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.
Paul Sturrock expects Argyle to be linked with countless players during the close season, and he is sure to be busy in the transfer market. "The fans are going to hear a lot of rumours and speculation, which will not be answered by me," he said. "At the end of the day, I just don't want to have the hassles I have had in the past and, obviously, there are expectation levels. When the players arrive, our fans will be the first to know through the media." Sturrock, Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley are going to be busy over the next month checking out potential transfer targets, both at home and abroad. He said: "We will be working tirelessly over the next four to five weeks. June will probably be a quiet month, but from now until the end of May and from July 1 onwards up to August 31 we will be trying to bring the proper players to the football club for the new challenge next season. If I can sign some people before the end of May, I will do." Asked whether he thought a lot of his signings would be from overseas, Sturrock replied: "It's hard to say, but I'm going to be travelling abroad a lot. We have had Britain scanned and we do know the free agents who are going to become available. In an ideal world, we would have six Championship players coming into this football club. By that I mean six British players who are already playing in the Championship, but that's in an ideal world." Sturrock is aiming to have a squad of between 20 and 22 players next season. He said: "With some utility players you can bring your numbers down, and then you can use one or two younger ones as development players. It is a difficult league to call. You have to bring athletic players to the club and there will be a pot of about 30 players I will be trying to bring them from." One of the problems Sturrock faces is convincing any identified targets, and their partners, that Argyle is the place to be. He said: "There will be all sorts of reasons why some of them don't come to the football club and that is the difficulty of managing Plymouth Argyle. A high percentage of it is financial but there are other criteria as to why we cannot bring players to the club, such as geography and wives. It is a silly thing to say that a lot of people won't understand but wives can dictate where a man plays his football. In the time I have been here, this time and last, I have lost a lot of players through wives deciding where their man is going to play." Despite the difficulties Sturrock has promised not to be rushed into any panic-purchases. He said: "I want the right people and, if I can't get the right people, I am not going to just take Joe Bloggs for the sake of body count - that slows things up in the end. We are fishing in a pool and, if I do exactly the same and rush out there, we are going to lose the fish. If I can't get a 2lb trout, I am not going to take a minnow. I am going to contradict myself because there are nuggets out there and I understand that, and it is also something we have to do. We are Plymouth Argyle and we have to take a chance on one or two players. My budget will enable me to do that: take a chance on a Jamie Mackie or a similar scenario. The key players, Championship standard players, are what we need for the team."
Argyle's youth team won their final match of the season 1-0 at Swansea City, the goal scored by Toby Davis. The team have won the Youth Alliance South-West Conference, currently holding a fourteen point lead over Swansea and Swindon Town
Argyle under-18s play Liskeard Athletic in a friendly at Lux Park tonight. It is the last chance for second-year apprentices Lloyd Saxton, Shane White, Shane Duggan, Damien McCrory, Toby Davis and Jarred Stevens to stake a claim for a professional contract next season
Mickey Evans was tired, but elated, after his testimonial match at Home Park last night. Mickey's All Stars beat Luggy's XI 4-2 in front of 5,437 fans. He said: "It was a brilliant night. Nearly 5,500 people turned up even with Manchester United on the TV, so I can't complain. It has been absolutely fantastic and I think the lads really enjoyed it as well. You could see that on the pitch. It has still been professional out there tonight, though. There were a few interesting tackles going on. I'm really chuffed to bits. If you had said to me we would get 5,500 when we started preparing for this I would have ripped your arm off. Everyone involved has done a magnificent job. It went really smoothly and I would like to thank the club for helping us tonight as well. All in all, it was really, really good." Mickey's All Stars: Manager - Kevin Hodges. Romain Larrieu, Paul Connolly, Mick Heathcote, Paul Wotton, Jon Beswetherick, Martin Barlow, Lee Hodges, Lilian Nalis, Ian Stonebridge, Matt Evans, Mickey Evans. Subs - Rhys Wilmot, Darren Garner, Martin Gritton, Kevin Wills, Jason Rowbotham, Phill Gill, Kevin Hodges, Gordon Nisbet, John Uzzell, Nathan Lowndes, Pat College (competition winner). Luggy's XI: Manager - Paul Sturrock. Luke McCormick, Gary Clayton, Andy Morrison, Mathias Doumbe, David Worrell, Hasney Aljofree, Ronnie Mauge, David Friio, Steve Castle, Matt Le Tissier, Sean McCarthy. Subs - Gary Penhaligon, Chris Harrison, Tommy Tynan, Andy Rogers, Shaun Jutson (competition winner). Referee: Neil Warnock. Goals: Mickey's All Stars - Mickey Evans (pen) 32 mins, Beswetherick 42 mins, Gritton 56, 66 mins. Luggy's XI - Tynan (pen) 25, 46 mins
Despite Argyle's failure to reach the play-offs, Paul Sturrock feels it has been a season of which to be proud. "As far as this season is concerned, I took stock of it all over the weekend," he said. "The disappointment for me is that I would have loved to have had something going into the last game and we were one second away from doing that. Hindsight is a fantastic thing and, had we not lost that goal against Preston, we would be playing the last game of the season with an opportunity to reach the play-offs. That was everybody's dream and I was disappointed we could not finish off that dream, but the dream is still alive." Sturrock returned to Argyle in November described the job as the 'hardest in football' and the 'biggest challenge' of his career. He said: "Never, ever, ever, ever in the time I have been here were we a top-four team. That was a dizzy height and I believed there were better teams than us that were lower in the league. As it has transpired, circumstances have arisen and January made a big contribution to the problems that we had. I am a realist to appreciate that fourth was fantastic but when I looked at our squad and then looked at the opposition, I did not feel we were a top-four side. We were one second away from being a top-six side. What we want to achieve is to be competitive every year in the right part of the league. We have had a taste now. The minimum we can now finish is 11th, which would be identical to last season - that is with last season's team winning their last five games to achieve that position in the league. What I am trying to point out is that, wherever we finish this season, we will be working tirelessly to ensure there is progress again at the football club." Despite an inconsistent end to the season Sturrock remains confident that the players he brought in during the transfer window will prove their worth. "A hasty January can affect your football club," he said. "People will point the finger at some of the signings I made in January. January was a hasty month, a necessity month, and sometimes mistakes can be made. In the end, I am very confident the players I brought to the club will progress to the potential they can achieve. Some of them have not reached that potential yet. It is up to them, through pre-season training and settling down in the area, to come to the show next season, and I am confident they will do that. We have had people from Scotland who have had to bed themselves into a completely different environment. Even the style of play is completely different, but I am sure they will all achieve that. With any budget at any football club, the fewer mistakes you make the better. We have got to do it methodically and slowly. We have got to bed a team down that is hardworking, tactically aware and super-fit. If we add those ingredients to the Championship players I would like to bring to the club, then we will progress. That is the only word I want to use - I would like to progress next season."
A new five-year plan is essential to the future development of Argyle, according to Paul Sturrock. He said: "In the next couple of Board meetings, I will be emphasizing that, in my opinion, a five-year plan is something a club like Plymouth Argyle should have in place. I am a great believer in short-term goals and long-term goals. The short-term goal is to keep this team competitive every year, and the long-term goal is to get to where we want to be, and try to hold ourselves in that position. When I came here last time, the short-term goal was to keep ourselves up and the long-term goal was to establish ourselves in the Championship. It is something that has been achievable and I am delighted the club has kept itself on the straight and narrow as far as that is concerned. The club has changed now. We have had three managers here since Paul Sturrock was here in the past and things have been converted and turned around to the way Paul Sturrock would have them done. Since I first came here, we have progressed through the years from League Two, to League One, to the Championship, and every year that we have been in the Championship, we have finished higher and higher. I will be taking stock over the next month as regard the running of this football club and will be reverting back in time to how he ran the club in the past, e.g. the players will start to go through the same routines we had in the past. I will oversee and have discussions on the development of the club. There are certain things I would like to see in that department as well. There are certain things I would like to add to the club statistically. The dissecting of games is now a must in a Championship team. It is something we will hopefully be investing in through the close-season. Personnel changes were forced upon me, but I have not changed much else. I have very much gone down the road of what they have been used to doing. Now, we will have a wee turnaround on how things are done in the football club - a wee birl. There will be some things that will upset people but, hopefully, they will be appreciative that I am a manager who wants it done in a way I have had reasonable success with in the past. I am trying to put my footprint back into the football club."
The future of Argyle's four remaining out of contract players should be clearer by the end of the week. Paul Sturrock said: "The chief executive is in negotiations with all of them. Hopefully, by the end of the week we will have a clearer picture of who has accepted our terms and who hasn't. We have listened to their thoughts and we have discussed it among ourselves and we are putting deals together, if at all possible. I haven't ruled any of them out of being here next season." One of the out of contract players is Luke Summerfield, and Sturrock said: "Summers was very impressive against Blackpool, and he has got that ability. The problem is that Summers has got a range of standards, due to his age and everything else. I thought he was very good against Hull in the FA Cup but when we played them in the league only four weeks later he didn't have one of his better games. It may seem strange for me to say, but I still feel Summers is a development player. A lot of people will argue he should be in the team at his age, but there are very few of them playing in the Championship. You could probably count on two hands the boys of that age who are regulars in the Championship." Summerfield has made only six starts this season and Sturrock is well aware he needs as much match experience as possible. "I have got to make a decision whether that's playing regularly with the first team," he said. "Or, if that's not going to happen, I can't really trust the reserves' league so I would have to think about a loan of some sort. But people have got to be happy about that." Meanwhile, Sturrock is also in discussions about the future of Russell Anderson and Gary Teale. He said: "I have spoken to both players and they have left their options open, like I would imagine anybody in their position would do, but they have not said 'no' to me."
Argyle will play nine pre-season friendlies this summer, but only one - on August 2nd - at Home Park. They will play at Tiverton Town on July 14th, Weston-super-Mare on July 16th and then Kidderminster Harriers on July 18th before flying out the following day for a week-long training-camp in Austria. Whilst abroad, the team will play two games, with opponents and dates yet to be confirmed. They will then face Yeovil Town on July 29th, Truro City on July 30th and Swindon Town on August 4th. The opposition for the home game is yet to be confirmed
Rory Fallon scored two of the goals in the 3-0 win over Blackpool on Saturday, and has had a strong finish to the season, but Paul Sturrock believes there is more to come from the striker. Sturrock said: "He's beginning to appreciate the workrate he has got to do and the aerial threat he has got to give for the team. He does a lot of good things away from the ball that people don't notice. He's a good team player now. I have tried both things, but I think the stick has worked much better than the carrot, so he will be getting more of that next season. A couple of times I have given him a wee verbal, just to gee him up. I think Rory hasn't achieved as much in his career as he should of. At the end of the day, his attitude to football was a problem to him. Now the penny has dropped. I think he now appreciates what he has got to do, and he's enjoying his football because of it. He has got more value to the team than just goals. Any time he comes to the show, we normally win the football game." Fallon's two goals came courtesy of Luke Summerfield, and that point was not lost on Sturrock. He said: "We had worked on our set pieces on Thursday and Friday and his delivery was good. Luke is a good player. There are certain things in his game we are going to have to sort out, but you can see the talent is there. His use of the ball and his workrate today was second to none. I think Jimmy and him complemented each other in the middle of the park." Summerfield is one of four out-of-contract players whose futures are still to be resolved, and when asked whether the midfielder would still be at Home Park next season, Sturrock replied: "That's a discussion that me and Luke have still to have." Gary Sawyer returned at left-back for Argyle because Jim Paterson had a back problem and Sturrock also revealed that Jermaine Easter and Peter Halmosi had played even though they were not fully fit. He said: "Jermaine has got tendonitis and he has had to lower his training because of the pain he's getting. And Peter is feeling something as well, really tight around the thigh and his hamstring. So I have got big decisions to make for next Sunday." Jamie Mackie started on the left side of midfield against Blackpool, and Sturrock said: "I chatted to him before the game about getting his body position right. I think he worked really hard on that in the first half. He's much more comfortable on the left than he is on the right, but he does give us another string to our bow. I expect Peter to play on the left next season, and I think if you asked the boy Mackie he would want to play centre-forward." Sturrock added: "It was nice to score off a couple of set pieces today because that's an area where I think we could have done a lot better this year. It's something we will be working 100 per cent harder on next season."
Krisztian Timar was delighted to be named Argyle's player of the year, and said: "I'm very proud to have won this award, especially as this has been my first full season in England. It's a big thing for me. I was the captain as well so it was a very good day for me, and I think it has been a good season for the team." Timar was told by Paul Sturrock that he would be leading the team out an hour-and-a-half before kick-off. He said: "It was a little bit strange, but it was very good for me. My English is getting better now so I can speak more to my team-mates. I have been a captain a few times before, but not too many. It's a big thing for me because this is my first full season in England and now I'm the captain of Argyle. It has been a good season for me, and for the team as well. If we had been a little luckier, and if our squad had been a bit bigger, we could have pushed on for the top six." Peter Halmosi, who finished second in the voting, has also made an outstanding contribution to Argyle this season, as Timar was keen to point out. He said: "Peter has had a very good season and I'm very happy for him. Second place is also very good and, as two Hungarians, we are very proud to be in the first two. I love the supporters here, and I think they love me. I always work hard for the team and I think they appreciate that. Hopefully, we can be much better next season and finish further up the league table so that every year we keep improving. We have to have belief in the board of directors and the coaching staff that they can bring in some quality players for next season." Argyle's convincing victory over Blackpool was their first home win in five attempts and Timar added: "We wanted to win the last home game of the season so that's why we worked hard. We are very happy with the clean sheet and the three goals."
Rory Fallon has made a dozen starts for Argyle this season, and has scored seven goals in those 12 games - including two on Saturday. "It was a great way to finish," he said. "We really wanted to send the fans off happy and get a good win, and we did that. It was a little too late for the play-offs, but we can build on it next season, when we might have pretty much a brand-new squad. We got off the blocks really quick and got a couple of goals up. Everyone worked really well." Fallon's two goals were headers, and both were set up by Luke Summerfield. Fallon said: "We had worked on those set-pieces in training on Friday, so it wasn't a fluke. I'm telling him what I want and he's telling me what he can give me. It went well." Argyle will soon turn their thoughts to next season, and Fallon added: "Next season coming up is my big one. It's the last year on my contract, and I really have to do well - and I want to do well for the team as well. The gaffer has given me a chance and has put me back in there, and I just want to repay his faith and work hard for the lads. Everything else will come. For me, it was disappointing not being in the play-offs. We were up there almost all season, but you have to overcome it, do what you can and be professional."
Paul Sturrock was very pleased after yesterdays win over Blackpool. He said: "Obviously it has been a disappointing time in the last few games we've let leads slip and paid the penalty with it because it took us out of the opportunity to go right until the last day. It has also not been a great week for myself because of the decisions I've had to make that were very difficult, so it was pleasing that we finish on a high at home and it was a good victory. Sturrock was also was pleased with the commitment shown by his players, and added: "We started very positively and we could have had a few others and, in the end, three-nothing was a fair result. We went about our job professionally and we now want to finish in the top ten." Despite having one more game left, Sturrock is already looking to next season. He said: "I'm looking forward now to getting things done the way I want them done. It was nice to score a couple of set-pieces today because that's an area where I think we could have scored a lot more this year, and it is something we'll be working on harder next season. It was an open, end of season game but at least we finished positively at home and we've now got to win the game at Wolves next Sunday."
Paul Sturrock paid tribute to his departing players following the win over Blackpool. After the game Lilian Nalis, Paul Connolly, Lee Hodges and Paul Wotton picked up commemorative items in front of the 12,000 fans and Sturrock said: "I'm very pleased that it went that way. I think that the Capaldi scenario that happened last year left a bad taste in everybody's mouth and I think it was the proper way that people from this football club should be remembered. They all deserved what they got today because they are all model professionals. They were definitely disappointed when I broke the news, but the next day they were professional and had a spring in their step. None of them will have a problem finding a football club, but when I first came here, I said that I would change the personnel and switch things, and I just feel that this is needed. I am the manager who has lost the backbone of the old team, so the new dawn and the new era begins today." The biggest surprise before kick-off was the inclusion of Lee Hodges on the bench as previously Sturrock had said that none of the departing payers would feature today. Sturrock said: "Hodgey was on the bench to give a wee twist in the tail. The other boys were thinking about getting injured, but Hodgey didn't really care about that and he fancied his five minutes at the end of the game, and I was down to the wire with the body count anyway."
Argyle beat Blackpool 3-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Jermaine Easter after 4 minutes and Rory Fallon (25 and 55). Argyle: McCormick, Clark, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Mackie, Abdou, Summerfield, Halmosi, Easter, Fallon. Subs – MacLean, Smith, Hodges (not used – Folly, Doumbe). Attendance - 12,911
Krisztian Timar has been named as Argyle's Player of the Season. Peter Halmosi came second in the vote with Luke McCormick third. Youth team captain Shane White was voted Young Player of the Season
Paul Sturrock will not play any of the five players he announced would be leaving the club in today's final home game of the season. He said: "They won't be involved on Saturday - they have played their last games for the club. I am not saying there won't be a proper farewell, but it won't be through playing. There are several reasons behind it. I would hate to think of people getting injured, particularly long-term injuries when they are going out of contract. They could finish up not being able to find another club. There is also the scenario of a person being told he is surplus to requirements having the mental approach for the game. I would be very happy with them all being there and something being done after the game, for them to be appreciated and for them to appreciate the fans." Sturrock plans to do some experimenting in the game, starting with Chris Clark playing at right-back. He said: "I will have a look at two or three players this week. Chris Clark will start the game at right-back. He has played regularly at full-back and he was more than competent in that position in the reserve game on Tuesday. He has mooted that full-back is a position he could fight for, so, let's have a look. Chris has unfortunately taken up the Jason Bent role - the play anywhere scenario. I'm glad to have one and I would love to have another one in the squad. They get the hard job of filling other people's boots. But I'm sure Chris is hopeful he's not that type of player and he can find a home. I am going to have a look at another pairing with my strikers and maybe have another look at my midfield shape. It won't be a different formation but we might position people a little differently. Peter Halmosi is fine but Gary Teale will definitely miss out. It is not his hamstring now - he pulled a calf when he came back into training on Monday."
Paul Sturrock is thrilled that Luke McCormick and Romain Larrieu have signed new contracts with Argyle. He said: "It's fantastic the two of them have decided to commit to the football club. We need two competitive goalkeepers. Romain has had this small problem, but it should be all sorted out by the start of the season and we will have two quality 'keepers. That's what I want right through the team - two people vying for the one slot. If I can get that then you have a very competitive and hungry squad." Sturrock revealed there could be an influx of players from Europe during the next couple of months. He said: "It's going to be a difficult summer for us because the quality we are looking for is competitive. Other people are looking for the same quality as well. There is going to be a lot of travelling abroad to tick the boxes on the standard of the European players we are looking at."
Lilian Nalis has vowed to continue his playing career, despite being released by Argyle this week. He said: "I definitely want to carry on playing so I will be listening to what is on the market. I hope I will find something and I keep on enjoying myself. I just want to listen to everything and take the right decision, but English football is so passionate that it would be hard to leave." Nalis was told by Paul Sturrock on Thursday he would not be given a new contract, and he added: "It's a strange feeling because I have been in football for a long time and I know how it works. You have to accept these kind of decisions sometimes. But, on the other side, I have enjoyed my two-and-a-half years down here and it's still in my heart." Nalis insisted that his departure had not come as a surprise to him. He said: "I wasn't playing and I knew the way things were going. I have got enough experience now to read what a manager is thinking. But I haven't got any problems with anyone. I wish the manager, all the staff and the players all the best. I enjoyed my time down here, and so did my son and my wife. When your family is happy, it helps with your football. When I arrived at the club, we were fighting for survival in this division and I have had two-and-a-half glorious years. There was the FA Cup run last season and we have improved our league position every year, so it has been fantastic for me. I wish everybody at my age could enjoy having a season like this. I had a smile on my face every day I came into training and when I went out onto the football pitch. I have got some great memories. The stadium was full for the FA Cup quarter-final against Watford, and the city was buzzing for the week before." Nalis admitted to being disappointed at the way Argyle's play-off push this season had fallen away in the last two months. He said: "You have to be upset at what happened because we were in a great position, but that's football. Sometimes things don't go the way you want them to go. It was a disappointing end to the season."
Paul Sturrock met with a representative from K&K Shonan for the first time during yesterday's budget meeting. He said: "It is the first time I have met one of their representatives and there is a discussion to be had on that scenario, but today is more about the decisions I have made. I had an insight into the budget today and I am going to take right up to next week before I really dissect it as far as what it enables me to bring into the club. I think it has increased, but I don't want to discuss the budget until I have a real look at things." Sturrock's search for new players has already begun and he added: "It is going to be a difficult summer because everybody is looking for quality and there will be a lot of travelling abroad. I have contacted 250 agents about free transfers who have answered back to me with the availability of certain players. That is a tenth of what I have received back and my job now is to sift through all of that, and make a list of those we would like to have discussions with."
Paul Wotton was told by Paul Sturrock yesterday afternoon he would not be offered a new contract, and it was not a situation either of the two found easy to deal with. Sturrock said: "I think everybody will appreciate that Paul Wotton and I have had a huge relationship over the years and it was a very difficult decision to make." When asked how Wotton had reacted, the Sturrock replied: "He was gutted. It's probably the worst conversation I have ever had to have with a player, but these things happen in football. Time doesn't stand still and you have got to look to the future as well." None of the players who are being released will play in Argyle's final home game of the season against Blackpool tomorrow, but Sturrock is keen for them to be given the opportunity to be get a send-off from the supporters. He said: "I would be very happy with them all being there and something being done for them, maybe after the game. I felt it was appropriate we got this out now because we have only got one home game left and I would like to see these players get the appreciation of the club and the city. It's a sad day, but a day a lot of managers have to go through." The situation reminded Sturrock of the end of the 2000/01 season, when he carried out a major shake-up of his first Argyle squad. "When I first came here there was a hue and cry when I let go Barlow, Leadbitter, O'Sullivan, McGregor and McCarthy," he said. "It was seen as terrible and it was the end of the world. I would imagine my postbag will be full with fans saying I have made some big mistakes again. But, in the end, I want to reshape the squad. I would like to go down the road of trying to get everybody here by a certain date so the pre-season training is all done together. That's going to make it really hard because we have got to do things very quickly."
Paul Sturrock has spoken to loan signings Russell Anderson and Gary Teale about the possibility of the two staying at the club on permanent contracts, but Argyle's other loan signing, Lukas Jutkiewicz, will be returning to Everton. Sturrock said: "I'll have a word with Anderson and Teale to see their thoughts on the whole scenario. I'm going to talk to their agents and their football clubs in the next couple of days to see what sort of fees and wage structure would have to be paid."
Paul Sturrock endured several sleepless nights before concluding that the moment was right to call time on Paul Wotton's Home Park career. "My decision not to offer Paul Wotton a new contract has not been taken without a lot of soul-searching," he said. "Wottsy was my captain during the 2001-02 title-winning season, and again two years later, when we won promotion to the Championship. He was pivotal to both campaigns. He was in the first Argyle side I ever picked, for an FA Cup-tie at Chester in 2000, and the fact that he was the last-man standing from that team - eight years and three divisions later - speaks volumes for the man. I can honestly say that I have never worked with a more dedicated or honest footballer. His commitment to his profession should be held up as an example to anyone who wants to play the game. Wottsy has reaped the rewards of that work-ethic and, as a result, has achieved success without precedent by an Argyle player. I toyed with offering him a short-term contract, but, in the end, I felt that would have been an insult to someone who has played nearly 450 games for the club. I have too much respect for him to do that. He may prove my judgment wrong - and that wouldn't be a first for him - and come back to bite us on the bum, but managers are paid to make big calls, however tough, and I have made mine. There is no room for sentiment in football. My one hope is that the soreness Wottsy may be feeling now does not cloud the love that he has for the club. He will always be a welcome visitor to Home Park. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a man so proud to wear the Green. He is a living Argyle legend, right up there with the all-time great Pilgrims. The phrase 'end of an era' is used far too glibly in our game, but, for once, it is entirely appropriate. Home Park - especially the dressing-room - will not be the same without him, and I wish Wottsy and his family all the best for their future."
Paul Sturrock struggled with the decision not to offer a new contract to Lilian Nalis. "Not offering Lilian a new contract was a choice that I did not make lightly," he said. "It has been a real pleasure to work with Lil, who rightly commands so much respect and affection, on and off the field. It was no fluke that he was our fans' choice as player of the season a year ago. He came to the club on a short-term deal in January 2006, and stayed for two and a half seasons, which tells its own story. He was the perfect captain in Wottsy's absence after Barry Hayles left, and my only regret about Lil is that I did not have the chance to work with him when we were both a bit younger. I'd like to thank Lil for everything he brought to the club, as well as to the team, and our best wishes for the future go to him and his family."
Lee Hodges has played in every position, including goalkeeper, during two spells with Argyle, and Paul Sturrock was fulsome in his praise of Hodges after his decision to not offer him a new deal. "I will not be renewing Lee Hodges' contract when it expires in the summer," he said. "That decision is not a reflection of my appreciation of him - no-one is more grateful to Hodgy than I am for the shifts he has put in on behalf of the club over seven seasons. I signed him at the start of the 2001-02 Third Division championship season, and he has been a valuable, and loyal, member of our squad ever since. When he went in goal at Scunthorpe recently, he said that he had played in every position for the club, and that, alone, shows what an asset he has been. He is a model professional and has also been a fine ambassador for the club off the field. Like all the players who are leaving the club, he has been a pleasure to work with, and I wish him and his family all the best for the future."
The decision by Paul Connolly to decline new contract talks with Argyle came as no surprise to Paul Sturrock, who said: "I have known for some time that Paul Connolly has decided to leave the club when his contract expires in the summer. I would have liked Shelly to stay, but I have to respect his feelings. He has been at Plymouth since he was a teenager and has given this club good service. To be fair to him, he has continued to wear the green shirt with pride even though he has known that his future lies away from Home Park. I would hope that our fans join me in wishing him all the best in his new career, and will welcome him if and when he returns to Plymouth in different colours."
Nick Chadwick is leaving Argyle after an injury-blighted three and a half years at Home Park. Paul Sturrock said: "My decision to let Nick Chadwick go was, in some ways, a simple one: I just haven't seen enough of him to be able to offer him a new contract. I feel a wee bit sorry for Chadders because he's been really unlucky with some niggling injuries. They have hampered him seemingly throughout his entire time at Home Park, and have limited him to about a quarter-of-an-hour's play since I've been back. His record of 49 league starts in three years is a sad testimony to his problems. He's a good sort with a decent pedigree, and I just hope he can get over his troubles with his body and get his career back on track."
Luke McCormick is only 24, but having made his debut in 2001, has been at Home Park for a long time. After agreeing a new two-year contract he said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed this season and I feel like I have played better than I have done over the last few years. More than anything, I feel like I have really started to develop into the goalkeeper I'm going to be and I have also rediscovered my hunger for football. I just think maybe I'm maturing a little bit and I have really enjoyed being part of what, hopefully, will be a successful season for us." McCormick believes a top 10 finish would represent a good campaign for Argyle, and added: "Everyone is under no illusions we had a fantastic chance of getting into the play-offs this season. Unfortunately, I think it was down to ourselves that we didn't get there. But, at the same time, I think we can take our experience this season and make an even better push for it next year. I think our form over the last month or so has let us down. There is no hiding that. The people who have come and watched the games can see we haven't been at our best, and it has been disappointing. We haven't picked up enough points and we haven't played well enough, but we can only learn from that and, hopefully, come next season that will stand us in good stead." McCormick hopes they can finish on a high against Blackpool tomorrow. "The fans have turned out all season and they pay good money to come and watch so it would be nice to finish off on a bit of a high note," he said. "It must be a bit disappointing for them as well, because there was an expectancy we would be in and around the play-offs, but we have just fallen away from that. So it would be good to give them something to cheer about and, hopefully, get them to come back in their numbers next season."
Paul Wotton will not be offered a new contract by Argyle when his current deal expires this summer. Lee Hodges, Lilian Nalis and Nick Chadwick will also all be released. Paul Connolly has chosen to leave despite the club being prepared to offer him a new and improved contract. Luke McCormick and Romain Larrieu though have both agreed new two-year deals whilst discussions are continuing with Mat Kouo-Doumbe, Nadjim Abdou, Luke Summerfield and Dan Smith. Argyle also confirmed that they will not be pursuing any interest in Gyorgy Sandor who did not make a first-team appearance during his loan spell. Reuben Reid, who has been on loan at Brentford, has been officially released having effectively left the club some time ago, and Jake Moult will also not be given a new contract
Argyle reserves beat Cheltenham Town 4-1 at Home Park this afternoon, the goals scored by Ashley Barnes (2), Dan Smith and Chris Clark. Argyle: Saxton, Clark, Hodges, Picard, Duggan, Abdou, Folly, McCrory, Summerfield, Smith, Barnes, Stevens. Subs - White, McCrory, Head (not used - McCaul, Davis)
Yasuaki Kagami has pledged to help Argyle reach the Premier League. He said: "We cannot promise immediate success, but I hope the Plymouth fans will view K&K Shonan Management LLC as a long-term dedicated shareholder, committed to the goal of bringing Plymouth to the next level. We believe that this is a process that has many steps, but, as long as we continue in the same successful direction the team has been moving for the past five years, we should be close to that goal. K&K Shonan Management was set up as both a strategic asset acquisition company and a company that is structured to be able to make more non-traditional investments than previously Maruka Corporation had historically entered into. Being smaller, but highly funded, allows us to be able to make quick decisions and have greater flexibility." Kagami was introduced to Argyle by Plymothian Tony Campbell, an Argyle fan. "The relationship started to evolve with a presentation we received from a business associate that has roots in Plymouth," added Mr Kagami. "As we began to study more about the market and about Plymouth, we felt that the investment was an attractive proposal that could lead to a positive impact to football here in Japan. By having a Japanese-backed club, it would make it 'Japan's', and would increase the awareness of English football, which has the best players in the world and so is the most exciting. It would become a platform for star players here in Japan, and also a venue for young Japanese aspiring players to further their skills with the youth team."
Jamie Mackie wants to build on the promising start he has made to his career with Argyle, and knows he still has a lot to learn but does not lack any confidence in his own ability. He said: "I have come from the Conference so I have made a massive leap. You have got to be realistic, you are not going to go straight into a strong team like this with experienced strikers and widemen. I have bided my time and worked really hard in training and I'm delighted the manager has included me as much as he has really. Next season is going to be a massive one for me. Whatever happens, I will work hard and I'm ready whenever the gaffer needs me." Mackie was given his chance against Preston at left midfield, rather than in attack, and he added: "I think I have been close to a start. I have worked really hard in training. I wasn't expecting it to come on the left wing, I have got to be honest, but wherever I play I'm happy."
Jamie Mackie made the most of his first starting appearance at Home Park by scoring with a spectacular, albeit slightly deflected, long-range goal on Saturday. Despite the disappointment of the result, Mackie has promised that the team will try to finish the season on a high note with six points from their two remaining games. "We know what we need to work on and we'll stay strong as a group," he said. "We'll try and finish strongly. As a team, we'll deal with what went wrong, and we'll get better from it. It's been a massive season for the club, and next season we want to do even better. We're a team of hard-working players, and we work hard for each other. It's been very hard for the club this season, with all the personnel changes and the change of manager, but I think all the lads have adapted well. It has been frustrating. You never know if you're going to be up that high again. That's the biggest disappointment. It's easy to say we'll be all right next season, but we're going to have to work really hard to get to where we were. We had a massive chance and we've sort of given it up but, whatever happens, the lads have done really well this season. It's very hard to feel any pride in where we are at half past five on a Saturday afternoon after you've just given away a two-goal lead but, when the dust has settled at the end of the season, hopefully we can feel like we're going forward - as long as we can win our last two games." The game gave Mackie only his second starting appearance for Argyle, and when asked if he had been hoping for a place in the side, he said: "Yes. I think I've been close to a start. I've worked really hard in training and I've been chomping at the bit to get a start, so to get one today was great. Describing his goal he added: "It was a good bit of play. I drifted inside - naturally, I'm going to do that, because I'm right-footed - and I just thought I'd hit it. If you don't shoot, you're not going to score. It took a little bit of a deflection off their lad and that helped it on its way. I was delighted to score that early, and it was just a shame we couldn't hold on to it."
The new Japanese investor in Argyle is aiming to get the club into the Premiership, and has also pledged to invest in the new grandstand, players and a hotel at Home Park. Yasuaki Kagami, President of K&K Shonan, also had a special message in Japanese for the team and the fans: "Ganbatte midori (Fight on, Greens)," he said. Mr Kagami's right-hand man, K&K senior vice president George Synan said: "We want to make sure the team has adequate funds to bring in the players they need. We need to provide a proper grandstand - but it's also up to the fans. They need to support Argyle. Mr Kagami's message is that it's a two-way street. The more positive everybody is, the sooner we'll get into the Premiership." He said K&K Shonan was in it for the long haul. "We wouldn't want to lose money so we're prepared to put up the resources. We know that money is needed for the stadium. We're waiting to hear from Paul Sturrock about next year's player requirements. We have budgeted money." Reports have revealed that Yasuaki Kagami is the CEO of Maruka Corporation, which markets and distributes products across the world and based in Tokyo. Mr Kagami is also sole owner and president of K&K Shonan
Paul Sturrock believes defensive frailty has been the main reason behind Argyle's poor run of just one win in the last eight games. He said: "It was a comedy of errors today and what has cost us dear over the last seven or eight matches have been defensive lapses. We have been in winning positions in many games, only to shoot ourselves in the foot. Other teams have not stopped our progression to the play-offs. We have shot ourselves down as far as the play-offs are concerned. We have lost really soft goals and given away leads. It is something we pride ourselves on and one of my players ducks in the middle of the box for the first goal. That first goal was the killer because it came so soon after the penalty. It gives them hope and us apprehension." With victory essential yesterday Sturrock started with Jamie Mackie, Rory Fallon and Steve MacLean, and after the game said: "We played very open at the start today. We knew we had to go and win the game and Jamie came in with a solid performance. It has been a long season for a lot of our players. There was a settled 13 at this club and one or two of them looked weary-legged today. It sometimes happens with a lack of confidence as well." Despite the disappointment of losing a two-goal lead to Preston, Sturrock feels the 2-1 defeat to ten-man Charlton a fortnight ago was the killer blow. He said: "The Charlton game was they key to it all. It was a huge kick in the teeth. Our form has been very disappointing but not much worse than the rest of the top ten because everybody has been losing. Crystal Palace won anyway, so, even with three points, it would have been nigh on impossible. I am gutted for everybody involved with the club. Our aim now is to finish as high as we can and show progression. We can only do that by winning football games. We have another home game next week and this does enable me to maybe have a look at one or two, but we won't take our finger off the pulse as far as getting a result. I am disappointed because we have not been playing anywhere near the standards we were reaching before and getting to the bottom of that is very difficult."
Paul Sturrock is already planning for next season, but believes the current campaign should not be regarded as a total write-off and a top-ten finish would represent progress. "I want people to understand that, if we can finish higher than last season, it has been a good season," he said. "The disappointment has been how we have flagged at the end and that has been a combination of a number of things. It has been a learning curve for everybody at the club and I believe freshness is needed personnel-wise. It is key that we learn from the season and we must put an edge and freshness to the squad, and the only way we can do that is by bringing new players in. We have to be up and running for the start of August." A scheduled meeting with the board will determine Sturrock's immediate plans, and he added: "The budget will be a determination of how many changes will be needed and that will be discussed at Thursday's Board meeting. Once I know what the story is, I will be able to make solid decisions. There are a lot of hard decisions to be made over the next week. It is going to be a difficult week. There are going to be a lot of players being told their destiny. I will be starting with my thoughts tomorrow. I would like to think I have told everybody their fate before kick-off next Saturday. This will be our last home game, so it would be appropriate for the players to know before. I would imagine being a footballer is very difficult when you don't know your destiny at a club. I have tried not to go down the road of too many discussions on the subject because I wanted everybody focused on the job. It is not a week I am looking forward to. It can be a Catch 22 because you do it now and then can't find any new players to bring in."
Argyle drew 2-2 with Preston North End at Home Park, the goals scored by Jamie Mackie after 12 minutes and Paul Wotton (75). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Anderson, Paterson, Abdou, Wotton, Halmosi, Mackie, MacLean, Fallon. Subs – Easter, Nalis, Teale (not used – Doumbe, Summerfield). Attendance - 10,727
Nick Chadwick will not play any part in the final three games of the season. Paul Maxwell said: "He has some bone bruising in the knee and it just needs to settle down. The specialist opinion is that there is no point in going on with his rehab. He will leave it for now and have a period of rest and then build it up slowly through the summer. Chadders has been away this week, but he will be back next week just to do some swimming and upper body strength work."
Argyle are hoping to arrange a friendly against Premier League opposition at Home Park on August 2nd, which will be the only home pre-season game, according to Paul Sturrock. He said: "We have contacted all the Premier League clubs and we are hopeful we will get word back. If not, then we will have to chase about and get something from somewhere else - maybe abroad. But, at this point, people are not committing themselves to friendlies." Argyle will play two games while they are in Austria in July, and have also arranged friendlies at Kidderminster, Tiverton, Swindon, and Yeovil, but the dates for Swindon and Yeovil have not been announced yet
Paul Sturrock has a sneaking play-off feeling that won't go away. He said: "It would be easy for me to just down tools but I still have this sneaking feeling in the back of my head. Three points tomorrow could do us a hell of a bit of business. There is just something niggling in my mind and, if there is an opportunity for this football club to have something to play for in the last game, then three points is a must. We have got a game on Saturday and, quite incredibly, whatever happens above us, it will still be mathematically possible to get in the hunt up to the Blackpool game. We have to go hell for leather on Saturday and hope some of the teams above get shot down by a sniper. If you take into consideration that Watford play Crystal Palace and Ipswich play Wolves on the same day we play Preston, we could still be going into the Blackpool game with a chance, and Crystal Palace play Hull next week as well. I just don't want to go out with a whimper. I am very disappointed with the last three games especially with what has transpired with other results meaning we could have been there or thereabouts. I would like to think we can put something together in the last three games and leave ourselves and the fanbase with a nice taste. The only way we can do that is by winning football games. I am very hopeful that 11 players will go out there in the same frame of mind as I am in - very positive."
Paul Sturrock has spoken of his regret that Lukas Jutkiewicz has not made much of an impact at Argyle during his loan move from Everton. He said: "Lukas did very well in training on Thursday. But the problem for him was the four months before that. He had this recurring thing where one day he was running about great and the next day he was having a problem with his breathing. I'm bitterly disappointed that I didn't get service out of him, although that's not to say he will not come into the frame today. But he hasn't played to the standard that I know he can. You have got to remember I had him for a year and a bit at Swindon before he moved on. I know what the laddie's potential is, but he hasn't come to the show like I know he should of. And I think if you talked to him, he would put his hand up and say that. At the time we signed him, I did feel that we needed that type of player, and I think he proved in the first couple of games when he came on as a sub, what he was all about. But he has not come to the races since then and, as a result, he lost his confidence, and I also think this niggling thing was a worry to him all the time. It has only been the last two or three weeks that he has looked much better in training, and looks back to what he was when he first got here." Meanwhile, time is running out for Gyorgy Sandor to make his debut for Argyle. Sturrock said: "He took his time to get back fit, and he has struggled dramatically to get to the pace of the game here. I'm not prepared to stick in him just for the sake of it. It's a very difficult one."
Paul Sturrock wants to see the very best of Peter Halmosi in today's game with Preston North End at Home Park. "I've looked at the tape of Peter's performance on Monday night," Sturrock said. "I've had a quick word with him, because I thought he looked a bit sheepish out on the park. He said he was carrying a wee niggling hamstring and a niggle at the back of his knee, but his knee was fine. If I decide to play him, I'm going to have to see the match-winning Peter. I felt he floated around the edges of the game on Monday." The Argyle management and medical staff had been considering sending Halmosi for an operation to solve the problem, a possibility that seems to have alarmed the player, who said to a Hungarian newspaper: "I don't understand the surgery story. I was surprised to read it, as at the end of the season you have pain all over your body. I have pain in my leg, but not in the knee. I felt pain under my knee and in my calf at times on Monday, but I think that was because I missed a lot of training when I was injured, and also because of the state of the Hillsborough pitch."
Gary Teale will still be sidelined by a hamstring injury when Argyle take on Preston North End tomorrow. Paul Sturrock said: "Teale won't make it tomorrow, which is a big blow. He has had this hamstring strain and he should be available for next Saturday. I feel he would have influenced the game on Monday night, and I feel he could have influenced tomorrow's game as well, but that's football." Sturrock also revealed that Peter Halmosi's knee had not fully healed but, for the time being he would continue playing. "We do feel that some of the things the scan showed have been there long-term, since he was over in Hungary," said Sturrock. "So they are nothing to do with it, but there is a fresh injury in there. Probably now, rest will be the best thing for it. But we have got a game tomorrow and, quite incredibly, if we win it - whatever happens above us - it's still mathematically possible for us to get into the play-offs. So we have got to go hell for leather for three points tomorrow and hope some people who are above us get shot down by a sniper." Asked whether that meant Halmosi would play against Preston, Sturrock said: "I have actually looked at the tape of his performance the other night. I had a quick word with him yesterday because he looked a bit sheepish out on the park. He said he was carrying a wee niggling hamstring, but his knee was fine. If I decide to play him tomorrow, I'm going to have to see the match winning Peter. I felt he floated around the edges of the game the other night."
Marcel Seip had a double hernia operation in Holland yesterday. Paul Sturrock said: "I think he will have a week's rest there because I don't think they will let him travel on a plane until it settles down. Then he's back here for rehab. He will be doing rehab here like any other player would. I haven't heard of any football club that allows their players to rehab elsewhere. It would be disrespectful to our medical team."
Paul Sturrock has confirmed he hopes to tie up Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar to new long-term contracts with Argyle. He said: "We don't want to get caught out with some of the scenarios that have happened in the past at this football club. So it makes sense for us to go into discussions with some of our players who, I feel, have performed to pleasing standards. I have mooted to my board that I would be interested in discussing upgrading the contracts for those two, and that's as far as it has gone so far. But an upgrade of contract also means the length of contract is upgraded as well." Sturrock insisted there had been no inquiries from QPR for Halmosi and Timar, and added: "None at all. And I wouldn't expect anything at this juncture of the season. But, at the end of the day, I don't think a club that has any thoughts about selling players would be discussing about putting them on to more money and extending the length of their contracts."
Paul Sturrock has admitted he would be 'open minded' to the possibility of signing any Japanese internationals, following the news of K & K Shonan Management Corporation buying a 20 per cent stake in the club this week. He said: "We will cross that bridge when it comes. But these kind of markets are excellent for revenue and I would be open minded as far as that is concerned. You have got to remember anybody coming from that market will have to be an international player for them to be able to come into this country. I think there is a contact between this company and the Japanese FA, so I will wait and see what transpires. But it's only the elite 22 in the international squad who I can get my hands on, and I'm guessing more than 70 per cent of them will be playing abroad at this minute in time." Sturrock is not surprised by the Japanese involvement in Argyle because the club has a large catchment area in the South West. He said: "It's a global game and I can appreciate there are a lot of people trying to get into football in this day and age. I would imagine Plymouth's value has risen in the market and it seems a sensible choice. There is what you would call a hidden market here because we are a bit isolated from the mainstream."
Argyle's training session at Harper's Park yesterday was disrupted by a strong wind. Paul Sturrock said: "The wind caused mayhem, and the dry pitch didn't help things. If it's dry today, we will definitely water the pitch tomorrow. The problem is, if there is a wind it takes 20 minutes to dry out, so you need to put an ocean on there!"
Paul Sturrock has welcomed the arrival of K & K Shonan Management Corporation on the Home Park Board. "Any investment in the football club is a positive step," he said. "There has been a lot said from the supporters about getting more investment into the club and I think the Chairman has listened to the views of people coming on the scene in the past. I am sure he will continue to listen in the future because the more people investing in the football club the better. As long as it benefits the club and suits the club, I see no problems. If people want to invest in the club, it shows we are going in the right direction. If there are more people with an inkling to be involved, get in touch with the Chairman. The more the merrier for me. There have obviously been negotiations going on for weeks and months, so the Board is clearly certain about it. It is a global game and there are a lot of people trying to get involved in football these days. Plymouth's value in the market has risen. There is a hidden market here, so far as we are very isolated."
Paul Sturrock is ready to start making decisions on the future of his out of contract players. He said: "Obviously, I'm going to have to start thinking about it, and start talking to certain players. Once I know the budget then I can decide which ones I'm going to keep and which ones I'm going to move on. The important thing for us is that we finish as high up the league as possible. The development of this football club is to keep going in the right direction. We are 10th at this minute in time, which is one place ahead of where we were last season. A nice win on Saturday would take us into an area of the league we want to be in." Sturrock agreed that it must be unsettling for many of his squad not to know their future beyond the end of the season. He said: "I can understand where they are coming from, but until we knew what league we were going to be in - and it's still mathematically possible we could make the play-offs - it was difficult to make a decision. I don't envisage me talking to any players before Saturday, because the board are going to have to make a decision on what the budget is. Once I know the budget and we get Saturday over with, it will then be important that I talk to everybody." Of Argyle's four current loan players, it is thought they intend to complete a permanent deal for Gary Teale, and could also try to tempt Sunderland into selling Russell Anderson, using any money they receive from the sale of Marcel Seip towards the transfer fee
Argyle's failed to win at Sheffield Wednesday on Monday but Paul Sturrock was very happy with Luke McCormick's performance. "I was pleased for my goalie," he said. "Luke got back on the rails, and I think he got a slight hand to the goal. Luke has been a great goalkeeper for us and he showed his character to come back after his disappointment of the last game." Peter Halmosi returned to action in the game after a two-match absence and scored his ninth goal of the season, but Argyle are still considering surgery. Sturrock said: "Peter is a top player. He was important for this game. We needed him and he came up with the goods, but we've got to make sure that knee of his is totally fine. We've got to decide whether to kick on, or go in and have a wee look."
Argyle today released the following statement: Plymouth Argyle Football Club announces that an agreement has been entered into with K&K Shonan Management Corporation to enable K&K to become an authorised representative of PAFC to negotiate commercial agreements in Japan, North America, Asia and Oceania for the benefit of the Football Club and K&K. The agreement is subject to a number of detailed conditions, not least of which is that in any new commercial agreements with K&K, there is a demonstrable and significant financial benefit to the Football Club. K&K has also purchased a 20% shareholding in Plymouth Argyle Football Club (Holdings) Limited from its existing Directors. Mr Yasuaki Kagami of K&K has also been appointed to the board of PAFC. Mr Kagami is involved in real estate and importing. Commenting on the new agreement, Argyle chairman Paul Stapleton, said: "This agreement results from extensive discussions and negotiations conducted with K&K over many months with the aim of increasing the marketing and commercial opportunities available to the Football Club. "We are excited about the future possible revenue streams from the Far East in particular and expanding the horizons of Plymouth Argyle. While this agreement has only just been concluded, it demonstrates the considerable appeal that Plymouth Argyle and our region has for companies with a global reach. We are also pleased to welcome Mr Kagami to the board and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship."
Argyle are ready to enter into new contract talks with Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar. Their agent, Sam Stapleton, said: "Plymouth have asked to discuss the possibility of new contracts for the pair of them. Peter and Krisztian are an integral part of the squad and, obviously, they want to keep them. We hoped that contract negotiations would have started in January but we will talk to each other and see if we can find an agreement. Both Peter and Krisztian's profiles as players have dramatically increased since Ian Holloway brought them to England and they both deserve to have new contracts that reflect this."
Paul Sturrock felt Peter Halmosi's early goal at Hillsborough last night proved to be Argyle's downfall. "The worst thing we did was score in the first minute," he said. "How can a manager say 'The first goal killed us' when we scored it? But it definitely changed our mental approach. Mentally, it changed the whole complexion of the game and how we were going to play the game. It changed the whole thought-process about what we were going to do in the game, to sitting back and letting them lay siege on us. All we did was to try not to lose the game. We had been talking all week about being very positive and getting behind them, but we dropped back 20 yards and allowed Sheffield Wednesday to dictate the next 89 minutes. I am very, very disappointed because I did feel, had we got ourselves linking up with our front men, we could have caused them a lot of problems. Second half, we created a couple of chances. I thought my front two did well with not much support. They worked very hard together and looked dangerous at times. They got us up the pitch and created several half-chances. For the first 20 minutes of the second half, we got a grip of the game and got around their box, without really penetrating. I think Steve MacLean mis-controlled one when he was right through and we had a couple of other chances. We dropped back again, and then we decided to try to play tippy-tappy stuff in front of the back four and pass our way out of defence. If we'd just kept shovelling things down channels, they would have been no problem. Changing this [pointing to the side of head] is the hardest thing in the world, try nigh on impossible - you'd need to be Cesar Menotti on the sidelines to turn them around. The back four was so deep and Krisztian Timar had his worst game of the season - Deon Burton caused him all sorts of trouble and he just couldn't win a header, and he prides himself on being one of the top people in the air in the league. He decided to have one of those nights and we just couldn't clear our lines. It was always going to be a difficult game, because of the situation Sheffield Wednesday are in and how desperate they are for points. They were always going to put us under pressure. With ten minutes to go, it looked as though we might just weather the storm. The storm was made by ourselves. We allowed Sheffield Wednesday to come down on top of us because we decided we'd defend on the edge of our 18-yard box. It's something we are going to have to study, discuss and sort out for next season. If we play like that on a regular occurrence, I think I'd get an ulcer." The draw leaves Argyle's play-off chances all but dead but Sturrock promised: "We will not give up the fight. We will play until it's mathematically impossible not to do it. We need be very positive and to win our two home games and see where we are at our last game. Let's put six points on the board and see what happens. It's been a fantastic season for Plymouth Argyle and we want to finish above where we finished last season. It's vitally important for the club that we show everyone that we are going in the right direction, and the progression this club has made in the last five years."
Peter Halmosi was substituted in the 65th minute of the draw at Sheffield Wednesday, but Paul Sturrock confirmed he had not suffered any reaction from his knee injury. "Peter's legs had gone," said Sturrock. "He was out of training for a couple of weeks and I just felt he was getting a wee bit weary. I didn't want to push him too much because, obviously, we want him to play on Saturday."
Paul Sturrock said there was nothing sinister about Paul Wotton's absence from the team at Sheffield Wednesday last night. He said: "We needed to win the game. Paul's a very good player and has played well, but, at the end of the day, I felt we needed a different type of midfield mix if we were chasing the game. Nothing more than that."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Sheffield Wednesday, the goal scored by Peter Halmosi after 2 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Anderson, Timar, Sawyer, Paterson, Abdou, Nalis, Halmosi, MacLean, Easter. Subs – Mackie, Clark, Fallon (not used – Doumbe, Summerfield). Attendance - 20,635
Steve MacLean used to be a fans favourite at Sheffield Wednesday, but tonight will hope Argyle win at Hillsborough. MacLean was an important part of Wednesday's promotion-winning squad of 2004/05 under Paul Sturrock, and scored a penalty at Wembley. Sturrock said: "Steve had 19 goals to his name before that game. On the 20th he was going to have a huge bonus paid by the club, and he scored the penalty at 2-1 with six minutes to go. So he put us into extra-time and he made himself a few bob. He scored a lot of goals for Sheffield Wednesday and his stats for this league were very high, but he did have some injuries." MacLean has been in and out of Argyle's starting line-up over recent weeks, and Sturrock added: "He has been looking at me over the last couple of days because, obviously, he wants to play up there." MacLean has come in for criticism from some Argyle supporters, but Sturrock has given the striker his full support. He believes that MacLean, as well as Chris Clark and Jim Paterson, will not show their best form until next season. He said: "We will see the best of Chris Clark, Jim Paterson and Steve MacLean next season. Their families are not in the town yet, due to all sorts of different circumstances. The day Steve signed for us, he had just moved to a brand-new house in Cardiff. Now they are trying to get schools sorted out before the summer. You have got to get people settled in their mind. There is still a lot of work to be done on these players. When they first came to the football club, you saw what they could achieve. I think there has been a dip of form of the three of them. But Halmosi had a wee dip in form when he first came here, and Timar definitely had the same problem, until they got their families here and they were settled."
Argyle's youth team secured the Football League Youth Alliance title with a 9-1 win over Hereford United at Bolitho Park on Saturday. The goals were scored by Toby Davis (4), Damien McCrory (3) and Ashley Barnes (2). Mike Pejic said: "The lads were exceptional today, especially in the first half, and this is a reward for their hard work."
Argyle must beat Sheffield Wednesday tonight to keep their play-off chances alive, and Jermaine Easter insists the squad are not about to give up just yet. He said: "It has been disappointing to lose the last two games, but the other results have gone our way and we have still got a chance of getting in there. The lads are still positive and we want to go and win every game between now and the end of the season. A few of the teams have got games in hand on us, but it's points on the board that count. Sheffield Wednesday are a big club and they shouldn't be where they are in the table. They are going to be scrapping and fighting for their lives, so we will have to go there and put in a dogged performance and, hopefully, get back to winning ways." Easter made a slow start to his career with Argyle but has scored three times in his last six games. He said: "With some better finishing and a bit of luck, I think I could have been in double figures by now. I'm pleased the goals are going in at the moment and I just want to keep it going between now and the end of the season. I don't care who you are, whether you are playing in League Two or the Premier, as a striker you are judged on goals. To be fair, my goalscoring record over my career has been pretty decent, but since I have come here it hasn't been as positive as it has in the past. Hopefully, it's something I can rectify. Every striker will tell you, but me especially, when you are scoring goals your confidence is much higher."
Paul Sturrock will be travelling around the country over the next month, as well as abroad, to check out potential transfer targets. Sturrock said: "We are going to be travelling the world over the next four or five weeks. I have been taking in two or three games a week over the last fortnight, and I expect to keep doing that. I will also be letting loose my coaching staff, and the scouting system is also going to kick in now, because we have to watch all our targets for next season three times. It's going to be hectic stuff." Sturrock will be travelling overseas on some scouting trips but the Euro 2008 finals have made that more difficult for him. "Everybody has condensed their league programme into a smaller timeframe, and I have got to get all that work done as well, so a lot of Sundays I will be travelling," he said. "For the next four weeks, I'm totally committed to looking at all our targets, which will enable me to have a clear picture of which players we are going to bring to the football club. It will also give me a clear picture of which of the players that are here I will be keeping, and which ones I will be moving on." If and when Argyle drop out of contention for the play-offs, Sturrock could miss some first team matches before the end of the season. "I have done it before, but it would be dependant on our situation in maybe two games' time," he said. Meanwhile, Argyle have still not offered new deals to any of the players who are going to be out of contract this summer, and Sturrock added: "I have done absolutely nothing on that." When asked whether any of the players had given an indication they would be leaving Argyle anyway, he replied: "There hasn't been a debate on anybody because of the importance of the situation we are in."
Paul Sturrock has played down talk he will have a point to prove when Argyle visit Sheffield Wednesday on Monday. He said: "I'm looking forward to going back. I have got a lot of friends there. I have got an affiliation with the supporters. They were fantastic with me. I brought a lot of the players in the team to the club, or I have worked with them. So there are a lot of people that I'm really looking forward to meeting again." Sturrock has guided St Johnstone, Argyle and Swindon Town to promotion, but he admitted Wednesday's play-off final success against Hartlepool was especially memorable. He said: "The atmosphere at that game probably made it the best day for me, football-wise. To be 2-1 down, put three subs on and win 4-2 was just like a fairytale. And 41,000 Sheffield Wednesday fans were there. But I'm here now to gain three points for Plymouth Argyle, and that's the job we are going to do on Monday." Sturrock has had reports on Wednesday's last game, which was a 2-2 draw at Sheffield United last Tuesday, but he said: "I don't think that would be an appropriate game to make any judgement on them. That's always a war. I heard they dominated most of the game and played very well, but that's a cup tie rather than a league game." Argyle know they must win at Hillsborough to stay in play-off contention, and Sturrock added: "It's a huge game for both teams, for various reasons. The way the results have gone this week, those three points would do us a lot of good with two home games coming up. If we don't get three points, it would definitely knock us out of the race. So, for us, it's a must-win scenario, and it's a must-win scenario for them, which should make good viewing on Sky."
Jamie Mackie could be a 'dark horse' when it comes to team selection for Argyle's visit to Sheffield Wednesday on Monday, and Paul Sturrock said: "I have not written off Jamie being involved on Monday. I think he would be an influential player to this game. The pitch isn't going to be the best. He's a dark horse. Nobody really knows him, but there are a lot of considerations for selection."
Argyle are set to return to Austria again this summer for a pre-season tour. They will play a friendly against Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough on July 18th, before flying to Obertraun for a training camp from July 19th to 26th
Peter Halmosi will be fit for Argyle's trip to Sheffield Wednesday on Monday. Paul Sturrock said: "Peter has trained the last three days with no reaction. A couple of boys dropped out yesterday with wee niggling knocks and we will see how they are tomorrow. The players went on a team-bonding exercise yesterday, which I think is something that was needed, and we will start work again tomorrow." One player who could come into contention for the visit to Hillsborough is Yoann Folly, who impressed Sturrock in the reserves' win at Forest Green Rovers on Wednesday. "Yoann has really got himself back into the groove and I was very pleased with him," said Sturrock. Asked whether Folly could be included in the squad against his former team, he added: "I will mull over a lot of things. Folly will have an edge and there will be an adrenalin flowing through his veins if I decide to pick him because of the team we are playing." Folly's partner in midfield against Forest Green was Gyorgy Sandor, who is still waiting to make his debut for Argyle. Sturrock said: "Sandor is definitely showing glimpses of what I think he can achieve. But I would hate to put him into a situation where he gets caught out with the pace of the game. I think the boy Halmosi had a real problem for a wee spell, when he first came to the club, with the pace of the game." Sandor seems unlikely to be given a debut while Argyle still have an outside chance of making the play-offs, and Sturrock said: "It's still possible for us to make the play-offs and until that dream is extinguished it's difficult for me to put people into the side who haven't played at all." Meanwhile, Marcel Seip has not been training with Argyle this week, and Paul Sturrock said: "We are working frantically to get his hernia operation done as quickly as possible. That way, he can start his rehab sooner rather than later."
Paul Sturrock has called on two of Argyle's top young prospects, Liam Head and Aaron Spear to use Dan Gosling as a role model. Argyle have offered Head a two-year apprentice contract, but are thought to face competition for his signature from Premier League clubs, and Sturrock believes the two should try to follow in the footsteps of Gosling, a former Argyle centre of excellence graduate. He said: "I'm meeting the father of Liam Head, probably next week after our game on Monday. And I'm going to have a wee chat with the young boy Spear and his family as well. When you look at Gosling, he came through the ranks, he played in the first team and finished up at Everton. We would like service off our starlets if at all possible. We want to mould them properly so they are a benefit to the football club as far as service is concerned, and to financing in the long term." Sturrock has only seen Liam Head in competitive action once, and added: "I would like to see him before the end of the season. II have not seen Spear play, but he's supposed to be very exciting. I wanted to have a wee look at him against Forest Green because if he is one of the jewels in the crown, I have got to know what he has got to work on. I was hoping to give him 20 minutes but the rules obviously hindered us from being able to do that. Hopefully, I will get a look at him before the end of the season." Spear was dubbed 'the next Wayne Rooney' in a recent national newspaper article, which linked him with Arsenal. Sturrock said: "That sort of thing is not very helpful because it can prey on the boy's mind. I think he was disappointed he couldn't play the other night because he was looking forward to having a wee run-out. I took him there in the car and he seemed a nice, sensible lad."
Paul Sturrock's least favourite part of football management is close to rearing its head – the time a decision has to be made on which apprentices are offered professional contracts. Sturrock has pledged to give all the youth players the chance to stake a final claim over the coming weeks. "It is a horrible, horrible job," he said. "It is the one I hate above all other jobs. I promised the youth department I would play them in all the reserve games and we are now going to play the youth games midweek, so I can watch them. I am also trying to add a couple of games against some of the Cornwall teams, so I can take in four or five games to make a decision. If I am not here, the coaching staff will be and they are just as competent at making a decision as me. The thing with young boys is they change with the wind. One day they are very good, the next they are very poor. I have to ensure they can have no grumbles that they weren't watched by the first-team coaching staff."
Argyle reserves won 2-1 at Forest Green Rovers last night, the goals scored by Joe Mason and Dan Smith. Geoff Crudgington said: "We played some good football and defended well as well. It was very pleasing and probably as good a game as we've had this season. It was a good game to watch and we got a good result - and it was a fair result. The lads played well and deserved the win. I'm very pleased." Youth team player Aaron Spear, named in the starting line-up yesterday, had a wasted trip as he was told he was too young to play by officials. Crudgington added: "Unfortunately he had a wasted trip. He wasn't old enough as the rule is you have to be 15 years old at the start of the season." Argyle: Saxton, White, Doumbe, Hodges, Duggan, Smith, Folly, Sandor, McCrory, Davis, Mason. Subs - McCaul (not used – Brett)
Argyle's youth team lost 2-0 at Oxford United in their Youth Alliance game yesterday
Argyle fans will have to wait until the middle of next month before finding out whether they will be paying more for match tickets, because the board are not sure which league they will be in. However, Argyle have announced their season ticket prices, which will not now change even if the team are promoted. The club have also revealed that for the first time they will be providing those who purchase their seats before May 16th the opportunity of spreading the cost of their season ticket over 10 months interest-free. Argyle have increased the cost of season tickets, but only marginally, and Rick Cowdery said: "I don't think anything's been decided because there are so many imponderables. The board will want to know whether the club is in the Premier League or the Championship, for one thing. The board is sensitive to the supporters and that this isn't the richest part of the country. Then there is the loyalty of our fans and that you can only go to the same well so many times. Any club, though - and especially Argyle - doesn't put up ticket prices without very careful thought. We do listen to our fans and we try and make it as cheap as possible to get into Home Park."
Luke McCormick will be between the posts for Argyle when they play Sheffield Wednesday next Monday. Romain Larrieu, who has been having treatment for a growth in his abdomen, could play if required, but Paul Sturrock has no intention of leaving out McCormick. He said: "Luke McCormick will definitely be the goalkeeper on Monday. Romain is at the stage where he would cover for us in an emergency. He's training most mornings and he's quite prepared to play if called upon." Argyle's play-off prospects were hurt by their defeat against Charlton but Sturrock is desperate for them to finish the season strongly regardless. He said: "The boys were down after losing on Saturday, but we have got a long week to get them back up again. They have shown strong character in the past and I expect that to come to the fore again. We would like to end the season with a flourish and the only way we can do that is by getting back on the rails with a victory." The squad will train tomorrow, as well as on Saturday and Sunday, in preparation for the trip to South Yorkshire, flying to Sheffield on the day of the match. Sturrock added: "We have tried to plan it out properly so there is a tempo to the training at the appropriate times to make sure we have the right tempo for Monday."
Argyle heroes past and present will be on show for Mickey Evans' testimonial match on April 29th. Kevin Hodges will be the player-manager of Mickey's All Stars., and the team will include Evans, Martin Barlow, Peter Gilbert, Mick Heathcote, Adrian Littlejohn, Gordon Nisbet and Paul Williams. The opposition, Luggy's XI, who will be managed by Paul Sturrock and will include Steve Castle, Graham Coughlan, David Friio, Ronnie Mauge, Andy Morrison and Tommy Tynan. Their captain will be Matt Le Tissier, Evans former team-mate at Southampton. Jason Dodd and Claus Lundekvam are also both set to play for Luggy's XI, whilst Paul Connolly, Lee Hodges, Romain Larrieu, Lilian Nalis, Luke Summerfield, Paul Wotton, Mathias Doumbe and Luke McCormick will also take part. The referee for the match will be Neil Warnock. Tickets for the game are now on sale and cost £10 for adults and only £1 for over 65s and under 18s
A practice match took place at Home Park yesterday, and Peter Halmosi was involved in the game. Afterwards Paul Sturrock said: "I'm very hopeful he'll be back in full training by Thursday." Two Argyle teams will be in action today, the reserves face Forest Green this evening, whilst the youth team have a Youth Alliance fixture at Oxford United this afternoon. Sturrock added: "I will be travelling to both games. I've made it plain to the youth department that I want their potential call-ups for next season to be playing at Oxford, and the second-year apprentices to play at Forest Green."
Argyle will play a pre-season friendly at Truro City on July 30th
Marcel Seip looks destined to leave Argyle this summer after being put on the transfer list, although Paul Sturrock stopped short of saying that Seip would not play for Argyle again. According to reports, Seip's team-mates were livid with his reaction after he found out he was not in the side against Charlton. He walked out of the home dressing room shortly before 2pm and did not stay at the ground to see the game. Sturrock said: "I have taken stock of the situation over the weekend. I think that was an appropriate course of action. It's something I have thought long and hard about it. But, at the end of the day, this game is not about individuals, it's about the team, and people have got to be respectful of that." Sturrock denied that transfer-listing Seip was merely an extra punishment that would not be carried out. "I don't put people on the transfer list just to gee them up," he said. "There are other ways of geeing people up. We will be circulating his name to other football clubs which is normally what you do with people on the transfer list." But, when asked whether Seip had played for Argyle for the last time, Sturrock said: "Only time will tell. He has a year of his contract to go." Sturrock insisted no decision had been taken yet on what transfer fee Argyle would want for Seip. And when asked about the reaction of the players to Seip's abrupt departure on Saturday, he said: "They were bitterly disappointed with his disrespect for them." Mathias Doumbe was a late call-up to the Argyle bench against Charlton to replace Seip, and along with Russell Anderson and Krisztian Timar will compete for the two centre-back spots for the final four games of the season. Sturrock added: "Russell has had several wee niggling knocks that he has carried on with, but he seems to be getting healthier again."
Paul Sturrock has called on his team to come back fighting after the defeat to Charlton Athletic. He said: "We didn't take any physical knocks on Saturday but we will find out in the coming games whether we took any mental knocks. The boys are down and we have got a long week to get them back up again. They have shown strong character in the past and I expect them to come back. It is very easy to point the finger at the goalkeeper but I would like to point the finger at several people for giving away free-kicks in the wrong areas, which cost us dear. There are also the people who didn't win the headers and didn't pick up Lita. The goalkeeper has held his hand up but there were other people responsible for it getting to that situation. The team lost those goals, not just Luke." Argyle do not play again until next Monday at Sheffield Wednesday and Sturrock may stage a practice match tomorrow. He said: "I am toying with the idea of playing practice match tomorrow, which would limit the amount going to Forest Green. It would enable to see all of the players and try to iron out all the things I have been disappointed with in the last couple of games. It is going to be a strange week with the game on Monday, so we have to get the tempo right in training to ensure we have the appropriate tempo for the match." One bright spot for Argyle is the rehabilitation of Peter Halmosi, and Sturrock added: "Halmosi did quite a lot of shooting this morning. He will do some more tomorrow and a bit with Maxi. We are very hopeful he will be back in training on Thursday and we will take it from there."
Marcel Seip has been transfer-listed and fined following his refusal to be a substitute against Charlton on Saturday. Paul Sturrock today said: "I am fining Marcel two weeks' wages because of his actions. It is appropriate to put him on the transfer-list, as well. I also feel that now is the right time for Marcel to get his hernia problem fixed."
Paul Sturrock offered Luke McCormick words of support in his post-match Press conference on Saturday. He said: "We are all going to look at this game and it's going to be remembered for two goalkeeping errors. But this goalie of ours has had a fantastic season and, hopefully, he will be better for this experience. Goalkeepers make these kind of mistakes. He came for the first one when, really, it wasn't his ball. At least, he came in and put his hand up. As I said, he has been fantastic for us - they all have - and it has been a great season so far. What we have got to do is win as many games as possible from now until the end of the season. Luke will live to fight another day. It's hard for him to swallow his disappointment at this minute in time, but I have told him to get his head up. There are some games this season, such as Ipswich away, where we didn't deserve anything but we have got something through his performances." Both of Charlton's goals came from free-kicks into Argyle's penalty area, and that disappointed Sturrock. He said: "Since I have got here, we have prided ourselves on our defending against corners and free-kicks, even though we are not the biggest team in the world. But today we have lost two goals to set pieces, which is not like us." Argyle were without Peter Halmosi, who had not recovered sufficiently from a knee injury to even have a fitness test on Saturday morning. Sturrock said: "He was never going to play this week. He might have a chance for Sheffield Wednesday next Monday. We will give him every opportunity. Today just shows how much you miss an offensive player like him. He has influenced this team so much this season, with scoring goals and creating them. I feel we are going to work very hard through the close season to bring that kind of cutting edge to us. By that, I mean people who are creative in passing, creative in making goalscoring opportunities and creative in goalscoring as well." There is still a possibility Halmosi will not play for Argyle again this season, and Sturrock added: "There has been one scan and we have had a debate on it. We have decided to work away and see how it is. If he can't make Monday then we will, obviously, do something about it." Sturrock admitted Charlton had dictated the play in the first half, despite the early dismissal of their 'keeper. He said: "It seems to me that we showed a naivety today in our performance when they went down to 10 men. The game got very long, they dropped back, their tactics were to slow things up and we didn't quicken up. We played at the tempo they wanted us to play at and the first half was very disappointing." Sturrock thought there was an improvement from his team after the break, but it was still not enough to secure the win. "I think they responded in the second half," he said. "We got ourselves in the right areas. We got crosses in the box and we got it out wide on both sides. Gary Sawyer got himself forward into an open area for the goal. But in the first half I just felt we kept lashing things down the pitch. The wind was a feature and we had too many straight balls. We couldn't get support to the forwards because of it going back to front, and our width players didn't get on the ball enough."
Krisztian Timar has pledged that Argyle will keep aiming for the play-offs places, despite the to Charlton Athletic. He said: "The season is definitely not over. We have to pick up our heads, and we have to win our last few games. We have to keep our focus. Two points off the top six is not too far." Argyle had an extra man on the pitch for almost the entire game against Charlton, and Timar added: "We should have been a little bit more clever than we were. We missed Peter because he is very good at creating chances for the strikers. Everybody is waiting for him to come back, and hopefully he will be all right for the next game." Asked what Paul Sturrock had said to his players after the defeat, Timar said: "He said we have to create more chances, and we have to make more passes and crosses. We didn't use the extra man well enough, and we gave away a lot of silly free-kicks. We conceded both goals that way. We scored once, and we should have scored another goal. We made a few mistakes in defence, and we conceded two goals." Luke McCormick was at fault for the two goals, but Timar had plenty of sympathy for his team-mate. "Luke has played really well for us all season," he said, "so he also has to keep his head up and he has to look forward. He made a couple of little mistakes, but I think he is a very good goalkeeper and everybody makes mistakes sometimes. This is football, and I hope he will be all right." Timar was making his first start for Argyle since the defeat to Sheffield United in early March, and when asked when he had found out about his recall, he said: "I was told just before the game. I wanted to play, and I was happy."
Paul Wotton was defended by Paul Sturrock after the captain was jeered during the defeat by Charlton. Sturrock said: "I didn't think he was that bad today, but everybody has opinions about who should play in a football game. Lilian Nalis, probably more than anybody else, has a good case to make. But Wottsy came in at Bristol and played here against Watford, and didn't let us down. I went for leadership qualities as well. Wottsy's mouth is quite important to us and I thought the game was big enough for that. We needed his kind of influence on the pitch. Fans will always have their favourites and non-favourites. I can understand the fans' disappointment, because today was a must-win scenario."
Argyle lost 2-1 to ten-man Charlton yesterday, and after the game Paul Sturrock said: "I am now one of the hundreds of managers to have suffered the fate of being beaten by ten men. Everybody will say you should beat ten men but I am now one of the managers to have lost to ten men, and there are a lot of them. We showed a naivety in our performance today when they went down to ten men and an excitability. The game got very long. They dropped back and their tactics were to slow things up. We didn't quicken up. We played at a temp they wanted to play at. We kept lashing the ball forward. There were too many straight balls and the wind was a factor as well. We couldn't get the support because the ball went back to front so quick. Our full-backs didn't get on the ball enough and the service to the front was always in the air, rather than into their feet. There were a lot of one-touch passes where we just hooked it on, which means it is 50/50 you are going to pick the ball up." Argyle looked to have seized the initiative through Jermaine Easter's goal, but Leroy Lita's equalizer prompted Sturrock to finish the game with four forwards. He said: "We played it into the strikers feet a lot more in the second-half and built the play up from them. We dominated for the first 20 minutes of the second-half and got ourselves in the right areas. It was a zany miss by Jimmy, Paul Wotton had a half-chance, lots of things flying about the box and then we get the goal. Gary Sawyer got himself in the right areas. When it went 1-1, I went crazy with four forwards because, in the end, a draw was as bad as a defeat today. I maybe left myself open but the important thing for me was to attempt to win the game. We gave too many silly free-kicks away and they have had two punts into our box, and headers down for somebody to poke it into our net. Since I got here, I have prided myself that we have been very good at defending corners and free-kicks, but now we have lost two goals from set-pieces, which is not like us." Argyle lacked creativity with the absence of Peter Halmosi, and Sturrock admitted it is an area he will need to improve. He said: "Offensively, I am going to have to work very hard in the close-season to bring that cutting edge to us. We need people who are creative in their passing and making opportunities." Despite the defeat, the play-off dream is still alive, and Sturrock added: "We have got to win as many games from now to the end of the season as possible. Financially, the higher we are in the league, the more money we get, which is vitally important to us. We will be working very hard to get as many points as possible. We will attempt, until it is mathematically impossible, to keep going. Everybody is saying we have got bad form. Six of the teams in our area have got the same bad form we've had. Anybody who makes a rush for it now and picks up some points from the last few games could do themselves a favour."
Paul Sturrock refused to answer questions about Marcel Seip's absence from Argyle's squad following the defeat by Charlton. Asked why Seip was not among the replacements, Sturrock said: "Marcel refused to be on the bench today." When asked whether Seip had watched the game, Sturrock replied: "I couldn't tell you. I have given you the fact. Sometimes, it is the wrong time for a manager to make comment about these situations straight after a football game. I would much prefer to have a couple of days to unwind and there will be a press conference about the situation on Monday."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Charlton Athletic at Home Park, the goal scored by Jermaine Easter after 60 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Anderson, Timar, Sawyer, Teale, Abdou, Wotton, Paterson, Fallon, Easter. Subs – Mackie, MacLean, Nalis (not used – Doumbe, Clark). Attendance - 14,715
Argyle will play Tiverton Town in a pre-season friendly at Ladysmead on July 14th
Anthony Mason has joined Stevenage Borough on an 'emergency' loan
Paul Sturrock is delighted that Argyle are still in the play-off race with just five games of the season remaining. "I am delighted we have taken it into April," he said. "The disappointment is that it would have been much easier if we had done something last Saturday, but, last Saturday is now totally out of our minds. The right result would set us up for the rest of April. Three points would probably keep us in the fray for the rest of the month - that is how vital it is."
Paul Sturrock has undertaken some scouting trips to watch potential targets this week. He watched Forest Green Rovers beat Burton Albion on Monday, and the next night saw the draw between Barnet and Darlington. The local media have claimed that he made the second trip to watch Albert Adomah, the Barnet right-winger, but Sturrock said: "I would say that I was looking at the game, rather than at an individual. Darlington were playing in that game as well. I'll be watching many games between now and the end of the season. I'll be travelling abroad most midweek's to assess players that we could bring to the football club. I've got a duty and a job to do to make sure that we've got a squad of players who are comfortable in whatever league we're in, and that's why I've been assessing the standards in some of the other leagues compared to the players we have at this club."
Paul Sturrock has admitted it will be 'D-Day' for Argyle when they take on Charlton Athletic tomorrow. He said: "D-Day has arrived and we need everybody to jump off the boat and onto the beach. We could do with Peter Halmosi, but he has got to be in the right frame of mind. There is no point putting a player out there who is uncomfortable and isn't totally concentrated on the job." Asked whether Halmosi had indicated whether he wanted to play, Sturrock replied: "He has so far." Rory Fallon could also return to the starting line-up, and Sturrock added: "Rory hopes to come into training today. He has been very positive in his approach. Peter has done quite a lot with Maxie, who has got him up to the right tempo, but he's not back in full training yet. Rory will be doing bits and pieces today, but we don't know what reaction he will get from that." Argyle have dropped to eighth in the table after losing three of their last five games, but Charlton have won only one of their last 10. Sturrock said: "This is D-Day. Both teams have to win. I'm delighted we have taken it into April, but the disappointment is that it would have been much easier for us if we had done something last Saturday. Last Saturday is totally out of our minds and we are focusing totally on this game. I call upon the fans to come out in their droves. Hopefully, it will be a nice day and we get the result we need because it would set us up nicely for the rest of April. These three points would probably keep us in the fray for the rest of the month. That is how vital it is to us. We have got to go out there and be as positive as we can from the start, get in the right areas to hurt them and play on their lack of confidence, with some of the goals they have lost and some of the results they have had." Charlton's squad includes Leroy Lita, a player Sturrock rates very highly. "They have got an abundance of strikers and they have got wingers who can hurt you as well," he said. "We will really have to be at the top of our game to get a proper result." Argyle will also depend heavily on their support and Sturrock hopes the fans will turn out in large numbers tomorrow. He said: "People have got to appreciate this is the time where we have all got to stand up and be counted. That means me, the coaching staff, the players and, obviously, the fans. If we can all get it right on the day and get three points then, all of a sudden, we are back in the fray again."
Krisztian Timar is expected to be recalled to Argyle's starting line-up against Charlton, who know all about the defender after their striker Svetoslav Todorov suffered a season-ending knee injury when he was tackled by Timar in Argyle's win at Charlton in October. Also, last month, Charlton striker Izale McLeod, playing on loan for Colchester United, suffered a knee injury when he was fouled by Timar. Paul Sturrock though, insisted the Hungarian was not a 'dirty player', and said: "He's very aggressive but he does the right things. He heads the ball, he kicks it and he makes sure the other side's strikers know that he's in the football game. I don't think he's a dirty player in any form. He's boisterous, and that shows with the amount of yellow cards he has had, but he hasn't been sent off this season. I think some of his tackles are rash and cumbersome more than deliberate."
Argyle have already beaten Charlton once this season, and Paul Connolly believes they can do it again tomorrow. He said: "I really enjoyed that game. The Valley is a brilliant stadium and the pitch was like a carpet. It's going to be a different kettle of fish down here, but we have got to take the game to them exactly like we did up there, when we put in a great performance. Every time we went forward that night we actually looked like we were going to score goals, to be honest. But, if you look at their team, they have got such a threat themselves going forward. We have just got to stop them scoring, and I always think we will score at home anyway, so we will see what happens." Connolly pointed out the threat of Charlton's new signing Andy Gray, and said: "I remember when we played Burnley away in January, which was our poorest performance of the season, it was Andy Gray who ran the show. If Andy Gray plays, he's the one we have got to stay tight to and make sure we nullify his aerial threat. He has been on the bench lately but you can't keep a good player down for long. Charlton are a top quality side and they are in a false position, but I'm really confident we can get three points against them." Victory over Charlton would revive Argyle's play-off chances, and Connolly added: "We have got to be confident of getting into the play-offs. It's a chance for us to achieve something that we can look back on with pride. I have been promoted at this club before and it would be brilliant to get promoted again. It's going to be a tough ask - I'm not going to lie - because there are clubs lining up to get into the play-offs, but if we can win our last three home games I think we have got every chance. We will just have to see what happens." Connolly is tied with Peter Halmosi for making the most appearances for Argyle this season, with both playing in 44 out of 46 league and cup fixtures. "I think my performances have been consistent, I would say," he said. "Just steady across the board. I think the lads know what they are going to get from me, and the gaffer does as well. I'm just happy with a consistent season."
Peter Halmosi will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday's game with Charlton Athletic. Paul Sturrock said: "We will give Peter every opportunity. It may have to be a decision on the day, after we have a fitness test. We could do with him but, if he is not in the right frame of mind, there is no point putting a player out there who is uncomfortable or not totally concentrated on the job. The decision will come when he has to do some twisting and turning. He has done quite a lot with Maxi at full tempo, but not full training." Meanwhile, Mathias Doumbe is now back in training but Rory Fallon is also doubtful. Sturrock added: "Matty Doumbe has come back into training now and Rory Fallon is hoping to start training tomorrow. Rory is very positive in his approach but we will wait and see. He is coming in to do bits and pieces tomorrow, so we will see what sort of reaction he gets."
Lilian Nalis is confident Argyle can clinch a play-off place, and he is hoping to help by playing against Charlton on Saturday. He said: "It's a vital game, there's no question about that and, of course, I want to play I'm a professional footballer. But I can tell you that all the players are 100 per cent focused on getting a result and the three points. We didn't play too well last week up at Coventry, but then footballers are humans and you can't always play at the top of your game. But everyone at the club knows how important it is to get to the play-offs - it is so close and not many matches left. We also need fans to come along and support us on Saturday and in the home matches to come. We've got a team commitment at Plymouth - everyone works hard for everyone else. Yes, sometimes we have an off-day, yet that is normal. But, I can assure you, we haven't given up the challenge and will be working for three points and hoping for a lot of support on Saturday." Nalis was keen to play down Charlton's dip in form, which has seen them win just four times in twenty games. "They will be very dangerous opponents as like us, Charlton can still go up if they string some wins together," he added. "Charlton were relegated last season from the Premier League and were in the play-off places until recently. So, they will be determined to get something - as will we."
The result of Argyle's game with Charlton Athletic this weekend will have a huge influence on the play-off positions, and Chris Clark is well aware of that. He said: "When you look around the league, you see all sorts of teams taking points off one another. I don't think you can call it, to be honest. It's still very tight." Apart from Charlton this weekend, Argyle's remaining opponents at Home Park are Preston North End and Blackpool. "There are five games left, and we've got three at home. It can go any way," Clark added. "They're all winnable games, but at the same time they're very difficult games. We're still picking up points, that's the main thing. It was a disappointing result at the weekend. That would have been a good game to win, but we can't let it affect us too much. We have to look forward to the next game. It's vitally important that we're refreshed and that we're mentally up for the Charlton game. We're running out of games, and we have to hang on in there and make sure we're there or thereabouts." Clark admitted that Argyle had not been at their best at Coventry. "We were in the game last Saturday, without us playing well," he said. "I don't think there was much in the game, but the way we lost the goals was poor. We didn't create too much ourselves, but neither did they. The first goal was vital, and that's often the case. If you can get yourself in the lead, it tends to be the case that you can go on and win the game." When Clark joined in January, he began his Argyle career as a wide midfielder. In the last three games, however, he has been in the centre of midfield alongside Paul Wotton. "I've enjoyed playing in the centre of midfield," he said. "It's a role where you're always involved, whereas in a wide role you can be very quiet or you can be very busy. I've played in the middle for the majority of the last three years, and I've enjoyed getting about the park and being involved in defence and attack. Hopefully I can hold on to my place."
Steve MacLean is looking forward to 'five cup finals' as the race for the play-off's reaches a climax. He said: "The last five games are five cup finals. If we can win four games, we will be right in there with a chance. When you are playing in front of your own fans, there is always an added incentive. Other teams have to travel down to us and I see no reason why we can't win our three home games. We also have to go to Sheffield Wednesday and try to turn them over before finishing at Wolves." Argyle face Charlton on Saturday, who are currently just three places and two points behind them. "We have got to take something from the game," said MacLean. "We really need three points but I would not say a draw means our chances are over. If we can beat Charlton, it knocks them out of it really and puts us right back in the mix, but, as you saw by last weekend, no team in the Play-Offs won, apart from Wolves, so we were a bit lucky again. I don't think it is down to nerves. As we have seen with this league, any team can beat another." MacLean grabbed a late consolation goal at Coventry, and despite disappointment with the result, he admitted to enjoying being deployed in a slight more advanced role in the game. "It was nice to score but it meant nothing because we lost the game," he said. "Hopefully, if selected, I will continue playing further forward on Saturday and I can try to get on the score-sheet. I have played that role a few times before, particularly away from home. It just depends on the system we are playing against. I don't mind that role. If I have to do that for the team, then I have to do it, but I do like playing right up there as well. The most important thing is to get three points on Saturday and, if I get on the score-sheet as well, that is an extra bonus, but the win is what really matters."
Argyle reserves lost 2-1 to Bournemouth at Dean Court yesterday, the goal scored by Damien McCrory. Argyle – Saxton, White, Gerring, Hodgkinson, Brett, Mason, Duggan, McCaul, McCrory, Grant, Davis. Subs - Agbor
Argyle are still not sure whether Peter Halmosi will be fit to face Charlton Athletic on Saturday. Paul Maxwell said: "Peter did some running with me yesterday and I will build him up through the week and see how he gets on. It's too soon to say really whether he will be fit for Saturday. The injury doesn't look as serious as it was first feared. There is a lot of old stuff in the knee which Peter has had for a long time and isn't really a concern. There is some new stuff in there as well but, hopefully, he might get away with that."
Argyle will introduce a supporters' exclusion zone around the away dug-out for the first time on Saturday, following ugly scenes during the draw with Watford which saw two Argyle fans banned indefinitely by the club for allegedly making racist remarks. But many home supporters thought the antics of Watford kit man Bob Oteng led to the disturbances. Oteng was seen throwing water over Peter Halmosi when the midfielder was laying injured on the pitch. As a result of the disturbances, Argyle wrote to the FA to inform them of their intention to implement the exclusion zone, but also to draw the attention of the FA to the behaviour of some of the players and staff on the Watford bench. Michael Dunford said: "We have given them a full report on the incident that led to the disturbances within the crowd and we have told them what steps we have taken. We are not condoning the actions of our two supporters, but we have made the point very forcibly to the FA that the behaviour of some individuals on the Watford bench fell below the standard which is acceptable. The FA asked for a copy of the match video, which we sent with our report, and they will deal with the matter as they deem appropriate. It will be business as normal on Saturday as far as we are concerned. We don't anticipate any problems."
Argyle will return to wearing a tangerine and green away strip next season, following a supporters vote on the issue
Rory Fallon faces a race against time to be fit for Argyle's game against Charlton on Saturday. Fallon, who injured his ankle against Watford, said: "A lot of footballers roll their ankle. It's just part of the job and, hopefully, I will be back this week. That's what I have got my mind set on, but if that doesn't happen, I'm not going to let it faze me. I'm going to keep working hard in the gym with Maxie. That's all I can do." Fallon had a long session in the players' gymnasium at Home Park yesterday as he continued his rehabilitation. "Me and Maxie have been working really hard, trying to get me fit," he added. "But I don't want to rush things. I want to make sure I'm right before I come back, because I don't want to do the same thing again and stay out even longer. I have been doing a lot of weights and I'm feeling really good at the moment. I started running on it yesterday at three-quarter pace, so it's getting better. There is still a bit of swelling around the Achilles and I'm just waiting for that to go down. Hopefully, I will be training this week, with the way it has been going. All I can do is focus on myself. I can't focus on anything else because I don't know if I'm going to get selected or not. The gaffer might have other plans but, hopefully, I will be ready for selection." Fallon was philosophical about being forced out of the side when he was playing so well. "That's life, and you deal with it," he said. "I know where I get my strength from. It's just a matter of time really, before I get a decent spell in the team. I have got no worries about that. We have got five games to go and we have got to roll up our sleeves and just get stuck into people. We have got to think of how we performed against Bristol City. Teams can't handle us when we get stuck in like that. We need to be like that every game now. Every game is a battle. We are only one point off the play-offs. We need to focus on the next game, and it's a big one.Other results could go for us, but we need to win this game. It would have been nice to get a point at Coventry, but it wasn't to be. You can't change that, and we move on to Charlton."
Jim Paterson is aiming for a strong finish to the season after returning to first team action for Argyle following an injury lay-off. Paterson was pleased with the way he got through the game at Coventry after his enforced absence, and said: "I actually felt better than I thought I would, to be honest. I had 20 minutes against Watford and then played in a reserve game in midweek. That was all. It was my first real chance of playing at left-back as well. I will play anywhere for the team, but left-back is my favourite position. We have just got to put Saturday behind us and get on with it." Paterson's performance was one of the few plus points from the trip, and it was one of his crosses led to Argyle's consolation goal from Steve MacLean. He said: "I felt good, but it was a 3-1 defeat. I got a couple of good balls in the box - for the goal and the one I fired across for Steven. But I still think I can do more and do better. I want to improve and I'm sure the rest of the boys will be feeling that way too."
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