A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle are not expected to make any more signings before the transfer window closes tonight. However, one or two of the younger players could leave on loan, according to John Sheridan. After Jason Banton joined the club on loan Sheridan was asked whether he would be making any more signings. He said: "No, not at this moment in time. Jason is the sixth player I have brought in. I think it was important that I brought people in to try to give us a lift." Sheridan added there had been no inquiries about Onismor Bhasera.
Argyle have signed Crystal Palace winger Jason Banton on loan until March 2nd
Robbie Williams has left Home Park, having had his contract terminated by mutual consent so that he can seek first-team football elsewhere.
Rhys Griffiths has left Argyle after having his contract cancelled by mutual consent.
An Argyle XI drew 0-0 in the friendly at Saltash United last night. Argyle: Chenoweth, Watson, Wotton, Richards, Williams, Vassell, Gurrieri, Sims, Lowry, Lecointe, Harvey. Subs - Summers, Purrington, Asumadu-Sakyi, Allen, Hutchinson, Wheatley (not used – Walton).
Paul Wotton is part of a strong group of professionals in the Argyle squad for the friendly with Saltash United at Kimberley Stadium tonight. Wotton is joined by Jamie Lowry, Andres Gurrieri and Robbie Williams, all of whom were unused substitutes in the draw with Accrington Stanley on Saturday. The other professionals are Ollie Chenoweth, Jamie Richards, Isaac Vassell and Matt Lecointe. The full squad is: Ollie Chenoweth, Christian Walton, Colin Watson, Paul Wotton, Jamie Richards, Robbie Williams, Ben Purrington, Isaac Vassell, Jamie Lowry, Jared Sims, River Allen, Kieran Asumadu-Sakyi, Tyler Harvey, Andres Gurrieri, Matt Lecointe, Josh Hutchinson, Sol Wheatley, Nathan Summers.
Reuben Reid has admitted he should have scored on his return to action for Argyle. He said: "I should have won the game for the lads. No disrespect to Accrington but they came with a plan to kill the game off whenever they could. They took their time whenever the ball went out of play. I had a great chance to win the game but I think I was a bit too eager to score and hit the ball way too hard. Usually, I'm more calm and composed in those situations." Reid is thrilled to be back at Home Park, where he started his professional career. He signed a two-year contract with Yeovil last summer but has struggled to get regular first team football, so was open to the idea of a loan move. When John Sheridan made his move, Reid did not need any persuading. He said: "I got a call from Gary Johnson on Thursday night saying that John Sheridan was interested in taking me on loan for a month and I jumped at the chance. I travelled down that night, got in the hotel, had one training session with the lads on Friday and played on Saturday. It was all very quick. It's a good feeling to be back. It's a club and a city I know and that can only help my football. Hopefully, I can do well. Plymouth has always been one of the first results I look out for because it's where I got my chance to play professional football. It's unfortunate what has happened at the club, financially, but hopefully there are better times ahead. There are still a lot of games to go, and a lot of points to play for, this season. Hopefully, we will be all right." Reid is one of five signings made by Sheridan and among the others is Reading striker Gozie Ugwu, who had a loan spell at Yeovil earlier this month and played alongside Reid, who added: "Gozie is a big talent. He's strong and quick and very calm in front of goal. I can see him being a major asset for Argyle."
John Sheridan does not expect to make any more additions to his squad during the transfer window. Sheridan has completed five signings since his appointment, and four of them played in the draw against Accrington Stanley on Saturday. There were debuts for Anthony Charles and Reuben Reid, while Guy Branston and Ronan Murray made their second appearances. However, Gozie Ugwu was ruled out by an ankle injury which he suffered in training on Friday. Sheridan said: "If I keep everyone fit, I have just got to get by with what I have got. We had 24 at training this week so there are a lot of people who aren't playing football. We have got to look at that. Hopefully, Gozie will be fit for next week." Ugwu was denied the chance to make his debut after failing a fitness test before the game. Sheridan added: "He got a knock on his ankle in the last two minutes of training on Friday. He had a fitness test and the lad was desperate to play but he was just in a bit too much pain."
John Sheridan was 'very frustrated' after Argyle's draw against Accrington Stanley. He said: "We wanted to win the game. I was very frustrated with the way we played, the first half especially. There was no urgency and I expect there to be with the position we are in and the way we have been training. We have been bright in training but we just didn't get going at all in the first half. They dictated the game without causing us many problems. They had one cleared off the line but we didn't really create anything so I was very disappointed with the way we played in the first half." Sheridan thought there was an improvement from Argyle in the second half, and particularly after Luke Young was sent on as a 65th minute substitute. Young replaced Maxime Blanchard in the centre of midfield and impressed the manager. Sheridan said: "I think when I brought Youngy on, he changed the game. He was the best player on the pitch. He just looked confident in himself. He wanted to move the ball quickly and create things." One of Argyle's best chances came moments after Young had entered the game, when Reuben Reid fired wide from close range. Sheridan said: "We had one or two opportunities in the second half. Reuben's chance was probably the best in the game. If he had scored there, I think we would have gone on and won. It's not the result we really wanted but it's a clean sheet and a point. I have got to just accept that now. It was a stop-start game with all the injuries." Argyle would have moved above Accrington on goal difference had they beaten them, instead, they remain three points behind them, having played the same number of matches. Sheridan said: "They will be pleased with the point because it keeps the distance between us. If we would have got the result we wanted, we would have gone above them. It feels like a defeat. It's going to be hard to try to get confidence into the players. We are trying our best. We want them to believe they can win games but because of where we are everyone is on edge. The fans got right behind us again. It's a shame we didn't get the winner for them. We have got to get some confidence into the players as quickly as possible. We know we have got to win the game against Dagenham now." Argyle were forced to change goalkeepers in the 43rd minute because of a hamstring injury to Rene Gilmartin. He was replaced by Jake Cole, who made an excellent save from James Beattie deep into stoppage time. Sheridan said: "Gilmartin had a slight hamstring injury a week ago, so I think it's just a reaction. I thought Jake did well when he came on. It was a great save at the end. I know we can play a lot better but I can talk all day, it's about getting the belief in the players more than anything. I was pleased with the performance in the second half, but we didn't get that little bit of luck."
Jake Cole has found sitting on the sidelines behind Rene Gilmartin frustrating. “I’ve worked my nuts off, to be fair,” he said, “doing extra goalkeeping work, getting in the gym and just working really hard, waiting for my opportunity again. It’s difficult, but you have to be ready at all times. That’s professionalism. It’s no use sitting on the bench thinking that you are not coming on, you have got to be ready and raring to go.” After Gilmartin limped off with a hamstring problem yesterday, Cole had a relatively quiet time until the last minute of stoppage time, when he went full-stretch to keep out a free-kick from James Beattie. “Beattie has got quality,” said Cole. “I’m confident enough to deal with whatever comes at me, so I was happy to pull off a save late on. I’m just buzzing to make the save and keep a clean sheet. Every point’s important. Just as you can nick a game at the end, you can concede at the end.” Cole is determined to win the friendly competition between himself, Gilmartin and fellow Ollie Chenoweth and reclaim the first-team spot. “I’ve been the regular the last year and half, and I’m happy to be playing,” he said. “That’s what I train all week for. I’m happy to get in there and take my chance.” Argyle face Dagenham& Redbridge at Home Park next Saturday, and a victory would give John Sheridan two wins and a draw from his first three games. Cole said: “We’re focused on the next game. Every game’s the same. It doesn’t matter who we play, whether they are up the top or nearer to the bottom, they are hard games, they’re battles and we’re looking forward to next week. If you looked at the three home games and said we’d get seven points, we’d all be happy with that.”
Argyle drew 0-0 with Accrington Stanley at Home Park. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Nelson, Branston, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Hourihane, Blanchard, Charles, Reid, Murray. Subs – Cole, Harvey, Young (not used – Lowry, Williams, Wotton, Gurrieri). Attendance – 6,509.
John Sheridan believes he can bring the best out of Reuben Reid, who returned to the club for a second spell yesterday. Sheridan said: "He has been at the club before, he knows the area and he doesn't live too far away, which is good for us. But, first and foremost, he wanted to come as soon as we showed a bit of interest in him. I'm very pleased. He's the type of player I wanted. He has got a little bit of experience and has done well at this level and the league above. I think he will be a good asset to what we have already got. He has scored goals wherever he has been. He has probably had too many clubs for someone his age, but I know what he can do and, if I can get that out of him, I think we will have a very good player. That's what I'm looking towards doing. He has got the ability to score goals at this level and I have told him that, if he works hard, he will get his rewards. He's biting at the bit to get a few games and, hopefully, he will get us one or two goals and one or two wins."
Argyle have arranged two friendlies for their young professionals and squad players over the next couple of weeks. They will play Saltash United at Kimberley Stadium on January 30th at 7.30pm, and then take on Torquay United reserves at Home Park on February 5th at 2pm.
It has not taken Reuben Reid long to re-familiarise himself with his old stamping ground. “Not a lot has changed,” he said. “It’s good to be in familiar surroundings. It’s a bit strange, coming back to somewhere where you’ve been before, but it’s also a good thing because I’m familiar with the place. My memories of Plymouth have always been positive so, if I can come in and help the team win games, that will be a bonus for myself and the club.” The one regret for Reid was that he failed to translate his prolific youth and reserve-team scoring form into goals for the first team during his early career. “That’s a record I’d like to change,” he said. “Hopefully, in this little spell, I can get on the scoresheet. I made my debut for Walsall a couple of seasons back and managed to get a goal against Argyle. It’s a funny game, football. I guess I owe Argyle one now. My game is based around attacking, getting the ball and driving forward, going at players and basically just trying to be a threat to the opposition. My pace is an asset and, hopefully, if I can get the ball in the right areas, I’m an alright finisher as, well. I hope I can bring that to the team, if I play.” Reid played alongside Gozie Ugwu at Yeovil this season, knows Warren Feeney from his time at Oldham, and shared a dressing-room with Romain Larrieu, Nick Chadwick and Paul Wotton during his first spell at Argyle. “I know quite a few of the lads here through the game,” he said. “Familiar faces and familiar surroundings can only bode well for a successful little period.”
Curtis Nelson has played 85 times for Argyle, despite still being only 19 years old, and his form this season has not gone unnoticed by John Sheridan. “He’s got good parts to his game,” he said. “He’s aggressive, probably too aggressive. Not in a nasty way, but I think that he wants to win the ball too much. I expect that from a young player, he’s enthusiastic and he wants to show me and try and impress me. I can see good things in him and at the same time I can see things that he really needs to improve on. All managers are different and they say different things to different players so, hopefully, whatever I’m telling him, he’ll take on board and make him a better player.” Whilst Nelson has experience of both League 1 and 2, Sheridan hopes that he can hit greater heights. He said: “I always try and tell any players, especially when they’re 19-20, that I don’t tell them things so that they can play in this league for the whole of their careers. I’m going to try and tell them things that will make them better players and play at a higher level, whether it’s for Plymouth or for Curtis as a person. I think he’s the type of lad who will listen and the quicker it settles in his head, it will benefit his game.
John Sheridan knows that honesty is nearly always the best policy as a manager. Joe Lennox left the club this week after his contract was not renewed and whilst Sheridan never relishes telling a player that he is not needed, sometime it is the best option. He said: “I’ve got players who can play in Joe’s position and I’m one of those managers who would rather be honest with people when they’re not really going to figure. It’s for their benefit, more than mine, that I’m honest with them and give them the opportunity to go and play football somewhere else. I’ve always said before that it’s a case of proving a manager wrong and I’m hoping that’s what he does. But I’m just being honest, I’ve got a lot of bodies in the areas where Joe probably would have filled.”
Reuben Reid has returned to Home Park, joining on a one-month loan deal from Yeovil Town.
Rhys Griffiths has been told he can leave Argyle, as he does not fit into the plans of John Sheridan. The manager said: "I have spoken to Rhys. He has come from non-league and had an opportunity here under the previous manager. I look for different strikers. I was just honest with Rhys and explained to him I wouldn't stand in his way if he could find football elsewhere. I'm going to go the way that I think, hopefully, will get us out of the position we are in. That's just being honest more than anything else. Hopefully, it gives him an opportunity and enough time to look for football elsewhere. It's not nice telling someone they aren't really needed. That's something I don't like doing, but it's just me being honest and it's part of my job. Hopefully, he will get somewhere where it will benefit him and he's getting more football than he would here." Griffiths is not set to be part of the squad against Accrington, and Sheridan added: "It's the right choice for me to look at people who are going to be here until the end of the season so that's what I will do." Sheridan has made four signings since he became Argyle manager and admitted: "I would still like to bring one more player in. I'm talking to one or two clubs and, hopefully, something positive will come from that. Whether it will be before the weekend, I don't know."
Isaac Vassell has signed an extended contract until the end of the season.
Argyle's game at Southend United has been rearranged for Tuesday, March 19th, at 7.45pm.
Argyle can improve their chances of escaping relegation, and add to the worries of Accrington, by beating them at Home Park tomorrow. John Sheridan said: "If we can win the game, I think we go above Accrington. That's what we have got to look at. We are in a position where we need to win football matches. We are the home team and hopefully on the day we are going to take the game to them. Accrington are one of those sides that on their day can beat anyone. Only a couple of weeks ago they beat Chesterfield, who are going really well. They are in a position where they don't want to be and they will look at our position and they will feel they can come and get something. We have got to make sure that doesn't happen." Argyle will have a fully fit squad for the visit of Accrington, although Nick Chadwick is still suspended. Sheridan said: "They have trained really well again so we will go into the game and be positive and hopefully, more than anything, get the three points we are after." Sheridan admitted the weather this week had hampered preparations for the game. The squad used the 3G artificial pitch in Saltash before returning to Harper's Park yesterday. Sheridan said: "It's difficult but we have just got to get on with what we have. Everyone has trained the best they can and we are all working towards this game." The visit of Accrington will be followed by another home game next Saturday, against Dagenham & Redbridge. Sheridan added: "I think if we show what we can do we can win both, but they are against two teams who are in and around us and they will be difficult games."
Paris Cowan-Hall is setting high standards for himself, and Argyle, for the rest of the season. He said: "We know if we are on our game and play how the manager wants us to play we should get the points that we want. It's up to us at the end of the day. I was pleased to get a goal against Morecambe, but I want to perform and score and get the man-of-the-match in every game. It's good to score goals and it's even better to win matches. I'm hoping we can keep doing that. We need to." Cowan-Hall revealed John Sheridan had made his presence felt on the training ground since he was appointed as manager earlier this month. "He knows what he wants," he said. "He knows where he wants us to be and how he wants us to play. He's not going to take any nonsense but he's fair. The first impressions have been good." Cowan-Hall was given the chance to return to the Football League by Carl Fletcher, who signed him on a two-year contract last summer. He said: "I felt like I learned quite a lot under Fletch. For me, he was a good manager so I was sad to see him go. That's how football is. Things happen in the game, not only just to managers but to players as well. It's a cut-throat business I'm afraid. It doesn't matter how you play, if you are not getting the results the chairman and the fans expect then there is going to be changes made somewhere, whether it's management or players." Argyle have 18 games to play this season, starting against Accrington Stanley tomorrow, to get themselves out of relegation trouble. Cowan-Hall said: "We need wins. We have had a lot of draws this season and I would say a lot of them should have been wins, but we have thrown them away or not done as well as we could have. We definitely all need to work together, the fans included, to try to get as many points as we can out of the next 18 games." Argyle played at Accrington on December 22nd, and drew 1-1 after Warren Feeney had a late penalty saved. The spot kick was awarded after Cowan-Hall was fouled. He said: "I don't think we played as well as we could have. It was a tight game and I was glad when I came on I did well. I was in the side for the next game anyway. I was surprised when I saw we had Accrington again so soon. I don't even know why it's like that, but it is what it is. It's another game for us." Cowan-Hall admitted he was raring to return to action after a two-week break caused by last weekend’s postponement. He added: "I mentioned to Jamie Lowry in training yesterday that it felt like a while since we had played. We have been training to keep sharp so when it comes to tomorrow we haven't got any excuses. The weather wasn't ideal but we have had to get on with it and do the best we can. It has been the same for nearly the whole country."
Argyle must adopt a 'whatever it takes' approach to escape the threat of relegation, Gary Owers has admitted. He said : "We know we have got to win games. We are not in a very good position. It's all about trying to improve our situation. Whatever it takes. That's what we are all here for. Speaking for myself, I don't want to focus on what has gone on before. It's a clean sheet for everyone. We have got a short period of time, three months. In the blink of an eye, the season will be gone. So we have got to approach every game in the right manner and try our best to get something out of each one. We have trained really hard, to be fair. The players have put a lot of effort into it. They look like they have enjoyed it." Argyle should have played Southend United last weekend but the game was postponed because of a frozen pitch. They now face two successive home fixtures, against Accrington Stanley and Dagenham and Redbridge. Owers said: "We were chomping at the bit last Thursday and Friday and it would have been nice to get on the bus and go away and play Southend, but it didn't happen. So that presents us with two home games and an opportunity to get points. Before John arrived, I think we had five wins in 27 games so we have got to do a lot better than that over a shorter period." Owers admitted it would be far from straightforward for Argyle to improve on their position. He said: "I'm not blasé about it. It's easy to say, 'We are going to get out of it, no danger', but I'm sure it won't be that easy. We have all got to work hard. There are going to be ups and downs along the way but certainly the early indications are that we have got enough, more than enough, to get out of the position we are in." Argyle are three points behind Accrington and have played the same number of games as them, so will be desperate for a win on Saturday. Owers added: "I think if I was a player in this league coming to play at Home Park I would be up for it, and that's going to make things difficult for us. We have got to be able to overcome that, and that's where the supporters are going to play their part. We are going to need them every step of the way as well."
Guy Branston has never been relegated during his long career, and doesn't intend spoiling that record with Argyle. He said: "I've been at a lot of clubs in my career but I've never been relegated and have no wish to be now. That's not what I'm here for, it's my intention to be here next season having won a new contract. It's unthinkable a massive club like Argyle will go out of the league, so, while it's important we stay realistic, neither me or John are ones to dwell on the negativity. We want to do something about the situation and are both confident characters. We can keep a positive outlook, even in the heat of battle and things aren't going as well as we hoped. I've got a contract that is due to run out at the end of the season and I'm going to bust a gut to help ensure Argyle are in a position to offer me another deal at the end of the season. I live in Devon, having spent a couple of years with Torquay and enjoyed lots of success there. I also enjoyed my time with Bradford City and congratulate them and their fans for reaching the League Cup final. It's a fantastic achievement and a great advert for the Football League when one of your own knocks out a Premier League side. Ironically, having been at Plymouth before, back in 1999, I believe there are similarities between City and Argyle. Both clubs have fantastic support and the potential to draw in a lot more. There's a will in both cities for their team to do well. There is at the club, too. There are so many talented young players on the books along with more experienced pros like myself and Wottsie that I'm positive we have what it takes to pull away from where we are." Branston believes last Saturday's postponement has worked in Argyle's favour. "We've got home games with Accrington and Dagenham coming up, so the gaffer has had more time to put over his ideas to the players, which is a plus, in my view," he said. "We've been training hard and it feels like we're getting fitter by the day. The gaffer has been able to work with us well on the training ground. He keeps his instructions short and succinct so we know what our roles are. The gaffer likes to look at matches in batches, rather than whichever one is next on the fixture list. That seems entirely sensible to me as it doesn't put us under pressure to get a victory in this his or that particular match, just get as many points as we can."
Gary Owers is enjoying his new coaching role at Argyle. He has been working with the first team squad since the appointment of John Sheridan earlier this month, having arrived at Home Park last summer as head of coaching in Argyle's youth set-up. Owers believes he has got 'something to offer' as the team fight against relegation, and he has been impressed with the 'first class' approach of the players in training. Owers said: "I knew John a little bit. He came in and said, 'I would like you to work with us', which I'm pleased to do. I have worked with senior players in the past. It's something I'm comfortable and confident with. I certainly feel I have got something to offer between now and the end of the season." Owers crossed paths with Sheridan during a playing career which saw him make more than 550 appearances for Sunderland, Bristol City and Notts County. He said: "I played against John, and over the years we have spent a little bit of time together with mutual friends. I was also the assistant manager at Aldershot when he was at Chesterfield. I always caught up with him and we said hello to each other. He's aware of the fact I'm familiar with League Two, and I have had a little bit of success in terms of getting Aldershot to the play-offs on a very limited budget. He's obviously aware of my past experiences as well." Owers was not involved with the first team squad before Sheridan was appointed as the successor to Carl Fletcher. He said: "I wasn't part of anything that has happened before. That is water under the bridge. All I can say is from the second I have stepped out onto the training ground the players have been first class in their approach to everything we have done and their attitude. If they can take that onto the pitch between now and the end of the season I have got no doubt we will be fine. John does it his own way. He knows what he wants. He's very focused on what we need to do."
The Argyle Fans' Trust have decided against taking up an offer from James Brent to buy up to a 20 per cent stake in the club. That would have cost around £400,000 and the Trust felt it would have been 'irresponsible' to commit so much supporter time, energy and money to the pursuit of the offer. Instead, they plan to propose a Golden Share Agreement, which would see the Trust have certain 'rights and powers' linked to it. The Trust consulted with their 1,170 members over Brent's offer and out of 238 replies, 128 were in favour. At only 11 per cent of the eligible membership, the Trust concluded there was not enough enthusiasm for the proposal. A spokesman said: "We remain committed to strengthening the voice of supporters within the club and of achieving this through either a form of ownership or clauses written into the company articles. The current offer on the table from James Brent is not considered to be the best or most viable way of achieving this as it includes no influence, powers or presence on the club board. With this in mind we will now focus on exploring other options that have been put to both James Brent and our membership. We will seek to formulate a proposal outlining a way forward for supporter engagement with the club that would help safeguard the future of the club while also achieving the Trust's objectives. We look forward to a positive dialogue with James Brent as we seek to help him enshrine the principles of community, supporter interaction and sustainability, that we share, at the heart of our club."
Joe Lennox is to be released by Argyle when his contract ends on January 31st. John Sheridan has decided not to offer him a new deal, and said: "His contract is coming up and I won't be keeping Joe. I always try to be honest with players and, hopefully, I have made the right decision, not just for us but for Joe. I think it's important he gets an opportunity to play regular football if he can. As I always say to players in these situations, I hope he goes on and proves me wrong." First-year professional Isaac Vassell also has a contract until the end of January. Vassell has had an injury since Sheridan arrived at the club but is set to return to training this week. "Hopefully, I can have a good look at him in training and make a decision," said Sheridan. "One or two people tell me he has got a bit of talent." Sheridan also revealed Argentine playmaker Andres Gurrieri would have been in Argyle's squad had they made the trip to Southend, having not been part of Sheridan's plans for the game against Morecambe. Sheridan said: "He's very good technically. He was in the squad to travel to Southend."
John Sheridan admitted he was disappointed by the postponement of Argyle's game at Southend United today. He said: "I'm not surprised but I'm disappointed. We have worked hard all week to prepare for the game. We wanted to play and try to build on our win against Morecambe but, unfortunately, it was not to be. The pleasing thing is we didn't travel as there was an early inspection. We gave the lads a tough training session yesterday and we will start work again on Monday. We have got to get ready for two home games coming up in which we will be looking to pick up points."
John Sheridan has described as 'ridiculous' the lack of matches for Argyle's young professionals to play in this season. The manager believes the problem, primarily caused by the club not entering a reserve team league any more, could harm the development of prospects, and he said: "I couldn't believe when I was talking to some of the young lads they had only played two or three games. I just think it's ridiculous when they are trying to impress and improve. I could see on Wednesday one or two of them have got something about them. For them to have played so few games at this stage of the season is not going to do their careers any good. At any club I have managed, I like young players being involved in and around the first team because it's the only way they are going to learn. Hopefully, they pick up good ideas and the older pros whisper in their ear and give them a bit of knowledge. I have said to Kevin Hodges the youth team will be training with the first team some days. I have always done that. There is no bigger lift for a young player than to be in and around the first team and they do something good." Meanwhile, Sheridan has admitted there are 'a few clubs' chasing goalkeeper Christian Walton. He said: "That has been going on before I came in. A lot of people are talking about him and there are a few clubs chasing him so he must be a good 'keeper. If he's a really good 'keeper we would like to keep him, but I don't think it's my position to say yes or no."
Argyle's game at Southend United tomorrow has been postponed because of a frozen pitch. The decision follows an inspection of the playing surface this morning and was taken early so the Argyle squad did not set off. Southend chief executive Steve Kavanagh said: "It's disappointing because we would have liked to have got the game on. Unfortunately the weather has meant the pitch has become frozen and it was deemed dangerous to play on. Of course we also had to take into consideration the long journey that Plymouth Argyle would have to make to get here. The weather is set to continue in the same vein today and on Saturday so the decision had to be made to postpone the game."
John Sheridan has not finished adding to his squad despite two more new arrivals at Home Park yesterday. Another forward remains on the wish-list for Sheridan, after the arrival of Gozie Ugwu and Anthony Charles, and he said: "Ideally, I would like to get a 25 or 26-year-old with a bit of experience. I have got Tyler Harvey, who is still learning. I have got to be careful with him but I can see lots of good things in his game. Gozie is 19 and Ronan is 21, so we are young in that department. I would be very pleased if I could get a 25 or 26-year-old who has been around League One or this division and scored goals." Ugwu spent the first five months of this season on loan to Yeovil Town, scoring three goals in five starts and 13 substitute appearances. Sheridan said: "He's a big lad, he's quick and he works the front line hard. I'm hoping he's going to stretch the game for us. If he can do that, it will give us a little bit more space to try to get our creative players in the game. He went to Yeovil and he's still learning. He's a lovely polite lad, and he wants to come here and score goals. Hopefully, he can do that." Ugwu has yet to play any first team football for Reading, but was an unused substitute in a recent FA Cup tie against Crawley Town. Sheridan added: "They speak very highly of him and they accept he needs to go out on loan and play football. He's only 19 and this is a very tough league. I'm sure he will cope with it. More than anything else, I hope he scores one or two goals to help us." Charles had his contract at Northampton terminated by mutual consent after being told he was surplus to requirements by manager Aidy Boothroyd. Sheridan said: "He was captain of Aldershot when they got in the play-offs in this division only a couple of years ago. I have always liked him and you don't get many left-footed centre-halves. He can also play at full-back, so he covers those areas. I have even looked at the games he has played in for Northampton this season and they have always had good results. My thoughts are that you shouldn't be sitting around and watching football at his age. You should be playing. He wants to come and try to impress us and probably earn himself a longer contract. I hope he does that. He will definitely help us with his experience."
Anthony Charles has described his move to Argyle on a short-term deal as 'a very good opportunity' and wants to play his part in ensuring the club escape relegation. He had no hard feelings about his departure from Northampton and is excited about the challenge ahead. He said: "I had a conversation with the gaffer, Aidy Boothroyd, and he said opportunities were going to be few and far between. He thought it was a chance for me to speak to other clubs, rather than wait until the end of the season and notify me then. He was good enough to tell me now so I could get myself sorted. That's where this move has come from. Coming to a club the size of Plymouth, is a very good opportunity for me. I'm fully aware of the support this club gets, and it's in an area where a lot of people are going to be Plymouth fans. If we can get them behind us by going on a good run it's something to build on. You can't say 'a club this size shouldn't be in this position'. They are in this position so you have to do something about that. Bigger clubs than this have fallen through the leagues and you don't want to be part of it. I want to be part of pushing this club forward and, hopefully, we can do that." Should Charles be successful with Argyle this season it could lead to a longer-term deal for him at Home Park. "I'm all for that," he said. "At the minute, I'm here until the end of the season. I want to play. If I'm here longer, then I'm all for that as well."
Gozie Ugwu has revealed he could have signed on loan for Argyle last season. Carl Fletcher wanted to add the striker to his squad but the deal did not materialise and Ugwu had a loan spell at Conference club Ebbsfleet United instead. He was then borrowed by Yeovil Town for five months at the start of this season, a stint which was disrupted by a hamstring injury. Ugwu has now returned to full fitness and is eager to get among the goals for Argyle. He said: "I first heard about the move a few days ago. I want to play league games and it seemed like a good move for me. I'm looking forward to it. Plymouth did want me on loan last season but I don't know what happened with that. Coming back from a hamstring injury can always be a bit iffy, but I feel good now and back to full fitness, I would say. It did come to a bit of a halt at Yeovil but I got over that barrier." Ugwu has yet to play for Reading at first team level but was an unused substitute in the FA Cup win at Crawley Town on January 5th. He said: "I was on the bench, which was good. Unfortunately, I didn't get on, but hopefully next time. It was a step in the right direction, which is what I want anyway. It's a great set-up at Reading and everyone is really close, from the staff to the players. It's a good club to be at." Ugwu trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday, and said: "I have not been to Plymouth before. I don't know much about the city but I do know it's a big club. It has got great history, a very nice stadium and the fans are good." Ugwu did get some advice on Argyle, and the city, from Plymouth-born defender Sean Morrison. Ugwu said: "I spoke to Morro just before I came down here. He told me it was a nice city and he thought I would do well. He has kind of taken the same route that I'm trying to take, by going on loan and playing at different teams. Look where he is now, playing in the Premier League and scoring goals." Ugwu was highly recommended to John Sheridan and is keen to learn from him. "He had a great career himself so I think he's looking to bring that experience to young players like myself," he added.
Argyle will play Witheridge in the quarter-final of the Devon St Luke’s Cup. The match will take place at Withy’s Edge Down Park on February 12th at 7.30pm.
Defender Anthony Charles has joined Argyle from Northampton Town, on a permanent deal until the end of the season. Charles has played 11 times for the Cobblers this season and knows the division, and what Argyle are going through. “This is a tight league,” he said. “You can go on a run of two, three, four games and you are in the top half of the table, if you lose them, you are in the bottom half. It’s just a matter of getting momentum, getting experience around you, and getting your confidence back up. The boys have done that on Saturday with a good result and we have got to try to build on that. I’m an experienced player, but still relatively young, and I’ve played in this league for many years. I had a similar experience at Northampton last year when we were fighting for our lives, and now they’ve moved on and are pushing for the play-offs. Players have come in and my games could have become limited so it was an opportunity for me to come away from there. The gaffer here asked me to come here and I said ’Yes’. A club the size of Plymouth, it wasn’t a difficult decision. It’s a challenge and something I’m looking forward to it.” Charles brings some much needed height to the Argyle squad, but that is not his only attribute. “I’m quick as well, still,” he said. “I like to head the ball, but I want to try to get the ball down and play. It was something I learnt as a kid, and grew up doing, and a lot of teams I’ve played at like to get the ball down and pass. If we can do that, in the right way with the right results, hopefully it can be beneficial to the way I play and the team, and we can all come together. With the new gaffer coming in, and being January, there are going to be lots of changes: you need to do what you need to do to stay up. No-one wants to be relegated.”
Argyle have signed Reading striker Gozie Ugwu on a one-month 'youth loan', taking him up to and including the game against Oxford United on February 16th. However, the deal can be extended for the rest of the season if all parties agree.
An Argyle XI beat the Nike Academy 7-0 in yesterdays friendly at Home Park. The goals were scored by Andres Gurrieri (3), Rhys Griffiths (2), Jamie Richards and Luke Young. Argyle: Cole, Williams, Wotton, Richards, Bradley, Young, Sims, Lennox, Lecointe, Griffiths, Gurrieri. Subs: Chenoweth, Watson, Allen, Purrington, Wheatley, Elcock.
Warren Feeney is likely to be sidelined for up to two months after suffering an ankle injury early in last Saturday's win over Morecambe. With Feeney injured and Nick Chadwick serving a six-match ban, John Sheridan is left with a shortage of experienced front men, and confirmed he is looking for more loan signings. Rhys Griffiths, Tyler Harvey and Ronan Murray will come into the equation against Southend United this Saturday, but it could be significant that Sheridan brought up Matt Lecointe's name following the friendly against the Nike Academy yesterday. He said: "It was good exercise for the lads and it gave me a chance to look at one or two of the young players. I would have preferred a sterner test, but the attitude of the lads was excellent. I know Matt Lecointe didn't score, but I thought he did very well. I was pleased with the attitude of all the lads, as I said I would have preferred a sterner test, but it is a good excuse to have a game for some of the players who haven't been playing for a while. I am going to need a squad until the end of the season and people have got to be ready to play their part in case of suspensions or injuries. Warren's knocked a chip out of his ankle, but it's not as bad as was first thought. It was thought he might be out for the rest of the season, but it now seems it might be six to eight weeks." Sheridan said he was settling well into his new club, and added: "I'm new to the area, but everyone's trying to help."
Ronan Murray knows there is a lot at stake during his loan spell at Argyle, both for him and the club. Murray, who is out of contract at Ipswich Town in the summer, said: "It's a big few months for me now. The main thing is to get Plymouth out of the relegation zone and back to the good times. Hopefully, things will turn around for us because it's a massive club and it shouldn't be where it is at the minute. We have to get as many points as we can as quick as we can and get confidence back in the team. It's going to be a fight week in week out and I'm up for it." Murray had made only one substitute appearance for Ipswich this season before making the move to Argyle. He said: "I have been up at Ipswich with Paul Jewell and now the new manager has come in, Mick McCarthy, and I need game time. Playing in the reserves in front of one man and his dog is nothing like playing first team football in front of 6,000 or 7,000 fans. It's a big difference, and it's the pressure you need week in week out. There is no better feeling than going home on a Saturday evening and you have won a game, or dug out a draw. That's the feeling I want back." Murray came across two familiar faces when he arrived at Home Park last Friday. Conor Hourihane has previously been a team-mate of his, both at Ipswich and for the Republic of Ireland, but Murray also played alongside Guy Branston during a loan spell with Torquay United in 2010/11. Murray said: "It was a surprise to see Guy. I know Conor as well so it has helped me to settle in. Conor and I were at Ipswich together and we have played in the Ireland youth set-up for the last few years, from under-16 up to under-21 level. I know him pretty well. He spent a season at Ipswich and, unfortunately, it didn't work out for him there. He has come to Plymouth and has been flying ever since. It has been great for him really." Murray believes Branston will be an important addition to the squad at Home Park. "I played with him at Torquay and he got in the team of the year that season," said Murray. "He was a mountain at the back and we got into the play-off final. I think he will steady the ship here. Hopefully, there won't be many goals going in and, hopefully, there will be a few more going in up front. Torquay was a good experience. That was my first loan away from Ipswich and it meant moving out on my own and meeting new people. I enjoyed it. This one is just a little bit further, and it's a bigger club than Torquay in the sense that it has been in the Championship. It's a great stadium here and, hopefully, the good times are to come."
Argyle youth-team goalkeeper Christian Walton is training with Brighton and Hove Albion this week. According to one newspaper report, Brighton want to take a look at Walton before deciding whether to make a move for him. However, Argyle have not been drawn on the possibility of Walton moving. An Argyle spokesman said: "Christian Walton is spending time with Brighton and Hove Albion. The club feels that it is beneficial for its young players to gain an insight and understanding into the workings of different clubs at different levels of the football pyramid."
Jamie Lowry hopes John Sheridan will bring the best out of him. He has previously played for Sheridan at Chesterfield, describing him as 'strict but fair', so knows what to expect from the manager. Lowry said: "I spent a lot of time with him at Chesterfield and he did well there. I'm happy to see him again and, hopefully, he can turn it around here and bring some good fortune in." Lowry insisted he had no hard feelings with Sheridan over his departure from Chesterfield. He said: "That's football. That was what he thought was best for the club at the time. It's a different situation now. He knows me as a player and I hope he gets the best out of me, like he did before my injury at Chesterfield. He likes his teams to attack and score goals and, hopefully, that's what we will do. He's strict but fair. Like he always says, 'if you do right by me I will look after you', so you can't ask for more than that really. It's a clean slate for everyone. For people who haven't been playing, such as myself, it's a chance to shine and, hopefully, make an impression on him." Sheridan took a watching brief at training last week as he started to assess the squad he has inherited. He let Kevin Nancekivell and Gary Owers put the players through their paces. Lowry added: "With him not knowing everyone's name, he took a bit of a step back and was just getting used to everyone. I'm sure he will step into it more in the next few weeks and put across how he wants to play and what he expects from the players."
Conor Hourihane is starting to reap the rewards from a more attack-minded approach to his football. Hourihane, who has scored two goals in the last three games, said: "I think the last five or six games I'm getting forward more. If you can add goals to your game it's a big plus so, hopefully, I can get a few more." Hourihane admitted he surprised himself when he scored with his weaker right-foot against Morecambe. He said: "I don't really care how they go in, but it was nice to get one with the right foot. It was a good strike. When I looked up I was a bit surprised myself to see it go in but if you don't buy a lottery ticket you don't win. I took a shot and it went in, so I was pleased with that." Argyle included two new signings in their line-up against Morecambe, Ronan Murray and Guy Branston. Hourihane has previously played in the same side as Murray for the Republic of Ireland at various age levels and they were also team-mates for Ipswich reserves. Hourihane said: "Ronan did very well on Saturday. I have known him since I was about 14. He's a good player and will score you goals. He was unlucky when he hit the post. He will be a good addition. Funny enough, he's actually in the same apartment block as me so he's settling in well already. He's a good lad so I'm sure he will do well. Guy is obviously experienced. He has been around the block and will be a voice in the dressing room." The victory over Morecambe came in John Sheridan's first match as manager, and ended a run of three successive defeats. Hourihane said: "He told us during the week what he wanted us to do and we were all delighted with the result on Saturday. Hopefully, we can get that winning mentality into the dressing room. I'm sure he will bring that. He knows what he's on about. He has played at the highest level and with me being a midfielder, like he was, I'm sure he will show me one or two things. Other teams have got games in hand on us which isn't great, but all we can do is keep winning and keep getting points on the board. Hopefully, that will be enough."
An Argyle XI will take on the Nike Academy in a friendly at Home Park this Wednesday. Kick-off is at 1pm and entry is free for members. Non-members will be charged £2 for adults and £1 for concessions.
John Sheridan is aiming to add two more new players to his squad this week and admitted he would put special emphasis on bolstering his attack. Warren Feeney suffered an ankle injury early in the win over Morecambe on Saturday and had to be substituted, and Nick Chadwick is serving a six-match suspension. Feeney was replaced by Tyler Harvey in the eighth minute of Saturday's game, and Sheridan said: "I'm hoping I will get two more players. Defensively, we need another body and I've got to look at attacking players. Chaddy is out for five more games, I've got Warren out, and Tyler is a young kid. I like him, but is he the right player to get us out of this position? I've got to be careful with him."
Ronan Murray made his Argyle debut on Saturday, after signing on loan from Ipswich Town until the end of the season. John Sheridan said: “The second goal was a great little ball from Ronan. He’s a clever little footballer, with his touch and awareness. You can see the little bits of quality he has got in his game. Some of the little balls he played in across the goal, with his weaker foot, were a striker’s dream.” Sheridan sprang a surprise by playing Maxime Blanchard in the centre of midfield, doing so to try to combat the physical strength of Morecambe and he thought the experiment had worked. Sheridan said: “They are a big threat at set plays and had eight players out on the pitch who were over six foot. We lacked a little bit of height throughout the team so I was always going to put Max in there, and I thought he did well. He tired towards the end but was decent on the ball and won his headers. Now I know he can play in there, which is good. If you have been playing centre-half, then midfield is a totally different game. You are involved a lot more. You are defending and you are attacking but I was pleased the way he went.” There was a call-up for Jamie Lowry, who made his first start since the defeat at Bradford City in November. He had previously played under Sheridan when they were both at Chesterfield and lasted 78 minutes on the left of midfield before he was replaced by Paul Wotton. Sheridan said: “Jamie knows how to play that position. He did that a lot for me at Chesterfield. I have always liked him playing that position. He’s good on the ball and I knew if I had played him there he knows what I expect from him.” Murray, Lowry and Guy Branston came into the side for the visit of Morecambe. Making way for them were Robbie Williams and Luke Young, and the suspended Nick Chadwick. Sheridan said: “It wasn’t a case of dropping players but I had to change one or two things with the results they have been having and the position in the league. I don’t like leaving anyone out because they all train wanting to play on a Saturday. They are all after the same thing. I know Jamie is not a type of player who is going to run and beat people but I know he can deliver, and with him tucking in a little bit it gave Conor licence to get forward more.”
Guy Branston will bring 'drive and determination' to Argyle, according to John Sheridan. He said: "I know what Guy is all about. He's enthusiastic and he does know the game. I like him as a lad. He has just come in and you could see the lift the players got from him. He gets on with everyone and he talks to everyone. He will tell off the younger players when he has to, but he will give them a hug when he has to. That's what I like about him. He has had a lot of clubs in his career but I know what he's all about. I think he has got a little bit of respect for me. He knows how I am and what type of person I am. I won't stand any messing from him and he knows that. I know what he could give us, especially in the position we are in. He can give us that drive and determination and, hopefully, get us out of where we are."
In his first game as Argyle manager John Sheridan had one simple aim, and he achieved it. “Three points, that’s all I was looking for,” he said. “I’m really pleased with the players. Their attitude has been different class since I came in. The tempo of training has been really good. It was a great start, a great goal from young Conor. I’ve told him that he could be getting in the box a bit more to support the front men, and he did that. With his weaker foot it was a great strike, a great finish. To get two goals gives you a cushion and something to keep, they’ve got to score three to win the game. With poor Warren, I don’t know if it’s his ankle or Achilles. I think he was in a bit of pain. He’s got a big boot on at the minute. It’s a crying shame. He’s a bubbly character, he’s good to have around the place. It’s a shame that he’s got off to a start like that, because he could be a big player for me. I love his enthusiasm in training and in the changing room.” The win was a perfect start for Sheridan but he was keen to stress that these are early days in his time at Home Park, and that we will begin to see his impact on the club increasing as time goes on. “I’m still getting used to one or two of the younger lads’ names,” he said. “It’s early days, and, with the weather as well and the condition of the training pitch, you can’t really do a lot of team play. We’ve done some nice, bright stuff. Hopefully, a new manager coming in might just give the players a lift, and hopefully it’s worked today. We’ll be organised a little bit more as I start to tell people little thing about how I want us to play. You can see the edge in the players, and that’s something I’ve got to try and get out of them. But you’ve got to accept that, we’re near the bottom of the league and we know what’s at stake. But the work ethic, I couldn’t ask for any more. If we get that little bit of nous into them, I can teach them, that when we’re in the lead we dictate the game a little more. A lot of our problems, and it’s a pet hate of mine, were little things like miskicking the ball and not clearing the ball properly and it comes back into an area where it’s going to give you a problem. But we’ll learn from it, we’re a young team. I’m just very pleased to get off to a winning start. I just wish it was the last game of the season. We’d be alright then, wouldn’t we?!”
Argyle beat Morecambe 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Conor Hourihane after 10 minutes and Paris Cowan-Hall (16). Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Nelson, Branston, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Hourihane, Blanchard, Lowry, Feeney, Murray. Subs – Harvey, Wotton, Young (not used – Cole, Griffiths, Williams, Lennox). Attendance – 6,401.
New signing Guy Branston was playing for Oldham when John Sheridan began his coaching career at the club. “I have got a lot of time for the gaffer,” he said. “We have kept in touch. Whenever he’s been manager somewhere else, I’ve always dropped in to say ‘hello’. He’s a good bloke to work for. He doesn’t suffer fools. I’m not a fool. He’s in your face if he wants to be but he’s also very clever. He’s played in the World Cup. How can you not respect him? If he shouts stuff, you listen. I’ve always listened to him. I’ve got a lot of time for him. I’m just pleased to be down here.” Fourteen years after his first spell with Argyle, Branston has not lost any of his enthusiasm for the game. “I love being in the box at set-pieces when it’s just about to kick off, and I’m grappling with my centre-forward and I’m winning my headers. I love to win balls, and clear balls, clean sheets are very important to me,” he said. Last time he was at Home Park, for an eight-game loan spell in 1998-99, he was not so happy. “I remember doing well down here and enjoying it, but it was just too far away from Leicester for me to live,” he said. “Mentally, it was tough. As a young boy, I still had that mentality ‘You’ve got to be around your friends, you’ve got to be around your girlfriend’ that kind of thing. Now I’m down because my girlfriend is down here, in Devon. It’s my home now. My family’s down here and it’s where I want to be. It’s good that I can kick on and hopefully do well here.” He met his girlfriend while playing for Torquay, Plainmoor being one stop on a journey which has seen him play for nineteen clubs. “I never envisioned it,” he said, of his travels. “I just wanted to play for Leicester. I was a Leicester boy. My dream was to play for Leicester City, which I never did. Now, I want to manage them. I think far ahead. I am hungry for football and that’s probably why I move around a bit too much, because of my pursuit of football. I’m not happy sitting around squads and on benches when I’m a starting centre-half, that’s what I believe of myself.”
Guy Branston was injured, but at the game, when Argyle lost to his former team Aldershot Town in August. He has also seen DVDs of the recent games against Torquay United and Bristol Rovers. He said: "I know my football and I know who's a good player and who's a bad player. There are definitely some good players here. I have got a lot of time for Berry and Nelson as defenders. I'm a big fan of Lennox, and Young is getting a good resume for what he has done. We have just signed a really top striker in Ronan Murray. I played with him when he was on loan at Torquay. The gaffer knows I like working hard with the young lads and trying to improve them because I want to step into that later in my career."
Guy Branston is looking no further forward than the next four months after signing a short-term deal with Argyle. John Sheridan put in a phone call to Branston on Thursday night and invited him to training and it took only one session to convince him to offer the centre-back a contract until the end of the season. Branston and his family have lived in Devon since his time at Torquay so signing for Argyle suits him perfectly. He said: "It's blatantly about helping the gaffer out, helping me get games, and helping the football club to stay in this division. That's all we are looking at. All I want for the next four months is to get my head down and work as hard as I can, and know I gave it my all for Plymouth. That's why I have had so many clubs. People know I put a shift in. You know you are guaranteed that from me, and then we will see how it goes after that." Branston has a regular slot on Sky Sports News Radio on Thursday nights and this week he followed an interview with Sheridan. "I switched my phone off for an hour after I had done the radio show to relax, because my missus tells me to," he said. "Before I went to bed, I turned my phone back on and it came up John had left me a message. So I called him and he asked me if I was fit." Branston arrived at Home Park yesterday morning expecting to be on trial, but after his first training session, Sheridan offered him a contract until the end of the season. As he was a free agent, Branston sent a video to Sheridan after his appointment as Argyle manager. He then called him and waited for a return call, which came on Thursday night. Branston's video clip also attracted interest from Accrington Stanley, Wimbledon and Rochdale but Sheridan wasted no time in getting him on board. "He doesn't mess around anyway," said Branston. "He probably knew I was out of contract. He will have lists and lists in his head of players who he can bring in. He might see me as a stop-gap, but that's fine. I'm still employed. I have got a job now and that's good for me because I have got a family to feed. Unfortunately, lower league football is like that. You can't be picking and choosing. You are very lucky if you have got four or five clubs after you. I had a few clubs sniffing because I had only just been released from my contract at Aldershot. I was happy to wait the month out, so to actually get it done so early is an absolute bonus for me and I can thank the gaffer for that. He didn't want to mess around either. He's here to keep this team in the division and then see where it goes." On Sheridan, Branston added: "He's straight to the point. If you upset him he will tell you. If you are doing well for him he will applaud you. That's what you need. You don't need someone talking a load of rubbish to you."
Loan signing Ronan Murray experienced life in League Two last season, during a loan spell with Swindon Town, who he helped win the division. “Trying to win games, and being the team to beat, every week was difficult,” he said, “but it was definitely an experience. The manager down there is passionate about the game and I learnt a lot.” His move to Home Park has been a bit of a whirlwind, but there has been one familiar former team-mate to help him settle in. “I got the word yesterday that Plymouth were interested and I grabbed it with two hands,” he said. “It once was a massive club and I assume it still is, just in the wrong league. I am looking forward to the challenge ahead. I know Conor and that’ll help me settle in nice and easy. He was at Ipswich prior to Plymouth for a season or two, so I got to know him there and obviously I knew him from under-16s and under-21s. It’s nice to know someone down here. It’s time to settle in, time to get to know the lads and how they play, that’s important, and get us out of the relegation zone. I’m just a little busy striker, nipping about the place and hopefully nicking a goal or two. I’m looking forward to it. I reckon there’s a good few players that can feed me the ball in the right positions, and I’ll do the rest.”
Guy Branston has become John Sheridan’s second signing as Argyle manager, joining on a contract until the end of the season after being released by Aldershot Town. Branston returns to Home Park for a second spell, following his eight-game loan stint in 1998/99.
Argyle yesterday signed Ipswich Town striker Ronan Murray on a loan deal until the end of the season. John Sheridan stated earlier this week he wanted to make three loan signings before the visit of Morecambe. However, a combination Argyle's league position and Plymouth's geographic location has proved problematic for him. He said: "We have had lots of positives from the clubs but, unfortunately, players nowadays are a bit of a different breed. Years ago, if you weren't in the side you would be banging on the manager's door saying 'I want to go and play somewhere'. It is difficult. I knew the location would be a problem, but I have just got to persevere. I would like to think I will be able to attract one or two. We have been very close to probably having three or four players. I will keep going and going, and I will only be bringing in players who are going to strengthen us." Murray had a loan spell with Swindon Town last season and Sheridan said: "I'm very pleased to get Ronan in. He comes very highly recommended. Paul Jewell was the one who put me on to him and I have checked him over. He's a good, intelligent footballer who scores goals. He did well when he went to Swindon in a promotion-winning side." As soon as Sheridan spoke to Murray he was ready to drive from Ipswich from Plymouth. "Straight away he wanted to come and that's what I like in a player," said Sheridan. "There were no ifs or buts, he just said 'I'll be there'. I like that, and it shows me that he wants to come and play football. He has played at a higher level, too, in and around Ipswich, who are an excellent Championship club and Mick McCarthy couldn't speak highly enough of him." Murray has, in the past, played with Conor Hourihane for Ipswich reserves and the Republic of Ireland under-21 side. Sheridan said: "It will help Ronan that he knows Conor and maybe it will make him settle in a little quicker. Hopefully, he will hit the ground running tomorrow and give us a lift." Meanwhile, there continues to be speculation that Onismor Bhasera could be on the way out of Argyle during the transfer window. However, Sheridan is not in any hurry to let players leave before he has had a chance to add further recruits to his squad. He added: "More than anything, I'm concentrating on trying to get players in and strengthening us. That's my main priority at the moment."
John Sheridan has been pleased with what he has seen so far at Argyle. He said: "Training-wise, I have been really pleased with the lads' attitude and the way they have gone about it. They have been nice and bright. I think there are one or two who are out to try to impress me, which is pleasing. Obviously, the weather is a bit worse for wear but we have just got on with it. Training has gone really well. It's a different manager and different ideas. I have explained to the players that everyone has got a chance of playing. I know most of the players. There are one or two younger players who haven't figured too much and I have got to try to get familiar with. That's why I have stood back. Gary and Kevin have taken the training and I have been watching what the players can do." One player who will not get a chance to make an early impression on Sheridan though, is Nick Chadwick, who will start a six-match suspension tomorrow. Sheridan said: "There's not a lot you can do about it now. It's just something that has happened. Six games is a lot so, unfortunately, he's not going to figure. I have got to concentrate on and worry about the players who can be picked. It's a shame for Nick but I think he realises it was his own doing, and he's paying the price for his stupidity." Among the decisions Sheridan will have to make is who will be Argyle's captain after the departure of Darren Purse. He said: "I know young Conor was captain on Saturday. I will speak to Kevin but on my first impressions I would like a few more leaders and more vocal people on the pitch to help the younger players we have got. It's a decision I will make today or tomorrow."
One player at Home Park who John Sheridan is already very familiar with is Jamie Lowry, the former Chesterfield midfielder. Lowry was at Chesterfield when Sheridan was appointed as their manager in 2009. However, he suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury which sidelined him until 2011 and after a loan spell at Crewe Alexandra last term was released by Sheridan. Sheridan said: "It was a crying shame because I probably could have made a lot of money on him when I first went in there. I think Jamie scored six goals in nine games. He was flying at the time but, unfortunately, he got an injury and it did set him back. It is difficult when you get injuries. I have been there myself, but it's a fresh start for him and me. We are at a new club. I like Jamie as a lad and I think he likes me as a manager. I was just being honest and truthful with him when he left Chesterfield. I think Jamie understands. I have spoken to him and it's a fresh start for him now. If I can get out of him what I know he has got, he will be a great asset to us." Sheridan's first match as Argyle manager sees them take on Morecambe, who moved up to 17th in the table after a win against Dagenham and Redbridge on Tuesday. He said: "I have been in this league and I know what teams are like in this league. Any team can beat any other on their day. Like ourselves, Morecambe could go on and win four or five games. They are that type of team. They are strong, organised and a threat at set plays. They don't make the game difficult. But it's important I concentrate on what we do. We know we have got to win football matches because of the position we are in. Three out of the next four games are at home and I expect us to pick points up."
John Sheridan is determined to make sure Argyle cut out the red cards they have been picking up. Argyle have had five players dismissed in the last 14 games and Sheridan admitted he was alarmed by the disciplinary problems. He said: "That is a big concern and it won't be something I stand for. We need players on the pitch. It's not good enough. Until I looked at it, I didn't realise it was as bad it was. It’s something that needs to be sorted out. We need every player available, especially where we are now in the league. It has got to be sorted out."
John Sheridan has shown his players his plans for keeping them in the Football League, and one word that features prominently is ‘attack’, and that starts in his first game in charge tomorrow. “We’re at home and we’re going to take the game to Morecambe,” he said. “Every game we play at home, we are going to play an attacking formation and we are going to try to win the game. We have to do that. At the same time, I am not stupid and naïve, we have to be careful and not leave ourselves open. “But I want players to go out and be positive and don’t be frightened about making a mistake. I’d rather see a player try to do the right thing and make a mistake, and carry on doing that. You expect to hear the odd noise if you do make a mistake, but as long as I see they are trying to do the right thing, it won’t bother me. It’s important that we’ll be positive and concentrate on what is going to make us, hopefully, win the game.”
Tyler Harvey has already caught the eye of John Sheridan. Harvey returned to training this week after recovering from a calf injury which he suffered against Wycombe Wanderers on December 29th. Sheridan said: "He has trained the last two days. I like the look of him. I'm not bothered if they are 16, 17 or 18. If I feel he's good enough I will throw him in." The new manager had hoped to make three loan signings before the visit of Morecambe to Home Park on Saturday but that has proved harder than expected. Sheridan did reveal one new player was set to train with the rest of the squad tomorrow and he was working on trying to secure other recruits.
James Brent has admitted he learned a valuable lesson about football after taking the decision to sack Carl Fletcher. He said: "Carl has put his heart and soul into the club and shown great passion, dedication and single-mindedness. It was probably the most difficult human relations decision I have taken. When you communicate something like that and the first thing the person says is 'thank you for the opportunity to manage' it's very difficult to deal with. I think it was the right decision. The problem with football, as I now understand, is that you have got very short seasons. Your ability to see people develop is limited by that season. Whereas in most businesses you can work with people to improve the areas where they have weakness, you just don't have the luxury of time in football."
Nick Chadwick has apologised unreservedly for his actions after being hit by a six-match suspension from the FA. Chadwick was sent-off for violent conduct in the 34th minute at Port Vale on Saturday, after he elbowed Vale's Ashley Vincent. A similar off-the-ball incident involving the same two players occurred at the start of the match. From the kick-off, Vincent ended up in a heap on the ground after Chadwick ran past him, although on that occasion none of the match officials spotted any offence. It is that incident which has led to Chadwick getting a six-match ban, instead of three, as had been expected. His suspension was confirmed by Argyle in a statement, which read: "As well as imposing an automatic three-match ban for his red card in the 34th minute of the game, the FA have taken retrospective action, under Law 12, regarding an incident in the first minute of the match and added a further three matches to the suspension. Nick regrets his actions which have led to this ban and apologises unreservedly for them. He fully accepts the punishment handed down by the FA. Pre-mediated violent behaviour on the field is totally unacceptable at Plymouth Argyle and, accordingly, Nick has also been separately disciplined by the club."
James Brent has highlighted the 'passion to succeed' of John Sheridan as one of the main reasons why he was appointed as Argyle's new manager. He said: "There were several things that made his CV shine out. John has got a lot of experience in Leagues One and Two, and has got winning experience. He has collected silverware and has done it on sensible budgets. It hasn't been a chairman who has been buying success. He has built teams at a reasonable cost. In the interviewing process, he was a very direct speaker. He was thoughtful and had a confidence in what he said, but without being arrogant. He has a passion to succeed and doesn't like to fail. I think he gave all of us confidence that he knew what he needed to do to get the club back up the league table and he would execute that with great efficiency. Stylistically, he comes across as a person who will coax players that need support and will be fairly clear in his views on people who need other encouragement. I think that balance of support for young people and yet lack of tolerance for mediocrity is exactly what we need." Brent was pleased the hiring process had been completed so swiftly and, at the same time, convinced Sheridan was the correct choice. He said: "There is clearly risk in taking decisions quickly, but when it feels right you stop looking. John ticked all the boxes for us. It was unanimous. There was no dissent from the decision. From the very short period we have seen him, he has already made quite a difference around the club, so it's good." Brent is hoping Sheridan can steer Argyle to safety in the remaining 19 games this season. He added: "It's critical we stay up. That's where the focus. We are clearly going to back John in bringing in some new players. All of the feedback, not just from John but from all of the other folk we spoke to who had watched Argyle play, was that there is a lot of individual talent in the team. It was felt we shouldn't be where we are in the league table if you look at that individual talent. Hopefully, the combination of John bringing a new broom to the club and some additional players will see a material change in results."
John Sheridan is confident of completing three loan signings before his first game as Argyle manager on Saturday. Argyle have used six loan signings this season but currently there are none at Home Park, which gives Sheridan scope to explore all the options open to him. Sheridan is thought to be trying to bring in two new strikers to improve Argyle's poor goalscoring record. He said: "Hopefully, a new manager coming in might give the lads a lift, but I think we also need a few extra bodies. I think I know what type of player we need to stay in this season and, hopefully, win us one or two games. At this moment in time, I'm working very hard to get new faces in." Sheridan admitted his aim was to get four new recruits for Argyle, and three before the weekend. He said: "That's not to say the lads who are already here won't be figuring for me. I have told them they are all on an even-keel. Hopefully, bringing in a few players will give everyone a lift. It will definitely be loans. Luckily for me, there are no loan players here at the moment so it gives me scope to go and get some." Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell are remaining at Home Park, for the time being at least, to help Sheridan gain an insight into the club and players. Sheridan has also asked Gary Owers to step up from his role as head of coaching for Argyle's under-18s to work with the senior side. Owers had a spell as the first team coach at Bristol City last season. Sheridan said: "I played against Gary when he was at Sunderland so I know a bit about him. He's a very good coach. He was at Bristol City last season. I would like to get Gary involved a little bit more with the first team, but that will be the only change to the staff." Sheridan was under no illusions about the size of the task he has taken on, and said: "Hopefully, a different manager and different ideas might help. Hopefully, we can all push together and get a positive result on Saturday, first and foremost. There is only one thing on my mind and that's keeping the team in the division. The club is too big to go down and it would be a travesty if they did. I will be pushing very hard to keep them in the league."
James Brent has issued an apology to Argyle fans for the teams poor results this season. He said: "I would like to offer sincere apologies to our fans for the very troubled first half of the season we have had. We had genuine expectation we would be sited in a different part of the table than we are at the moment."
John Sheridan opened his introductory news conference at Home Park press conference by saying: "First and foremost I would like to thank the chairman for giving me this opportunity of managing Plymouth Argyle. I have been told lots of things about the club. Even though I have been based in Yorkshire for most of my football career, as a player and manager, you always get feedback that Plymouth is a really big club with potential. I played here when the crowds were 15,000 so I know what they can attract. I'm really looking forward to the job. It's going to be a big ask. Unfortunately, the club are in a position they don't want to be, but there is still plenty of time to get ourselves out of the position we are in. I have spoken to the players and I want them to believe more than anything else that we can get out of the position we are in. I would rather be a player than a manager any day, but my time has gone as a player. I love managing now and it's something I want to do. This is the first time I have been out of football in 32 years since I left Chesterfield so I'm biting at the bit to get back in." Sheridan is very much focused on getting to work on the training ground as he starts to attempt to drag Argyle out of relegation trouble. He said: "Every day, I'm out on the pitch. I like to be involved and pass on my knowledge to the players. Hopefully, they will take it on board. I'm there to help them. I have said to the players this morning 'I don't want to manage at this level, I want to manage as high as I can'. Luckily enough, I have done the next division with Oldham and Chesterfield so I want the players to think like that. I want them to improve as players and improve as a team and go higher. That's just the way I am. I feel as though I'm a winner and I don't like losing. They are very privileged to be footballers and it's a great job to be in so I want them to come in and work hard every day." When the Argyle vacancy came about it immediately grabbed the attention of Sheridan. He said: "I know what can be achieved if you can get the right results and get the crowd coming back in. Potentially, it's a very good club. Being out of work, you obviously want to try to get back in, but there were one or two jobs I didn't go for because I just didn't think they would suit me, or it would be what I wanted. As soon as Plymouth came up and, like I said, a lot of people had told me how good the club is, I thought I would go for it. I have been in Yorkshire for the majority of my career and it's a change for me. It's a big upheaval for me to come to Plymouth, but I'm really excited. It's something I want to really have a good go at, and I'm confident I will get them out of the position they are in and keep them in this division. That's all I'm thinking of at the moment."
John Sheridan was confirmed as Argyle manager on Sunday night after he had attended the 4-0 defeat at Port Vale the previous afternoon. He sat in the directors' box and took notes during the game. Sheridan said: "I actually thought the team started well in the game. The sending off, unfortunately, changed the game for us. I think the lads got flat after going a goal down and then getting a sending-off straight away, but my first impressions were that they started the game really well. When I have looked at the fixtures and how they have lost games, they haven't really been beaten up by any side. That was probably the first game where they have taken a good hiding, but the big downfall was getting the sending-off. Games have been really tight throughout the season. I think the problem has been they haven't been scoring enough goals. You have got to score goals to win football matches and, unfortunately, the team haven't been doing that." Nick Chadwick must serve a three-match suspension after he was sent-off for an elbow, and Sheridan said: "I think it was wrong of Nick. I have seen it on video and he can't really defend himself in any way. I think, deep down, he knows he shouldn't have done it. To be fair to Nick, he started the game well. It was just a big downer for the players, after going a goal down and then getting someone sent-off. He let the players down and he's going to miss games. He's not going to impress me sat in the stand is he?" Sheridan was asked whether Chadwick had been disciplined by the club as a result of his red card. He replied: "I don't really know. I was only watching the game so I don't think it's my decision. I know if I had been the manager at the time I would have disciplined him." Sheridan's predecessor as manager, Carl Fletcher, did not enjoy dealing with the media during his tenure, but the new boss sees it as 'part and parcel' of his role. He said: "I have been a manager now for five or six years. I wouldn't say it is something I really enjoy but it's something that doesn't really bother me. I will do what I have to do. If I can let people know what's going on in and around the club through the media, so be it. I'm very comfortable with it."
John Sheridan’s long-term ambitions for Argyle were not on the agenda when he gave his first interview since being appointed manager. “The only thing on my mind now is staying clear of the bottom two,” he said. “I can see it being very tight leading up to the last two or three games of the season. Teams who were losing are winning games now. Obviously, we have got to try to hit the ground running and start winning football games. That’s the only thing I’m looking at. I am definitely looking at three next three or four games, we’ve got three at home and I think our home form is going to be vitally important. Starting with Saturday, we need to try to get off to a winning start and try to give everyone a lift and get the place going. It’s going to be everyone involved. I want everyone being positive and confident we can get out of the position we are in. I’ve done well at this level and the league above, so I like to think I know the players that are needed to get out of the position we are in and hopefully build on it and get us higher up the table. I do think I know what’s required. I’ve only been a manager for five years. I don’t think I know everything. I’m still learning. I learnt a lot last season, getting relegated. It wasn’t a nice feeling and I’ll take things on board what I feel I did wrong. But I know I’ve done well, too, and hopefully I can take that on board here. They have given me the job thinking I can do well. Hopefully, I won’t let them down. I’m very pleased to get the opportunity to manage the club. Obviously, they are very difficult times at the moment but I am really confident I can come in and get them out of the position they are in. I know a little bit about the club. I’ve played here when they’ve had better times, so I know what the potential is and the support-base. I’m really looking forward to it.”
When asked whether he remembered his last appearance at Home Park, a game which saw him sent off, along with David Friio, John Sheridan said: “I played here a few times in my career, for Leeds and for Sheffield Wednesday, and I was coming to end of my career. Plymouth were going very well. That’s one of the things I remember, the crowd that day were unbelievable. In my defence, it was a very bad tackle. At the time, I wanted to kill him, but we shook hands when we met at the game at Oldham later that season and there were no bad feelings. We were just two players who wanted to win the football match. Probably, sometimes, I can go over the top, but that’s the way I am. I want to win and I don’t like losing. Hopefully that will stand me in good stead while I’m a manager.”
‘Work hard and enjoy yourselves’ was the message John Sheridan gave to his players before they began their first training session under the new manager. He said: “I like my players to enjoy their football, first and foremost, it’s a privilege to be a footballer, and I want them to be successful. If you are winning, it’s even better. I try and install that in my players. I’m very football orientated. I always say players play at this level for a reason, so, to improve, they have got to listen and learn. I’ve played at a high level with some very good players so, hopefully, I can bring that experience to the players here. I like players to come in and work hard. They don’t work for too long, but when they are working, I like them to, as I say, enjoy it but, at the same time, do things properly. If they don’t, I’m the type of manager who will let them know. At the same time, if I see them doing the right things, they will enjoy working for me. I’ve just got to believe that the things I do will be successful. That’s all I can do.”
It is normal practice that a new manager wipes the slate clean for all the players he inherits when he comes to a club, which is good news for a squad who John Sheridan saw lose 4-0 at Port Vale on Saturday. “Obviously the result wasn’t much good, but I saw good things on Saturday,” he said. “I think the sending-off had a big part to play. I met the players briefly after the game. I just said: ‘Listen, the game’s gone now, we start afresh.’ I’ve got different ideas to Carl, we’re all different, so hopefully whatever I bring will work quickly because we need get a few points on the board. Hopefully I can bring one or two players in and, with myself coming in, just give everyone a lift and try to start winning football matches, because we need to do that quickly. We need a lift from somewhere. We’re in a position where everyone’s got that feeling of being a bit depressed and what have you. I am hoping a new face, and few other new faces if I can get them in before the weekend, will give everyone that lift.”
Onismor Bhasera looks set to leave Argyle during the transfer window, and has been linked with Shrewsbury Town and Walsall.
Argyle yesterday confirmed the appointment of John Sheridan as their new manager. Sheridan sat in the directors' box at Vale Park on Saturday, having travelled from his home in the Manchester area to watch the game, and was introduced to the Argyle players after the final whistle. It is reported that he will initially sign a contract until the end of the season but should Sheridan lead Argyle to safety it is expected he will be rewarded with a longer deal. James Brent said: “I am delighted to welcome John to Home Park. Following a distinguished playing career, John has a proven record of leading clubs to success in Leagues 1 and 2. John impressed the interviewing panel with his commitment to excellence and his approach to moving the club up the league table. He expressed an enthusiasm for attacking football and was confident in his analysis of what we needed to do to succeed. John noted his own experience of playing against Argyle at Home Park and the advantage that the Green Army’s passion gave to the home side. The Green Army has had a tough few years and deserves better: let’s all get behind John and the team and make Home Park a fortress once more.” Sheridan said: “I am very privileged to get this opportunity to manage the club. Everyone I’ve talked to says what a good club it is and what potential there is. I am very confident I can get us out of the position we are in if everyone, the players and fans, work together. I remember the support from the fans when I played down here with Leeds and Oldham, and that was one of the things that attracted me. From my time at Oldham and Chesterfield, I think I know what’s required from the players and what we need to do to succeed.” Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell are set to remain at Home Park, working with Sheridan, for the short term at least.
Kevin Nancekivell has backed Argyle’s players to bounce back quickly from the 4-0 defeat at Port Vale. ”They are hurting,” he said. “But they are a resilient bunch, footballers are made like that. They’ll be fine, and, come next Saturday, they’ll be raring to go. It means a lot to them. They are not a group of guys who don’t care. They care passionately and, today, they were fighting for us and working for us. Obviously, since New Year’s Day, it’s been tough, but their attitude and application has been good. The scoreline is what it is, but the lads have been terrific this week. I had a good feeling before the game. The changing-room was good and you could sense a feeling of togetherness and a sense of wanting to make the club proud, which they did. To be fair to them, I thought they stuck at it today. They are a great bunch, a wiling bunch. It just didn’t happen today. There’s a nucleus of a good squad there. One disappointing result and one disappointing Saturday afternoon is not going to change the way we approach things at the club. We’ll be back in next week, working hard. They’ll be smiles on our faces and we’ll go forward. We’ll be fine.”
After a promising opening at Port Vale yesterday, Argyle went a goal down and lost Nick Chadwick to a red card, all in the space of two minutes. “We started quite brightly,” said Kevin Nancekivell. “The lads were starting to put into place what we had been working on during the week, and we were quite comfortable. The sending-off changed the game and hasn’t helped us. Against a team like Port Vale who have got some match-winners, it was always going to be a tough task.” Nancekivell had no view of the sending-off, which occurred following an off-the-ball incident. “You are going to smile at me, but I haven’t seen it,” he said. “I hope he hasn’t done it. If he hasn’t, I’ll back him all the way, but, if he has, then there’s a lot of lads who’ve had to do a lot of running today.” The incident appeared to be a replica of one that occurred in the opening seconds of the match. “I didn’t see that, either,” said Nancekivell “We all turned around and said: ‘What happened there?’ Let’s wait and see what comes up.” Despite being down to ten men Nancekivell felt Argyle could get something out of the game if they did not concede early in the second half, but those hopes were dashed when Tom Pope scored the first of his two goals. He added: “I am disappointed with the second goal, ten minutes into the second half. If we could have hung in there, I would have fancied us to get a chance, but it didn’t work out like that. You have to fight on and move on. They have got match-winners, they have got two wide players who are very quick and some goalscorers, and a big pitch. It was always going to be difficult, and we had a few tired bodies out there.”
Kevin Nancekivell had nothing but praise for Paul Wotton after his return to action at Port Vale. He said: “I thought he was brilliant. The club needs people like Paul Wotton, especially today. We needed leaders out there.” The appearance was Wotton’s 464th for his home-town club, and he is now three games short of moving up to third on the list of all-time player appearances. “He’s been itching to get back into it,” said Nancekivell. “He’s been giving me earache all week. He tired a little bit at the end but, for his first game for so long, I thought he did terrific. He’s a leader and he epitomises everything about the club: the fight, the passion and the spirit.”
Argyle lost 4-0 at Port Vale. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Nelson, Blanchard, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Wotton, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Chadwick. Subs – Feeney, Lowry (not used – Cole, Griffiths, Gurrieri, Richards, Lecointe). Attendance – 5,139.
Darren Purse parted company with Argyle by mutual consent yesterday and has agreed personal terms on a move to Port Vale. Purse agreed a contract settlement with Argyle which will save the club a significant amount of money, and Vale are expected to announce his signing on Monday. Reports suggest he came close to completing a move to Vale before the deadline for emergency loan signings, but Carl Fletcher could not come up with a suitable replacement at the time. Argyle play at Port Vale today and Purse is not available to play for either of the teams.
John Sheridan is reported to be set to become Argyle's new manager. Newspaper reports state he impressed Argyle officials when he was interviewed by them yesterday and, as a result, was offered the job. Should all go according to plan, Sheridan will be officially unveiled by the club on Monday.
Alex Macdonald's proposed move to Argyle is rated 'extremely doubtful', according to the player's agent. James Cook said: "It's a major blow to Alex. I don't think the move is going to happen now. Given Argyle have not yet appointed a new manager, it's extremely doubtful, which is a real shame for both Alex and the club. It's fair to say Alex was shattered when he heard Carl Fletcher had lost his job. He was on the phone to me straight away and I could tell he was upset, not just because his plans were up in the air, but also because Fletcher was no longer the manager. Alex loved his time at Home Park and was looking forward to getting back there on a permanent basis once the transfer window opened. He had a strong relationship with Carl Fletcher and the coaching staff, players and supporters at Argyle, so he was and still is very down about it. He'd spent time on loan at Plymouth and that was successful, although Alex had missed not having his family around him. He has a baby daughter, Chloe, who was born in May and I know it hurt Alex a lot being away from his partner and little girl. But he was willing to uproot them from the North West and bring them down to the South West, so that he can play football regularly." Cook said MacDonald was now working hard, training with the Clarets' first team and had already impressed new Burnley boss Sean Dyche. "Alex is a pro and has knuckled down in training as we all knew he would," said Cook. "It could be he'll stay at Burnley until his contract runs out in the summer. I know Sean Dyche has been impressed by his attitude in training. But Alex wants to play regularly, as he was at Argyle, but unfortunately for him and the club that doesn't appear very likely now."
Former Argyle goalkeeper and coach Kevin Blackwell is reported to be on the shortlist for the managerial vacancy. The club are also thought to have targeted Keith Hill, who was sacked by Barnsley last Saturday, and former Chesterfield manager John Sheridan. Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell have taken temporary charge of the first team for the trip to Port Vale tomorrow, who have been linked with transfer-listed Darren Purse.
Kevin Nancekivell has tipped Carl Fletcher to make a successful return to management after taking a break from football. Nancekivell does not doubt Fletcher could still produce the goods on the pitch, but does see his long-term future as being in management. He said: "He's more than good enough to return to playing and he's still young enough. But I think he's a manager and he will bounce back again. Once he has had a little breather and recharged the batteries, and spent some quality time with his lovely family, then he will get the manager's bug again. He will get work. He's too good at what he does." Nancekivell and Romain Larrieu have taken temporary charge of first team affairs. "Carl is a good close friend of ours and he's a top young manager so we were upset to see him go," said Nancekivell. Larrieu added: "We were asked to take care of the team just over a year ago and really gave it as good as we have got. We felt we were not far away, but we understand that results have not been going our way. Obviously, I'm upset about Carl but I know he will bounce back." Fletcher revealed he had been sacked during a post-match Press conference after the defeat by Bristol Rovers. Nancekivell said: "That sums him up completely. To come into the changing room and look everybody in the eye and shake their hands when he was clearly upset takes some doing." Larrieu added: "He handled himself so well. Now he has gone and we have been asked to take care of the team." Nancekivell admitted it was difficult for him and Larrieu to assume responsibility for first team matters in such circumstances. "We worked very closely as a three of us and, all of a sudden, one of us has gone," he said. "It's strange, and it's strange in the office, but we have got a job to do. The chairman has asked us to look after matters on a day-to-day basis until we are told different, and that's what we will do. The club pays our wages and we will make sure we go to Port Vale well prepared to get a result." The squad met up for the first time yesterday after the sacking of Fletcher, and Larrieu said: "They are professionals, it's in their job title. They have just got to forget the past. It will happen to them again in their careers. It has happened to me. It's not a nice moment when you see a manager go but what do you do? You can't feel sorry for yourself. You have got to get up and fight because our position in the league needs sorting out."
The odds would appear to be stacked against Argyle for the trip to Port Vale tomorrow, but Kevin Nancekivell is not deterred by that. "Bring it on," he said. "Port Vale are flying high at the minute. They are a good team and the league table doesn't lie. They have got some match-winners and good players. But we have got some good players ourselves and they were very focused in training yesterday. They have got a point to prove and they desperately want to put things right. They will be well-prepared, they will know their jobs and we will give it a good crack. We will put our stamp on the team, for sure, but we won't be making wholesale changes. It's a tight-knit squad and apart from the results, which obviously show in the league table, some of our performances have been okay. The whole squad will be pulling together as one and we will go from there." Larrieu added: "We already know what the plan is going to be. There won't be major changes." Tom Pope has scored 21 of Vale's 50 league goals this season, but he relies a lot on the service of wide-men Jennison Myrie-Williams and Ashley Vincent. Nancekivell said: "Pope is a threat and we are going to have to be aware of that, but they have got other players apart from him that we know about. They are a good team but we don't want to under-estimate ourselves too much. We have got some good players and I'm sure they will do us, and the club, proud tomorrow. When the ball is rolling you forget everything else that is going on. We will be looking to get on the bus with the squad and just cocoon ourselves a little bit, and concentrate on what we have got to do. We're looking forward to it and let's see what tomorrow brings."
Romain Larrieu has vowed to continue to work hard for Argyle despite not knowing how much longer his services will be needed. "All I can control is these three days with Nance and I want them to be spot on," he said. "Whatever happens I can't control it, so I'm not going to be worrying about it, not right now. My wife was upset because it's never nice to see one of us go, but she understands how it works. There's no point feeling sorry for yourself, that's the way it is, so we'll work as hard as we can for the duration of our contracts, or the time we're given." Larrieu says he has learnt a lot from his time on the coaching staff Home Park. "The experience is great. To deal with a group of young people, try to make sure that the whole organisation is good, it's a great experience," he added. "I don't regret the choice that I made, which a lot of people questioned at the time, when I stopped playing. It's been an eye opener and I've learnt so many things, whatever happens next I'll have it forever."
Argyle are drawing up a shortlist of four or five candidates for the managerial vacancy at Home Park. Reports suggest former Derby County, Hull City and Preston North End manager Phil Brown will be on the list and is interested in the opportunity. Argyle are thought to have received around 50 applications since the sacking of Carl Fletcher and former Argyle defender Keith Hill is the bookmakers favourite. Colin Lee, who interviewed for the Home Park managers job in 2004, is the second favourite. Other names linked to the job include Lawrie Sanchez and Steve Cotterill.
Paul Wotton’s presence among the Argyle substitutes at Bristol Rovers, after three months’ absence because of a back injury, was a boost to the team, and he could be in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Port Vale. “Wottsy’s Wottsy,” said Romain Larrieu. “You would want him to have a few games under his belt before he goes back in, but we have got a small squad, so we will consider everyone who is fit.” Also under consideration for a place is Joe Lennox, who, along with Isaac Vassell, has accepted a contract extension following the expiry of his previous deal. “We’re going to offer Joe another month just so the new manager, when he comes in, will be able to make his own opinion of him,” said Kevin Nancekivell. Nancekivell also confirmed that Mark Molesley had returned to Bournemouth at the end of his loan. “He’s done terrific and I’d like to thank him for his efforts and what he’s done in his time here,” he said.
Carl Fletcher admitted it had been 'a tough four years' at Argyle when he spoke just minutes after he was sacked yesterday. He said: "That's my last game today. That's me got the sack. We will have to wait and see what the future brings. I have got a good relationship with James Brent and we have both been through a lot, him recently and me for the last four years since I have been here. I might be a young manager but I'm not stupid enough to realise that if you don't win games then you don't keep your job. I'm obviously disappointed. Both myself and James had a good relationship and I'm sure it was a very tough decision for him, but he only has the best interests of the football club at heart." Fletcher chose not to skip his post-match interview, just after being informed of his sacking, and when asked why, he replied: "That's life, you get on with it, don't you? At the end of the day, it's a game of football and you have got to put things in perspective. There are some real good players in that changing room and some real good characters. I wish them all the best. They are still young so they have got a real good chance in the future." Fletcher, reflecting on his four years at Argyle, added: "I would like to say I look back on my time here with real happiness, but it's far from it. We had a couple of relegations, all the administration stuff and fighting going out of the Football League. It has been a tough four years. It's obviously disappointing to end this way but that's life and that's football. It will be nice to spend some time with my family and get away from it all. It has been a real tough time, not just on the pitch but off it as well, because it affects your whole life. The way your life gets overtaken when you are a manager is very hard to deal with. In the time I have been here, I have learned so much about people, and myself, and how people react in different situations. Like I say, me and James have both been through a lot. It's his first club and he's a young owner and I'm a young manager. We have learned a lot together. Both of us want the best for the football club and he has made the decision that getting a new manager will be best for the club." Asked whether he would try to return to management at some point, Fletcher replied: "I don't know. Sometimes you think, 'Is it worth all the hassle, and all the stress and the late nights?' I will spend some time with the kids and have a bit of down-time. I have never really had down-time at all since I was about 16. It has been football non-stop. You never know, I might even go back to playing. I have seen some teams in this division, and others, and sometimes I think I might be able to earn a living that way. I will go home, see the family, spend some time with them and let everything settle down. It’s tough when you speak to the players, they’ve put a lot in and we’ve been through a lot together. It’s disappointing, but you’ve just got to get on with things. And the end of the day it’s a game of football. You’ve got to put things in perspective. There’s some real good players in that changing room. Some real good characters. I wish them all the best. They’ve got some good quality and are still young. They’ve got a real chance in the future. We’ve tried to put foundations in, and it’s hard, with finances and things like that, but that’s the way it is. They’ve got some great fans, great travelling fans. All my staff have helped out and they’ve put their time in. Some of us have been through relegations and no money, but everyone has tried to do their best and has tried to work their socks off. But that’s the way football goes.”
Argyle do not expect to have a new manager in place before Saturday's game at Port Vale, so Kevin Nancekivell and Romain Larrieu will take charge of the team on a temporary basis. Director Colin Sexstone will lead the search for a new manager, and club president Chris Webb said: "I think the results over the course of the season have led to an inevitability about the decision. Carl's a credit to himself, a credit his family and a credit to the club, he always has been. If you look back to the way he conducted himself during administration, leading the players several times, making sure that they went without pay to save the club, and then taking a pay cut himself to see James Brent get over the line, the guy is an exemplary professional. I want to thank him personally and on behalf of the supporters of our club, he truly is an Argyle legend." Webb says that the person who takes on the manager's role is vital for the future of the club. "This is possibly the biggest appointment in Argyle's history," he said. We need somebody who's going to lift this place off the ground. Everything's ready to go, we're all ready top get behind the new man, we just need that right appointment." Argyle have dropped plans to appoint a director of football after the sacking of Fletcher. Reports suggest the decision to part company with Fletcher was made by the board of directors on New Year's Eve. But, as the game against Bristol Rovers was so close, they did not take any immediate action.
Argyle released the following statement today: “Plymouth Argyle Football Club have parted company with manager Carl Fletcher. The team’s recent results have not been good enough and, with the club’s Football League future paramount, the Argyle Board felt that a change was necessary now as we head into an important part of the season. The owner and the Board would like to thank Carl for all he has done for the club, as a player and a manager. Carl helped keep us in the Football League last season and we will never forget that huge contribution he made to Argyle’s history. He leaves with our best wishes for his future career and will always be welcome at Home Park. The Board will now seek promptly to appoint a new manager with significant experience of football management. The club will be making no further immediate comment to this announcement.”
Argyle lost 2-1 at Bristol Rovers, the goal scored by Conor Hourihane after 62 minutes. Argyle: Gilmartin, Berry, Nelson, Blanchard, Williams, Hourihane, Young, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Feeney, Chadwick. Subs – Molesley, Griffiths, Lennox (not used – Cole, Lowry, Wotton, Lecointe). Attendance – 7,332.
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