Sam Collins and Billy Paynter, but any deal for them could not be done until the New Year. Stapleton said: "Obviously, Tony made inquiries and it's bubbling away, but I'm sure Tony has made inquiries in a lot of places. He's bound to be looking to see who he can bring in to help the team and, perhaps, he's looking at five to bring one in." One of the problems Pulis has faced has been the reluctance of players to make the move to the South West. Stapleton said: "We have found this is out before. It's easier to loan somebody from Port Vale to Stoke or Crewe, or Manchester to Stockport. With Plymouth it's 'where is it again?' But once we get them here we have got them."
Tony Pulis has dismissed reports that West Ham and West Brom are interested in Akos Buzsaky as 'speculation'. He said: " Akos has caught the public's imagination. He has just got his first full cap and he has got decent pedigree in respect that he has been at Porto so it will be interesting to see what happens but I have not received anything concrete." However, Pulis admitted that a bid for any of his players would be considered. He said: "My general view is that if a club comes in that are bigger than Plymouth Argyle at this present moment and they offer the right money then you should sit down seriously and talk to the player because it eventually gets out and gets back. The biggest thing that should always happen is that the manager should know where the next player is. That's wheeling and dealing for me. It's a not a case of keeping him because there's nobody out there. It's knowing that there is someone out there, and being able to bring that player in and doing it in a way that the club benefits from it. But it's all speculation." Pulis has made no secret of his intention to add to Argyle's squad when he can, and he wants the players already at the club to welcome increased competition for places. "I think the players who have got anything about them will be hoping that we bring other players in," Pulis said. "The players who might be a little bit nervous might not be so sure they ought to be in the side. The positive response is: 'Let's bring better players in, because I'm going to be in that team whoever he brings in'."
Tony Pulis was given a standing ovation at the end of a two-hour question and answer session with fans last night. Pulis was asked about a whole range of topics, from his hopes for this season and the players' fitness levels to the influence of agents in football and the importance of youth development. He revealed the enthusiasm of the club's board of directors had been a key factor in his decision to join Argyle. "It's nice when you are working with decent people," he said. Pulis admitted the location of Plymouth made it harder to attract players. He said: "I think some people think we are in a different country to the rest of the football world. It's a problem and we will have to find solutions." Pulis revealed he was keen for more resources to be put into youth development. "I don't think there's anything better than a young player coming through your system and playing in the first team," he said. "As a manager, I have always given an opportunity to young players. If they are good enough I don't mind how old they are." Pulis came to the defence of Nick Chadwick, who came in for criticism from one fan. "He's an honest kid and puts 110 per cent into training," said Pulis. "I think there is a problem with his physical condition. He's not as fit and sharp as he should be and we are working to rectify that. Any team of mine should be fit, totally committed and honest in the performances they put in." Pulis was also asked about the importance of completing phase two of the redevelopment of Home Park. He said: "If we get the go-ahead I think it will be a fantastic fillip for the football club and the city."
Bojan Djordjic scored his first senior goal since his 2003-04 loan stay with Red Star Belgrade at Luton on Saturday. He said: "It's a team game, but sometimes it's about individuals as well. Sometimes it's about who can create or score a goal. It was a great cross from Matty, and I was very happy to get the goal." Djordjic was less happy about not starting the game. "Sometimes life is not fair," he added, "but I had to bide my time. Of course I was not happy at being left on the bench, especially after the game at Queen's Park Rangers last week, when I thought I did OK." The draw meant that Argyle are still three points above the relegation zone. "We've only lost once in eight games," Djordjic said. "Hopefully we can move up the table now. We've got Millwall and then Leicester at home next week, they're two important games for us. Six points out of them would take us up the table." Djordjic is eager to play his part in collecting those points and added: "I've been happy with my performances recently. They've picked up after a few, not bad games, but OK games. Against Norwich, Crewe and Burnley it was better, and after that it just picked up. The new manager came in and now we're much harder to beat." Djordjic came to Argyle to prove himself and when asked for a progress report, he said: "I'm just happy to be playing football and entertaining people. There are worse problems for people in my country than having to sit on a substitutes' bench for a game, so I know how to take it. I wasn't happy, I was more angry than anything, but I told myself: 'If you get on the pitch, do your best.' I did that, and I got my reward."
Akos Buzsaky has been linked by national newspapers with both West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion. Paul Stapleton yesterday said: "I didn't know about particular clubs like West Ham or West Brom, but I am aware that Premiership clubs have been represented at our last couple of home games, and were at QPR the other night. It would not surprise me if people were looking at Akos, because of the goals he's scored in recent games, and his strikes against the woodwork. He's just made it into the Hungarian national team, and he's a young player with a lot of skill. It doesn't surprise me, and I expect there to be more interest as the season unfolds. He's an integral part of our team."
Tony Pulis refused to take credit for the double substitution which earned Argyle a draw yesterday. "Sometimes you do it and you get credit for it; sometimes you do it and it doesn't happen," he said. "If managers are being honest, nine times out of ten, you are throwing the balls up in the air and hoping they land your side, and I'm very pleased they've done that today. You hope it's going to break for you. It was the first time we got round the back of them in the second half - in the first half, we did a few times and caused them problems - but it was the first time in the second half that we got a good cross in. Luton got loads of crosses in today; we haven't done the same. That's something we'll talk about and we'll work on. I've never seen Bo head a ball before, so I'm very, very pleased." The performance was another solid one from his team but Pulis denied he was concentrating more on defence than attack. "We're playing the players in the team who you think can open the door and score a goal," he said. "We've got Buzsaky on one side; we've got Capaldi on the other side; went with Taylor and Evans today. So it's not as though we're filling the team with loads of defenders - we're just asking players to put a shift in when they haven't got the ball. We worked hard, and I'm pleased with the point." Pulis is now in a position to make his promised first report to the Argyle directors. "I'm looking at everybody in every position," he said. "It's still a learning curve. I've got a board meeting on Friday, which will be interesting - we have got to sit down and talk about the football club. I have had three-four weeks to see what the club is all about and I'll be speaking to the chairman and the directors about certain aspects, whether we can push the club on. I'm clear in my mind."
Bojan Djordjic enjoyed the late goal that earned Argyle a draw at Luton, and enjoyed the banter with the home crowd almost as much. "It's nice to get your first goal," he said, "especially when you are getting abuse from the side - that's all part of the game, all part of the entertainment. Ibrox reject', 'Old Trafford reject' - it's nice to be rejected from those places, not from anywhere else." Describing the goal, Djordjic said: "Sometimes you have to gamble. I have always been told since I was little, if you take a gamble on the back stick, you will score four or five goals a season, so I have three or four left in me. If I didn't take the gamble, would have headed it away." Djordjic was impressed by third-placed Luton. He said: "For us, it's two massive away points in two big away games. Luton are a good team - you can see why they have won so many games. They have many good players. I think they will keep themselves up there if they continue to play like this."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Luton Town, the goal scored by Bojan Djordjic in the 92nd minute. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Chadwick, Djordjic, Derbyshire (not used - McCormick, Lasley). Attendance - 8,714.
Scott Taylor is eager to hang on to a place in the Argyle first team having started a Championship game under Tony Pulis for the first time on Tuesday. "It was good to play," he said. "I've had to be patient and, when you get your chance, you have to do the best you can. QPR put us under a lot of pressure on Tuesday, and we had to work hard to keep our shape. It's been hard work because you like to lead the line, but you've got to drop back too. It's been making us more solid, because teams are finding it harder to break us down." Goals have been hard to come by for Argyle strikers this season, and Taylor added: "In the position we're in right now who cares who scores? All we want is three points, and we were gutted we didn't get all three at QPR. Hopefully we can go to Luton, roll up our sleeves, and see what we can get there." Luton are 13 points better off than Argyle so far this season. "It's going to be tough," Taylor said. "They're well organised and their team spirit seems to be very healthy, but the team spirit is good at Argyle too."
Going into todays game at Luton, Tony Pulis has been pleased by the efforts his side have made in recent games, but knows more work will be needed sooner or later if they are to reach the level of performance he demands. "The team should play together when they have the ball, and play together when they haven't got the ball," Pulis said. "That's why we've got to be so fit. We've got to be much fitter than everybody else because we have to put that effort in." Asked if his fitness drive was already delivering results, Pulis said: "Not really. We need to do it when we've got plenty of rest in between games, but the lads are working hard. You can't fault their effort." Pulis agreed that he may find it hard to raise the fitness levels of his squad to the desired standard before next summer. "Yes," he added, "that's right. Unfortunately we're just going to have to get through this season." With that in mind, a draw at QPR thanks to Akos Buzsaky's wonderful goal was a good result. Pulis knows what a bonus the Hungarian's ability is to his side, but he wants him to improve his all-round game. "Akos's goal was outstanding," Pulis said. "We need him to create chances and score goals. He's one of the few players we have who can do that. The big thing with Akos is that we've got to get him to work with the team. Sometimes he just goes out and plays football without any consideration of the players around him, but he's such a talent that we're hoping that he can sort out that side of his game and buy into what we want to do." In recent games, Buzsaky has played on the right flank while David Norris has been given a central role, a reversal of the roles they were used to filling last season. Pulis seems reluctant to ask Norris to return to flank duty as his graft is a crucial component in the centre of the park. "I think David Norris has been outstanding," Pulis added. "I think a lot of the time people don't see what players do off the ball and the work-rate they put in. I thought Norris and Paul Wotton were fantastic on Tuesday night."
Tony Pulis has played down further speculation linking the club with Port Vale's Sam Collins and Billy Paynter, describing the latest speculation about a £300,000 double transfer as 'a load of nonsense'. Pulis added: "This football club has done everything by the book. The stuff coming out is not from the Plymouth side." Meanwhile, Pulis has been linked with Portsmouth centre-back Linvoy Primus.Primus, who has not made a first team appearance this season, was signed by Pulis when he was Pompey manager
Tony Pulis has admitted he is excited by the potential of Chris Zebroski. He said: "I saw him last Saturday and I watched him when the reserves played Cardiff. He will get involved in training with the first team and we will see how he goes. He's a big lad and for his age his power and pace is exceptional. You usually find at that level the big powerful kiddies do very well against the smaller younger lads who haven't developed yet. Sometimes you put them into senior squads and the other players are as big and as powerful as them and they are not as as effective. We will certainly be monitoring how he's doing and it's very pleasing that we have got someone of that ilk underneath the senior players."
Tony Pulis believes Akos Buzsaky still has a lot to learn about playing in English football. He said: "I said to him the other day, if he can get the mentality the British players have got, in respect of their work ethic off the ball and working within the shape of the team, he will become a better player for it. The goal at QPR was outstanding and I think he has got that in the bag. But he has got to learn it's a team game and he has got to work with other players. Once he does that, the other players will appreciate him more as well. The two players who stood out for me when Manchester United were really successful were Giggs and Beckham. They worked so hard for the team and did so much work that people didn't notice, but they were always there to provide crosses and score goals up the other end. It's important for wide players to get that into their game - that they are prepared to work for the team. Let's not forget as well, we are one of the smaller clubs in this league and we can't afford to go out on the pitch and carry players. The bigger clubs have got magnificent players who have been in the Premiership and can do special things so you can maybe carry one or two. But when you are at Plymouth you have got to be at full tilt every game and everybody has got to be all hands to the pump for 90 minutes." Pulis is under no illusions how difficult it will be Argyle when they play Luton Town tomorrow. He said: "I think the first 20 minutes are going to be interesting because they will most probably still be on a high from Tuesday. That's going to be a crucial stage of the game. If we can get through the first 20 minutes we will push on from there. But in the first 20 minutes I expect them to come out all guns blazing." Argyle have lost only one of their last five games, the improved results following the appointment of Pulis. He said: "I'm pleased we are really fighting and scrapping for everything at the moment. The bonus is the players have responded to what we are trying to do. But I'm not losing sight of the fact we need to bring players in to help us out."
Tony Capaldi will meet two of his Northern Ireland team-mates, Warren Feeney and Steve Robinson, when Argyle play Luton tomorrow. Capaldi said: "With Luton being third in the league and Northern Ireland beating England they must be on a real high. Warren is a busy player and puts himself about. He runs the channels and works hard. Steve is a good professional and very industrious in midfield." On paper, Luton are strong favourites to beat Argyle, but Capaldi said: "I think we have made ourselves more difficult to beat now. We have got a good organisation and shape about us. We are still going to have defeats, but everybody knows what their jobs are. The gaffer has put his ideas into our heads and we are taking it on board. Confidence is slowly coming back, but we are still down there at the moment. It would have been nice to get a win out of the last two games, and I think we merited one victory with the work we put in. If we can put together two or three wins on the bounce, I think you will see the confidence come flooding back. It was a tight league last year and it's the same this season. Everybody is capable of beating each other, as you saw on Tuesday with Crystal Palace losing at home to Brighton. If we can string two or three wins together we will soon be flying up the table." Capaldi has started each of the last five matches having spent much of the early weeks of the season on the bench, or out injured. He said: "I'm just delighted to be in the team. My performances have been okay, but I know I can do better and that's what I'm aiming for. I really don't mind where I play as long as I'm in the team. I maybe have a slight preference for playing left midfield but I will never go and moan to the gaffer about it. It's just good to be in the starting 11." Capaldi saw Luton on TV when they drew against Sheffield Wednesday last month. "It's a classic case of a team coming up full of confidence after winning the league last season and they have carried that on," said Capaldi. "They are taking the Championship by storm but, hopefully, we can put a halt to that. I saw them play on the TV against Sheffield Wednesday and they looked a good team. They were not long-ball merchants. They did look to pass it whenever they could. Many of their players have come up through the leagues with them, so they must have a good team spirit and togetherness. It's up to us to go there and play with the same shape and discipline as we did against QPR. If we can do that, we have got a chance."
Hasney Aljofree is determined to prove he has the consistency to become a top class defender in the Championship having started each of the five matches since Tony Pulis took over. He said: "If I get a run in the team, I think I'm quite consistent in terms of knowing what you are going to get from me, week in and week out. When I was younger, sometimes you might have got one good game and then a bad game, but now I'm 27 I want to be consistent. I want to push myself on and I want to prove I can play at this level and do well." Aljofree has only missed two matches in the Championship this season - due to a leg injury, whilst centre-back partner Mathias Kouo-Doumbe has been an ever-present. Aljofree thinks they are starting to forge a good understanding. "He has got pace to burn, but sometimes he relies on it a bit," said Aljofree. "He's learning the game all the time and he's talking more, which helps both of us. The one thing I have always said about Matt is, if he gets in a good position straight away, there is no-one going to get behind him or win headers. He has picked up little things every game and he's taking them on board."
Tony Pulis is hoping to sign one or more players on loan before Saturday's game at Luton Town. He said: "I have been trying my best to bring in players who can help us. We need to try and bring in players on loan until we make signings in January. But they have to be of the right calibre for this football club, and that's what we have been trying to do. I don't want to dwell on the Port Vale players - I have got many irons in the fire at the moment. It's not just me eager to freshen things up, the players are also looking for me to strengthen the squad. They realise it's going to be a long, hard season."
Akos Buzsaky was frustrated Argyle could not hold on to the lead he gave them last night. He said: "When you see the position of the two teams in the table, I can say, yes, it's a good result. But we went into the dressing room at half-time at 1-0 and I thought we had the chance to win this game. We came out in the second half and we didn't keep the ball. You know, it's very difficult to defend for 45 minutes. We are going home with one point, which is not bad, but we could have done better." Rangers equalised with a penalty after Scott Taylor handled the ball inside the area. Buzsaky said: "I was on the goal-line and it was a penalty. They had big lads and every corner was very dangerous. They put a lot of pressure on us in the second half and we couldn't keep the result, which I think is normal. You can't defend for 45 minutes. We need to learn from this and next time do better. We have Luton on Saturday and it's going to be very difficult but in this division every team is very close. You can play against Sheffield United or the team at the bottom and there is not a big difference." Buzsaky's 30-yard strike was his third goal of the season. He said: "It was lucky (tonight) because it went in the net. On Saturday, I had a shot which came out from the post and tonight it has gone in. I'm very happy to score but the result is the important thing and it would not have been too difficult to win this game. I'm looking forward to the game at Luton. Hopefully, I will score again and this time we will win."
Tony Pulis revealed that he is on the verge of adding to his squad following Tuesday night's draw against Queens Park Rangers. "We're looking to bring a couple of loan signings in, if we can, to help the squad," he said. "If you look at QPR's bench, the players they are bringing off the bench, and QPR are not in the top six, that's the difficulty for us at Plymouth." The match was a game of two halves for Argyle. Pulis said: "We got the goal, a smashing goal - the kid hit it from 30 yards, he can do that with both feet, he's got tremendous ability - and I thought, in the second half, we got more nervous about the position we were in and dropped deeper and deeper. With Nygaard and Furlong, when they are getting balls in the box, it's always likely that something's going to drop, and they had a lot of balls in the box. We worked hard, we dug in. We were pleased with the first-half performance. The players are working ever so hard, but I just thought that, when we get the ball, we have got to take a bit of steam out of it and keep the ball to give us a bit of time to get up the pitch and support Mickey. At the moment Mickey's a little bit isolated. When we do that, we can create chances. We have got players in the team who can make that pass to create chances." Pulis believed Argyle were lucky to survive an earlier penalty shout, when Tony Capaldi pulled Nygaard's shirt, but wasn't sure Taylor's handball. "I thought the penalty was a little bit harsh," he said. "I thought the one before, which wasn't given, when he had the lad's shirt, was a definite penalty; the handball, I think Scotty's turned and he's not even looking at the ball. He's gone with Furlong and it's hit him on his arm. I don't think there's any intention at all." Pulis was pleased that Romain Larrieu again showed good form. "Since I've come to the club, apart from the first Sheffield United goal, when he could have done better, I think the kid has been outstanding. His kicking was good tonight, as well." Commenting on the decision to drop Rufus Brevett, and play Capaldi at left-back Pulis said: "I don't think Rufus has been playing that well, to be honest. I was expecting Bo to do a bit more, or for us to get the ball to him a bit more. When you think we played with two wingers tonight, you want them to be involved when we get the ball, and maybe we never got them the ball enough."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Queens Park Rangers, the goal scored by Akos Buzsaky after 39 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Capaldi, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Djordjic, Evans, Taylor. Subs - Chadwick, Gudjonsson, Brevett (not used - McCormick, Derbyshire). Attendance - 11,741.
Tony Pulis is trying to discover the best way to get the best out of his new team, including travelling to London 36 hours before tonights game at QPR. He said: "We know the next two games are going to be difficult - QPR and Luton are both clubs who build everything on their home form - and we're trying to find out things. We're flying up to Luton on Saturday, so we'll be having no hotels. It'll be straight to the game and straight home afterwards. We're just trying different ways, looking at every way of solving the problem of the distances we have to travel, so myself and the coaching staff can see which way is best for the club to push on." Despite the early departure for London, Pulis has not had a great deal of time since Saturday's draw with Sheffield Wednesday. "By the time we got up there, it was 2.30pm," he said. "Then we trained at about 3pm. That's all your day gone. People say 'What did you do for two days?' Well, it takes four and half hours to get up there. The lads were in their beds last night at 8pm. It's really about trying to find the best way to prepare them for a game." Anthony Barness's hamstring will probably keep him out at QPR, while Rufus Brevett's place will depend on how Pulis viewed the success of the Capaldi-Djordjic combination during Saturday's second half. "Anthony has come with us," Pulis said. "He had a loosener this afternoon and we'll have to wait and see how he is. We're not sure what he's going to be like. I'll wait and see what the lads are like tomorrow. Everybody is in decent spirits. We're just looking for a team that can go out there and do their best. You can't fault the lads' effort. We might be lacking in one or two other areas, but their attitude has been very good. They have worked hard in the four games I have been in charge. Now we face two more away games against teams with good home records. We're under no illusions that both games are going to be very difficult. If you look at QPR and see the players they have there and then look at what they're paying their players, you can see the difference. You can see why they've pushed on that little bit further since both teams came up together. This is a different level, and people have to understand that. We're up against top players who have played at the top level. But if we can work hard at QPR and just get a little bit of good fortune going our way, then, fingers crossed, we can come out of the game with something positive."
Paul Connolly has been given a vote of confidence by Tony Pulis. "I thought Paul played well on Saturday," Pulis said. "I was very pleased for him. There are lot of things in his game he needs to improve. He sometimes gets square-on when he's defending, and wingers will cause him problems if he keeps doing that. That's a coaching point and something we will have to work very hard on, but I thought he showed a good willingness to get forward, and to his defending." Connolly missed most of September because of an ankle ligament injury and his lack of competitive action in recent weeks is of concern to Pulis, who said: "We don't know what his fitness levels are going to be like, playing a second game in such a short period of time after being out for a while." Argyle will take on QPR having gone five away games in the Championship without scoring a goal. Pulis said: "It's a terrible record, but I thought we created loads of good chances at Sheffield United and if we can keep doing that I hope one will drop for us. I don't see why we can't go there and get a result. Every game you go into, you have got to be positive. You can't be negative. The players have given everything they have got in the four games since I have been at the club, and that's all I can ask for again tonight. If we have got frailties then we have got to try to improve on them, and that will be by adding to the squad."
Mickey Evans is set to make his 400th career appearance for Argyle tonight. Only four of his matches have been with Tony Pulis as manager, but the boss has been impressed with the contribution of Evans, and confirmed he would be in the starting line-up against QPR. He said: "I think in today's era, where people move on for money, that loyalty is not found in abundance, especially with players. It's a tribute to Mickey that he has played so many games for Plymouth. Speaking to people around the club and around the town, he's very well thought of, both on and off the pitch. I have only been here for a short time but his attitude has been first class in every game we have played. Mickey has given everything he possibly can for the team and we will certainly need him this season. He will play a big part in us staying up. I thought he was outstanding on Saturday and when we needed people to stand up and be counted he was there."
David Norris has given his early impressions of the Tony Pulis regime. He said: "It's changed quite a lot, to be honest. We're training a lot more, we're doing a lot of shape work so that everybody knows exactly what they're meant to be doing. We're doing more weights work and we're watching videos of games now. After a few games, I think we're definitely starting to see the effect of all the changes." Norris will be hoping that further progress will be evident at Loftus Road this evening. "It will be a big match against one of our old foes. It will be a tough place to go. We've never really done well there, so we'll have to be on our game."
Tony Pulis played it cool yesterday as Port Vale stressed their determination not to let Argyle sign two of their players on the cheap. He said: "I think the situation has been blown out of all proportion. We've made enquiries to loads of clubs about players. I've always done my business with the opposite manager. I've spoken to Martin Foyle, and as far as I'm concerned it's up to them now. I was hoping what was said would remain between the two clubs, but we can't alter that. They've got to do what they've got to do. I'm not sure what will happen now. I don't think there have been any concrete discussions between the directors of the two clubs. We'll have to wait and see what happens."
Argyle have been caught up in a controversy over alleged improper approaches to two Port Vale players. Argyle are reported to be interested in signing Valiants' striker Billy Paynter and central defender Sam Collins on loan, concluding full transfers after the transfer window reopens in January. The initial offers made by Argyle were rejected by Vale, who are unhappy about the way the situation has been handled so far by agents involved in the proposed deal. Vale boss Martin Foyle said: "Last week, Port Vale Football Club received a derisory offer from a Championship club for the services of Billy Paynter and Sam Collins. We have spoken to the players, and they are fully aware of the situation. It has caused a bit of unrest at the club, largely due to the agents totally misinforming our players and not giving them the right details. Billy and Sam are totally committed to the club, but we understand their ambition to play at a higher level. Unless the club receives an offer which shows the true reflection of their ability, as far as I am concerned the matter is now closed." Argyle yesterday declined to make any comment but although Foyle has claimed that the matter is closed, that may not be the case. Vale are not well off and they could find it hard to resist decent offers for any of their players
Saturday saw Graham Coughlan make his first return to Home Park since Argyle sold him in July and he received the welcome he deserved. Afterwards, Coughlan thanked the fans for their reaction to his return. "They were different class to me," he said, "just as they were in the four years I was here. That hasn't changed. They're a special group of fans. They're brilliant. I'm hoping that I returned the compliment." Coughlan was less happy with his display on the day. "I was disappointed with my performance," he added. "I felt I should have done a lot better. Maybe the whole occasion got to me, I don't know. I felt I was off the pace. I felt we should have won after being 1-0 up. I was disappointed with the decision to give Argyle a penalty. I was very, very disappointed with the referee." Asked if he thought Argyle look capable of staying up, Coughlan said: "Definitely. It's a hard, hard place to come. I don't think there's any doubt they'll stay up. I believe now they have the right structure, with the right manager in charge. Plymouth are a big, strong team and they have some quality players. They have three good players in the middle of the park in Norris, Wotton and Capaldi and, yes, it was a battle with Mickey. He's effective, and we knew that. I thought at times the referee could have let us get on with it. Just fight it out. But I think we became afraid of touching each other - or even of looking at each other."
Paul Wotton set his sights on tomorrow's trip to QPR after his late penalty on Saturday. Despite the point won, Wotton was disappointed that Argyle were unable to claim all three. "It's two points dropped as far we're concerned," he said. "If we had played for 90 minutes I think we would have won the game. For the first half-an-hour we weren't quite to the pace of the game, but the last 15 minutes of the first half and the whole of the second half was very good. It was a very physical game with both sides getting the ball forward quickly, which we knew was going to be the case. They have gone 1-0 ahead through a freak goal and Romain has made a good save at the end, but other than that they've had nothing. We've looked comfortable throughout the game. We've hit the post, hit the bar and, to be fair, they've had three or four great blocks. In the end we've got the penalty, but we could have had another. Like I said, we probably feel it's two points dropped, but we'll keep plugging away and take the positives from today's game. Our next two fixtures are QPR and Luton away, two of our old rivals, so we're really looking forward to those games." Before Wotton took his penalty, Graham Coughlan passed on some advice to Wednesday 'keeper David Lucas. Wotton said: "I have got no problem with them doing that. I just kept my head and I think the ball hit the back of the net before he has even moved. My set pieces were poor today but that one was good and it counted. I had to keep my nerve but that is what I'm paid for." Wotton, who has been impressed by new boss Tony Pulis, added: "The gaffer has come in and changed a few things, and things are coming together slowly," he said. "Our commitment and effort was phenomenal. You can see little bits of confidence coming back. It's going to take time but if our work-rate and enthusiasm is the same as that every game there is only one way we are going to go in this league and that's up. Okay, we have drawn 1-1 and the lads are disappointed not to have won, but there are massive positives to take from it. We have come from behind in the last two home games and that shows character."
Tony Pulis praised his side for their effort but admitted he was seeking a huge improvement after yesterdays draw. "The one thing you can't fault them for is their commitment," he said. "Their honesty is very good. I thought, for the first half an hour, we were slow. We were slow out of the blocks. We didn't get the ball out wide to the full-backs, and the full-backs never pushed on to give us the option to stretch the game. There's lots of things we've got to improve and lots of things that have got to be put in place." Akos Buzsaky headed an own goal under no pressure from a Wednesday player, when it seemed simpler to clear. "The goal was a killer, to be honest," said Pulis. "I think his head got to the ball too late. I don't think he would have scored a goal like that for us. It was an almost impossible header." Argyle hit the woodwork twice and Pulis added: "The 'keeper made a magnificent save from Mickey Evans, a fantastic save, and they got some great blocks in. On another day, if things were going for us, they might have ended up in the back of the net. I can't believe Nick hasn't scored. We needed that break. It would have relaxed everybody, settled everybody down." The penalty award seemed harsh, and Pulis thought a later tackle by Chris Eagles on Bojan Djordjic was more deserving. "I think the one on Bo straight afterwards was more of a penalty than the one he gave," said Pulis, who was impressed by the way Paul Wotton withstood some Wednesday gamesmanship before slotting home. He said: "If you need someone to step up and take a penalty, you are looking at Paul - coolness personified. It's an important thing to get a run together but I'm disappointed because we need to win home games. This place has got to be where we pick our points up."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday at Home Park, the goal coming from a Paul Wotton penalty after 78 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Norris, Wotton, Buzsaky, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Djordjic, Taylor, Gudjonsson (not used - McCormick, Lasley). Attendance - 16,534. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Tony Pulis is well aware of what really matters in todays game. "It's not Paul Sturrock against Tony Pulis," he said yesterday. "It's 11 players against 11 players. Players win you matches, and the most important thing is that we concentrate on the game. I'm sure Paul will get a fantastic reception when he comes back, but then we've got to get on with the game." Sturrock is also taking a realistic approach. "I hope I get a good reception, but now I'm the enemy," he said. "My coaching staff and I are looking forward to the weekend, but the most important thing is that we're walking back up the road with three points." In the fortnight since Argyle last played, Pulis and his coaches have been travelling up and down the country in search of fresh recruits, and honing the squad's skills and fitness on the training ground. "The players have worked really hard these two weeks and they've given everything," Pulis said. "They've been fantastic, but we'll have to see whether it's enough in terms of where we want to go and what we want to achieve. My first assessment of the side is that it needs improvement, and it needs improvement quickly. I think everybody in the squad will welcome the addition of players, but they have got to be the right players. They have got to be players that will improve the team. We don't need players who are coming down just for the money, and we don't need players who are coming down just for retirement. We need ambitious players who want to play for Argyle for the right reasons. I have had three weeks in the job now and a good opportunity to assess everything, from the top right through to the bottom, and there will be changes. It's disappointing that we've not been able to bring in one or two players in time for tomorrow's game. We'd have loved to have done that, but it looks as though it's not going to happen."
Romain Larrieu has survived longer at Argyle than any other player signed by Paul Sturrock, but today wants to see the Scot end up a loser. "We know how much Paul Sturrock enjoyed his time here, and I am sure he will want to come back here and get one over us," Larrieu said. "I worked with him for almost four years, and I know the way he thinks. It is up to us to respect what we've been told to do, and I'm sure we'll be fine." Wednesday have been in the bottom three for much of the season so far, and Sturrock has found it hard to add to his squad. "It's a big step-up, and they have found that out," Larrieu added, "but they have some good players who have experienced this level before." One of those players is Graham Coughlan, who has scored in each his last three games, all three goals have being identical - close-range headers to convert corners taken by Chris Brunt. "We have worked on that, and hopefully we will prevent that from happening," Larrieu said. "It will be good to see a few faces we know, and there should be a good crowd. It will be an enjoyable match to play in, and I hope we get the three points that we need." Larrieu has been impressed by Hasney Aljofree and Mat Doumbe, who never had a chance to build a partnership in central defence last season. "They have been playing well, now that they know each other's style of play better," he added. "When you play Championship football, the partnership creates itself in a number of games and not in training. They have been doing really well. The whole team has been defending well, to be honest. We have been conceding fewer goals. If we can keep going that way, I think we can get the results we need. I am really, really hopeful."
Gael Suares and Arthur Gnohere will not be playing first-team football for Argyle in the immediate future. Tony Pulis said yesterday: "We can't play Gael, which is a problem. He's going back to France, but we might try and invite him over again if we can get international clearance for him. The rules are an absolute nightmare. Arthur has just come back from a major injury and we're looking at something a little bit further down the line with him."
Tony Pulis is ready to take a chance on signing players from the lower divisions as he tries to strengthen his squad. Pulis said: "We will have to take a chance with one or two players from the lower leagues and bring them in and squeeze the living daylights out of them. We will have to do that because we will not be able to afford what other clubs in this league can afford, so we will have to take a little bit of a punt. You could get maybe one or two experienced ones who are aged 28 or 29 who have worked in the lower leagues for a good few years and have done very well, and might look forward to having the chance to step up. You will also find one or two younger ones, who have done okay at that level and are ripe now to pluck and put in your team, and give them the opportunity to see if they can push on. We are talking to players from other countries, we are talking to players from non-league. We are talking to players from everywhere." Pulis has not confined his inquiries about players to possible loan signings. He said: "I'm looking to do permanent deals if I possibly can further down the line. I'm working in October to maybe finalise something in January. That's the way I am. I think every club is in the same situation. It's always difficult to get good players. It's never easy. You have got to keep banging on the door and if it doesn't open you have got to keep banging it. You can't walk away." Pulis admitted the club's geographical location was always going to be a problem. He said: "I think what we have got to do, we have got to make sure if we target someone that nobody else finds out about it, and we do the deal before he gets on the market. For instance, if I'm at Stoke and I want to buy a player from Derby, and Plymouth want to buy the same player, that player, invariably, will go to Stoke because it's only 30 minutes up the road. He doesn't have to move his family; he doesn't have to do anything else. He can go to Stoke. We are working on all different angles at the moment and I think the chairman is having a heart attack at the number of players I'm actually mentioning. I'm not being disrespectful to the dressing room. I think they will want to see players come in. I think they want to be stimulated and see players coming through the door as well, because that helps them. Competition for places improves the spirit in the dressing room. It shouldn't dishearten anybody. It should raise the bar, and the level in the place where it needs to be most - and that's in the dressing room. The sands of time never stop moving and this football club should never stop moving either. Without being disrespectful to anybody, we have got a long way to go to get a team that is going to be comfortable in the Championship."
Both Anthony Barness and Paul Connolly are rated as doubtful for the game against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow and Tony Pulis was today trying to make a loan signing as a replacement. Pulis admitted a decision on their fitness would be left as late as possible. Connolly has not had a chance to show Pulis what he can do since he took over as manager a fortnight ago, but the boss has heard good reports about him. Pulis said: "When I came to the club I talked to a few people and they spoke pretty well of Connolly. That was one of the reasons I went to Cardiff (on Tuesday), to have a look at him and one or two of the other younger lads." Tony Capaldi will hope to continue the good form he has shown since Pulis was appointed manager Pulis said: "I was delighted to get Tony back. I hate having players away on international duty. You don't know what they are doing and what they are not doing. To have him back was a bonus for us." Akos Buzsaky could be added to the starting line-up after returning from international duty. He flew into Bristol yesterday afternoon and was not set to train with the rest of the squad until today. Pulis said: "That's a problem. I don't like international breaks, I have got to be honest, but you can't stop it. I'm frustrated he has not been here for the two weeks to prepare like the others, but I believe the players who you think are the best to win a game of football should play, irrespective."
Tony Pulis has the greatest respect for the way Paul Sturrock managed Argyle's league title triumphs in 2001 and 2003, but he wants to send Sturrock and Sheffield Wednesday home without any points tomorrow. Pulis said: "He did a fantastic job for the football club, but we are on a different level now. Paul is on a different level with Sheffield Wednesday in a different league with different circumstances. Plymouth were the playground bully in the third and second divisions but now there are bullies bigger than us. We are no longer the big boys in the playground. We are that small skinny one in the corner, hoping to put some meat on the bones so we can stand up to the big boys. I think we have got to realise and understand we are the underdogs in this league, and I like being the underdog. I think it's an angle the supporters could grab hold of and take on board as well." Pulis has warned it will not be easy for Argyle tomorrow. He said: "If you look at Sheffield Wednesday, they have had 30,000 people to watch one of their games this season. I think their budget is bigger than ours and they have got more players than us, but they are £25 million in debt, so we have got a massive plus in our favour in that respect. We have just got to make sure that we push on and do it the right way, both on and off the field. The investment has got to be sensible and done in a proper way if the football club is going to stay in that upward mode. That's important. I don't want to put the football club in any serious financial trouble. That's not fair. It's not fair to the punters who pay their money and it's also not fair to the people around the club who put their money into it. But we have got to recognise to get to the next level there is going to have to be some investment in the team."
Tony Pulis' phone has been ringing non-stop as he continues trying to sign players on loan. "It has been constant, all day I have been making and receiving calls, even up to 11.30 last night," he said. Pulis revealed that Paul Connolly and Anthony Barness were carrying injuries and he is doubtful of getting in a replacement before the weekend, "I was hoping to have something to announce today but that seems unlikely now," he said, "you never know in football though". Pulis was asked about rumours linking Argyle with a move for Chris Baird, Southampton's right-back. "That is not going to happen before Saturday, if at all. Southampton have a few players out which means they may need him there and we may find someone else in the meantime." said Pulis. The manager was also asked about Gael Suares and admitted that a decision would have to be made soon but wouldn't comment further as he wanted to talk to the player
Akos Buzsaky made his third appearance for Hungary in their 0-0 draw against Croatia last night
Graham Coughlan admits he is relishing the chance to play at Home Park again on Saturday. He said: "To say I'm excited about coming back to Home Park is a massive understatement - I just can't wait. I had four, unbelievable years there, which I will never forget. I loved playing for the club and the fans, and both will have a place in my heart for all time. Everybody knows I didn't want to leave and that it was a real wrench to leave back in the summer. That's all behind me now, though. I'm just looking forward to playing at Home Park on Saturday. I'm enjoying life at Sheffield and football-wise it's a very similar situation to the one I had with Argyle last year. Last season, like Wednesday are this time round, Argyle were the new kids on the block in the Championship. It's another challenge, though, albeit a very tough one in this league. I think what Argyle achieved last season was incredible. On Saturday, I think the deciding factor could be the team that makes the best use of set-pieces and dead-ball situations."
Tony Pulis will not be distracted by speculation over possible transfer targets. Argyle were yesterday linked with a move for Swansea City's Lee Trundle, after Pulis saw Swansea play Yeovil Town on Saturday, but he denied he had made any approach for the striker. Pulis said: "I think it's a case of somebody putting two and two together. You are going to get that with a new manager coming in. There will be stories all over the place and you have just got to get on with it, which I will do." Pulis has, so far, been frustrated in his attempts to recruit new players. "We are touching base with lots of things but there is nothing going on at the moment," he said, and added: "I get on very well with Swansea manager Kenny Jackett and if I was going to try to do any business with Lee Trundle the first person I would ring is Kenny. That phone call hasn't been made. It would be the same the other way around. If Kenny was interested in any of my players I would expect him to ring me first."
Argyle reserves lost 2-0 at Cardiff City this afternoon. The team included French trialist defender Arthur Gnohere. Argyle: McCormick; Connolly, Mendes, Gnohere, Laird.S, Reski, Lasley, Summerfield, Martin, Derbyshire, Zebroski. Subs – McKeever (not used - Bond, Smith.D, Reid). Tony Pulis said: "It was an interesting game for me to watch because I'm still assessing what we have got and what we haven't got. I think it's important the players on the fringes of the first team see the manager is taking an interest in them. It was a good chance to see what they are like in games, rather than just in training. I thought they all worked hard and showed a good attitude." Gael Suares had to sit out the match because the club could not get international clearance for him. Tony Pulis was frustrated the former Caen left-back could not take part. He said: "It was disappointing the lad couldn't play but those are the rules. I'm going to have to sit down with my coaching staff and talk about him before the end of the week." Gnohere, who did not need international clearance because he was with QPR last season, has been out of action for more than 12 months because of a cruciate knee ligament injury. Pulis said: "He got through the 90 minutes but he has been out for a long time with a cruciate knee ligament injury and he's a long way off it at the moment. He's going to come down and train with us for the next couple of days and we will assess the situation." Paul Connolly was substituted early in the second half with a thigh injury. Pulis said: "We will not know how bad it is until he sees Maxie."
Argyle's under 18's beat Hereford 10-2 last weekend. The goals were scored by Reuben Reid (3), Chris Zebroski (2), Chris Reski (2), Clay Bond, Paul Kendall and Tony McKeever. Stuart Gibson was happy with his side's display, but it was Bristol-born Reid's display which pleased him the most. "Reuben is currently on trial with the club and he looks a very good player," said Gibson. "His three goals were well taken and his all-round display was very satisfying. I keep asking questions of him, but so far, he has answered them all. He will be staying at the club for a little longer so we can take a more detailed look at him, and I hope he is able to carry his standard of performances on." Argyle shared their goals around in the match and that was something that pleased Gibson no end. "To see the goals scored by a number of players is very gratifying," said Gibson. "We produced a really good performance in the type of game which can prove to become difficult, if you don't have the right mental approach. We did make a mistake in gifting Hereford their first goal but, overall, it was a very good performance. It is something of a worry that we have been unable to keep clean sheets in recent matches. We have got to set ourselves high standards and make sure we keep them. But we are winning matches, we are unbeaten in six matches and the players, in particular Daniel Smith (first-year apprentice), have responded very well to criticism levelled at them." Chris Zebroski took his tally to 11 goals in five games with his double strike and Gibson believes he is not far off from a first-team call-up. "Chris is full of confidence at the moment and more importantly, as a striker, he is banging in the goals," said Gibson. "He is knocking on the door of the first team and if he continues to score goals, then he will give himself a very good chance of making it into the first team squad. That is what the under-18s are all about - player production for the reserves and the first team." Updated youth results and table can be found here
Mark O'Connor has called on the Argyle players to take a positive approach to their forthcoming games. He said: "You have got to get in that positive mode where you are looking up and not looking down. I think they have probably been looking down but we have got Sheffield Wednesday next and then QPR and you have got to think you can get something out of those games. If you do, then you start looking up. If we can start scoring some goals and keep it tight at the back there is no reason why we can't progress up the league." O'Connor admitted he was excited about making the move to Argyle after five years with Portsmouth. He said: "I didn't have a choice to make really. It's a great opportunity at a great club with great supporters. I enjoyed what I had been doing but this is something I couldn't turn down. I think we have got some good players here so it's up to us to get the best out of them." O'Connor and former David Kemp will share the coaching duties as they work alongside Pulis. "Tony does a lot of coaching himself but I think the advantage is I know how he works and so does Dave," said O'Connor. "So if there are instances where he's scouting, or Dave is or I am, the actual flow of what we are doing will carry on. We are very similar in what we feel will make a team successful. I think Dave has worked with him for long enough at Portsmouth and Stoke to know that as well, so we are all singing off the same hymn sheet. The sad thing in football is that somebody gets a job because a team is struggling. It's up to us to take advantage of this situation. It doesn't mean the players are terrible but, obviously from a confidence point of view, that has not been brilliant." O'Connor knows Argyle face a difficult task as they try to move away from the bottom of the table. He said: "The club has done really well to get in the Championship over the last two or three years. It has had a little blip and, obviously, that's why there has been a change. We know how big the club can be. That's the challenge - to get it to reach its full potential." Pulis is expected to confirm the appointment of Lindsay Parsons as his assistant manager in the near future. Parsons has been the No 2 to Pulis throughout his managerial career
Tony Capaldi will return to Home Park from international duty earlier than expected as he is suspended for Northern Ireland's last World Cup qualifier, away to Austria on Wednesday. Capaldi was booked against Wales on Saturday. Tony Pulis said: "It's a result for us that Tony is not playing the two games in four days for Northern Ireland. Hopefully, he will be back early because I can't see any reason why he should be travelling to Austria with them." Akos Buzsaky made his first start for Hungary on Saturday and Pulis said: "I'm very pleased for Akos. It is a great honour for anybody to make their full international debut for their country and I'm sure he will be delighted with it."
Tony Pulis and his coaching staff of David Kemp and Mark O'Connor attended seven games over the weekend. Kemp travelled the furthest and saw four of them, while O'Connor went to two matches. Pulis took the first team squad for training on Saturday morning and then saw Yeovil Town beat Swansea City. Pulis has not given up hope of making at least one loan signing before the game against Sheffield Wednesday and spent much of yesterday on the telephone to a variety of people. He added: "We are juggling a million balls at the moment."
Tony Capaldi won his fourteenth cap for Northern Ireland in their 3-2 loss to Wales today. Akos Buzsaky won his second cap for Hungary in their 2-0 defeat in Bulgaria
Tony Pulis is hoping to add to his squad before the visit of Sheffield Wednesday to Home Park next Saturday. He is thought to be on the lookout for a striker as well as a central defender. Pulis said: "I'm out there looking. Over the years I have developed a good range of contacts in the country. I have been in management, one way or another, for 15 years now and you get to know and trust certain people. This week I have been as far up as Rotherham, and I have also been to the West Midlands and London. I have been all over the shop this week, trying to put things in place that I think will help us. Hopefully, we will get some news soon on whether we can bring one or two players in. It's difficult at the moment but I could get a phone call at any time and we are certainly looking around." Pulis, David Kemp and Mark O'Connor are all on their travels this weekend. Pulis said: "Kempy is watching four games and Mark O'Connor is going to be watching three. I will be watching a game on Saturday afternoon, but it will not be England's. I don't think we can afford any of those players!" The Argyle squad have been hard at work on the training ground this week. They had double sessions on Thursday and yesterday and were also in early this morning. Pulis said: "They will get all day Sunday off and Monday morning and we will start again on Monday afternoon. It's a good chance to work on their fitness, as well as shape and pattern of play - basically, the things we want from them during a game."
Taribo West's three-month spell at Home Park came to an end after a meeting with Michael Dunford yesterday. West was one of Argyle's best paid players but it is thought that the club had a get-out clause in his contract so his early departure will not be too costly. Reports suggest that West had signed a heavily incentivised deal with Argyle which was designed to protect the club's financial interests. West also did not pick up a signing-on fee, as has been widely rumoured and his contract included a stipulation where he had to play 20 games before the end of December to extend his deal for the rest of the season. West also accepted a 'very realistic pay-off', according to the same reports. Paul Stapleton said: "I think it's always a shame when someone spends such a short time at a football club. I think Taribo was hampered by his passport and visa problems, which meant he was behind everybody else in terms of fitness, and match fitness in particular. Personally, I thought he had played well in the pre-season friendlies. Taribo was a very likeable character and those who have had the chance to speak to him will appreciate that. We wish him all the best for the future."
Gael Suares will be staying with Argyle for another week. French trialist Suares has trained with Argyle all week and Tony Pulis revealed he would be staying for another seven days. Pulis said: "He's going to stay another week so we can have a good look at him and we will make a decision then. Obviously, he's a young player who is unattached at the moment and we will see how he copes while he's with us. The reserves have got Cardiff away next week so that's another game we can have a look at him in." Suares was recommended to Pulis by an overseas agent who he has dealt with in the past. Pulis said: "It was a phone call from somebody who has brought some good players into the country. He told us about the kid not having a club anywhere and asked would we have a look at him. They paid for his flight over and everything so we have done that." Pulis believes it is important he adds more depth to the squad he has inherited. "We have got to be looking to get to that next level all the time," he said. "I don't think we have got enough at the moment." The victory over Stoke last weekend raised spirits among the players after a dismal start to the season but Pulis has warned there is still a lot of hard work ahead. "It was a great result for us against Stoke and it has given everybody a lift," he said. "Everybody has been positive about it but I'm not getting carried away. I know the size of the task ahead. There is a lot of room for improvement and we have got to achieve that by hook or by crook."
Argyle this afternoon issued the following statement: Plymouth Argyle have terminated the contract of central defender Taribo West
Tony Pulis spent Monday night watching Crystal Palace beat QPR 3-1 then took in two games on Tuesday and was 'up north' on Wednesday .Yesterday he said: "I was bombing around all day Wednesday speaking to people and trying to get things done. I spent a day up north trying to get into people I know up there to find out what is about and what's not about. There's going to have to be a lot of work put in for the next couple of months for us to get one or two players in. We are finding it a little bit difficult to hit the nail. We know where players are, but bringing them in is proving a little bit more difficult than I thought."
Argyle fans will have the chance to quiz Tony Pulis over his plans and aspirations for the club at a question and answer session later this month. An Evening With Tony Pulis is scheduled to be staged at Plymouth's Moat House Hotel on October 24th, with admission free. Pulis admitted he is keen to meet the fans. "I'm a great believer in the manager meeting the fans and have done this sort of thing at my other clubs," he said. "I held one in my first week at Stoke City and am looking forward to meeting the Argyle fans later this month. It is important, I feel, that the fans are made to feel what they are - an important and much appreciated part of the club." The audience is limited to 400 and tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis, but with Argyle members having first call
Taribo West's future as an Argyle player appears increasingly uncertain with the defender currently discussing his prospects with the club. Tony Pulis said that West was still in the city and that the player was just looking to play first-team football and was talking to Paul Stapleton and Michael Dunford about the matter. "Taribo hasn't quit the club," said Pulis. "The situation is that Taribo wants to play, but I'm very happy with the form of my two central defenders at the moment. I've had no problems with him - he's been great for me. But I can understand that Taribo just wants to get his future sorted out. He's talking with Paul Stapleton and Mike Dunford." Pulis was on a scouting mission and missed the game with Anderlecht on Tuesday night. He would not be drawn on whether he was about to add to his squad by signing trialist Gael Suares. Pulis said: "He was recommended to me by a friend, whose judgement I trust. But he is just one of a number of people I'm looking at right now. I'm sorry I missed Wottsie's match. I hear it was a decent game and the boys gave it a good go and that it was played in the right spirit. But I was at a match on Monday night at Loftus Road watching Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace. Then I was at another on Tuesday night and will be on the road for the next few days, watching more matches. But even though I won't be around at Home Park, by not having a match on Saturday it means that the players can get to know the coaches and vice versa. It's important for the club, if we want to push on, that the coaches get to see the players and understand what is expected and put it in place. That's the important thing."
Paul Wotton has singled out Ian Bowyer and Paul Sturrock as the two people within football who have had the most influence on his career. Wotton said: "Ian Bowyer was my youth team coach and, at the time, I thought he was very hard on me. But, looking back now, he wasn't really. He was doing things for my own good. Maybe he knew I could do a bit more and he could get more out of me. There are things I learned from him as a 16 and 17-year-old - the absolute basics - that I still do in games now. He was very good. He wasn't quick with the praise but he knew how to get the best out of me in his own way. I have only ever spoken to him a couple of times since, when Nottingham Forest have been down, but I owe Ian a lot." Wotton also has good reason to be thankful to Sturrock, now the manager of Sheffield Wednesday. He said: "I was at a crossroads in my career. I was getting to a certain age and I was in and out of the team. I wasn't living a great lifestyle and I wasn't really looking after myself properly. When Paul Sturrock came in it was basically a case of 'liven up or you're gone.' In the three-and-a- half years he was here I was captain and I was a regular in the side. He was similar to Ian Bowyer. He wasn't quick with praise but I think he knew that was the best way to get more out of me. If a player needed praise he would give it, but I don't think he saw me as that type. I think he thought if I was always worrying about my place or I was on edge then I would perform to a certain level which he was happy with." Wotton has collected two championship winners' medals with Argyle and was named in the PFA Third Division team of the season in 2001/02 and has been Argyle's player-of-the-year twice. Wotton added: "I owe all that to him really. Obviously, I had something to do with it but he was great for me."
There was mystery about the whereabouts of Taribo West last night after he failed to show up for Paul Wotton's testimonial game. There were rumours that Argyle had paid up the contract of the defender, but these were denied by Paul Stapleton. However, neither he nor David Kemp, who stood in for Tony Pulis because he was on a scouting mission, could explain why West was not present. West was reportedly at training with the rest of the squad yesterday. Kemp said: "I don't know what Taribo's situation is. To be fair, I was just taking the team tonight." Meanwhile, French left-back Gael Suares, formerly of FC Caen, played as a trialist for Argyle and Kemp admitted he had been impressed with the performance of the 24-year-old. He said: "An agent we trust said he was good and with it being a testimonial game it was an opportunity to have a look at him. I thought he did quite well, although you aren't going to make snap decisions. It's not the same as Championship football but he acquitted himself very well." Pulis was away at another match last night as he continued his search for possible loan signings to strengthen the squad. Kemp said: "That's the thing about Plymouth. You have to take the opportunity to go and see games when you can. He has taken that opportunity tonight. These things happen sometimes but that's why you have staff around to deal with these things." Although the testimonial game was primarily to honour Wotton, Kemp thought it was a useful work-out for the squad. He said: "Anderlecht were obviously very good quality and they zipped the ball around. It gave us an opportunity to see some of the players we haven't seen yet. I quite enjoyed it."
Paul Wotton thanked the fans who made the effort to attend his testimonial match last night. The attendance of 4,141 was smaller than the game's organisers, Wotton's testimonial committee, had hoped for, but the skipper was still glad to demonstrate his gratitude to the supporters who did back his big night. "I want to thank everyone who turned out," he said. "It means a great deal to me. It's good to know that the fans who were here appreciate what I've done for the club for the past ten years. I just want to say thank you to everyone for taking the time and the expense to be here. It's a fantastic gesture and I really appreciate it." The absentees missed a good game, with the Belgians delivering some delicious attacking football. "They were very good," Wotton said. "We knew they'd play like that. At times we could hardly get close to the ball, and when we did get it they pressed us even harder. They're a top-class club, and I thought we did well against them." At least Kemp and the fans did have the pleasure of watching Tommy Tynan, who played for the last 20 minutes of the game. "I couldn't get him off," Kemp joked. "He was supposed to play for a few minutes, but he obviously got the taste for it." Wotton added: "It was brilliant to see Tommy out there. I think he got the biggest cheer of the night when he came on." Unfortunately Mick Heathcote could not take part as planned because of a back injury which flared up shortly before kick-off. Wotton said: "Mickey had a really bad back and tried everything he could to play. Just him being here was a big thing for me tonight."
Argyle drew 2-2 with Anderlecht in Paul Wottons testimonial game last night. The goals were scored by Mathias Kouo-Doumbe and Bjarni Gudjonsson. Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Gudjonsson, Wotton, Norris, Djordjic, Evans, Taylor. Subs - McCormick, Connolly, Laird, Mendes, Suares, Derbyshire, Summerfield, Lasley, Martin, Chadwick, Tynan (not used - Heathcote, Bond, Zebroski). Attendance 4,141
Tony Pulis has started his search for players he can bring to Home Park on loan. He said: "I have got loads of irons in the fire but whether any of them come off we will have to wait and see. I'm watching some games and speaking to people about players. We have got this week to try to put a lot of things in place because we are starting behind the ball game. We are trying to see if we can call in a few favours. I think it would be a boost to get some players in before the next run of matches as it would give us more competition for places. I met someone yesterday afternoon to talk about players and if I get a phone call or two I might be up in the North or the Midlands today." Meanwhile, Pulis has explained why Matt Derbyshire has not featured in the Argyle squad for the last two games. He said: "I wanted to give the players who are contracted to us an opportunity to show me what they could do. That's all. I have spoken to Matt and had a good chat with him and let him know what the score is."
Paul Wotton will tonight celebrate his 10-year career at Home Park when Argyle play Anderlecht in his testimonial game. Wotton said: "I wouldn't have changed a minute of the last 10 years. It has been absolutely fantastic. I have had some really low periods in my career, especially early on. Fans have doubted me, managers have doubted me and I have even doubted myself so I'm proud of what I have achieved, but I'm certainly not resting on my laurels. First and foremost, I have got a new gaffer to impress now so it starts all over again. You have got to prove yourself again and I will do everything I can to stay at this club. I would love to finish my career here, as simple as that, but I'm not naive. Football doesn't work out the way you want it sometimes." Wotton is proud to have played so many matches for Argyle, especially at such a relatively young age. He said: "It would be nice to get 400, 450. Who knows? Touch wood, I have been very fortunate with injuries and never had anything long-term. I think that's part of it. I have pretty much been a regular over the past five or six seasons. Hopefully, there are a lot more to come. I'm still only 28 and I try to keep myself fit and eat the right stuff. What have I got left? Seven years maximum, maybe another four or five. Who can say in football. I have got a three years left on my contract and I'm so happy at the club. Everyone knows how proud I am to captain Plymouth Argyle. I'm born and bred in the city, as is my wife, my son and my daughter-to-be as well. We love it here. I have got no intention of thinking about playing for anyone else." Wotton could have a chance of breaking Kevin Hodges' club record of 604 first team appearances should he stay at Argyle for the long-term, but he is not thinking that far forward. He said: "It's the oldest cliche in the book but you literally just take it game by game, week by week. Footballers just look at the short-term, rather than thinking about what they are going to be doing five or six years down the line. Kevin Hodges was a great servant to Plymouth Argyle and his record will take some beating, that's for sure."
Argyle's reserve game against Cardiff City on Wednesday has been postponed. No new date has been set for the match. The away game against Cardiff will now be played on October 11th and the game against Cheltenham, due to be played on December 6th, will now take place on December 7th
David Kemp has kept track of Paul Wotton's career since his spell as Argyle manager came to an end in 1992. Yesterday he said: "Paul's testimonial game is fully deserved. He is very popular here, and rightly so. He's been a good skipper and a good player, and I hope the crowd turn out in force for him. Paul was one of those players I was planning to bring through if I had stayed any longer, along with Marc Edworthy, Mickey Evans and Andy Morrison. He was part of a good nucleus of youngsters, and it's ironic that here I am all these years later coming back to the club just in time for his testimonial. Paul loves the club, he loves the city and it would be great if the fans showed their appreciation of that." For Kemp and Pulis, tonight's game has other benefits apart from the desire to pay tribute to Wotton. "We've been busy with three very important Championship games in eight days," Kemp said. "Now we've got this game and we've got a reserve game, which will give us two chances to look at the players who haven't featured much. After that we'll be a bit wiser about the squad we've inherited."
Reports suggest that Argyle could be looking at a loan exchange deal which would take Nick Chadwick to Burnley on a temporary transfer, and bring Gifton Noel-Williams to Home Park. Noel-Williams played for Tony Pulis at Stoke City for two seasons
Chris Zebroski hit a hat-trick in a 5-1 Football League Youth Alliance League Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers last weekend, to take his scoring tally in his last four youth-team games to nine goals
Tony Pulis will use Paul Wotton's testimonial game against Anderlecht tonight to take a look at all of his squad. He said: "There will be a lot of players that I haven't seen play for 90 minutes who will be given the opportunity - the younger ones as well as the senior ones. I will try to use them as much as I can and we can have a look at the squad then. I'm very pleased for Paul that a club of Anderlecht's status is coming over to play."
Rufus Brevett praised the resilience of his team-mates as they came from behind to beat Stoke City 2-1 on Saturday. "Everyone is going to be uplifted now and it's a great result for the club," he said. "I think it shows we have got a bit of character here, to come back from a goal down. We have got a bit of a break now so it was important to go into that with a result. I think we realised that at half-time and we went out and showed what we could do. The gaffer told us at half-time that we looked nervy, which we did, and we had to take more responsibility, which I think we did in the second half." Pulis has now been Argyle manager for three matches and the players already know what he expects from them. Brevett said: "He wants hard work and I think that's what he's going to get. We finished the game quite strongly, which is a good thing. We didn't fade, so it shows we are a fit bunch of lads. We are very happy with the result." Brevett admitted it was important Argyle continued to make the most of home advantage. He said: "I think that's what we have got to do. Teams don't like coming down here - I know that from my time at West Ham - and we have got to make sure it stays that way by getting at them from the off."
Eighteen months of behind-the-scenes work reaches a conclusion tomorrow when Argyle play Anderlecht in Paul Wotton's testimonial game. Wotton is determined to enjoy his special evening, and hopes the Argyle supporters will do as well. He said: "I haven't had chance to think about it in the last couple of weeks. The new gaffer has come in and we have had a lot of games in a short space of time. I hope the evening doesn't go too quickly because it has taken a long time to get the game on. A lot of work has gone into it from a lot of people, which I'm very grateful for. I'm looking forward to the game and, hopefully, the fans will come along and celebrate my 10 years at the club with me." Wotton is thrilled to have Anderlecht coming over to provide the opposition for his testimonial game. He said: "I would say it took us a good 18 months to get positive feedback from anyone. As soon as I heard Anderlecht were interested we jumped at it. They are a massive name in Europe and they have got some outstanding football players as well. I'm sure the fans will appreciate watching them. It has been a long old 18 months. People kept coming up to me and asking 'when is your game?' and I felt awful because I couldn't answer them. Now, hopefully, they can come and share the occasion with me tonight."
Mick Heathcote is hoping the fans will turn out in force for Paul Wotton's testimonial game against Anderlecht at Home Park on Tuesday. Now working as a prison officer, Heathcote is excited about the prospect of returning to Home Park for the first time in more than four years. "I don't think there will have been many people who have had more pride in pulling on the Argyle shirt than Paul," said Heathcote. "It's nice to see the good lads in football do sometimes get their just rewards. I must admit, I'm looking forward to the game, more so for Paul, because his contribution to the club has been superb. Paul has had to take the rough with the smooth at Argyle. He stuck it out through some tough times and I'm so pleased he has gone on to enjoy such success. A game against a side of Anderlecht's calibre will, hopefully, appeal to the Argyle supporters. I hope they turn out in force and get right behind Paul. Anderlecht are a club with a renowned reputation and only the other night they were up against Chelsea in the Champions' League." Heathcote retired from football after playing for Hucknall Town in the FA Trophy final against Grays Athletic at Villa Park in May. The game ended in a 1-1 draw after extra-time and Hoof scored in the penalty shoot-out but Grays came out on top 6-5 to lift the trophy. He said: "I have had to buy myself some new boots because my old ones split and I didn't bother to replace them because I didn't think I would be playing again. When Paul got in touch with me and mentioned about playing in his testimonial game I was delighted. It makes me feel as though I must have had some input into the way his career has progressed. He's a cracking lad with a great family behind him and I'm sure it will be a very special night for him."
Tony Pulis was a happy man after Akos Buzsaky secured a 2-1 win over Stoke City. He said: "First win, against your old club and at home - nice weekend. In the first half, there were about half a dozen players who looked very, very unsure when they had the ball. They did better second half, when they had the ball. When Stoke got their goal, it released their shackles, and people started to play a little bit more. The one thing I did say to them that there was enough effort and commitment about the team, enough honesty. The two substitutions did help, and I think we deserved it in the end." Pulis thanked the Argyle fans who, after a disapproving first half, found voice to lift the team after Stoke's opener. "I thought the support in the second half was brilliant," said Pulis, "especially after they got their goal. They really got behind us, and we will need that because we have got some tough games at home. We have got to make this place a fortress, but we will need their support and, if I've come away with anything from my first home game, it was that those supporters really stuck behind us." Argyle's equaliser came when Tony Capaldi drove into the box and crossed, the ball striking Russell on the backside and going in. "Over the three games this week, Capaldi has probably been our best player," said Pulis. "I'm pleased that he's played well, and put some very good crosses in. He was working in front of Rufus as well and helping him out." Pulis admitted that his first home game against the side which sacked him in the summer had added an edge to the match, and that he was now looking forward to getting on the training-ground before Argyle's next game against Paul Sturrock's Sheffield Wednesday. "You try and treat it like a normal game," he said. "I'm just pleased it's over with, we got the three points, and we've got a fortnight now to work with the players. I'm hoping we can bring a few loan players in and I'm really looking forward to working with them as a group without any interference. Nick Chadwick looks as though he needs a little bit more work on his fitness, and a few of the others do as well. That's one area I will be talking to the players about. There's areas in the club we have got to improve and I need that in place as soon as possible. When you are working within a budget that is very, very tight, you have got to squeeze everything out of the players. We need every help and assistance."
Argyle beat Stoke City 2-1 at Home Park, the goals coming from a Russell own goal after 50 minutes and Akos Buzsaky (77). Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Brevett, Gudjonsson, Norris, Wotton, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs - Taylor, Buzsaky (not used - Djordjic, McCormick, Connolly). Attendance - 12,604
This afternoon Tony Pulis will be in charge of a home game for the first time. "We've got to look to win our home games," he said. "We'll be playing with two wide players and we hope we can stretch the game and cause them problems. We've worked on our shape today and we'll be looking to play with two strikers, as well as the two wide players, and we'll be trying to get as many crosses into the box as we can. I'm looking for the forwards to get goals, but I'm also looking for other members of the team to score." It would not be a surprise if Pulis decides to turn to the loan market to try to resolve goalscoring problems during the two-week international break. "I think we have to look at the whole squad," Pulis added. "We knew this past week was going to be a tough week for the players, with them having their third manager this season, but it's a been a week for them to stand up and show what they're made of. I think we've got to give these players the opportunity, and then after that we'll look at it." Scott Taylor and Matt Derbyshire are in contention for starting places, but a groin strain may prevent Bojan Djordjic from starting. "One or two of the lads are not 100 per cent fit to play 90 minutes, but we'll play one or two tomorrow with the aim of bringing them off and bringing other players on as the game goes on," Pulis said. "Bojan hurt his groin yesterday, so he might be a concern tomorrow. If he's struggling, we might have to pull him out, if not then we could get him on the bench. I was looking forward to playing Bojan for 90 minutes, but I don't want him to take his strain into the game."
Hasney Aljofree has been impressed by his first week spent working with new manager Tony Pulis. "The gaffer is different class," he said. "There's been a lot of information that he's been trying to get across early on, and fair play to him. Everyone wants to know what the new boss wants out of us. He's trying his best for us and we're trying our best for him as well. Everything is geared in the right direction for Argyle. The first impressions are that the gaffer is very clued in. He knows the League inside out, he knows how to get results and the boys are more than happy with him. We're delighted. We all know what we're doing on a Saturday afternoon." The experiences of last season have helped the players come to terms with life at the lower end of the table and they are confident that they can finish above the bottom three. "We're a year wiser in terms of being in this league," Aljofree said. "Sometimes you'll battle hard, play well but lose. We battled well at Sheffield. They're top of the League for a reason. We lost, but we learned. We're all more experienced now, and the manager has more experience than anyone, which can only be good for the club. We've got to take the game to Stok. We'll have to try and press the game high up the pitch. It will be a different kind of game. The boys are looking forward to the match. We're looking forward to getting back to Home Park. Teams don't really like coming to Home Park and we've got to show that we can push on and get a result. On Tuesday at Sheffield United, we lost because we let in two stupid goals, one from a cross which we should have defended better and the other from a free-kick, but apart from that we have defended solidly. The gaffer has made it plain that everyone has to work hard for each other. We're a lot tighter at the back now, compared to our last two home games. We're all working together and we're more solid as a team. Hopefully we can keep that going and produce something extra against Stoke, and win the game."
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