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.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle moved off the bottom of the table after the win at Peterborough United last night. Paul Sturrock said: "We had a lot of our offensive players sat on the bench tonight, rather than playing on the pitch. Instead, we had a solid bank of two-fours. There is nothing wrong with the spirit of the players. Results will always be the determination on a manager's fate and a club's situation. There have been a lot of games this season where we should have taken more out of them. But we have had such an unsettled back four and tonight we decided we would give them a hand and put a strong midfield across in front of them. It seemed to work." Sturrock is hoping Argyle can build on the win when they play Scunthorpe United at Home Park on Saturday. He said: "We need another three points then, otherwise we will waste what we have achieved tonight. We have had a real problem at home. There has been an apprehension and a worry about us. I'm hoping the confidence we will take from tonight will carry on into Saturday. I'm 52-years-old and I'm 15 years a manager. I have seen it, done it and got the T-shirt. Yes, I have been frustrated by how our season has gone. I have never been involved in something like this before. Losing is as habit-forming as winning, so let's hope we get the winning habit and we start to push up the league." Jamie Mackie has failed to take several chances during the course of the season but put Argyle into the lead last night. Sturrock said: "If Jamie had taken more of the chances he has created, I think people could be talking about him as a £3 million player. Tonight he has done the right things, worked his tail off and he has got his just rewards." Rory Fallon doubled the lead six minutes after Mackie had scored, and also earned praise from Sturrock. "Rory has had an inconsistency to his game over the piece," he said. "But, on tonight's performance, I think people would look at him and say he could play much higher. I was pleased with his whole attitude to the game. He did all the right things when we had the ball and he did all the right things when we didn't have it." Sturrock went with James Chester and Shane Lowry as his centre-back pairing and both defended solidly. He said: "Everything that came into the box, they handled very well. Lowry did a fantastic job. And, credit where credit is due, Chester read the game really well and did all the right things."
Roy Gardner has admitted the club's board of directors are closely scrutinising the position of Paul Sturrock. Speaking before the win at Peterborough, Gardner said: "We are very new to this club and said at the beginning that what we needed was a period of stability. We are working through our five-year plan so we can determine exactly what we have got and how we can afford to invest in the playing squad. We said we would stick behind the manager. Now clearly there is a limit to how long you can do that for. We are not stupid. We will take the appropriate decision if it's required. We are watching that position very closely. Any good manager would not want to be around if he's not producing results. It's as simple as that. And Paul Sturrock is a good honest manager. He has done a lot for this club." Argyle were five points adrift of safety, before last nights game. Gardner added: "It's very disappointing. Clearly, we would not have planned to be at the bottom of the table at this stage, but we are still hopeful. We are looking very carefully at the squad – the mix, the balance and the quality. I think we have gone a long way to improve it. There will be a few more people going out, of course, but that's part of the process." The size of the squad is also proving to be a considerable drain on Argyle's finances. Gardner said: "That's one of the short-term issues we are addressing now. Balancing the cashflow is a problem. We are not too far adrift, but it needs constant attention. It is all loans at the moment and nobody wants to pick up their full wage costs, unfortunately, so you can only remove part of the liability. But we had to take those opportunities to do that, and we will continue to do it." Gardner's busy schedule means he has only been to two Argyle games this season but has also seen DVDs of matches, however, and follows all of the scores on TV. He added: "It's difficult for me to get down to games. I intend to get to a few more, but I follow every minute on a Saturday afternoon as the results are ticking through second-by-second on Sky."
Argyle won 2-1 at Peterborough United, the goals scored by Jamie Mackie after 63 minutes and Rory Fallon (69). Argyle: Larrieu, Blake, Lowry, Chester, Sawyer, Gray, Fletcher, Duguid, Paterson, Mackie, Fallon. Subs - Sheridan (not used – Letheren, Wright-Phillips, Judge, Gow, Barnes, Timar). Attendance – 7,114
Paul Sturrock has a choice between youth and experience for tonight's trip to Peterborough United. With Kari Arnason injured the question is whether he sticks with Shane Lowry and James Chester in central defence or turns to the experience of Krisztian Timar. Sturrock said: "Arnason’s out and he's absolutely gutted; distraught about it all. Krisztian comes into the squad. We have got to freshen up. Fresh legs are vitally important over the three games. We've had a six-hour trip as well, so I'll make my decision after that. The two young boys at centre-back worked tirelessly. They chucked their bodies in and everything else. I thought they did ok. Lowry was talking and organising at Newcastle as well. That's in his make-up, and Arnie's a very quiet lad. The young boys have come at a difficult time and I was loath to be going down the road with them as early as I've had to go, and I feel for them. There is a pressure on them but they handled it very well. I wouldn't rule out playing the same back four but there is a strength-factor of playing two games in a week, which can be a problem to a youngster. We've ticked them over - the ones that haven't been involved. Chester did a lot of work during the week. Do you go for experience or youth? It is something we'll weigh up this morning." Sturrock may keep faith with the defenders who finished Sunday's game, but he is unlikely to be as tolerant with his attacking players. "Going forward was the problem, so I'm going to have freshen up those areas." he added. "I thought Alan Judge did OK when he came on."
Paul Sturrock has been trying to raise the morale of his players ahead of the game at Peterborough United tonight. He said: "There were one or two players after the game on Sunday whose heads were really down. I'm going to have to slap them about a wee bit and see if we can get them mustered again. I would say that our performance in the second half against Forest was a huge disappointment to the players and myself. We didn't respond properly. Looking back to it now, I think the goal coming as late in the first half as it did, put a dampener on the half-time talk and the players took that out on the football pitch." The defeat was especially disappointing as there was a season's best attendance at Home Park. Sturrock added: "The players were disappointed and a few of them were apologetic about their performances. It was another opportunity missed because, obviously, there were one or two decent chances early on. I do believe our crowd would have won us that game had we scored first."
Marcel Seip is to join Blackpool on a one-month loan. Paul Sturrock said: "I think it's important Marcel goes out on loan and gets playing. Myself and the club have made our thoughts on the situation plain and Blackpool are the first club to come in for him." Argyle will face Blackpool on October 17th but, under the terms of the loan deal, Seip will not be allowed to play in that match.
Shane Lowry has been called up to the Australia squad for their Asian Cup qualifier against Oman on October 14th
Damien McCrory has extended his loan deal at Port Vale for a further month.
Paul Sturrock is determined to carry on as Argyle manager despite the club's worst start to a season in 28 years. "I will not walk away from this," he said, after the defeat by Nottingham Forest. "I have been a manager for 15 years now, I think, and I have been through all sorts of things. If I felt it was a complete lost cause, and I was the catalyst to all this, then I would have to have a real think about things. I think there are a lot of reasons we are in this situation at this minute in time, but that's old hat and we have discussed it too many times. My job is to try to get a settled team on the pitch. I'm a football manager, and football managers live by the sword and die by the sword. I understand that. But I have been very pleased with the positiveness and the backing the new board have given me. I would love to turn this around for them because they are nice people and they are appreciative of the situation. And that's what my aim is. I will not walk away from this." Sturrock appealed to the fans to continue to show their support for the players in the club's time of need. However, he admitted he was prepared to take any flak which came his way. Sturrock said: "What I would say to the vociferous fans out there is that if they have got any abuse to give out, they keep it at me."
Kari Arnason tore his hamstring in the first half of yesterdays game and could be out of action for four to six weeks. Paul Sturrock said: "Arnason has torn his hamstring and the club doctor has made comment it could be between four to six weeks. The defence has proved to be a problem for us. I would have loved to have a settled back four, but that has been taken away from us again. We keep going down the road of changes. But I don't think the defence was the key factor in the second half. I feel the players didn't respond properly to the challenge and they got their heads down a wee bit for the first time. I made it plain to them the second half wasn't to the standards we need to achieve. We looked disjointed." Yesterday, Forest took the lead on the stroke of half-time and Argyle rarely threatened to get an equaliser. Sturrock said: "I think losing the goal at the time we did was the key to it all. The goal we lost against Watford was in the first few minutes and we looked a bit tetchy afterwards for a while. I don't think we started the second half right today because most of the players had the goal on their minds. I was reasonably happy for 45 plus one minutes, but to lose a goal at that time of the game was a real killer blow. We never really got an edge to us after that, like we had got against Watford." Sturrock had words of praise for Shane Lowry and James Chester for the way they played in difficult circumstances. He said: "I thought the two young boys were competent. They worked very hard together and, to be fair, I don't think Ro had a real save to make in the second half." Sturrock must now decide whether to recall Krisztian Timar for the game at Peterborough United tomorrow and when asked whether Marcel Seip could be recalled to the squad, Sturrock replied: "There will be no reversal in policy. It's a club decision." Sturrock pointed to the experience of Romain Larrieu, Carl Fletcher and Karl Duguid as having crucial parts to play for the club. He said: "If we were to come back with six points from our next two games we would be competitive in the lower area of the league. We wouldn't be off the pace, and that's what we have got to aim for. It's vitally important the older players are strong and bring the younger ones along. We were a young team today, but the Fletchers, the Duguids and the Larrieus – and myself and the staff – are going to have to get it into their heads that we aren't that far away from getting back into the pack."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Arnason, Lowry, Sawyer, Clark, Fletcher, Duguid, Gow, Mackie, Sheridan. Subs - Chester, Wright-Phillips, Judge (not used – Letheren, Blake, Fallon, Paterson). Attendance - 14,792
Cillian Sheridan hopes that he, and his team-mates, can build on the promising aspects of the defeat at Newcastle when they take on Nottingham Forest. He said: "The move has been good for me because I have been playing but, obviously, results-wise it hasn't been so good. I think we have been playing well and we definitely deserve more than we have got out of games. Hopefully, we can get that first win. I'm getting sick of other teams saying after games 'you were the better side' when we have lost to them. That's a kick in the teeth. All we can do is keep playing well and, hopefully, our luck might change." Sheridan has noticed one main difference in the Championship, compared to lining up for Celtic in the SPL. He said: "This is a tough league and it's end-to-end all the time. Maybe it's just with Celtic, but in Scotland it felt like you were closed down on the ball straight away. Here, you still get time." Sheridan thought his display against Newcastle was his best yet for Argyle, but added: "It was maybe the team's best performance as well so, hopefully, we can build on that. I don't think there have been many games where we have deserved to lose, but I suppose you can't keep saying that. It has got to change sometime." Sheridan has not only enjoyed his football, but also living in the South West. He said: "When I went on loan to Motherwell I stayed in Glasgow, but coming here has been fine. It has been easy for me to settle in. I know all the lads well now so there are no excuses for me not to perform."
Bradley Wright-Phillips cannot wait to play his part in Argyle's quest to remain in the Championship. He said: "The injury was just depressing. You come here and all you want to do is do well, and that gets put on hold by injury. There's nothing worse that I can think of in football." In his absence, Argyle have failed to win a game and are at the bottom of their division. "It has been frustrating to watch," Wright-Phillips said. "To be fair, the boys have reacted well. There's still good banter around the club, but everyone wants to win. It's something we should be doing. We could have won the games we've lost, and we need to look at why we didn't. The performances have not been bad, and that's why I think most of the fans have been sticking behind the boys. They can see that we've not been playing badly. We've just been letting in sloppy goals here and there and, when we do cut that out, we should be pushing up the table." If called upon by Paul Sturrock, Wright-Phillips is ready to make his first start. "I'm always ready to play for the first team," he said. "That's why I'm here, but the manager makes the decisions. If he feels that I need a bit longer to recover, then I'm thankful for that." Wright-Phillips lasted 90 minutes in the reserve game at Bournemouth, and he scored twice in the 9-1 win. "It was good," he said. "The knee was a bit stiff after the game, but that's going to be normal until I can get it stronger. That's only going to come with working hard in the gym and playing more games." Sturrock has plenty of strikers to choose from, and he may feel he does not need to rush him back into his starting XI. He said: "Bradley had his first 90 minutes of the competitive season on Tuesday, and he was flagging in the last 15 minutes. But he's going in the right direction. We just have to keep pushing him hard in training and, when he gets his opportunity, he has to grab it."
Paul Sturrock is hoping that a packed Home Park will inspire Argyle to their first win of the season against Nottingham Forest tomorrow. Sturrock said: "The better the atmosphere tomorrow, the better it is for the team. I think it's important we get as many people into the stadium as possible to get behind the side. In the end, we want these new supporters to come along and, hopefully, get the bug. The better it is for everybody then. It will be a great tonic. With the launch of the World Cup host city bid there will be lots of bits and pieces going on. The board of directors have shown their intent, by giving away these free tickets, and I think it's a great thing for the club. We all got the football bug through going to games with our dads. I'm very hopeful tomorrow will benefit us by picking up the support of lots of kids, who will bring along a parent." Sturrock added: "Confidence is a big thing in football and I have closely watched the players over the last two or three days. They are very much up for the game, and there is still a team spirit going. They are desperate to do well. I'm hoping it's not total desperation, because we could cause ourselves concern then. There was a wee spell in the game against Watford, after we lost the early goal, when a nervousness went through the team. I don't want that to rear its ugly head tomorrow. I'm very hopeful we can score the first goal, which would put us on the front foot, rather than being on the back foot and chasing the game."
Argyle are likely to be without Reda Johnson and Shane Lowry tomorrow. Johnson is to have a cartilage operation on Monday, which will put him on the sidelines for at least four weeks. The Benin international has not played for Argyle since he was injured in the first half of his full debut – the 3-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion in September. Lowry injured an ankle during his debut for Argyle last Saturday and returned to Aston Villa this week for a medical assessment. So Paul Sturrock will choose between Krisztian Timar and on-loan Manchester United defender James Chester as the centre-back partner for Kari Arnason. On the plus side, Darcy Blake has recovered from injury and is set to return. Sturrock said: "Blake has trained the whole week with no reaction. We have got to try to get a settled back four. We have worked very hard with our defenders this week and, hopefully, we will reap the benefits come Sunday."
Luke Summerfield has joined Leyton Orent on a one-month loan deal. Paul Sturrock is keen for the Summerfield to earn as much first-team football as possible. "I am pleased for him to get games," Luggy said. "The thing about Luke is that Duguid, Fletcher and Paterson have all had strong starts to the season. I felt Luke was on the periphery and I saw Orient play a couple of weeks ago, and they looked a decent footballing team who will suit Luke's style of play. Those kind of games will be far more valuable than reserve games. He will be tested in that division."
Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan have been called up to the Republic of Ireland Under 21 squad to face Georgia and Switzerland in UEFA 2011 qualifiers.
Centre-back James Chester hopes to make his debut for Argyle on Sunday. He said: "If I get to play I will be really happy, but there is a big squad here and I have got to earn my place. I will just wait and see." Talking of his Manchester United teammate David Gray, he said: "Me and David are good mates off the pitch. He knows the lads here so that has made it a lot easier for me. It's a long way from Manchester but it was an easy decision for me to make, especially with David coming here and knowing him so well." Chester, who was voted the player-of-the-year for United's reserves last season, thought Argyle were unfortunate not to at least draw against Newcastle. He said: "I didn't think we looked like a side at the bottom of the table. We made three mistakes and got punished with a goal each time. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck going our way, we should be shooting up the table soon. I have been impressed with what I have seen so far, and I'm positive there is more than enough ability here to get us out of the situation we are in." Chester admitted he was rarely stretched in the reserves' rout of Bournemouth this week. He said: "There wasn't much for me to do defending-wise. I had quite a lot of the ball and made some nice passes. I think the lads got the best out of it they could."
David Gray is facing up to the possibility of a future away from Manchester United. Gray signed as a professional for United in August 2005, aged 17, but has made only one first team appearance since then. He has a contract with United until the end of the season, but they are not short of options in his position, so there is a good chance that the he will leave United by next summer. In the meantime, the 21-year-old wants to play as many matches as possible while on loan to Argyle. He said: "All I'm concentrating on is getting as many games as I can and just taking it as it comes. I think the chances of coming through the ranks at a club like Manchester United are always slim. But, as long as I have got a contract there, I will never say, 'I'm not going to make it'. The manager has told me it depends on how I do while I'm on loan. If I keep progressing I might get my chance. As long as there is a little bit of hope there, you never want to give up. But I'm at the age now where I do need to be playing. If it gets to the end of this season and I haven't had a chance, it will definitely be time to move on."
Argyle have confirmed that the club's televised game against Nottingham Forest will be a full house after the last remaining tickets were snapped up yesterday. A club spokesman said that not since the 2004 to 2005 season – the year after the Pilgrims won promotion to the Championship – have fans had to be turned away. The game also sees the launch of Devon and Cornwall's bid – with, said Argyle, 'Plymouth at its heart' – to gain host city status for the 2018 football World Cup. Argyle director Keith Todd said: "The Westcountry bid is a people's bid, and this demonstrates perfectly the enthusiasm that the people of the region have for top-flight football. They are voting with their hearts and feet, and reinforce our strong commitment that is in our World Cup host city bid to encourage football in the region. The bid is firmly focused on football as a family experience, and we are delighted that families have decided to come and join us at Home Park this Sunday." Argyle's spokesman said that the host city bid – along with special ticket-offers to the region's students and youngsters – had 'fired the enthusiasm of the Green Army' for Sunday's big game. Tony Campbell, Argyle's chief operating officer, said there might still be hope for some supporters who normally pay on the gate – and had not pre-ordered their ticket. He said: "We have been overwhelmed by demand, but it may be that not all tickets that we have distributed to schools and families will be used. We appeal to them to return tickets to Home Park so that we can satisfy the demand that remains. Returned tickets will go on sale on the day of the game. When any more tickets become available, we will let people know through our website and the local media." The game will mark the start of a 'pilgrimage' around the region, said the club, which will see people encouraged to send in snaps to the Football Association to back up the bid's claim to be 'the beautiful setting for the beautiful game'. Todd said: "We want everyone to register their support for the Plymouth bid by joining the bid website www.plymouthworldcupbid.com and clicking through to register their support for the bid on the official FA site."
David Gray has admitted that his return to Home Park for a second loan spell was an easy decision to make. The Edinburgh-born defender said: "I wasn't really getting a chance at United, so I thought the best thing to do was to come here and, if possible, play games again. I know most of the lads and I obviously know the manager so it was quite an easy decision, to be honest." Gray added: "I think we've got a really good squad here and, hopefully, we can turn it around quite quickly." Speaking of James Chester, his team-mate at old Trafford, Gray said: "He's a no-nonsense centre-half and has been captain of the reserves for the last year and a half. It will be good to see how he does. I'm sure he will do really well at this level."
James Chester made his first Argyle appearance in the reserve team's 9-1 rout of Bournemouth at Dean Court yesterday afternoon. The 20-year-old Manchester United central defender did not have much to do as the visitors rattled in the goals against their outclassed opponents. Ashley Barnes completed a hat-trick for Argyle while his strike partner Bradley Wright-Phillips netted twice, as did midfielder Joe Mason. Assistant boss Kevin Summerfield praised the "attitude and application" of the players who were on duty for the Totesport.com Combination fixture. Summerfield said: "We had a real good session with the squad on Monday on the way we wanted to attack and cross the ball. Some of the goals today were stunning, and the movement and the work for the goals was absolutely brilliant. So full credit to everybody, and it was nice to see Ash and Brad get onto the scoresheet." Summerfield thought Chester had given a good account of himself, while not being overly stretched. "He didn't make the game too uncomfortable or try to take any risks. He showed defensive attributes but didn't really have anything to do. He will have wanted to stamp his authority on the game, but it was very difficult to do that today." Paul Sturrock had originally planned to pair Chester with Krisztian Timar at Bournemouth, but Timar ended up training with the first team. David McNamee was also ruled out of the match because of a chest infection.
Paul Sturrock will have James Chester, Kristian Timar and Kari Arnason in contention for the center of defence against Forest at the weekend if Shane Lowry and Reda Johnson's injuries rule them out. Despite the addition of Chester and Lowry to his squad last week, Sturrock has not ruled out borrowing more centre-backs. "I would not say that I'm finished in that department, if I feel that area of the team still has to be strengthened," Sturrock said. "The cause of the club is more important than the number of loan signings we have."
Rory Fallon has been called up for New Zealand's World Cup Play-Off Series first leg match with Bahrain on October 10, 2009.
Loan signing Shane Lowry could face a spell on the sidelines because of an ankle injury sustained on Saturday. Argyle have already been without centre-back Reda Johnson for the past two matches and it remains unclear when he will return to action. Lowry was one of a trio of young players who were signed on three-month loans last week. The 20-year-old admitted that he was at fault for Newcastle's first goal in only the sixth minute. Paul Sturrock was impressed, however, by the way Lowry overcame the bitter disappointment of making such a mistake. "It was unfortunate he was involved in their first goal, but it shows you the strength of character he has got that he wasn't affected by it," said the Pilgrims' boss. "The players were very impressed with him and thought he had a strong debut." Fellow loanee James Chester could be Lowry's replacement on Sunday. Sturrock said: "I would like to think Chester will come in and do exactly the same. Then we have got to decide on the pairing in the centre of defence. I think the important thing now is that we have a settled back four." Luggy believes Argyle are showing promising signs in attack now that recent signings Alan Gow and Cillian Sheridan are more accustomed to their roles. He said: "We look to be getting to know each other up front. Two new players came in after the start of the season and, all of a sudden, they had to adapt to the team. I thought Sheridan was near enough our best player on Saturday. He had a very solid game and I'm excited by him. And Gow showed some good signs in the second half." Sturrock continued: "The essence of life now is to put a settled back four together. I will decide on that after watching the reserves and after the work we put into our defenders in training this week. People will probably point the finger that Chester and Lowry are inexperienced. But so were Craig Cathcart and David Gray when they turned up last season. They were a benefit to the team, and I'm sure these two will be a benefit as well."
Darcy Blake was set to return to training today after a hamstring injury. Blake did the damage playing for Wales under-21s in a European Championship qualifier against Italy in Wrexham on September 4. The versatile 20-year-old has played only once for the Pilgrims since signing on loan from Cardiff City until January.
Paul Sturrock has admitted that his over-sized squad was a problem, with some players not even featuring regularly in training sessions, let alone first team matches. Sturrock said: "I have got unhappy players at this minute in time, and that's not a nice ingredient in the changing room. Every player at this football club thinks they should be in my team. But when we have training we have too many numbers and people are becoming surplus to requirements, which frustrates the players. At the end of the day, it's not an ideal scenario. If I could get back to 22 players tomorrow, I would do it – for the benefit of the players moving on and for the benefit of the football club. But we could still be in this scenario for some time if nobody comes in for certain players. We have worked very hard at putting a lot of players out on loan and that's all we can do again now. Come the January transfer window, I would like to think some other clubs might be interested in our players so we can do some deals. In the end, the last thing we want to be doing is paying players off. However, it's an evil I might have to cross the bridge with."
Argyle reserves are away to Bournemouth in the Totesport.com Combination at Dean Court today (2pm). Bradley Wright-Phillips will start a match for the first time since his recovery from a knee operation and will be paired with Ashley Barnes in attack. The expected line-up is: Kyle Letheren, David McNamee, Krisztian Timar, James Chester, Ryan Brett, Joe Mason, Yoann Folly, Luke Summerfield, Jake Baker, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Ashley Barnes.
Shane Lowry has insisted there is cause for optimism for Argyle. He said: "Everyone is putting the effort in and no-one is slacking off. We are all in it together as a team. It's a tight-knit group from what I have seen the past couple of days. I think we have got the quality as well to turn the results around. Hopefully, it's onwards and upwards, but we will see what happens." Newcastle took the lead on Saturday when Stephen Taylor escaped the attention of Lowry and headed home from a corner. Lowry said: "Taylor ran off me and I was bitterly disappointed in myself. I know I'm better than that, but you can't dwell on your mistakes. You just have to get your head down and keep going. Once we got back in the game at 1-1, I thought we were in with a fighting chance." Lowry had seen DVDs of Argyle's previous couple of games before making his debut. He said: "The team are at the bottom of the table, but I don't think that is justified with the way they have been playing. I have watched them over the last couple of games and they have been unlucky. There are some quality footballers in the team. Obviously, people in the dressing room are disappointed with the results not going our way. But you can't get down and dwell on it because the results will keep sliding. Everyone is trying to keep a positive attitude and, hopefully, we can turn around the results soon." Lowry was keen on a loan move from Villa and had no hesitation in signing for Argyle. "I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to test myself in the Championship, so it all progressed really quickly from there," he said. "By Thursday night I was on a plane up to Newcastle from Birmingham, and I stayed in the hotel. I met up with the players when they got to the hotel on Friday, so I'm still trying to put names to faces. But once I have spent a week or two with them I'm pretty sure I will gel in fine. I have been at Villa for five years now and with the defensive reinforcements that Martin O'Neill has bought I would just be stuck in the reserves." Lowry already knew Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan as he has played with them for the Republic of Ireland under-21s. "I spoke to them and they had nothing but good things to say about the club," he added. "I was just happy to get out on loan, to be honest. I'm looking forward to it."
Paul Sturrock believes the next three games will define Argyle’s season. "I think my team is beginning to come together," he said, "but people in Devon will be looking at three goals conceded again. I do feel that we now play three important games: Forest, Peterborough and Scunthorpe. That will be a big key as to how our season is going to unfold." Shane Lowry made his debut, while David Gray was back in the defence. Sturrock said: "There were again two changes in the back four and the quicker I can get to a settled back four, the better. I can only do that through work. I've made my mind up. I'll have a look at Chester in the game on Tuesday and then I'll make my mind up on what back four we are going to settle on. That will be the back four for the next six-eight games, unless injury comes upon us. I didn't think Lowry showed a lack of it today; Chester comes from Manchester United and has shown attributes when I've watched him. I think Arnie is getting better at centre-half - he's starting to understand the idea of it - but I would like to get him into midfield. I do feel he'd be a benefit there but Duguid and Fletcher have done well there in the last couple of games. I'm not going to tamper with that. There were times in the game when Gow, Sheridan, Mackie and Duguid definitely got themselves in the right areas. There was a flow to us, going forward, and we had several goal attempts. So, it wasn't as if it was a 3-1 drubbing. I do feel we contributed to the game - I thought it was a good game - but, at the end of the day. We have got to get to the stage where we get very solid, very workmanlike, to be that stuffy side with a bit of flair up front. We are going to settle on a team. I don't think we have looked too bad with the six forward types we have had on the pitch. It's now making sure this back four gets solid work, and if we can put a better shape to ourselves when the other team has the ball, it won't be long before we start scoring goals at the other end. I'm heart sorry for the players. I shook every player's hand as they came off the football pitch. They gave everything they had. It's not a level playing-field, but, if you watched the game closely, we were not out of sorts. It wasn't as if we were backs to the wall, and didn't make a chance and got drubbed. The goalie had a great save off Gary Sawyer's effort. If that goes in, who knows how the game would unwind? But, too many time in the last four or five games, it has been if, if, if. It is now time that, with these three games coming up, we really commit together."
Paul Sturrock is confident that he will repay the backing of the Argyle board by turning the season around soon. "I think it shows you the intent of the new board," he said. "They go to the games and they can see that there is a vision, that we are going in the right direction as far as the team is concerned. I've had two draws and six defeats. I'm human. There's only so far a board can wait for me to turn it around. They have been very committed to the cause. They feel there's light at the end of the tunnel. But we have got to turn it soon. I want the right thing for Argyle. I'm attempting to do the right thing. I am very, very confident that these players will turn it around for us."
Argyle lost 3-1 at Newcastle United, the goal scored by Karl Duguid after 50 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Arnason, Lowry, Sawyer, Clark, Fletcher, Duguid, Mackie, Sheridan, Gow. Subs - Judge, Fallon (not used – Letheren, Wright-Phillips, Timar, Paterson, McNamee). Attendance - 42,898
Alan Judge played his part in helping Argyle avoid relegation last season, and he is determined to do so again, starting today at Newcastle United. When asked what the mood was like in the squad, he replied: "It's obviously down, but we just think luck is going against us at the moment. Everybody is annoyed, and it isn't like we want to be in this position. It happened to the team around this time last year, I'm told, before I came here. Then we went from bottom to fifth in about a month, so we know that we have it in us – and I think we have a better team than we had last year, with the quality of the players we have here. We're making chances, and we've been doing plenty of shooting practice this week. Hopefully we can put one or two into the net up at Newcastle. We're letting in stupid goals as well, because we're not concentrating. Hopefully we can put an end to that same old story." Judge was an unused substitute against West Brom last Saturday and had to make do with less than 20 minutes against Watford in midweek. "I'm just hoping I'm in the team this weekend, because I haven't played in the last two games," he said. "I understood why I wasn't picked when I'd just come back from international duty. On Tuesday, having spoken to the gaffer, I know he didn't want to go too attacking, but come Saturday I want to play." Chris Clark and Alan Gow filled the wide-midfield positions in the first half of Tuesday's game but Gow looked more comfortable when he was moved into the centre of the field in the second half. "We tried Gow on the width, and it was difficult to get him into the game," Sturrock admitted. "I thought he came into the game much more when he went central, and we looked more content then." When Judge came off the bench on Tuesday, so did Bradley Wright-Phillips. However, Sturrock warned that a starting role for him may not happen this weekend. "Bradley came through on Tuesday with no problem, and he'll benefit from that, but sticking him straight in from the start is the wrong thing to do," he said. "We'll have to take things slowly with him."
Jamie Mackie is determined to go into the game at Newcastle with a positive attitude. "We have to keep plugging away," he said. "If you feel sorry for yourself, you'll carry on losing because big teams want to punish you. You can't dwell on the past and look back, because it's happened now." Mackie sees the trip to Newcastle as the ideal stage for the team to pick themselves up. He said: "After the Watford game there was a feeling of deflation in the dressing room, because of the amount of effort we put in and the amount of shots we had on target. But Newcastle is a massive game. It's the one that everyone wants to be involved in - playing on the big stages. I love those big games, in big stadiums and in front of a lot of people. They're why I've worked hard to get to this level and I'll go there and hopefully I'll be playing up front and will get a couple of chances." Despite Newcastle being overwhelming favourites on Saturday, Mackie feels Argyle are in with a shout. "The pressure is going to be on Newcastle," he said. "Blackpool have given us hope that we can go there and get something. But I can't say we're going there with no pressure, because we need a win so badly - it's not like we've got points on the board and it doesn't matter."
Paul Sturrock believes Newcastle's defeat at Blackpool on Wednesday has shown the Championship that the Magpies are beatable and he is looking for his side to match the endeavour produced in last weekend's defeat at West Brom. "The players know the situation - we have got to put a result on the board," he said. "Blackpool got a result against them on Wednesday night, so they're not unbeatable, although I think their tails will be up on Saturday. Sometimes it puts doubt in players' minds and they think 'oh no, here comes the bad times'. The key to it will be how frustrating we can make it for them, so their fans get that nervousness, which epitomises our problems at home. We've got to master the first 15 minutes of the game, but we've got players that can hurt them. My players responded properly at West Brom and they have got some quality players, but we never looked out of sorts. Yes, they did have their moments but they will have every time they play. Newcastle are the mirror-image. The teams coming down are the top two or three in the league and it is basically because they have the best players." Defeat to Watford in midweek was a bitter blow for Sturrock, although the second-half performance has given him a selection dilemma. He said: "Having a game on the Tuesday night and the nervous tension going through the team at the moment could take a lot out of you. The second-half performance was a bonus and gave me food for thought on whether I should change the team or not. I'd totally committed over the three games to make sure I had fresh legs but I've now got a quandary." He is relishing the prospect of today’s game and looking for his players to repeat the determination they have shown on the road this year. "I've never been to St James' Park before," he said. "I expect my players to show the commitment they showed at West Brom, at Derby and at Crystal Palace. I would just love for this team to put a solid performance together and, this time, reap the benefits of the work they put into the game. I am just hopeful that things are going to turn for us. Knowing the determination of the players, I am quietly confident we will put in a hardy performance on Saturday. Whether that's enough, we will find out."
Argyle have signed James Chester and David Gray from Manchester United on three-month loan deals.
Paul Sturrock has no intention of resigning as manager of Argyle despite the club's worst start to a season in 15 years. Sturrock firmly believes a turnaround in fortunes is not far away for his team and that there have been signs in the last two matches that better times are ahead. He said: "If I wasn't seeing total commitment from the players as far as endeavour is concerned, then I would sit down and clear my head. I feel we have worked very hard on certain aspects of our game this season, and we are starting to see the benefits. But, obviously, we haven't seen it in points yet." Sturrock revealed he had received a lot of supportive messages from fans this week. He said: "Yes, you will always have your dissenters who think a change of management is the way forward. There always has been, and always will be, that aspect. But I have been really buoyed by the support I have had from people who have phoned me, texted me, emailed me and sent letters to me. I think there is a solid base of people who are respective of the situation we are in, and realise there are glimmers of a shining light amid the doom and gloom." Sturrock admitted Roy Gardner and his boardroom colleagues were 'totally frustrated' by the start to the season. He said: "They can see we are tip-toeing in the right direction as far as general play is concerned but we have been shooting ourselves in the foot with real howlers." Meanwhile, Sturrock confirmed there had been no inquiries about Marcel Seip.
Darcy Blake and Reda Johnson continue to be sidelined by injury and will both miss Argyle's game at Newcastle United tomorrow. Blake has missed the last two matches because of a hamstring injury and Paul Sturrock said: "I think the laddie is a wee bit worried about coming back too early. He doesn't want his loan stay with us to be interrupted by a long spell out with a hamstring tear. It was a mutual decision between the physio, myself and Darcy that he wouldn't be involved tomorrow. It's important he gets the proper care so he's able to come straight back in again at a tempo, without any problems. It gives him a while now before our next game against Nottingham Forest. Playing for the reserves next week might just be a nice wee tester for him, if he and the physio feel that's appropriate. If not, then a full week's training will be a big benefit to him." Johnson suffered a knee injury in the first half of the defeat at West Brom last Saturday and Sturrock admitted he did not know yet how long he would be out for. "He's going to have a scan on it in the next couple of days," said Sturrock. Bradley Wright-Phillips made his debut against Watford as a substitute after recovering from a knee operation and will again be on the bench at Newcastle. Sturrock said: "Bradley came through the game the other night without any problems. He will benefit from that. We will take it slowly, slowly with him. Sticking him in too quickly and putting him under pressure is the wrong thing to do."
Paul Sturrock is disappointed he has not been able to arrange deals to loan out some of the club's young professionals. Sturrock had hoped Ryan Brett, Ben Gerring, Liam Head and Joe Mason would get first team experience elsewhere. He said: "I thought I would have been able to put them out, but nobody has come in and bitten for any of them so far. The boy Mason is definitely jumping the void at the minute. He's in the middle of a good development spurt and he hasn't looked out of sorts with us training-wise. So I don't mind him being about here and playing in the reserves for the simple reason that I can see a benefit from it."
Argyle have signed defender Shane Lowry on a three-month loan from Aston Villa. Paul Sturrock welcomed the addition of Lowry, and said: "Defensively, we are very short and we need to make sure we have players coming in. He has got real potential and he wants to do well. He has played with Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan in the Republic of Ireland under-21 side, and they have waxed lyrical about him. Our scouts have also given us some very good reports, so he is a welcome addition."
Romain Larrieu claimed there is nothing wrong with the spirit in the Argyle camp going into Saturday's game at Newcastle United. He said: "Yes, it is a massive test for us but St James Park is a place where we should relish playing. We will be underdogs and I don't think anybody will give us a chance to get something. Sometimes that is a good position to be in. We went to very difficult places last season and got results and we need to start doing so again now." Larrieu added that he was positive the team can turn the corner. He said: "Given all the chances we have created for ourselves this season, I'm more than optimistic. I don't know any football team who has been knocking on the door like we've been lately and don't get two or three goals." Larrieu admitted the boos at half-time against Watford on Tuesday had hurt the players and also the manager. He said: "It's tough, of course, but it's part of the job – you know you're going to get it. But after that in the second half everybody was very positive. I was pretty much a spectator, especially in the second half. We got caught by a set-piece once again, something that was really avoidable. And we were very upset about that. There was a lot of the game left and we did everything we could to get back in it. Watford defended well and their goalie had probably the best game of his life – he was unbelievable. But we also hit the post and I don't think you can fault the boys for trying. And as long as you have that attitude, you know you can come back from any situation. e could easily have won that game, if we'd managed to score that first goal. We spent about 75 per cent of the second-half in their box. We created chances, headed the ball wide from good position. Karl Duguid still doesn't know how the ball didn't go in. We seem to be on some kind of spiral where these things are happening. We're not far away – we could have been 2-0 up at West Brom last Saturday."
Rory Fallon thinks Argyle must believe they have the quality to dig themselves out of their present situation. He said: "You can't deny it's tough at the moment and the Watford result has made it even tougher. It's all about belief, because no matter what happens, you've got to believe you can do it and get results. We've got to believe that this team is good enough to do well. It's pretty much the same team as last season when we went on one or two good runs. We're not a million miles away, but we need to start to get some results soon. Newcastle are going to be tough, but to be fair, the next few games are, too. We had a tough game away to West Brom last Saturday but should have got something out of the Watford game. It was a lost opportunity to get at least a point. It was just one of those days when the ball wouldn't go in. It felt like that when I was on the bench and saw a lot of those chances go astray. But as team we need to get behind each other and be positive and try and work it out. And then, hopefully, it will come." Fallon accepted that Argyle had not had been blessed with good fortune in front of goal, but his self-help philosophy also includes less careless defending as well as sharper finishing. "You've got to make your own luck in this game," he said. "At the moment, it's not happening but hopefully, we can sort something out. It's early enough in the season to do something about it – and better now than later on. We need to eradicate these mistakes and finish these chances – we had a lot against Watford. But to be fair, their 'keeper was unbelievable. And you can't blame the fans, they were awesome and we need them to keep sticking with us. But we also need to have belief and work harder and try and get something at Newcastle."
Argyle dropped to the bottom of the Championship table after a 1-0 defeat to Watford last night, who scored in the fourth minute of the match. Paul Sturrock said: "That goal put a nervousness into the team and we never got to the tempo of the game in the first half. Saying that, we still created four or five gilt-edged chances, and what can I say about the second half? To come out of the game with nothing is a real kick in the teeth. There are a few players lying in there lower than a snake's belly. But, to be fair, their captain stood up and commented that if we were to perform like we did in the second half regularly, we would win more games than we lose." In addition to several saves from the Watford ‘keeper, Karl Duguid headed against a post from close range in the 61st minute. Sturrock said: "Duguid has actually apologised to me for missing that one, but I told him there was no need to do that. Everybody was running away thinking it was a goal, and it hit the post." Argyle now face an away game against Newcastle United on Saturday. Sturrock said: "We are now bottom of the league, and we were bottom around about this time last year as well. We dug deep then and started to get results. We have got to do the same again. We need a settled back four. I have had to make too many personnel changes, through injury, lack of form and other things. In the end, we have to put four players onto that football pitch who are going to be there for 10-12 games. Ahead of it, we are looking much better and we are creating chances, against every team we have played. We've got a terrible fixture to get a result in on Saturday, because every old man and old woman who does the pools will tick the home-win box. I'd love to knacker all their coupons." Sturrock thought his side had showed their team spirit, even in defeat, against Watford. He said: "Confidence is obviously an important aspect of any football club. But the team spirit is even more important. They are still showing that team spirit and work ethic. Now, I can try to help them with that by bringing one or two defenders in, which we definitely need. But it has been very difficult to bring in the standard of players we want." Sturrock added: "It has been a frustrating evening for everybody, but I would like to say 'thank you' to the crowd. They were frustrated with the first half, and quite rightly. But they backed the team the whole of the second half and I think were appreciative of the players' efforts."
Keith Todd has backed Paul Sturrock, despite the club's poor start to the season. He said: "There's absolutely no doubt that Luggy is a great manager. We've seen that here at this club, and we're completely behind what Paul is doing. The new board, when we came in, knew that there was a whole raft of things that needed to be done at the club that would take time, both on and off the pitch. We're going to work through that. We're patient, and we're very clear-headed. The difficult thing to do in any business situation is to avoid panic, and over-reaction." Todd was at Home Park last night, and he also watched the game at West Bromwich Albion. He was joined at The Hawthorns by chairman Roy Gardner, who was watching Argyle for the first time this season. "Like the manager and all the supporters, we'd all like to see some more points on the board," Todd said. "That would certainly be helpful for a number of reasons, but I do feel that the team is playing much better. We're playing more of a passing game, a much more attractive game, and, if there is a direction coming from the new board, it is to play football. We see ourselves playing our way out of our current position in the league, but we haven't taken our chances and we've made a couple of mistakes. It's a cruel game, and you get punished." Despite an over-staffed first-team squad, the board has allowed Sturrock to sign several new players since July. That programme of improvement will continue. "Over the months and years ahead, we will invest incrementally in on-field and off-field activities, both in players and in all aspects of the club," Todd added.
Argyle lost 1-0 to Watford at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Arnason, Timar, Sawyer, Clark, Fletcher, Duguid, Mackie, Sheridan, Gow. Subs - Wright-Phillips, Judge, Fallon (not used – Letheren, Paterson, Folly, Summerfield). Attendance - 8,703
Argyle face Watford at Home Park tonight having already lost out to their opponents for the loan signing of Craig Cathcart. Paul Sturrock has made repeated attempts to bring Cathcart back to Home Park but reports suggest he was not keen on a return to Plymouth. Instead, he has signed for Watford, but will not play any part in tonight's game. Sturrock has been trying to add defensive players to his squad for the last two weeks, but without any success so far. He said: "We have had another couple of knock-backs, and it's the usual frustrating answers we are getting at this minute in time. I didn't feel it was going to be as hard as it has been to bring people to the football club. It's a big obstacle and it's costing us dear. It's not down to finance any longer. We have discussed terms with certain other clubs and we have always reached agreements. We have always agreed with the agents of the players as well. It's when we have come to talking to the players, they have decided not to come to the football club." Stoke City defender Andrew Davies is another player thought to have turned down the chance of a loan move to Argyle. Sturrock added: "I need to help this team by bringing in one or two defensive-type players, but getting my hands on them is very difficult at this minute in time." Argyle's poor start to the season has not have made it any easier for Sturrock to strengthen his squad. He said: "It doesn't help. If we were sitting top of the table I think the players would be more receptive to coming in. But if we were a top of the table side we wouldn't be bringing in players. It's a catch-22 we have got. I don't want to go down the road of panic signings and we end up with loan players who aren't good enough for the team. We are going to have to take our time on these. The players we have been knocked back by have played in the Premier League and the Championship for successful teams. That's the kind of player we really need now. I could go and get a novicey one from a top Premier League club, but then you are spinning a coin on whether he's going to be good enough or not. So that's open to me – I can do that – but I would much prefer to have solid pros who know their job."
Darcy Blake has endured a frustrating start to his loan spell with Argyle, but he remains upbeat about his prospects. He said: "I think we have got a good group of players at Plymouth. Whatever team the manager puts out tonight, I have every confidence they can go out, put in a performance and get the first win of the season. It would be a massive lift for everyone to pick up three points and stop the run of defeats. From what I have seen and been told, it's silly defensive errors which are costing us at the moment. We have got to get that right as soon as possible. I thought the attacking play against Sheffield Wednesday was good and, by all accounts, we were on top for the first half-an-hour at West Brom and they didn't threaten us too much. Hopefully, if we can get a win tonight, everyone's confidence will be sky-high and we can take it from there. I know we have got a hard game away to Newcastle this Saturday, but there's no reason why we can't go up there and get a result – if not three points then a draw." Blake cannot wait to get the go-ahead to start training again, especially as it will allow him to get to know his team-mates properly. He said: "I think I have fitted in well, but I haven't had a proper week's training with the rest of the boys yet. Hopefully, it won't be too long and I will be back out there with them." Blake was injured when making his 12th appearance for Wales at under-21 level in their win against Italy. He said: "I felt my hamstring going during the game. I suppose I could have played on but I want to be playing week-in week-out for Plymouth so I asked to come off. It was the right decision to make. Wales won 2-1 and the injury was not too bad. It was the worst thing that could have happened because I had just come back from a long-term injury. Although it was disappointing to lose against Sheffield Wednesday, I was pleased with my performance. I just can't wait to start playing football again."
Paul Sturrock is short of defensive options for the game against Watford tonight, with Reda Johnson 'very doubtful' for the match. Despite the injuries, Marcel Seip is still not being considered for first team selection but reports suggest Seip is considering an appeal against the disciplinary action taken against him. Sturrock said: "Reda is very doubtful for tonight. It's a big disappointment because I would have liked him to be involved. We will give him every opportunity but I think it will come too early for him. I thought he was very competent against West Brom. He won his headers and tackles, he cut balls out and his range of passing was excellent." However, David McNamee will return to action tonight after being ruled out of the defeat at West Brom by flu. Sturrock decided not to take any chances by playing McNamee, with Karl Duguid taking over his intended right wing-back role. McNamee will probably play as an orthodox right-back tonight. Sturrock said: "Last season there was one occasion when I played Mackie after he went down with 'flu on the Friday night and, strength-wise, he didn't look the same player as usual. I didn't want to put David into that situation as well. I knew he would be important for tonight's game, so I thought it was much better to give him the opportunity to be 100 per cent." Krisztian Timar may play having not started a match since being dropped following the defeat by Cardiff City four weeks ago. Sturrock said: "Krisztian has to come back into my thoughts. I want to see anybody who comes into the team playing as well as I know they can – to get the result, and to keep other people out. That's what competition for places is all about. At the end of the day, we have got to put a win under our belt. I have got a few options open to me in certain positions but the back four is plain, simple and easy. I have got three defenders and a midfield player. The system of play is another debate and I have been having a wee think about things. I'm going to pick a team that could change very quickly to one or two other systems."
Keith Todd believes the World Cup bid has accelerated plans to redevelop Home Park. He said: "We said when the New Board arrived at Home Park, that there would be rational investment behind the football club - rational money was the phrase I used. Irrespective of the World Cup, we are putting the first pieces of our five-year plan together. Ironically, the World Cup has probably accelerated some of the decision-making, which is probably healthy. The result is that we are much further down the road than we might have been without the World Cup. Home Park as part of a World Cup City is a much more financeable proposition than just Home Park on its own."
Paul Sturrock believes his side is getting close to finding the right formula to win. A simple mistake proved very costly at West Brom on Saturday, Romain Larrieu misjudging a corner, which allowed Shelton Martis to evade marker Kari Arnason and equalise. Sturrock said: "The players were a bit gutted after the game because they know they are getting pretty close to winning, but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. The dreaded mistake cost us dear. It was crazy, zany. Johnson gets caught the wrong side of his man, so the boy's got a free header. Romain thinks he's going to head it towards goal, but he misses the ball. Arnason listened to his call, and…"It is frustrating and causes everybody a lot of heartache. The day before we spent 40 minutes on corners against. We are maybe over-emphasising it now. We are getting to the stage where people are worrying about it, rather than doing the natural thing. People say 'I would rather be a lucky manager than a good manager'. It is a silly statement but it rings true. Every time we have a mistake in us, it lies in the back of the net. It's been happening right through the season and we have got to turn that. There is no point in us feeling doom and gloom. It is us that have to change that psyche, change that state. The only way we can do it is by playing the percentages. Everything has got to be cleared away from your goals, cut down on set-pieces around your box and make sure you cut down on corners. When you can get a team to do that, you normally find that you start to win football games." The West Brom defeat was symptomatic of the season so far, with missed chances and defensive mistakes. "We have lost games that we should have won," said Sturrock. "It has been such a thin line between winning and losing, and it is frustrating me so much to see the goals we are losing. I've never lost 13 goals in six games - for any team. It is something that has never reared its ugly head in my time. I've prided myself on playing percentages and being very hard to beat. In spells in all games, we have been better than the opposition. We just don't seem to be getting the formula right when the other team has the ball."
Karl Duguid has been impressed with Jamie Mackie so far this season. He said: "Jamie keeps going. That's Mackie for you. He's always going to keep going. He's never going to be a prolific goal scorer, we all know that, but he keeps running for us and that's good enough for us. The goals will come. He might have to have four chances to get one but, to be fair him, he scored two goals in a game at Bristol City last week and he benefited from that. He got one on Saturday. We know what Jamie is all about. I'll be honest with you, I wouldn't want to play against him every week. He's got pace, he's got power and he's a pest. I'm sure every centre-half or full-back who comes up against him will know he has been in a game. Yes, Jamie might give the ball away at times, but we love Jamie for what he does and we're never going to get on his back for missing chances. We know he's going to get there, he's going to cause havoc at times, and he's going to create chances. The goals will come, there's no doubt about that."
Paul Sturrock was pleased with Jamie Mackie's overall performance against West Brom, not only his goal. "Jamie, away from home, is a handful," he said. "If you talk to their two centre-backs, they didn't want to be playing against him today. It's getting him a partner. At this juncture, we have tried one or two. I thought Gow was influential at times, but he has still got to stamp his authority on games." One option open to Sturrock is Bradley Wright-Phillips, who was included in Argyle's squad for the first time on Saturday after recovering from a knee injury. Sturrock said: "I'm really gutted I couldn't get Bradley on the pitch for 20 minutes today, through circumstance. He has come back from injury and will get the chance to stake a claim for a place in the team." Cillian Sheridan was used as a second half substitute having been away on international duty. Sturrock said: "Sheridan did well when he came on. I think he's going to be an exciting player for us."
Karl Duguid pleaded for patience after Argyle suffered another defeat on Saturday. He said: "It's down to the players, the staff and everybody else to dig in and stick together. I think it's a thin line between success and failure for us at the moment. Even their manager told the gaffer that we were a better side than a lot of them they have played this season. The league table doesn't lie, and we are there for a reason. But it's only inches here and there and that will change." West Brom led 2-1 at half-time, but Duguid almost equalised early in the second period, his shot rebounding off the crossbar, with the goalkeeper beaten. Duguid said: "That says it all, really. That would have made it 2-2 and we would have been back in the game." Despite Argyle's league position of 22nd, Duguid is adamant Argyle have the quality in the squad to move up the table. He said: "There's no doubt the quality is in the squad. Brad is back now, so that's another great player to come in. Nooney has gone out on loan because we have got such a good squad. It's going to come together. The gaffer has put a new team together in the last 18 months. It has changed so much at this football club and there has got to be time, but it is a results business. We know that. The results will come within the next couple of weeks I'm sure." West Brom are one of the favourites for the Championship, but did not have it all their own way against Argyle. Duguid added: "We haven't come here and got hammered. I don't think 3-1 is a fair reflection of what went on. You can't ask any more from the lads. We have worked our socks off. The gaffer has put a positive team out there today. Look at the front three – Mackie is a runner and he caused them problems. "Gow opens people up, as he did for the goal, and Macca can do exactly the same. I thought he did well. We have always had a big man up there to hit, and I thought the three up front today did well. You can't fault us for application and attitude, but the results just aren't going for us at the moment. It's going to come, there is no doubt about it, but it has got to come soon. We know that. We can't keep saying 'it's going to come' and by Christmas we still haven't got a win." Argyle return to action tomorrow night, when Watford visit Home Park. Duguid said: "We have got a big game coming up and if we put in the same amount of hard work as we did today, I can't see why we can't get our first three points of the season. There's no reason why not."
Paul Sturrock wants his players to play badly, as long as they can claim a first victory of the season in doing so. After yesterdays defeat at West Brom he said: "I'm not a one to talk about bad luck - I think you make your own luck. I think the important thing for us is to get three points on the board - whether it's the worst performance that we've ever had in our life; the boys are falling over the ball; they can't put two passes together, but the ball hits somebody on the bum and screams into the bottom corner. That's all I want. I want this team to put three points on the board. We are a better side than we were this time last year: we look a more comfortable side with the ball and we look to create a lot more than we did last season. Until we lost the second goal, we did very, very well." The turning-point of the game came when Gary Sawyer's header from Karl Duguid's cross was narrowly off target. "If Sawyer put that in, it was 2-0; they went straight up the park and we finish up 1-1," said Sturrock. We just needed that wee break at 2-1 down, and we hit the bar. We just don't seem to get that catch-up goal all the time. I'm going to use a phrase that I've used in the last six games: if only. But we can't keep saying 'if only' - we're losing bad goals. Paul Sturrock prides himself that he normally has a very hard team to for people to play against and is hard to score against. We're losing goals by bucketfuls at the moment." Sturrock will have to shore up his defence for Tuesday's visit of Watford without David McNamee, who has flu, and Darcy Blake, who damaged his hamstring playing for Wales Under-21s last week. Cillian Sheridan is also a doubt. Sturrock said: "I thought Sheridan did well when he came one - I think he's going to be an exciting player for us. Then again, he's ripped his hip - I don't know whether he'll be available for Tuesday. I made a conscious decision that I would rest those that had played internationals, for the simple reason that we have never really had result through the winter after an international week. We didn't get a result this time, but I thought we played quite competently. Jamie Mackie, away from home, is a handful. If you talk to their two centre-halves, they didn't want to play against him today -it's getting him a partner. We've tried one or two. I thought Gow influenced the game in bits but he's still got to stamp his authority on the game." It was against Watford last season that Argyle’s fortunes turned, and Sturrock is already turning his thoughts to the tactics he might use for the game. He said: "We've tried Tora! Tora! Tora! at home - that hasn't worked; we've tried to be a bit more of a passing team - that hasn't worked; strange to say, the one thing we haven't defended at home in numbers, but I don't think that would work. What we've got to do is get the players fit. I've got Bradley Wright-Phillips - I was gutted I couldn't get him on the pitch for 20 minutes; I've got to get Fletcher and Arnason as a pairing in the centre of midfield ; and I have got to cobble together a back-four."
Argyle’s players had to swap their shirts at half-time of yesterdays match. After starting in their normal adidas white away shirt, they switched to green for the second half. Paul Sturrock said: "Our boys couldn't make out who was who, with the sunny day and the crowd. I actually struggled to see players when I looked across from the dug-out. The referee came to us at half-time and said if we wanted to go green, we could go to green."
Among the positives to come out of the defeat at West Brom was Reda Johnson's full debut; but among the negatives was an injury that makes him doubtful for the game against Watford. Paul Sturrock said: "I think he showed that he's got pace; he wants to pass the ball; he can header it. He's got all the ingredients. We'll find out in the next two days whether he'll be ready for Tuesday or not, but, for a debut, at his age, and where we got him from, I'm very excited about him. But he needs a partner to play alongside." That partner on Saturday was Carl Fletcher, normally a midfielder but drafted into a back three. "Fletcher was a real relevance to the back three because he worked Reda," said Sturrock. "He talked to him. Reda coming out of the back three was a big blow to us."
Kari Arnason will be the new David Friio, according to Paul Sturrock. He said: "Arnason has to go in the midfield - you can see he's a midfield player playing centre-half - he takes the ball and passes it, and he will be an influence like David Friio used to be running into the box, which we don't have. I feel sorry for Arnie because he came here as a central midfield player and I feel that he and Fletcher could have a fantastic pairing together. Never have they played together so far, for all sorts of circumstances. I would like to think that, over the next two or three weeks, I will put a Paul Sturrock-type back-four into place. I honestly believe that's key. The problem is that we've conceded three this week; three last week; six in two games. We need to get Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb, so that everybody knows who's right-back, who's centre-halves, and who's left-back in this team and they play regularly."
Argyle lost 3-1 at West Bromwich Albion, the goal scored by Jamie Mackie after 12 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Arnason, Johnson, Sawyer, Fletcher, Duguid, Summerfield, Paterson, MacLean, Mackie, Gow. Subs - Clark, Sheridan, Timar (not used – Letheren, Wright-Phillips, Judge, Fallon). Attendance - 22,190
Paul Sturrock is not daunted by the prospect of Argyle's game at West Brom today. He said: "We have been away to Crystal Palace and put in a competent performance. And it was a mistake by one of our players in the game against Derby which cost us dear. We have been very competitive away from home and I just want to take that kind of performance into this game. It's a difficult place to go. West Bromwich Albion have got quality players who can hurt you all over the football pitch. But we went to Birmingham and Wolves last season and got decent results, and I see no reason why we can't get another decent result today. I think anybody going to West Bromwich Albion at this juncture would take a point, but I'm not saying we are going to be defensive."
Gary Sawyer has revealed Argyle are working hard to cut out the sloppy goals they have been conceding lately and admitted he and his team-mates had found it very frustrating. He said: "It has been a couple of mistakes more than anything. The trouble is I don't think teams have really worked that hard to score against us. We have gifted them a lot of goals, and we haven't done that before. It's something we are trying to iron out now and, hopefully, we will do that. It's always disappointing when you concede goals. As a defender, you want a clean sheet. That is our bread and butter. But when you are conceding sloppy goals from set pieces, and things like that, it's very frustrating." With Marcel Seip transfer listed Kari Arnason looks set to continue playing in the centre of defence. Sawyer said: "I think he has done really well in that role, and he's settling in more now at centre-half. He's going to get better and better with the more games he plays there." Argyle played with three central defenders in the second half of the defeat at Derby County on August 22nd and tried out those tactics again in the reserves' fixture at Bristol City on Tuesday. Sawyer said: "I think we have got the personnel to do that. And I was a centre-half before as well. We have got the people that can switch around to do it, and it's just another string to our bow as they say. When we go with a three at the back, I can't really go forward at all. It's a little bit different to playing at left-back, but it's still defending. I don't mind either position. They are both a good challenge." The reserves beat Bristol City 5-1, with Jamie Mackie getting two of the goals. Sawyer said: "It was a good game. It was instead of a training session really and the boys did well. Jamie made his two goals himself and played really well. So, fingers crossed, he will take that into the first team now." West Brom will be favourites to beat Argyle tomorrow, and Sawyer added: "I think if we did get a point out of it, it would be a very good point away from home against them. But we are searching for that first win and we do want to get it as quickly as possible."
Darcy Blake is set to be ruled out of Argyle's game at West Brom tomorrow by the hamstring injury he suffered playing for Wales under-21s last Friday but there could be a return to action for Karl Duguid. Paul Sturrock said: "Blake has got an injury that's making him very doubtful for tomorrow. We have had it scanned and it's a wee bit worse than we thought. There's a slight tear. It will be a big disappointment if he doesn't play tomorrow. The boy is gutted because he came here to play football games." Duguid has returned to training after an ankle injury and Sturrock is considering an immediate recall for him. "I thought Duguid was playing very well against Derby when he got the unfortunate injury," he said. There is also an outside chance that Bradley Wright-Phillips could be included in the squad for the first time. Sturrock said: "Bradley has been out quite a long time, but I will see how he looks coming back into training." Sturrock admitted the absence of so many players on international duty this week had not been ideal preparation for the visit to West Brom. He said: "We're only going to have one day to work on shape, instead of a whole week. Over the last four or five international breaks, we've never quite got it. The international players have come back looking heavy-legged and tired, and I've played them. It's something we're going to have to take into consideration. I changed things in this break by taking everybody who was available away to play in the reserves. I got a very, very good performance, and a lot of people gave me food for thought." Asked if he was thinking about picking most of the players he sent to Bristol City, Sturrock replied: "That's a possibility. It will all depend on what I see in training before Saturday."
Craig Noone has joined Exeter City and Paul Sturrock has explained the decision to send him out on loan. He said: "Craig is needing games. He has been what you would call a bit-part player with the first team and I did feel it was affecting his game. I really wanted him to stretch himself and Exeter came along and asked for him for three months. We can recall him after the first month if we had any problems. I do feel it's appropriate that he gets a taste of regular football." Sturrock has played down reports of Krisztian Timar making a loan move to Millwall. He said: "We have had no official approach from any football club. I think there is a lot of newspaper speculation going about at this minute in time."
Rory Fallon scored on his debut for New Zealand in their 3-1 win away to Jordan last night but Krisztian Timar was not part of the Hungary squad for their 1-0 defeat by Portugal.
Chris Barker will not be ready for a return to action any time soon. Paul Sturrock said: "It's a much more serious injury than we first thought, and it's one of those where, if you go too quickly, you're back to square one again. You have to slowly progress it and bring him on, which means that the time frame is longer. He's gutted, but he realises that he has to watch what he's doing and not let it flare up again."
Cillian Sheridan and Alan Judge both played for the Republic of Ireland under-21’s in their 1-1 draw in Estonia
Craig Noone has joined Exeter City on a three-month loan deal
Paul Sturrock has ruled out any chance of a reconciliation with Marcel Seip. He said: "After a breach of discipline, and a discussion with the powers-that-be, we feel that it's an appropriate time for Marcel to move on. He has been fined two weeks' wages for his indiscretion, and placed on the transfer list. Now we know he can't transfer anywhere at this juncture, but we would like to think the first step would be going out on loan." When asked what Seip's breach of discipline had been, Sturrock replied: "I think that's best left internally."
Argyle reserves won 5-1 against Bristol City at Ashton Gate yesterday, the goals scored by Jamie Mackie (2), Alan Gow, Ashley Barnes and Luke Summerfield. Paul Sturrock was delighted with the display, especially the performance of Gow. He said: "I'm very pleased. The attitude of the players was fantastic from the first whistle. We were up against very strong opposition, which made it even more pleasing. We looked comfortable, and I thought the boy Gow was able to show his range of passing from the position he played." Argyle: Letheren, Arnason, Fletcher, Sawyer, McNamee, Clark, Summerfield, Paterson, Gow, Mackie, MacLean. Subs – Folly, Barnes, Noone (not used - Chenoweth, Brett).
Paul Sturrock continues to be frustrated in his attempts to add defenders to his squad. A Premier League centre-back, whom Sturrock refused to name, has become the latest player to snub the chance of signing for the club. Sturrock had agreed a deal with the player's club to take him on a short-term loan but he decided against the move because of Plymouth's location. Sturrock said: "We are trying very hard. We have been on the ball the last couple of days. One player from the Premier League has turned us down because of the location and distance, but we are in negotiations with two or three others. We have got a list and we are working through it. To be fair, we have a lot of fingers in pies at this minute in time." Sturrock wants to balance the possible arrival of two more players by allowing some of his squad to leave Home Park. He added: "We have been in discussions with several clubs about the availability of our players, and it's just one of those things where you have to wait. Somebody, in the next two or three weeks, will have a problem somewhere and our circular will be sitting on a manager's desk. The next minute, I will get a phone call. That's how it goes. You can't force the issue on these things. We are, at this juncture, contacting people every day, finding out what they are looking for. Somebody specifically has been given that job, who is working for the club to push things on as far as that's concerned. We can't keep bringing players to the football club and not move players on."
Karl Duguid and Bradley Wright-Phillips are set to return to training in the next couple of days. Paul Sturrock said: "Duguid and Wright-Phillips should come back into training later this week. I have talked to the physio and he's quite comfortable the two of them could come back either tomorrow or Friday." Meanwhile, Darcy Blake is nursing a tight hamstring after returning from international duty with Wales under-21s but Sturrock said: "I have talked to him and he's comfortable that he will be okay for Saturday."
Paul Sturrock spent his weekend in London with Argyle Chairman Sir Roy Gardner, along with other members of the Board. Sturrock said: "I met the Chairman and Board members, and I was very pleased with the meeting. It was in London and I brought a ten-point agenda to the table and they brought their agenda, so it was a long meeting, but it was needed. The problem has been that they've taken over the football club in a holiday time for a lot of them, so the timing has been unfortunate. They also have other businesses they have to sort out, so they are available to be here. It was very productive. They are very committed to the football club and they know there are certain areas of the team we have to strengthen. They are very helpful in trying to get the players we know would benefit us. I have lived in-budget all my life and there are not many managers can stay in-budget in this day and age. We were over-budget last season. I don't like being over-budget but it is a fact now that the nuggets we used to chase around the world are shrinking dramatically. We have gone down the road of development players and I made it plain, with resounding agreement that any player coming in now has to be minimum course and distance."
Marcel Seip has been fined two weeks wages and placed on the transfer list by Argyle. Paul Sturrock explained the action had been taken following ‘a breach of discipline’, but would not elaborate on the reason.
Argyle are exploring whether there is any way they can sign Akihiro Hayashi on a full-time contract. As Hayashi is not a full Japanese international he does not meet work permit criteria for players from non-European Union countries. During the next year though, Argyle hope there could be a change of work permit rules which would allow them to sign the Japanese under-23 international. Paul Sturrock said: "When you look at Aki's physique and the way he has trained with us, he ticks all the boxes to become a very competent goalkeeper. But whether we can take it any further depends on the work permit rules." Geoff Crudgington added: "Aki has been training with us and has thoroughly enjoyed his time here. He will return to Japan shortly and prepare for his scholarship. Having seen him play, we are confident that we will be able to help him become a top-class goalkeeper. He has impressed everyone with his ability, enthusiasm and attitude, and we are all looking forward to working with him."
Clubs can today start making 'emergency loan' signings for periods of up to three months and Paul Sturrock wants to add defensive reinforcements to his squad. He said: "We were working over the weekend on trying to get some players here. A lot of the players we have targeted are still away on international duty, so it's very difficult to get any agreement when people are in other countries. But we are talking to agents and certain clubs."
Krisztian Timar was a second half substitute for Hungary in their 2-1 loss to Sweden on Saturday. Darcy Blake played for just over an hour as Wales under-21s beat Italy 2-1 in the UEFA under-21 Championship and Reda Johnson played the entire match as Benin drew 1-1 with Mali.
Japanese goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi is to extend his stay with Argyle. The ‘keeper has been training with Argyle for the last two weeks and it is believed he will stay at least until Christmas. Japanese media reports over the weekend said Hayashi had signed for Argyle after terminating his contract with Romanian side FC Astra but Hayashi does not currently qualify for a work permit to play in England and so cannot sign a professional deal.
Argyle’s youth team lost 3-2 at Swansea City in the Youth Alliance Cup on Saturday, the goals scored by Luke Young and Matt Rickard. Argyle: Varazinskis, Troupe, Richards, Kinsella, Leonard, Nelson, Young, Hart, Rickard, Simms, Butler. Subs - Trott, Keeble, Sawyer (not used - Coombes, Clifford).
Marcel Seip may have played his last game for Argyle. It is reported that Seip has been made available for a loan transfer by the club, and could leave as soon as next week. According to reports, Newcastle United are among the clubs who are interested.
Paul Sturrock has outlined some of the reasons why he missed out on adding to his squad before the transfer deadline on Tuesday. He said: "I had been very confident of bringing two players into the football club but, as you know, 5pm came and went on Tuesday without any signings. That was a real disappointment to me, but our usual problems in the market reared their ugly heads again. We were very competitive, financially, when it came to negotiating the deals. All the clubs then allowed us to go into negotiations with the players. One player, with over 100 appearances in the Premier League and who played regularly last season for a top six Championship club, told us he felt Plymouth was too far away. We also negotiated a deal for two players who, again, had Premier League experience. They had both been very successful in the Championship in the past, and had been promoted with the teams they have been involved in. One of the players moved onto another football club for 10 times the loan fee and double the wages we had negotiated. The other player thought Plymouth was too far away." Argyle agreed a deal for two players at another top flight club, only for that to also fall through. Sturrock said: "At the last minute, one of them got a call to say a top-drawer football club was interested in him which put us down the pecking order." Sturrock now hopes to use 'emergency loan' signings to add to his squad before Argyle's next game September 12th. He added: "I do feel the next two signings have to have a better chance of being successful. That means players with Premier League experience and vast Championship experience. I was very pleased the board were prepared to back me on this large investment. They realise that it's time for experienced-type players, with a quality pedigree, to be brought to the football club. I think for a long time we have kept our house in order, financially. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I'm a manager who believes in that. But finance has jumped dramatically in this league and people are buying players for £3 million now, and reaping the benefits. For us to compete favourably, or at least on a level playing field, we have to bring that pedigree in, rather than exciting wee nuggets. We have got too many of those types of players now."
Paul Sturrock is ready to give Reda Johnson a chance to prove himself, who has made only one brief substitute appearance for the club. Sturrock said: "I felt that it was appropriate he was given time to bed himself in, into a strange environment, especially when the language was a problem for him. But I think now it has come to the stage where he merits his inclusion and he will have to learn as he plays."
Paul Sturrock will renew his attempts to add to his defensive options next week, after the transfer window closed with no new arrivals, or departures, at Home Park. The only deal that was done was Kyle Letheren signing a contract until the end of the year. Sturrock said: "Some of the targets we have been pursuing for the last two or three weeks have failed to come to fruition. It's very disappointing. I had identified areas of the squad that needed strengthening and was hoping to bring in a couple of players on loan for six months to a year. I was looking at permanent deals as well. For one reason or another, none of them has happened. We haven't been successful in moving players out either, so it has been a frustrating day or two. However, the emergency loan window opens next Tuesday so I will now be focusing all my concentration on that."
Argyle drew 2-2 with Exeter City in the reserve’s first game of the season last night at St James’ Park, the goals scored by Ryan Brett and Luke Summerfield. Exeter had taken a 2-0 lead and Geoff Crudgington said: "It was a good comeback and, to be honest, we had several chances to win the game after Ryan's goal." Argyle: Letheren, Leonard, Gerring, Brett, Trott, Clark, Summerfield, Folly, Noone, Barnes, Mason. Subs – Head (not used - Chenoweth, Kinsella, Nelson, Baker).
Jim Paterson believes the international break has come at a good time for Argyle. He said: "I definitely think the international break is a help, because we can work hard over the next two weeks on the training field to cut out the mistakes we've been making. Against Wednesday, we're in the game and quite comfortable, but then give a goal away from a set piece – again. The two Wednesday goals in the second half were really poor. Alan Gow gets us back in the game with a great free-kick and then we go and shoot ourselves in the foot. We keep giving away cheap goals and giving ourselves a mountain to climb. It's not as if we're coming off the pitch and saying, 'We were poor and deserved to get beat'. So, that's something we need to work on – to get mentally stronger – and work as a team to make it better." Paterson feels the fans have not yet seen the best of Argyle, but will once players have time to settle and get to know one another. He said: "We've brought in a few players and still have Wrighty to come back. And it does take time for things to gel. If you think back to last season, we started slowly then catapulted up into fifth. The nucleus is here and we're playing some decent stuff, but we just have to stop conceding poor goals. We've got to do better and compete better." Paterson said he understood the fans' dismay, particularly at the poor home form. "We can understand the fans' frustration but we're all big boys and I'm sure the manager will take it on the chin," he said. "I know the players will take it on the chin and it's up to us to rectify it." As for the next game, a trip to West Brom, Paterson added: "It doesn't get any easier but we went away to Wolves last year and won 1-0. We're that sort of team – we can shoot ourselves in the foot and yet go to these places and win."
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