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.
David Friio and Mickey Evans look set to be recalled for Argyle's game at Wolves tomorrow. Bobby Williamson said: "They are big players for us. We did start them on the bench at Leeds, but they did contribute in the game. They have got an opportunity to contribute again on Saturday, but I would remind everybody we have got another game on Monday. So I have got to have a look at everybody and watch what they are doing in training and try to take on board how they are looking and whether they are up for the game or not." Williamson is very conscious at this busy time of the season of making sure his players are feeling as fresh as possible. He said: "People laugh and think 'how can professional football players be tired' but there is a lot of mental pressure put on these guys nowadays and that certainly takes its toll." Williamson revealed he had substituted Tony Capaldi against Leeds because he had complained of fatigue at half-time. "Tony Capaldi was honest with me at half-time and told me he was feeling heavy-legged and he didn't think he was doing his best," said Williamson. "Now when players aren't doing their best I'm not going to leave them out there to put pressure on them again and bring criticism upon them. Fans have got to realise that I'm not taking players off because they are playing well. There are other circumstances and reasons why I take them off. They shouldn't be raising eyebrows, or whatever, at decision-making, especially when the games are coming thick and fast. I'm doing it for all the right reasons. I will not get it right all the time - I will get it wrong occasionally - but that was why Tony came off the other day."
Bobby Williamson has insisted that Argyle are well within their rights to ask for a transfer fee for Stevie Crawford. Crawford's agent Bill McMurdo said: "I would say Tynecastle is the preferred option for my player but all three clubs [Hearts, Dundee United and Dunfermline] are offering the right length of contract, so Stevie has a big decision to make. Jimmy Calderwood has only offered me a two-and-a-half year deal, which isn't acceptable. So, on that basis, Aberdeen have ruled themselves out." Calderwood has suggested that Argyle will be lucky to receive any money for Crawford. He said: "Plymouth are talking about a transfer fee. If that is the case, it won't be done. In fact, he won't be coming to Scotland as nobody can pay a fee." McMurdo has claimed that Argyle do not deserve to receive a fee for Crawford. "Stevie signed for Plymouth on a four-year deal in June. He was a free transfer and has given Plymouth six months' service. For that they have paid him six months' wages. I do not believe they are entitled to a single penny in compensation." Bobby Williamson responded yesterday by saying: "Stevie is an Argyle player. He has a contract here, and I hope his agent doesn't mess about and try and play hard-ball. Stevie could be here for a long time, if that's the case. We've been as accommodating as possible to Stevie's situation but, until we agree a fee with a club and Stevie agrees his terms, nothing can be concluded. We're entitled to ask for a transfer fee. Stevie wants to go home on compassionate grounds and we're fine with that, but we have needs to be satisfied as well. If we want to invest money in players, we have to get money in. It's as simple as that." The Argyle manager also revealed that a clause in Crawford's contract gives the club the right to ask for a fee in the event of the player's departure inside his first year in Devon. Williamson said: "We had a figure put in place in Stevie's contract, if he moved on within the first year, and it's well above the amount that's being talked about. It's far higher." Because Argyle are mindful of Crawford's family situation, they are not, it is believed, asking for the fee they are contractually entitled to request, but they are not prepared to let the player walk away for nothing. "We'll do our best to accommodate Stevie, but we're business people and we've got to look after the interests of Argyle," Williamson added. "Nobody expected Stevie to be going back to Scotland, but circumstances have changed. That's life, but there's no animosity as far as I'm concerned. It's just business. If nothing is sorted before the weekend, then Stevie is in my plans for the game at Wolves on Saturday."
Bobby Williamson does not expect Scott Taylor to carry the whole weight of Argyle's goal-getting. "We are delighted to have Scott on board," said Williamson, "but I hope the fans don't think that Scott's the man who is going to come in and be our saviour. Everybody's been saying, from the start of the season, that we need another striker. Yes, we've got one, and Scott will contribute. I'm here to alleviate that pressure and let Scott relax and go out and express himself. First he's got to get into the team. We have got decent strikers at the club and he has got to earn the right to get in the team. Once he gets in there and he's scoring goals, I'll not be one to leave him out." Taylor has played in midfield and on the wing during his career but he and Williamson are agreed on what suits him best. Taylor said: "I could say, like any player, that I don't care where I play as long as I'm in the team, but I've said all along I want to play up front. I told that to my old manager at Blackpool, he played me up front, and I started scoring goals. I like to get on the end of chances and stick the ball in the back of the net." Williamson agreed. "He's a front player," he said. "He'll lead the line and, hopefully, he'll score goals, but I'm not going to burden him with that responsibility. This club has been successful over the years because we've had players in every department scoring goals, not just the strikers scoring 15-20. Scott will chip in - he'll get his fair share - but he'll also create chances for us. He's not just here to be an out-and-out goalscorer. Taylor admitted he did not need too much persuading to move to Home Park. "It's a great club," he said. "There's a great fan-base, and I was delighted to have the chance to come down for talks. I just want to get a good night's kip tonight, get up tomorrow and get in for training. That's when you meet the boys and start settling down a bit."
Paul Stapleton has revealed that fan-power was responsible for Scott Taylor coming to Argyle. He said: "We've been amazed and very pleased with the attendances this year, and the financial boost of the FA Cup will be great for the club. This has enabled us to enter the transfer market." Stapleton and Bobby Williamson also admitted the club was looking to further strengthen the squad, with Williamson even declining to rule out another new man on board before the visit to Wolverhampton. "Carole Rowntree, our football secretary, was looking out the forms today to see what we had to do with transfers because it's a few years since we did one," said Stapleton, "and it won't be the last, no doubt. We are pressing on and making sure Argyle are a force in the Championship. We are trying to support the manager. We said that, if the crowds come, we will support the manager in his team strengthening. This is what we are doing today in signing Scott Taylor. We have said it all the way along the line. We are fans on the board, all of us, and we are keen to support Plymouth Argyle as much as the next fan. We are delighted we have got his services. I know Bobby targeted Scott early in his reign with us and it was then up to the board to come up with a package for Blackpool and for Scott himself. He's someone we have known all about. We have watched his goalscoring exploits with Blackpool with great interest and we are delighted he has decided to join Argyle." Williamson admitted he has had 'five or six' strikers in mind, but was not limiting himself to adding to his forward power. "We're always looking to strengthen all areas of the team," he said. "I'm not specifically out hunting for a striker: if there's players brought to my attention and they are affordable and they can be an asset and complement what we already have at this club - and I mean that - then I'm interested. Things could move quickly or they could drag on a bit, so I couldn't say there will definitely be another body in the squad for Saturday, but who knows? This is not a panic decision. It has been going on for a while. Don't think for a second that it's been a knee-jerk reaction because Stevie Crawford's going."
Argyle today completed the signing of Scott Taylor from Blackpool for £100,000. Taylor has agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract at Home Park. Bobby Williamson said: "He's a player I have been after for a while. He's a proven goalscorer in the lower divisions and now we are giving him the opportunity to see if he can do it in the higher divisions. I'm sure he is a player who will excite our fans. He's got good movement and has shown he can find the back of the net. That is uppermost in the criteria for strikers - the rest of his play can be worked on. As well as his movement and knowing where the back of the net is, he's got decent pace, and those are the right attributes for a striker."
Lee Makel has agreed a move to Dunfermline when the transfer window opens at the end of the week. Argyle have cancelled his contract to facilitate his move and Bobby Williamson said: "We wish him all the best. It is disappointing things did not work out." Meanwhile Dundee United, Hearts and Dunfermline are still chasing the signature of Stevie Crawford but Aberdeen appear to have dropped out of the running. Argyle are believed to be seeking a £100,000 'compensation' fee
Bobby Williamson found defeat at Leeds hard to take. He said: "Unfortunately we're talking about a referee's decision again today. Gregan took out Mat Doumbe as he was playing the ball back quite comfortably to the goalkeeper before their second goal. The ball gets knocked back to our goalkeeper, it's played forward, Mat Doumbe's still rolling around. He gets up, plays the boy onside, and it's been so costly. It's so disappointing because we worked so hard. I can't praise my players highly enough - and the fans, for turning up in good numbers and supporting us. They were fantastic. Credit to them, and credit to our guys for playing the way they did. The Argyle fans who came here can see that we're not a great team, but we certainly work hard for each other and for our fans. Some of the lads are local and they give it their best, day in and day out. Every match, they work their socks off." Williamson took a lot of heart from the Pilgrims' performance, although he was not without some criticism. He said: "If we can come to places and play the way we did - we've been to a few venues and given a good account of ourselves without winning matches and it is a blow that we haven't picked anything up here. I felt we caused them problems. Our final ball let us down badly at times. We got bodies in the box, we got to the bye-line, but finding the man was elusive for us and that's what we will be concentrating on in training. No disrespect to any of the teams in this league but I've not seen anything that's been much, much better than us. We've never been played off the park. We can compete in this division but we have got to win matches - that's the end product." Leeds' opener came from a Peter Gilbert own goal. "It was a good move from their point of view," said Williamson. "They got in behind us and created an opportunity. It's just unfortunate for us it came off one of our lads and found its way to the back of the net. I felt we dealt with Leeds' threat in the first half - high balls into Deane - reasonably well. Then - I don't know whether Deane was injured or tired - they changed it bringing Julian Joachim on and we had to combat a different strike force that was more pacy. I felt we dealt with that well, apart for the first goal - and the second goal should never have occurred in my opinion." Williamson started with David Friio on the bench but introduced the him early in the second half. "David Friio probably played his best game for us for a while on Sunday and he took it on into the second half," said Williamson. "I thought David was magnificent. Decision-making in the final third - in both halves - has cost us. There were a couple of awkward balls into their box that we have decided to chest, instead of head, or whatever. On another day, we might have made the right decisions." Mickey Evans was also rested and Williamson said: "It was just a case of trying to freshen things up. We have got a squad of players who I feel can compete in this league and I needed to give them an opportunity while they were fresh. We gave it our best shot. Unfortunately, the second goal killed it when we were pressing forward, trying to get an equaliser."
Argyle lost 2-1 at Leeds United, the goal scored by Stevie Crawford in stoppage time. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Doumbe, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Gudjonsson, Hodges, Adams, Capaldi, Keith. Subs - Evans, Friio, Crawford (not used - Lasley, Aljofree). Attendance - 34,496.
Argyle have had a £100,000 offer for striker Scott Taylor accepted by Blackpool according to Seasiders manager Colin Hendry and are now discussing personal terms with the player
Bobby Williamson is looking forward to the match at Leeds. He said: "Places like Elland Road are the arenas you want to be playing in. It will be brilliant, and I just wish I was playing. But I'm still delighted and honoured to be part of it, and I'll be standing on the touchline kicking every ball as usual. I hope the players relish it and don't fear it. If we play as well as we can do and Leeds don't, then we've got every opportunity of taking something out of the game. My biggest concern is how fit the lads are. Can we get another 90 minutes out of them? We played for a long time with ten men on Boxing Day, which is very demanding. If I have to tinker with the line-up to freshen it up, I might do that. Or I might give these guys the opportunity to go another step." Hasney Aljofree travelled to Leeds with the Argyle party yesterday, but it seems probable that Paul Wotton and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe will fill the central defensive positions at Elland Road. "Hasney is certainly not match-fit," Williamson added, "but neither was Paul Connolly yesterday. I've got to look at Paul closely. I'm going to have to assess his fitness." Mickey Evans is not often called upon to play two games in quick succession, but given the squad's shortage of strikers he may be asked to play a part today. "He'll be as stiff as a board after that, I'm sure," Williamson said, "but he's got another 24 hours to get himself sorted. I've got Marino Keith and Stevie Crawford to choose from as well, and I might not even go with two strikers. I might just play one."
Marino Keith is delighted that the Argyle squad have flown north for the match at Leeds. "You are heavy-legged when you get off the bus," he said, "and it does take sharpness off upstairs as well. Hopefully the flying will help us." Keith is hoping to retain his place after returning to the starting line-up against QPR. "It had been a long time," he saidy. "The ankle injury kept me out for much longer than I thought it would, and it's good to be fit now and back in the team. Yesterday my fitness held up a lot better than I was expecting, with it being my first game for such a long time. I was delighted. Hopefully my display was good enough to keep me in the team, and we'll take it from there."
Graham Coughlan will start a three-match suspension when Argyle play Leeds United tomorrow after being sent off for violent conduct in the victory over Queens Park Rangers . Bobby Williamson said: "Thankfully, Paul Wotton is in the team. He scored a fantastic goal and then moved back to centre-back. I'm pleased for him, but I'm pleased for them all." Williamson was thrilled that Mickey Evans capped an excellent all-round performance with his third goal of the season. He said: "It was great for Mickey. That was probably the most difficult opportunity he has had in recent weeks and he has managed to put it back from where it came from and it went over the goalkeeper and into the net. It was a great time for us to score and it was good willingness from Paul Connolly to get forward and create the opportunity. Mickey has missed a few chances in recent weeks but we have stuck by him and he has shown today why we have stuck by him by scoring that goal."
Romain Larrieu cannot wait for tomorrow's game at Leeds after helping Argyle beat QPR yesterday. "I was really happy with my last save," he said. "You often know you've made a good save when the guy comes up to you at the end, which he did. I wasn't sure about the second shot, but I couldn't take a chance. Ideally I would have preferred to have a clean sheet, but the most important thing today was that we won - and that's what we did. Everybody knows how important these next couple of games are. Whatever the position in the league, whether you're at the top or at the bottom, if you start this period well, it gives you the confidence to go into the next games. These are big games for so many reasons, I don't need to explain how big they are for everyone, it is great for everyone. This Christmas time is so exciting. It is so good to be part of this, especially when you have been part of everything before at the club. You can feel it in training, everyone wants to be playing. Big venues, big teams, big games, it's just brilliant. But we need to get results at the same time. We have been very unlucky over the last few weeks, I think. We started well today, Wottsie's goal was just unbelievable, but then we lost Graham. It's then you think: 'Is it going to go right today?'. Luckily it did. Mickey got a goal which was great and we held on for the win. We're happy, but we need to build on this today."
Following todays win Bobby Williamson ruled out any chance of an appeal against Graham Coughlan's sending-off. Coughlan was dismissed for kicking out at Paul Furlong after the pair clashed around the halfway line. "The referee is the man who calls it - he deemed it a sending-off and we'll live with that," Williamson said. "Maybe the referee has got it right, so I am not going to put him in an embarrassing position by appealing. That'll be an end to it." Of the match Williamson said: "We're disappointed we conceded a goal from a free-kick. In open play, I don't think Romain had too many saves to make, but that one at the death was crucial - good on the big man - he kept it out of the back of the net and I'm pleased for him. It was a fantastic result today. I felt we worked hard, from the first minute to the last. I'm pleased for everybody. The players worked their socks off, the fans got behind us, and I'm delighted they got their rewards."
Argyle beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 13 minutes and Mickey Evans (49). Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Doumbe, Coughlan, Gilbert, Gudjonsson, Wotton, Friio, Capaldi, Evans, Keith. Subs - Crawford (not used - Hodges, Lasley, Adams, Norris). Attendance - 19,535. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Argyle's youth goalkeeper Kenny Schofield has joined Forest Green Rovers on a temporary non-contract basis to provide cover due to injuries
Blair Sturrock is leaving Argyle to join Kidderminster Harriers. Argyle agreed to terminate Sturrock's Argyle contract to facilitate the deal, which will see him to the end of the season. Paul Stapleton said: "Blair has been an important part of our success over the past two or three seasons, and he can rightly be very proud of that, but he feels the time is right for him to move on. We, of course, wish him every success for the future. I have no doubt he will prove to be a key player for Kidderminster." Sturrock said: "I'm pleased to be moving to Kidderminster, and am looking forward to the rest of the season. It's a very good move for me. I need to be playing. I need to get a run of games under my belt and get back into things."
Bobby Williamson insists he has paid no attention to claims that more than half of the QPR squad have gone down with illness. He said: "I have just totally ignored that. The game goes ahead as normal on Sunday and I don't care if their preparations have been good or bad. I am just concerned about what happens on the pitch at Home Park. QPR are a very good team and have done well this season. They are familiar opponents for us after last season and will want to do better against us this season. They have had to contend with difficult times off the park as well as on it this season, with speculation about takeovers. But I do not concern myself with what goes on elsewhere. I only concern myself with what is going on at Home Park." Williamson, although conceding results have not been good enough, denies Argyle's level of performance has dropped recently. He said: "Our form is not good but our performances have not dropped. The breaks have gone against us - the first goal last week against Derby illustrates that. We have got to lift it again. We have missed chances, but hopefully this weekend we can take them."
Bobby Williamson has admitted that negotiations to bring a new player to the club were still "on-going". "There are no signs of movement at the moment, although I am actively seeking players," he said. "There is no desperate rush and there is no panicking. I have got players available for selection on Sunday. There are quite a few irons in the fire, I want to emphasise that but it's not like walking into Sainsbury's and buying something off the shelf - we are dealing with people here, and they have got to make sure it's the right move for them and for this club. We have been working diligently and talking to a lot of people at clubs, through the proper channels, and it's taking us time. It's probably not the best time to be making a move for a player because some are thinking about Christmas, some have got Christmas Day off. We had an offer accepted by the club, but the player, and especially his agent, have dragged their heels. That will not go through before Christmas, but it's certainly not discounted. There have been a number of players, north of the border as well as south of the border, that we are actively looking at - and in Europe. That might be a surprise to our fans, but our network goes worldwide, and there are a lot of players out there who can add to us. It might be a loan deal, it might be a short-term deal, or we might actually splash cash and pay for somebody. There are so many things to take into consideration, but, as I said, it is very much ongoing. We will get the players to the club that I feel will add to us and complement what we have already got. Nobody has knocked us back - not one player we have spoken to has said that he doesn't want to join Plymouth Argyle - but it is getting everything done properly, and getting the finances sorted out, that takes that little bit more time. With agents involved, it takes even longer."
Bobby Williamson has confirmed that Stevie Crawford will be available for selection for the QPR game. Crawford is understood to have trained with Inverness Caledonian Thistle this week. "Crawford is back in Scotland looking after his family and doing a bit of training up there," Williamson said. "I trust him, he's a good professional and I know he's doing the work asked of him. Bjarni Gudjonsson has been away too, spending time with his family and training with a club in the midlands." Williamson declined to confirm that Gudjonsson will start the game. "We'll decide if Bjarni should start the game," he said yesterday. "We've lost our last two games, so places are up for grabs. We've got good competition throughout the squad." Gudjonsson and Crawford are both due back at Home Park this morning and will train with the squad today and tomorrow in the build-up to the game. Williamson added: "We owe QPR one, as they won the last game. We want to do better this time."
Bjarni Gudjonsson could make his first start for Argyle in the Boxing Day game with QPR. Bobby Williamson said: "There is a good chance he will start on Sunday because we lost the last game. He only turned up on the Friday so there was no way he was going to step into our first team last weekend. I put him on the bench because I thought he might be able to come on and do something for us. Nobody walks into this team. They have got to earn the right, and he hadn't done it. Chuck and Tony hadn't played as well as they could do the previous week and it would have been quite easy for me to take one of them out - or anybody for that matter - because we had lost so heavily and put Bjarni in. But I don't think that sends out the right messages to our guys, who have worked very hard to get into the team over a period of time." Williamson believes Argyle have earned a lot of respect from other clubs for the way they have risen up through the league over recent seasons. "Argyle are very much on the map and I hope our fans appreciate that," he said. "We have moved up the leagues - nothing to do with me, I should add - but we are where we are. We have achieved that and I think other clubs are starting to recognise that we are a force. Alright, the league table suggests we are not a great force, but we are certainly competing at this level. I want to go that bit further. That's my aim - to push us higher up this division, not just to consolidate." Argyle suffered their 11th defeat in the Championship this season when they lost to Derby. "We have lost more games now than we probably did in the previous two seasons," said Williamson. "But we are playing in a different league now and we are playing against a lot of top teams who have spent a lot of money that we couldn't even afford to think about spending." Williamson is still hoping to strengthen his squad before the Boxing Day visit of QPR. "There are a lot of things on-going," he said. "I'm speaking to people and Phill Gill is speaking to people."
Argyle have been linked with Hearts striker Mark de Vries, with Sheffield United also said to be interested
Argyle's under-18's will play Crewe Alexandra in the FA Youth Cup fourth round at Home Park on January 18th
Bobby Williamson has declared that Argyle would try to keep Tony Capaldi, even if a Premiership club gave him the chance of top-flight football. "I see Tony as an important player for us in the present and in the future, and I'm glad he's decided to stay with us for another couple of years," Williamson said. "I've been impressed with Tony since the day I came in the door. We've given him the security he deserves and he's a big player for us. I'm pleased we've got him settled. I want to work with the best players, those who can work to an international standard, and Tony has proved he can do that. Everybody recognised the quality of the performance he produced against Wales, and that's what we'd like to see here at Argyle on a weekly basis. It's very difficult, but those are the standards Tony has set and those are the standards I demand as a manager. But as long as he gives his best on a weekly basis, I can live with that. He'll have good days, he'll have bad days, but he does want to do well for Plymouth Argyle. If he does too well for us, then we'll sell him on. It's as simple as that. If we don't get to the Premiership, and a Premiership club comes calling, then we can't stand in his way. But we're not prepared to let talents like Tony just walk out of here and move on to another club. We want him to try and help us move up to the next level. He has shown, albeit in sporadic spells, that he is more than capable of playing at a higher level. In the Burnley game I thought he was terrific. He tormented the life out of their defenders, put a lot of crosses into the box and was different class. Then a week later against Crewe he was hopeless! He ended up kicking his heels on the bench besides me. But I know what his capabilities are, and he will find out and he will recognise when he has to lift his game, and when he has to push himself harder." Capaldi again revealed his delight at his new deal. "I was glad to get it out of the way," he said. "There's always a bit of uncertainty when you're out of contract at the end of the season and things aren't sorted, so I was pleased to get it signed. I can get on with my football and hopefully keep on improving as a player - and hopefully we can start shooting back up the Championship. It's been fantastic since I came down from playing in the reserves at Birmingham. Nobody had heard of me, I didn't have a name in the game at all, and now I've established myself in the first team at Argyle. I'm playing at a great standard now and I'm really enjoying it. International honours have come my way as well, so I'm more than happy to sign the new deal. I know I need to improve the consistency in my game. It's difficult sometimes performing week in, week out, when you're a young player, and hopefully that's something I can do down here. My injury this season didn't help. It came at a bad time - I suppose they always do - but I'm over it now and I'm feeling fit and strong. It's only my 50th League game on and I've still got a lot to learn." Capaldi's injury kept him out of two Northern Ireland games in the autumn, George McCartney replacing him at left-back. "The first thing you have to do is play well for your club side before you can even think about international honours," Capaldi said. "All I can do is do my best and hope the manager picks me but, if not, I'll be there to support the team. George McCartney is a fantastic footballer, I've played with him at Under-21 level. They've been playing 3-5-2 at times and maybe I could play left wing-back and George could be the third centre-half, but that's up to the manager to decide." Capaldi's success has proved that playing for Plymouth is no barrier to international recognition. "That's been blown out of the water," he said, "with me playing for Northern Ireland and Peter Gilbert for Wales Under-21s with John Toshack coming down here to look at him for the senior side. And Stevie Crawford has been in every Scotland squad while he's been down here."
Bobby Williamson hopes to sign at least one new player before Argyle play QPRon Boxing Day. He said: "I will do my best to get players in who can add to us, but they are few and far between, I can assure you. We have moved up a division and Premiership players are not really prepared to drop into the Championship - understandably. We are not too sure whether players in the lower leagues can make the step up, but we might have to have a gamble on one." Asked whether there would be a new arrival before the clash against QPR, Williamson said: "Yes, there is every chance. When I look to fill one area of the team I look at four or five players. I then pass it on to director Phill Gill who deals with that situation. He speaks to the agents and to the clubs and we get the player that fits our needs financially. I'm comfortable with whichever I recommend. I do tell these players when I speak to them - once I have got permission from their clubs - that I'm talking to other players and it's up to them. Do they want to come? And not to price themselves out of the market. At this moment in time, we are probably speaking to about 10 players, 10 clubs and 10 different agents so it depends how it comes together. Sometimes it comes quickly - like Bjarni Gudjonsson last week. Other times it takes a bit longer. There are a lot of players out there who would like to join us, but they might not be good enough. I have got to make sure we get the best players available at the price and the wages this club can afford. If it comes together before Boxing Day, brilliant. If it doesn't, then it might be the week after, or the week after that. But I'm not in any desperate rush. I have got belief in the players in that dressing room that they can go out and get the results we are looking for."
Bobby Williamson has spoken out about the pressure he feels he is being put under to sign a new striker. "I know our fans are always clamouring about this striker that we're missing," Williamson said. "I do believe in the strikers we've got at this club, but I'm always looking to add to the squad and bring in players that we can afford. I'm not going to bring in a million-pound striker. That's just not going to happen. Robbie Fowler will not be joining us, I can assure you of that!" Williamson is aware that some fans have been grumbling about the lack of transfer activity and about recent results. "I can't complain about any of the criticism that has been directed at us," he said. "They're football fans. But what I'd like them to do is just to keep supporting us and backing us, and keep encouraging us to do better. If they do that, we'll do our best not to let them down, but I'm not going to criticise the fans. They're all looking forward to going to Leeds and Wolverhampton. So are we. We're excited about it and it's better than going to many places in the lower divisions. We're out of those divisions now, we're in the Championship and we want to stay in it. If we all pull in the one direction, I believe we can stay in it and even progress further. We've had success in the last three years, but it's not easy to follow that with another promotion within one or two years. We're playing against a lot of top teams who have spent the sort of money that we couldn't even begin to think about spending. We just have to realise that. I want the fans to come along and support us and enjoy the game. Let me worry about the other side of things. I will try my best to help make their dreams come true for them."
Bobby Williamson has criticised Lee Makel for speaking to a Scottish newspaper about his wish to leave Home Park. Makel said yesterday he wanted to leave Argyle and return to Scotland because of homesickness and also admitted his wife, Claire, had failed to settle in the South West. Williamson said: "None of the clubs mentioned have been in touch with me so I can't comment on that. It is pretty disappointing that people have spoken publicly about this. I would have rather waited until things were concluded one way or the other and then talk about it. I will have a chat with Lee and see what he has got to say." Makel said: "My decision has nothing to do with the club or the city itself. The city is great, the club is up and coming and other players will come down here and have a really good time. However, my wife and I just want to be happy and neither of us are all that content at the moment, and there are a few personal reasons that I'd like to keep to myself. I come in from training every day and Claire can see I'm unhappy and it's difficult for her as this is her first time away from home. Also, all her family are back in Scotland. It's especially hard coping with the travelling. We sometimes travel seven or eight hours on a Friday night to get to where we are playing on a Saturday. We have to do the journey all the way home again and it takes it out of you mentally. At Livingston we used to groan about a two-hour journey to play at Aberdeen but that's the equivalent of a five-minute trip down here. I thought I would be okay, but I didn't realise quite how much travelling was involved." Hearts, Livingston, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock have all been linked with a possible swoop for Makel during January, when cross-border transfers are permissible. "Nothing has been rubber-stamped," he said, "but my agent has been talking to a few clubs and hopefully he'll get something sorted sooner rather than later. This has been on my mind and my wife's mind for a while. I thought it was time to nip it in the bud. It's a coincidence that Stevie is the same boat, but these things happen. Sometimes moves work out, sometimes they don't. It can't be helped." Williamson added that he had already spoken once to Makel about his situation. He said: "If players are not settled outside football then they can't perform to their best when they are asked to. I will have another chat with Lee and if it's suitable for both parties then we may part company." But Williamson hinted he was reluctant to let Makel leave. "Lee Makel is a player I like," he said. "I think he's a very good football player and I like him as a person. We have had a chat and we will need to have further discussions, I'm sure, before we do anything. I would like him to be settled here and I would like his wife to be settled here, but I can't do much about that I'm afraid."
Bobby Williamson is to have talks with Lee Makel about his future with Argyle. He said: "I will have another chat with Lee and see what the situation is. If a player doesn't want to be here then that's something we have got to look at."
Paul Stapleton has declared that Argyle can look to the future with confidence. "We can afford to be positive," he said. "We've had a great 2004. We've won a championship and we're confident that we can hold our own in the Coca-Cola Championship. We might have lost our last two games but we're still 17th in the table. We'd have taken that at the start of the season and we'd probably take it at the end of the season. Let's look at things in a positive light. Argyle have had three consecutive years of profits, which I'm not sure they've had for many years. And we've done it from trading, not from having to sell the family silver. It's been a great year, and long may that continue. The support we've had this year has been fantastic and there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to achieve our aims. The fact that we've got almost 10,000 season-ticket holders was a great boost to us at the start of the year. We've just about sorted out the losses brought forward from Dan McCauley's time in the chair. We're in a positive position, but we're not mega-rich and we're not mega-strong. We're building, and hopefully the fans have bought into that idea. This season we've said to the manager that, if we're doing well and we get increased gates, we're not going to stockpile it and hoard it. We realise that we have to invest in the team on the pitch, because if we don't do that then the fans won't come and we're into a downward spiral and we would have to shed staff. That is what happened at this club in the past. We've had to increase staffing levels because they'd been cut down in the past because of economies. Our aim now is to strengthen the balance sheet in case we have a bad time again. We also need to strengthen the balance sheet for when we need to invest ourselves in the property. There will have to be a contribution from the football club. And we also need to invest in the players." Stapleton went on to suggest that the club are considering borrowing the funds needed to conclude the redevelopment of Home Park.. He said: "We're still looking at all avenues to find the funding for that project. I know the fans are asking if we're going to finish the stadium or put players on the pitch. We're going to try and do as much as we can with what we've got. We're not saying we're going to do one thing or the other. We're going to do things properly, and if it means we have to borrow instead of use our own resources because we have to use those resources to put players on the pitch, then we'll do it. If we've got the right players on the pitch, the fans will come and the income will come and we can afford to fund the borrowing. But we're not at that advanced stage yet. If you go to a third-party lender, they're going to want business plans that make sense. The good news is that suddenly we're the blue-eyed boys of the football industry as far as lenders are concerned, because we have a balance sheet that's in the black and we've had three years of profits. They're saying: 'You must be doing something right.' I think we are."
Tony Capaldi has committed his future to Argyle, signing a two-year extension to his current contract which will keep him at Home Park until the summer of 2007. Bobby Williamson said: "I'm delighted Tony has settled his contract and he's staying with us for another couple of years. It will give him the peace of mind to concentrate on doing what he does best, and that's playing football. It was unfortunate Tony broke his leg at the time he did because he was just hitting a rich vein of form. He hasn't got back to that same level yet but he's at an age where he's developing his talents all the time. Left-sided players are hard to come by for whatever reason and Tony has got the ability to be a very good player. He has shown he can play at international level and we are pleased to have him here." Capaldi was thrilled to get his future resolved. He said: "The club mentioned it to me a couple of months ago but because I broke my leg it delayed things a little bit. When your contract is up you always worry that you might be moving on at the end of the season so I'm very pleased to get things sorted out now. I can knuckle down and concentrate on my football and, hopefully, we can start to get some results. It has been a fantastic move for me. I have gone from Birmingham reserves to playing in the Championship, and getting international recognition." Nine other Argyle players will be out-of-contract next summer and Williamson said: "Once the contracts are sorted out we will talk about it. Tony's has been and that's why we are talking about it now. I'm not prepared to speak about players who are going to be out-of-contract because it only highlights that fact to other clubs."
Bobby Williamson has cast into doubt the future of Lee Makel at Home Park. Williamson revealed after the defeat by Derby County on Saturday that Makel's wife had failed to settle in the South West. Stevie Crawford is already set for a return to Scotland because his family could not settle in Plymouth. Williamson recalled Crawford to the attack on Saturday, despite all the speculation over his future during. "I don't think it affected his game at all, to be honest," said Williamson. "Stevie just played the way he usually plays. He did create a chance for us and he did try on a couple of occasions to get shots on target, which were blocked. I couldn't question Stevie's commitment, and I don't think anybody really should. Everybody is different. I have got family and I miss them dearly but this is my occupation - it's my job - and this is the club I want to be at, and I want to do my best for it. Stevie is missing his kids so he wants to get back to Scotland. Lee Makel is another whose wife has not settled. People can ask questions, but I haven't got the foresight to know who's going to settle anywhere."
Paul Wotton is confident Argyle can bounce back to winning ways, starting with the Boxing Day visit of Queen's Park Rangers. He said: "People will be disappointed with this result, we're disappointed, but we're a strong bunch of lads and hopefully we can bounce back against QPR. It's important that we stick together now. We've got an important bunch of fixtures coming up and we need to get something from them. Boxing Day will be a great fixture. There's a bit of history between us and QPR, plus it will be a full house, so it will be great if we can get a result." He added: "I think some people need to realise just how far we've come in a short space of time. People were getting inpatient today and some fans were saying some ridiculous things out there. I think they may have been spoilt over the last three years, so they need to realise what we've achieved. That said, as long as the team and the dressing room stick together, no one is going to be pressing any panic buttons. I thought we started the game on Saturday pretty well. We were first to tackles and headers and we had a couple of decent chances. The first goal, though, was a bit of a hammer blow for us, just because it was such an unlucky goal. We created a few chances after that, but the second half didn't really happen for us. I said the first goal was a hammer blow, the second was the end of it, really. We didn't really create much after that."
Argyle have announced a profit for last season of more than £1/2m. It is the third year in succession that the Pilgrims have reported an annual profit. Paul Stapleton said: "Plymouth Argyle has come some way since August 10, 2001, when this new board took over at Home Park. We are only just over halfway through our original five-year plan, and its objectives have already been exceeded in certain parts of that plan. We intend to announce a new plan setting out a revised agenda for the club, across the breadth of its activity. A key aspiration of the club is to act as a hub of the Plymouth community. To this end, talks are currently being held with Plymouth City Council and others. Soon, we hope to announce plans for the redevelopment of our main grandstand, as part of a broader citywide leisure offer. These accounts are a financial boost to the football club and enabled the board to set a realistic budget for the manager Bobby Williamson and our championship campaign. It is our policy to make funds available to the manager, so as long as the fans continue to support the club there will be funds available. We are aware of the infrastructure problems in the football club and promise that these will be resolved totally when we build the new grandstand. We also promise that we are spending considerable time in ensuring we improve the telephone system and ticketing as soon as possible. We are also looking to improve the size of the shop and the board congratulates the shop manageress Rachel Fry and her team for the excellent work they have undertaken in very limited conditions." Argyle's success has increased attendances which is reflected in the club's turnover increasing from £3.8m to £5.1m. The number of staff increased from 88 to 94, and the accounts showed that the wage bill increased from £1.95m to £2.3m
Bobby Williamson admitted yesterday that Bjarni Gudjonsson will not be the his last signing this season. Williamson has been criticised for recruiting another midfielder but revealed that he is likely to lose one of his midfielders soon, for the same reasons as Crawford's desire to return to Scotland, and that he is also looking at strikers. "I am actively looking to bring players into the club to complement what we've got," he said. "Rest assured, if our fans are questioning a decision to bring in a midfield player, I've brought in a good player. Given time, he will prove that. I hope to bring in more players who can add to what we've got. We'll work towards what we feel is a squad capable of competing in this division. We have got a capable squad, but, at times, you need to freshen it up, and that's what I have been trying to do. Lee Makel's another whose wife's is not settled, but I have not got the foresight to know who is going to settle."
Bobby Williamson said he was as upset as the fans after yesterdays defeat. "I'm as disappointed as the next man who supports Argyle," he said. "We had good chances, and, if we had taken them, it might have put a different reflection on the game, but we've been saying this for a few weeks now. I seem to be repeating myself on a weekly basis. We've got just to keep working hard. If the fans can tell me who we can bring in to this team and score 20 goals and where are they? Why are they not at other teams in this division? It might be time to look at other teams lower down the divisions who could maybe step up a level - I have been, to be honest with you - but it's a gamble. Sometimes it's a risk. I still believe in the players we've got at this club. I still believe we can score goals. We certainly created chances. The scoreline was a fair scoreline. Credit to Derby. The two lads up front was probably the best pairing I've seen in this division so far. The linkage was great and their movement was very, very good and they worked very hard for the team. The first goal was important. We were sleeping at the back, not paying attention, and it's been costly. After that, I think we had the majority of the game but you can go on about stats - we lost the game, and to not score is disappointing. I'm not going to let the lads' heads go down. We know the fans are disappointed, and we are disappointed as well. We are in it together, and we'll have to give it our best shot. That's all we can ask. These guys have gone up through the divisions and showed in the first half of the season they are capable, but it's petered off recently and I will have to instil some confidence again. There's money there, but how much does it cost to bring a player into this division who can score 20 goals? We talk about new signings but I've always tried to emphasise the pressure's got to come from the players in the dressing-room. We've got to make sure we bring in a player who is better than what we have got. Bjarni showed that he can take a pass and give a pass and that's what you are looking for at this level, players that can show a bit of composure on the ball. One player isn't going to make us a great team. We need the fans showing patience and backing the players, as they do."
Argyle are beaten 2-0 by Derby County at Home Park. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Coughlan, Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Wotton, Friio, Capaldi, Crawford, Evans. Subs - Gudjonsson, Keith (not used - Hodges, Lasley, Adams). Attendance - 15,335. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Graham Coughlan has admitted that Argyle need to raise their game to banish fears of being sucked into the relegation battle. He said: "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that we are struggling to get the ball in the net at the moment. Our intensity at home has been good. We've been getting on top of teams, but we need to start taking chances. Jocky Scott, our coach, has hit us with statistics which show that we've had 46 chances or half-chances in the last three games. We've got to realise that we are short of a few goals, but we've still got confidence in the strikers on our books. They'll come good, and it's not just a problem for the forwards. Over the last three years or more, the goals have been spread out amongst the team. We'll be looking for goals against Derby, but 1-0 will do us. We just want the three points because it's a massive, massive game. We've had some tremendous performances this year and yet we've lost the games. We need the win. The League is closing up, it is getting tight, and there's a slight suspicion of us looking over our shoulders. That's natural. We need to put a little bit of daylight between the relegation zone and ourselves, but there are no alarm bells ringing just yet. The club and the fans have been used to success and it's been a little bit different this season. We'll be happy with a mid-table finish, if and when it becomes impossible for us to finish in the top six. We'll always try our utmost to build on what we've achieved in the past."
Bobby Williamson is well aware that Derby County will provide tough opposition today. "I watched Derby against Brighton and I was impressed," he said. "Jocky Scott watched them last week and he was impressed. We know it's going to be a difficult game. George Burley is a seasoned manager and he knows his way about. We'll have to be patient but hopefully we can create chances and take them to win the game. If we play half as well as we did against Burnley a fortnight ago, I'm hopeful we can win this game."
Bobby Williamson is delighted to have signed Bjarni Gudjonsson. He said: "I'm delighted to have Bjarni on board. It's been ongoing for a few weeks now, but Bjarni came to my attention three or maybe four years ago, when I was in Scotland and he was at Stoke City. I had a look at him then and liked what I saw, but the circumstances weren't right to try and get him to the club I was managing at the time. The circumstances are now right and he's here and I wish him all the best. I've seen him a few times. I know he's quality and I know he can add to us." Gudjonsson cannot wait to get started at Home Park, having spent much of this current campaign on the Coventry sidelines. "I started the first three games and I hardly had a look-in after that," he said. It's always frustrating, not playing. If you are not playing, you shouldn't be happy, and I wasn't happy. I like playing games. The more games, the better. I want to play. I still had two years left at Coventry and I was settled in the area, but I've got maybe ten years left, if I'm lucky, so wasting one game, let alone a whole season, is too much for me. It's a new challenge. I'm delighted to be here. It's nice to have a manager who wants you. That always helps a player's confidence." Asked if there might be any more signings prior to Christmas, Williamson said: "You never say never."
Argyle have signed Icelandic international Bjarni Gudjonsson from Coventry City on a free transfer. Gudjonsson has agreed an 18 month contract and the right-sided midfielder will come straight into contention for tomorrow's game. Gudjonsson is excited about the prospect of playing for Argyle and said: "I wasn't wanted at Coventry, it's as simple as that. Bobby was very keen to get me down to Plymouth and it's a similar situation to when I first joined Coventry under Eric Black. That's the most important thing for me, if a manager wants you and believes in you. It's hard to leave Coventry because I have made a lot of good friends there but it has been very frustrating not being able to play. I'm not prepared to waste a year of my time. When a manager tells you you can leave, that's it. I was clearly not in his plans so the only thing to do is move on." Bobby Williamson praised the attitude of Gudjonsson after making thel midfielder his first signing since the summer. "Bjarni has shown a lot of commitment to Plymouth already - and he has not even pulled a strip on," said Williamson. "Just by the fact that he has decided to join us at this time of year, where he could have sat and had his Christmas with his family and got that out of the way. The boy's shown an appetite and the right attitude that he wants to play football, and that's great. I'm delighted to have him on board. Bjarni came to my attention three, maybe four, years ago, when he was at Stoke City, and I quite liked what I saw but the circumstances weren't quite right to get him to the club I was at at the time. He's versatile, he can play wide and he can play in the middle. We have got players who can play there but we are always looking to add quality to the squad. Bjarni certainly has the quality I am looking for and we hope he fits in well and does well. The more flexibility you have in players, the fewer you need - instead of having a squad of 25, you can have a squad of 20. That's always been the thinking - to get players who can play in a variety of positions and to develop our squad so they can add to us, numberswise, if there is a need. We've got players at the club who have got us to this level and it's up to me to bring players in that can complement the players we have got, that have the quality we need to stay at this level. The club's come a long way. We want to stay where we are, if not improve on it, and to do that, we have got to bring in quality players." Williamson admitted that Gudjonsson's arrival might pave the way for another to leave Home Park. "There may be people moving in the near future," he said. "I'm not in the position of forcing anybody out of the door but, if they are not happy and there's a club out there who can give them a better opportunity of playing first-team football, it's up to the player to make a decision. It's been well documented that Stevie could be going back to Scotland in the January break and there might be another joining him." Gudjonsson, though, is happy, and, for once, Plymouth's geography has worked in the club's favour. "I've always wanted to live by the sea," he said. "In Iceland, everyone lives by the sea."
Bobby Williamson has ruled out any further interest in Ghanaian international Derek Boateng, saying he is 'a quality player but not what we need at this moment in time'
Argyle are believed to be watching Boston United's Northern Ireland international striker Andy Kirk. The Lincolnshire club yesterday rejected a five-figure bid for the frontman but that is believed to have come from Leicester City. Boston manager Steve Evans said: "I spoke to the manager who wanted Kirky, but it was only yesterday when I found a bid had been tabled. It was five-figures, rising to six with various clauses. But credit goes to our chairman, Jon Sotnick, who turned it down and told me we don't need to sell Andy. I am thankful he is still my player because he's a tremendous striker, although I am expecting another bid to be tabled."
Tony Capaldi aims to make it a miserable afternoon for former Birmingham team-mate Jeff Kenna and the rest of the Derby team tomorrow. He said: "Derby are the only team we haven't played yet this season but I know a little bit about them. I know a couple of their players quite well - I was with Michael Johnson and Jeff Kenna at Birmingham. They are going to be a good footballing side and they have had some decent results recently so it's going to be a tough. Jeff is a fantastic professional and a really nice bloke as well. He has got a lot of experience over me so I'm going to have to be at my best tomorrow to make an impact on the game. I have just got to concentrate on my own performance and see what I can do for the side. I prefer playing against people I know about, rather than unknown quantities." The visit of Derby is the first of five matches in 17 days for Argyle and Capaldi is hoping they can get off to a good start tomorrow. "It's going to be a busy period and we have got some tough games coming up over Christmas," he said. "They are tough games every week, to be honest, so it's no surprise there." Capaldi insisted the players' confidence had not been dented too much by the defeat at Crewe. "We did okay, but we weren't overly pleased with our performance," he said. "Our finishing wasn't quite right and we probably weren't as fluent as we could have been. I think 3-0 flattered them, but it's one of those things. It was a disappointing result and it's important we bounce back with a good performance and a good result this weekend. Everyone has been okay in training this week. No-one has been too down in the dumps about it. I think the boys can't wait to get back onto the pitch at Home Park and get a good performance under our belts." Capaldi was substituted at Crewe, along with David Norris and that decision by Bobby Williamson was greeted with loud boos from some fans. Others chanted Capaldi's name as he left the pitch. Capaldi said: "The fans have been fantastic with me since I have been at the club and they showed it again last Saturday. It's really nice to know they are right behind me, but the gaffer had a decision to make and, in the end, I probably wasn't playing the best game of my life. He thought it was time to change it and, obviously, he's quite within his rights to do that." Capaldi believes Argyle can have a successful Christmas and New Year. He said: "It will be a good chance for us to maybe get two or three wins in quick succession and shoot right back up the league. You never know what might happen then. It's a strange sort of league. Two wins and you're in the top half, two defeats and you're in the bottom half. That's the way it seems to go."
Stevie Crawford is in the Argyle squad for tomorrow's game with Derby County and Bobby Williamson will speak to him before deciding whether to include him in the starting line-up. Williamson said: "Stevie Crawford is part of the squad and he's in my plans. I will have a chat with him and decide whether he's in the right frame of mind to play. I know for a fact if Stevie Crawford is selected he will give a good account of himself and give it his best effort, and that's all you can ask of anyone, whatever their situation." Williamson is hoping the fans at Home Park will be supportive of Crawford should he take part in the match. "I think they appreciate Stevie's ability and, hopefully, they understand the predicament he is in," he said. "I don't know how people will react to the situation but, hopefully, they will give him their support as usual." The visit of Derby gives Argyle the chance to bounce back from the defeat at Crewe. Williamson said: "I'm looking forward to it and, hopefully, we can put last Saturday behind us. I wish we had had a midweek game. I think most of the players - if they get the opportunity - will want to do better than they did against Crewe. I want my team to be more clinical in front of goal. I felt we had the chances against Crewe which had we taken them would have put a different complexion on the game. And I'm just not talking about the strikers. It's a team effort. All the players must do better in front of goal."
Argyle want to sign Coventry City midfielder Bjarni Gudjonsson on loan. Coventry, however, have rejected Argyle's initial approach for the Icelandic international. Coventry manager Peter Reid said: "Plymouth have made an inquiry about Bjarni but it has been turned down at this moment in time." Bobby Williamson refused to comment, other than to say: "Hopefully, the fans realise we are not sitting back and we are always looking to bring in players to complement what we have already got."
Bobby Williamson was watching Derek Boateng play for Brentford in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Millwall this lunchtime. Williamson had earlier said that whichever of his targets arrived at Home Park would not be 'the saviour'. He said: "We are confident of getting someone pretty soon but he will not be the saviour. If we bring in one or two players we don't want to put a lot of burden straight on their shoulders. It has been a team effort and a squad effort to get where we are now and it will continue to be that way. One or two players are not going to turn the season around, though they will certainly help us and give us fresh ignition." Argyle's search for a striker has become even more important since Stevie Crawford announced he wants to leave in next month's transfer window but Williamson insisted he was not limiting his search to just strikers. "It is not just a striker we are after - it is players for all areas of the team," he said. "No disrespect to the players already on board but if something happens to one or two of them - God forbid - we have to make sure there is a replacement out there. We only want people who can complement what we have already." Williamson admitted the next few weeks could make or break Argyle's season. He said: "I'm looking forward to the games - it is the more the merrier as far as I am concerned. This period will be a crucial period for every team in this division. These five games will determine where our season is going. If we come out of it well we could be aiming for a play-off spot. Automatic spots are out of the question. But if we don't come out of it well with points we could have a relegation fight on our hands. I am an optimist, and I am looking to aim for the first option rather than the latter. We will give these games our best shot and hope to come through it with some points in the bag."
Bobby Williamson is hopeful of adding a new player to his squad by the end of the week. Williamson admitted that the club are currently in discussions with an agent of a player, believed to be a striker but he could not reveal the name of the player in question as he is currently under contract with another club. Williamson said: "There is a player I'm looking at and director Phill Gill is in discussions with his agent at the moment. We are hoping to try and conclude something by the end of the week. He is not a defensive player - he's an offensive player." Argyle have been linked with Rochdale striker Grant Holt and has also had midfielder Derek Boateng on trial.
Argyle's will receive £150,000 for the TV coverage of their FA Cup game with Everton. Paul Stapleton said it was 'great news', but hoped the late kick-off time would not put off fans from going to the game in person. He said: "This gives us a timely financial boost. The money for live games is not what it used to be - it used to be £265,000 - but nevertheless it is very welcome. Hopefully the fans will still come along despite the late kick-off time and we will have a full house. The FA Cup can really turn your season around financially and of course there are win bonuses if you progress. We are doing very well with gates this season and I am really pleased this news has come now. With money coming into the club you have more options with regard to looking at players."
Argyle progressed to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup last night with a 1-0 victory over Darlington, Jon Hoyles scoring the winning goal. Stuart Gibson said: "We didn't play as fluently as we know we can, we didn't pass, but we dug in there. I have never had a side that has had to defend many balls in the box. Wherever the ball went out, Hughes chucked it back in there. We knew about it, and we worked at it in training so I'm really pleased they dug in there. We didn't pass or play as fluently as we know we can. I hate the words FA Youth Cup because every time a match has got that on it they don't play. But, hopefully, the result will give them the confidence that if they defend properly you keep a clean sheet. At the end of the day, you have got to put the ball in the net and we did that. I'm not going to apologise for that." Argyle: D Stevenson, L Drew, J Routledge, S Laird, T McKeever, C Zebroski, C Bond, D Evans, R Dickson, C Reski, J Hoyles. Subs – B Nute (not used - J Laird, D Smith, M Robotham, A Mason)
Stevie Crawford has spoken about the predicament which has forced him to put the needs of his family above his career. "My wee boy is six and my wee girl is four," he said. "For the first time in my career, I'm going to have put them first. Anybody who has kids will understand that. To those that haven't, I can only say that I'm disappointed, and I've told the manager that. I'm enjoying playing for Argyle, the club are ambitious and they're looking to hold their own in the Championship. The manager has known my situation for a while. I'd said to him that if it got to the stage where I felt the kids were needing me, I'd have to go knocking at his door. He understands 100 per cent. It's a horrible situation. I was keen to come down here and give it a right good effort. I was looking forward to everything, so on the football side it's not a matter of not being happy on that front. But my kids come before everything, and I hope everybody can understand that. Long-term, it wouldn't have been good for the club. The more that I felt the situation would have affected the kids, the more it would have affected me. It's a vicious circle, but the things that I love most are my kids. I'd like to hope that everybody who has worked with me knows that I'm an honest lad who wants to give 100 per cent. If things off the park start affecting you, then you can't give a true reflection of your ability in your performances. It's sad all round, but as long as we can come to a solution that both the club and myself are happy with then hopefully I can walk away and shake everybody's hand and wish everybody all the best." Crawford has told Bobby Williamson he is ready to carry on playing for Argyle - if called upon. He said: "If he wants me to play I will go out and do the best I can for the club. Likewise, if he puts me on the bench or decides it's best I don't play that's entirely up to the manager. I don't have a problem with that." Crawford admitted he was sad his career with Argyle was set to be such a short one. "It's disappointing it has turned out like this, but I had to put my kids first," he said. "I have been back up the road a couple of times and I could see the effect it was having on them and it was starting to have an effect on me. I didn't want it to start showing in my performances so I just thought it was right to tell the manager about it. I have seen it happen to other players before. It's not good having an unhappy player at a club, for whatever reason. I felt it was only right to be honest with the manager and, hopefully, get the problem resolved. It's nothing against Plymouth as a club or as a city. I'm sad it's maybe coming to an end in the way it is. But, hopefully, anybody who has got kids will understand the decision I have come to. I have been giving it 100 per cent physically but you need to be mentally strong as well. If my thoughts are elsewhere at the moment, it makes it a tricky situation all round."
Argyle's Boxing Day game against Queens Park Rangers at Home Park is a sell-out, the ticket-office selling the last available tickets yesterday
Argyle's youth team face Darlington in the third round of the FA Youth Cup tonight. Stuart Gibson said: "Without doubt, it's our most important game of the season. It's a game that we're looking to win. For once, the priority isn't just the development of players. It's a cup competition and it's a one-off, and it's a big night for the young players. A lot of players in games like these freeze. But I hope my players can cope with the occasion. A lot of them have reserve team experience and have played under the lights before. All I have said to them is give 100 per cent and express yourselves - that's all I ever ask of them. They are good enough and if everything gels into place they are good enough to go out and play anybody. My players have experience and they know what they are going into. That experience should be a benefit to them. We will expect a physical game from them, as teams in the north-east tend to be robust. We will have to stand up and take whatever they throw at us. The players were buzzing in training on Monday, but they have got to be buzzing like that on Tuesday night." Gibson said it was a special thrill for him personally to welcome his former club to Home Park. "It is the first time I have faced them since I came to Argyle," he said. "All the players have changed now of course, but I know all the coaching staff at Darlington. It will be nice to see some familiar faces."
Bobby Williamson has again defended his decision to replace David Norris and Tony Capaldi after an hour's play in Saturday's defeat at Crewe. He also explained why he applauded supporters when they chanted the names of the two players who had been substituted. A few fans have subsequently accused Williamson of sarcastic behaviour but yesterday he said: "Sometimes I have to make decisions that the fans don't agree with. When they were chanting Capaldi's name I applauded them, because I think he's a good player as well. And Norris - I think he's a good player. That's all I was trying to do. I wasn't trying to be sarcastic or patronising or anything like that. I always appreciate the guys' efforts, but they were taken off for tactical reasons. That's the end of the matter. They've got every chance of being selected next Saturday. It looked as though I didn't know what I was doing, as the fans were chanting, but there was method behind the madness. I didn't feel we were doing enough in the wide areas to trouble Crewe, and I thought we'd go for the direct approach through the middle. That's why I changed it." Asked what had annoyed him most at Crewe, the three goals conceded or the failure to convert any of the chances his side created, Williamson said: "A bit of both. If we'd have scored from the chances we created, we'd have made our life a bit easier. And with the goals we did concede, we could have worked a bit harder there as well. We have to deal with it, though. We have to move on and do better next time. We had a lot of opportunities at Crewe, but we didn't really ask any serious questions of their goalkeeper. David Friio had an effort early on that the 'keeper dealt with well, but apart from that most of our efforts were weak. Over the piece, the scoreline does reflect a big drubbing, but when you look at the game as a whole I didn't think there were three goals in it. The players couldn't believe that we'd conceded three goals, and I was as angry and disappointed for them as I was for the fans - and for myself. At the end of the day it all lands on my shoulders. I hurt just as much as everybody else does - maybe even more so, because it's my job that is on the line."
Argyle's FA Cup match with Everton is to be televised live. The third-round tie will be featured on Match of the Day Live on Saturday, January 8th with kick-off now at 5.30pm. Screening the tie will net Argyle an additional £150,000 for the television rights. Bobby Williamson welcomed the BBC's decision to show the game. He said: "Now we have an even bigger stage for what I feel could be an exciting cup tie. The exposure is most welcome, not to mention the cash. It is a measure of how this club is continuing to progress."
Bobby Williamson has admitted that Stevie Crawford looks set for a swift return to Scotland. International transfer regulations which prevent players crossing international borders more than once in the same calendar year mean that Argyle will have to agree to Crawford's return on compassionate grounds. Williamson said: "It looks most likely that Stevie will be going back to Scotland if somebody can satisfy his needs and ours, which would include compensation for losing a very good player who is under contract. His family hasn't settled down here, his kids are missing him and he's missing his kids, and he would like to be with them. So he would like to go back up there - not because he doesn't like Plymouth or doesn't like Argyle. We will do our best to make it easy for him. We have to make sure Stevie's happy, whether it's at Plymouth or at Aberdeen. We have got to do what's best for him. As far as I am concerned, it won't be the end of the world if the rules mean Stevie has to stay at the club, because he likes being here. I will be pleased for us, because he's a good player. The problem is he's missing his kids and his kids are missing him - if we can help him get back to Scotland, get closer to his kids, as a club, we will do the best to assist him." Williamson will continue to keep his eye out for replacements. "The search for a striker has been ongoing since I've been here," he said. "The search for better players is ongoing. If I can improve the squad, that's what I'm going to do."
Blair Sturrock has returned to Home Park after spending last week at Wycombe. Bobby Williamson said: "He played in a behind-closed-doors game last week and I have spoken toJohn Gorman. He says Blair is not the type of player they are looking for at the moment."
Bobby Williamson has defended his decision to substitute Tony Capaldi and David Norris during Saturday's defeat at Crewe. He said: "I have to make those decisions. I can't always be thinking what the guy in Row Z is thinking about - I've got to think what the best way to get a result is. I tried to do that. I've been saying since I've been here that I'm not going to sit back and accept a 2-0. I'd rather lose by three or four, having a go. I felt, if we'd got a goal, we could have troubled them - they were 2-0 up against Ipswich and got pegged back to 2-2 and I felt, if we'd got a goal, we could have won the game." Fans chanted the names of the two players after they were substituted, and Williamson applauded their backing. He added: "I took them off, and the fans didn't appreciate it, but I put them on the park in the first place, knowing that, if they played to their abilities, we had every chance of winning the game. They are good players but I didn't think they did play to their abilities on that occasion. They didn't do as well as they can do. The opposition were strong and nullified the threat in the wide areas, so I had to change it."
David Friio has urged Argyle to increase their efforts to find some consistency. He said: "I don't think we played that badly at Crewe. At times we played some good football. But we are going home with three goals in our net and no points. When you go away you have to come back with a result, and we didn't do that. It was even more disappointing because we did play well, but it was not enough. We don't want to end up playing badly to get a result, we have to keep playing like this, but we need more consistency. That's what we've been missing this season. We know it's a new level of football for us. Crewe know exactly what the Championship is all about, because they have been at this level for all but one of the last few years. They know what the relegation battle is like and they are a decent team but, no disrespect to them, when you go to places like this you have to get a result if you want to be ambitious." Friio was denied a goal in the third minute: "When the kick came in, the ball was a bit high," he said. "I couldn't knock it down, but I managed to put it on target and the 'keeper made a great save to flick the ball over the bar. We played some good stuff but we conceded three sloppy goals. We can't realise our ambitions if we keep conceding goals like those. It's not possible. We have to get back to basics. We had many chances to score but we didn't, and that's a problem too. We have to work on our attacking and our defending and find some consistency, and then you will see Plymouth Argyle up the table and competing for a different target. The play-offs, maybe, but not yet. We need more consistency."
Bobby Williamson found it hard to believe that Argyle suffered their heaviest defeat of the season yesterday, but admitted the performance left a lot to be desired. "I don't think Crewe were far better than us," he said. "I don't think there were three goals separating us, but that's the scoreline. Credit to Crewe - they have got three goals and we haven't got one at all, but that's a poor reflection of the game. We let in poor goals and never scored when we had the opportunities. It's as simple as that. We have got to take opportunities when they come along. We never did that and Crewe managed to find the back of the net with the chances they had. How they got in the back of the net on two occasions, I don't know." Crewe's third came as Ashton, Mat Kouo-Doumbe and Romain Larrieu converged on a through-ball and went to ground. "I don't know how it found its way into the net," said Williamson. "Romain doesn't seem to know, either, which disappoints me because he's our goalkeeper, and, if he doesn't know how the ball got past him, we've got a small problem there. I'll have a look at the video and, hopefully, that will be more clear-cut. It looked a very, very soft goal." And of Ashton's earlier goal he said: "It's not the best shot in the world, but it's found its way into the back of the net, whereas we had a lot of shots that never found their way into the back of the net. That's the difference. We can play football if we are allowed to, and we did move the ball about. Sometimes it was far too pretty. There were balls going into the midfield and coming back towards our goal, whereas I would have preferred to see us turning with the ball and getting at defences before they can organise." Williamson upset a section of Argyle fans with his tactics and substitutions but was unrepentant. "I change it as I see fit. I didn't think we were getting enough crosses into the box, which is why I took the wing players off - to see if we could penetrate through another way. We did, but we just didn't put the ball in the back of the net. It's a bit of a travesty but that's football. I know the fans were disappointed that Norris and Capaldi came off - I'm disappointed I had to take them off - but, if players don't play as well as they can do, I've got to protect them from that. I didn't think we did as well as we did last week. I still didn't see the service into the areas as well as we did last week, but we'll learn our lessons from this, but it's a bitter pill to swallow." Williamson was among many in the ground who thought that Steve Adams had equalised just after half-time and said: "I thought Stevie Adams had scored in the second half. It was a good build-up and a good strike and, on another day, would have gone in the back of the net. Paul Wotton's probably had half-a-dozen shots on his own today but never caught them as sweet as he can. We're disappointed we never managed to score." Williamson remained upbeat and added: "I don't get too high when things are going great, and I'm certainly not going to get myself too disappointed now, although we'll hurt from this, lick our wounds and hopefully come bouncing back."
Argyle lose 3-0 at Crewe Alexandra. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Coughlan, Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Wotton, Adams, Capaldi, Evans. Subs - Crawford, Makel, Keith (not used - Hodges, Lasley). Attendance - 6,823.
Argyle have dismissed reports linking Stevie Crawford with a return to Dunfermline Athletic during the January transfer window. This is because transfer rules imposed by FIFA prohibit players making more than one international transfer within 12 months, the same regulation which prevented Nathan Lowndes joining Partick Thistle on loan in January 2003, less than a year after he had left Livingston to come to Home Park. Bobby Williamson said: "Those are the rules, and if these people would look at the rules they would notice that before they write these stories. I'm not going to add anything else to the rubbish that's already been written." Despite this Aberdeen are reported to have joined the race to sign Crawford with some reports stating Crawford would be available for a loan move during the transfer window. Bobby Williamson admitted he had spoken to Aberdeen but refused to elaborate. He said: "I spoke to Jimmy Calderwood about a number of issues and they were private and confidential, and not something I wanted to see in the public domain. Until something concrete happens then I'm not willing to say anything more."
Stephen Milne will not play again until the New Year. Bobby Williamson said: "Stevie had an operation the other day and there was a bit of damage in his knee. They have fixed what was broken and we will see how he is over the next few weeks. He will not be available for selection for at least four weeks I would imagine."
Bobby Williamson is full of respect for Dario Gradi and Crewe's achievements in recent years. "I don't think Crewe are any less fashionable than anyone else in this division," he said. "Credit to them and to their board of directors for standing beside Dario Gradi for the length of time that they have done. I wish other boards would take on board the idea that, if they've got a good manager, they should stand by him and encourage him and give him the support he needs, whether or not he is successful. That's what all managers look for, but I've noticed that a lot of clubs haven't done that. They've found out to their cost the mistake they've made. Crewe have been rewarded with the services of Dario Gradi and his leadership. They've sold a lot of players on to bigger clubs and they've made a lot of money. Good luck to them. They're a role model for other clubs." Williamson feels he may need his side to be flexible in their approach to today's game. "We don't know how Crewe will line up yet," he said. "We have had them watched, but Dario is the type of manager who will change the shape of his team if he feels it is beneficial.
Bobby Williamson is to make a journey to London next week to watch Derek Boateng in action. Argyle have been unable to arrange a game for Boateng to play in, but Brentford have come to their aid and Williamson will travel there next Wednesday to watch him turn out as a guest player for their reserves in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Millwall. "I will take the opportunity to get along and see it," Williamson said. "It's something that's been set up between us and Brentford. Ideally I'd have liked Derek to play a game for us behind closed doors, but we've not got the squad to cope with that, with the FA Youth Cup tie next Tuesday and the number of first-team games we've got coming up. I spoke to Martin Allen and we discussed the player. Both of us know him. He would like to see him in action as well as I would. He had a game coming up and asked if it would be okay to invite the lad up and play in it. I said 'no problem, take him up a couple of days early so he gets to know your guys and we will take it from there'. If both of us like him then the player has got a decision to make. And if the team they are playing against like him as well the boy has got three options. It's not a concern to me. If they don't want to be at Argyle it's not a problem. We will get players who do." Williamson added: "The boy enjoyed his time here. He's a nice lad and went about his business very professionally. You need to know that about players before you actually sign them."
Blair Sturrock is not with the Argyle squad this weekend having joined Wycombe Wanderers on trial
Stevie Crawford could be set to return to Dunfermline Athletic after only six months at Argyle. It is believed talks have taken place about Crawford moving on loan until the end of the season when the transfer window reopens next month
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe might not get an immediate recall to the Argyle starting line-up for the trip to Crewe tomorrow. Bobby Williamson has hinted he could continue with Paul Wotton alongside Graham Coughlan in central defence. Williamson said: "Matt is fit and available for selection. He had the stitches removed after the game on Saturday and there was no adverse reaction to that. He has been heading balls in training and looking back to his old self. The team won last week and I might decide not to change it - I might decide otherwise. That's my prerogative as manager. I will pick a team I feel is capable of getting us a result at Crewe. If Mattie is part of that he's a lucky boy." Williamson also revealed that Hasney Aljofree could be added to the squad after his injury lay-off. "Hasney came through the game the other night so he's getting back into it," he said. "He possibly could be involved in the squad tomorrow."
David Norris is hoping to celebrate his 100th appearance for Argyle by getting on the scoresheet against Crewe at tomorrow. If selected, Norris will reach the career milestone at the same ground where he made debut for the Pilgrims in October 2002. "That would be very nice, especially as it's my 100th game," said Norris. "I would like that and I'm due a goal as well. I haven't scored since Nottingham Forest so hopefully I can get one tomorrow." Norris has fond memories of his debut for Argyle and said: "I remember being in the changing room before the game and I was really hyped up for it. I had all my family down and to score the winning goal on my debut, against a good team like that, was brilliant for me. I got the ball in the middle of the half and I just ran and ran with it. Then I let fly with the left foot and, luckily, it went in off the post." Norris has almost been an ever-present for the Pilgrims since his debut. "The time has flown by," he said. "It's nearly 100 games gone already in just over two years. That game against Crewe was probably the turning point of my career so far, and sorting out my move to Argyle. If you have a bad first game you might start getting a little bit down but I scored the winning goal on my debut. Things obviously went from strength to strength and I got the move permanently from Bolton a couple of months later. Over the two years, other than the start of this season, I have played just about every game I have been available for. It really has been a great two years for me." Crewe are level on points with Argyle in The Championship and Norris said: "They are a decent side and the big lad up front will definitely be a threat to us. They have been a solid side for a few years now so it will be a tough game but we are confident after our win against Burnley last Saturday. We had a lot of chances and shots, which we have been trying to work on in training. We are looking forward to it. Hopefully, we are going to show that we are learning from recent defeats."
Bobby Williamson has insisted that next month's FA Cup third-round tie with Everton should not be a distraction for his players. "The Cup tie won't be a distraction for me," he said. "I don't think the players should have an eye on it, either. They have to perform consistently well to be involved in that game, which is five weeks away. There's a lot of football to be played between now and then. From now on I won't be talking about the Cup tie. We're focused on our next game at Crewe and rightly so, because we want to do well in this division. We've got to try and show a bit of consistency results- wise. Form- wise I feel we're doing OK, we're playing reasonably well, but we could do with getting some more decent results." Williamsons last words about the Cup draw were: "It was a home draw, and that's what all managers favour. It's against Premiership opposition, which makes it interesting. Our fans will turn up in good numbers and in good voice, I hope, and I'm sure Everton will bring a good support with them. I'm hoping to progress, although it will be a very tall order. If Everton play as well as they can do and we do likewise, then they'll beat us. But we're hoping we can catch them on an off-day."
Peter Gilbert has insisted he and his team-mates are under no illusions about the task they face when Everton visit Home Park in the FA Cup third round but he promised they will not lose sight of the importance of the matches to be played before the January 8th clash. "I can't wait and the lads were really buzzing about it on Monday morning," he said. "I was watching the draw and Exeter got Manchester United but I was over the moon when we got ours. It's a chance for us to play against a quality side and put yourself against them and see how far you have come. It's going to be difficult, we are not under any illusions about that. Everton are doing really well and they are a very good team. But if we get someone down at Home Park we have always got half a chance because we work hard and we are a honest bunch of lads. We do the basics and try to keep it as simple as possible and put teams under pressure. With a home tie, I think we have got more chance of maybe causing an upset than playing at Goodison Park, even though that would have been a good experience. We can't really think about Everton just yet. We have got six very important games before then. They are massive. They could turn our season. If we pick up a few wins we are going to be up there, in or around the play-off positions. But if we have a few defeats then, all of a sudden, you are looking over your shoulder at the bottom end of the league. So, hopefully, we can get some good results and when the Everton game comes around we are in a bit of form and confidence is high. We will just give it our best shot and see what happens on the day. That is the beauty of the FA Cup. Everyone will be desperate to play in the game. You have got to play well in the next few games if you want to play in the cup tie. It's the same old cliché, but you have got to take one game as it comes and if you perform well you are going to be in the team. But I think whoever plays will go out there and give 110 per cent, and that's all you can ask for."
Argyle reserves won 4-1 at Bideford last night in the St Luke's Bowl. The goals were scored by John Routledge, Keith Lasley, Hasney Aljofree and Chris Zebroski. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Routledge, Aljofree, McCeever, Zebroski, Lasley, Hodges, Robotham, Yetton, Keith. Subs – Bond, Hoyles (not used - Drew, Reski)
Argyle's youth team will have another home tie in the FA Youth Cup should they beat Darlington in the third round next Tuesday. Victory would see them host Crewe Alexandra or Stockport County in a fourth round tie which must be played by January 22nd
Paul Connolly is more determined than ever to reclaim his place in the first team, after the FA Cup third-round draw. Liverpool-born Connolly is a long-time Everton fan and would love to play against the team he watched during his schooldays. "I was a season-ticket holder at Goodison Park for five or six years, until I came to Plymouth when I was 16," he said. "I went to every home game and four or five away matches each season. I was a proper Everton fan, along with all my mates. My favourite player was Duncan Ferguson, who has gone back to Goodison now. And I always remember Andrei Kanchelskis and Anders Limpar on the wings, terrorising defenders. I'll also always remember the 1995 FA Cup final, when we beat Manchester United. I went to Wembley and I was in the Tunnel End. It was great. I'll never forget that one, ever. Unfortunately I never got the chance to play for Everton's schoolboy sides. I was never approached by them, which was a shame. It would have been nice." Connolly has been kept out of the team by David Worrell, who has produced a series of steady displays in the right-back role. "That's just football," Connolly added. "There's nothing I can do, it's out of my hands. I've just got to get on with it and work hard. We'll see what happens, but it would be great to play against Everton."
Peter Gilbert has expressed his desire to play for Wales under new manager John Toshack. He said: "I'd spoken to John Toshack last Monday, so I knew all week that he was coming down, and he rang me on Friday to confirm it. Toshack told me: 'Work hard, play your normal game and forget that I'm here.' I wasn't too nervous, and I was just happy that he had thought about me. I must have a chance of being in his plans if he took the trouble to travel all the way down here. I was really pleased that he made the effort. I want to play international football and this is an opportunity for me. I want to carry on playing well for Argyle and hopefully Wales will be keeping an eye on how I'm doing. I'm not going to put extra pressure on myself, though. If Toshack likes me, he likes me. If he doesn't, I'll just carry on. But I want it to happen. I'm desperate for it to happen sooner rather than later. I really want to be involved and progress as quickly as I can." Bobby Williamson was pleased to see Toshack at Home Park. He said: "We want our players to be recognised at international level. John has done his job - he came along and watched Peter. I was a wee bit concerned that it might have got to Peter and put him off his game, but thankfully that wasn't the case. He performed well, I thought, and hopefully he did enough to impress his national manager."
Argyle are sending a strong side to Bideford for tonight's Devon St Luke's Challenge Bowl tie. Marino Keith, Paul Connolly, Lee Hodges, Hasney Aljofree, Keith Lasley and Stewart Yetton will all play and the rest of the side will be made up of youth-team players. Derek Boateng is still training with Argyle but is ineligible to play at Bideford ,or in any competitive fixture, and Argyle do not expect to be able to arrange a behind-closed-doors friendly in order to view him in action this week. Bobby Williamson will continue to watch Boateng in training while assessing whether a bid for the player is worthwhile. However, Williamson said: "If his club are looking for silly money, or a serious amount of money, then I don't think we've got that."
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe took part in training yesterday but seemed tentative when heading the ball, according to Bobby Williamson. "He did head the ball a few times, but not with the front part of his head," Williamson said. "He was trying to avoid that. I'll monitor that during the course of the week and, if I feel it's a concern to him, he won't be selected at Crewe." Lee Makel has been suffering from a stomach injury, but returned to training yesterday. "He seemed to disrupt some scar tissue from a hernia operation he had a while ago," Williamson said. "He sat up very quickly at home and put himself out of the game on Saturday I'm afraid. He's still in a bit of discomfort but it's nothing terribly bad by all accounts and I'm sure by the time the weekend comes around he should be fit and available for selection." Ryan Dickson was unavailable for action at the weekend because of a stomach bug, and was taken ill again during training yesterday
Bobby Williamson has warned his players not to be distracted by the prospect of the FA Cup tie against Everton. He said: "I don't think the players should have an eye on the cup tie because they have got to perform consistently well to be involved in that game. It is five weeks away and there is a lot of football to be played between now and then. I'm hoping our guys go out and perform as well as they can do. I don't think it will be a distraction at all." Williamson admitted his team faced a stern test against Everton. "Our fans will turn up in good numbers and good voice I hope, and I'm sure Everton will bring good support down with them because it is the FA Cup," he said. "I'm hoping to progress, although it will be a very tall order. If Everton play as well as they can do, and we do likewise, then Everton will beat us. But we are hoping that we will catch them on an off-day and we play as well as we can do. Then we have got a chance of progressing." David Moyes has already seen Argyle play this season, the 1-1 draw at Preston North End in September and Williamson said: "He has got one over on me. I have not managed to see Everton live yet although I see the Premiership goals on TV and some of the highlights. I have not had a close look at Everton but by the time the game comes around I'm sure we will have as much as information as we can get on board and be prepared for it."
Argyle have announced that Michael Dunford has been appointed the club's new chief executive. Dunford, who will take up his post on January 3rd, previously held the same position at Everton for 10 years before leaving in the summer. Dunford was at Home Park on Saturday and was sat alongside Wales manager John Toshack in the directors' box. Toshack was checking on the form of Argyle's Welsh under-21 international left-back Peter Gilbert
Bobby Williamson was fuming about the booking Mickey Evans received in the first half on Saturday. He was controversially shown the yellow card by Lee Probert for diving. Williamson said: "I thought Mickey Evans had a valid shout and to find himself on the receiving end of a yellow card is poor. The referee is closer than I am. I will have a look at it on TV and, hopefully, that can be a wee bit more conclusive."
Argyle are not putting up ticket prices for their FA Cup third-round tie against Everton. The board has agreed to keep ticket prices for the game at the same level as those for Championship games. Paul Stapleton said: "We are delighted with the support that we have received from the Green Army this season. Because the fans have backed us, we can now reciprocate their support. We saw absolutely no good reason to raise prices for the tie."
Bobby Williamson was delighted with Paul Wottons performance and goal when he returned to his more familiar defensive role on Saturday. He said: "Paul is the man who takes the penalties and I've not seen any reason to change that yet. You know he's going to miss one eventually, but you just hope it's not going to be a costly one. But thankfully he managed to put it away again. Paul loves that pressure. He has admitted that. He enjoys that pressure. That's why he's a good player, that's why he's playing. We need people that can thrive in those pressure situations and he certainly does that. He went out there and did a shift and he was exceptional on the day, along with quite a few others. I felt we deserved the points. We worked very, very hard and had most of the attempts on goal. It would have been a sore one to take if we'd dropped any points at all." One of many to impress Williamson was Tony Capaldi. "That was more like Tony," he said. "We've always been asking the questions: why he's not been penetrating, why he's not been positive and why he's not been getting crosses into the box. We know where the problem lies and we've put those ideas into Tony. He's learning and he's taken on board what we've said. We've seen a better attacking performance from him."
Argyle have drawn Everton at home in the third round of the FA Cup. Bobby Williamson welcomed the draw, but said that the tough opposition did not limit the teams cup ambitions. "We have got a home tie, which we are delighted about," he said, "but we want to do as well as we can in this competition and that has been made more difficult now." Paul Wotton also expressed his delight at the tie. "It's a great draw," he said. "We have now got a chance to see how we can do against the big boys." Tickets for the game will go on sale to Green Members on December 8th. Green members will have until close of business on December 28th to claim their seat, after which all unclaimed and other seats will go on sale. White and Pilgrim Members will be able to apply for a ticket from December 20th and any remaining tickets will then go on general sale from December 29th
Bobby Williamson felt Argyle were deserved winners yesterday. He said: "We're pleased. I felt we deserved the points today. We worked very, very hard, had most of the play and most of the attempts on goal. It would have been a sore one to take if we'd dropped any points at all. I thought we had a couple of valid claims for a penalty and never got them but the referee got that one right I think. There was certainly a hand up there. The ref's given it and thankfully Paul Wotton's got it because I thought we deserved the points. We worked very hard, had most of the play and most of the attempts on goal. It always crosses your mind it's going to be one of those days but you have got to be positive and keep pushing forward. If you don't push forward then you are not going to get the goals but thankfully we did. We put more crosses into the box than we have in the last five or six games - that was pleasing. We did get our heads on a few. I don't care when we get a goal. As long as we score one more than the opposition, I'll live with that. You've got to play 90-odd minutes to get the outcome."
Paul Wotton dedicated his game winning penalty today to his young son Alfie. He said: "Alfie hasn't been well for a few weeks and I promised him a goal today. Thankfully, I did it - not that he'll know. It was probably one of my best penalties. The keeper was nowhere near it. The ball hit the net before he even moved." Talking through the build-up to the goal, Wotton said: "My first thought was to take the corner as quickly as possible because I knew time was running out. I'd been trying to keep it way from their 'keeper all game, because he was a big old lump and he kept coming for things. Cocko headed it and I could see it was handball from where I was. He jumped with his hand it the air and it hit his hand. It took ages to get the ball. I put it on the spot and, as usual, all sorts of things go through your head - 'Shall I place it?' 'Shall I blast it?' One of their players went up to the 'keeper, and, if that happens, it's obvious what he's going to say - 'Just stand still'. My initial thought was to side-foot it, but then I thought I'd just ping it into the corner." Wotton revealed the squads relief that a four-game winless home streak had been ended. "If we didn't get three points today, the boys would have been low because we put so much into that game," he said. "We had numerous chances. We deserved three points and we needed three points." Wotton might have been handed an earlier chance to score when Mickey Evans was clearly fouled, but referee Lee Probert did not only refuse the penalty claims, but also booked Evans for diving. Wotton said: "Everyone in the ground thought it was a penalty except the one that matters. Mickey has been one of my best pals for years and the man can't dive and I don't think he ever will dive - he's one of the most honest men that's ever played the game."
Argyle beat Burnley 1-0 at Home Park, the goal scored by Paul Wotton with a 90th minute penalty. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Adams, Friio, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Hodges, Keith (not used - Lasley, Sturrock, Connolly). Attendance - 13,308. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Bobby Williamson is trying to line up some reserve team friendlies to keep all his players match fit before the busy Christmas and New Year programme as the reserves are not scheduled to have another game until January 11th. He said: "I will have a look and see if there are teams who can give us adequate games and try to keep these guys ticking over." Williamson was pleased with the way the players approached the game against Yeovil on Wednesday. "To be fair to our guys, they went about their business very professionally the other night," he said. "Their attitude was tremendous. Sometimes it's easy for senior players to switch off in these occasions. But credit to the lads, they all worked hard for the cause and done themselves justice. It has made my job more difficult, selection-wise, and that's what I'm looking for."
Steven Milne is set for an exploratory knee operation next week. Bobby Williamson said: "They are going to have a look at his knee and see what's going on in there. We are hoping it's nothing serious and it will just give the lad peace of mind if there's something to be tidied up and then he can put it behind him and move forward." Milne missed the first five months of last season with a knee injury, when he was at Dundee but Williamson has clarified that this is not a recurrence of that problem.
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe looks likely to miss todays game with Paul Maxwell describing his injury as the worst of its kind he has seen. Bobby Williamson said: "I'm going to leave it as late as possible and give him every chance of being available for selection but at this moment in time it's not looking too good. It normally only takes four or five days for this sort of injury to heal, but every injury is different and from a precautionary point of view it would probably be better if we leave him out. But I'll wait as long as possible before making a decision If he drops out, there are other players that are available for selection." Paul Wotton would almost certainly be asked to resume his role at the heart of the defence should Doumbe not make it whilst hos midfield berth could go to any one of Steve Adams, Lee Hodges, Keith Lasley and Lee Makel. However, Makel is one of two other players who are doubts for today's game. "Lee Makel and young Ryan Dickson might be unavailable for selection," Williamson said, "they've got a couple of problems."
Ghanaian international midfielder Derek Boateng has started a trial at Argyle. The 21-year-old, a former African young player of the year, is currently with Swedish side AIK Solna and was previously at Panathinaikos, for whom he played in the Champions League as a teenager. Bobby Williamson said: "He has got a decent pedigree and knows what the game is all about, but there are a lot of things to take into consideration when you are dealing with foreign players. He's under contract to his Swedish club and they are looking for a transfer fee, which will be negotiable if we decide he's a player we want to sign. In the meantime I'm trying to get as much information on him as I can. I'm watching him in training and I'm trying to arrange a behind-closed-doors game next week to have a better look at him."
Argyle will renew their rivalry with Burnley tomorrow with Paul Wotton the only survivor from the last meeting between the clubs, which led to Argyle's relegation in May 1998. Wotton said: "A few of the fans have mentioned the rivalry with Burnley this week and obviously, I played in the relegation game and everybody has seen the pictures afterwards. But it doesn't really matter to the players. It's a game we need to win, and we will be looking to win. Whether it's Burnley or Barcelona it doesn't really make any difference who we are playing. It's good we are playing each other now in a higher league than we did back then so it shows the progress of both clubs. Steve Cotterill is their manager as well, who we had some real good tussles with when he was at Cheltenham. They were always a tough team to play against. They were big, strong and physical and I'm sure Burnley will be similar. I think they have had some good results of late and pushed up the league. They have done well away from home as well so we are under no illusions. It will be a tough game. But it's a game we are definitely looking forward to and everybody in the changing room is very positive about it."
Bobby Williamson is still unsure whether Mathias Kouo-Doumbe will be fit to face Burnley tomorrow. He said: "Mat is my only concern for tomorrow. We will see how tender the injury is and we will give him every opportunity to be available for selection." If passed fit, Doumbe will need some sort of protection for the head wound and Williamson added: "I think that would be advisable. It will be a headband-type thing with a bit of padding underneath I would imagine. We will see how he is once he has had his stitches removed and see if he can header the ball properly. If there is any doubt at all we will not take any chances with him." Hasney Aljofree made his comeback from a shoulder injury in the reserves' win at Yeovil on Wednesday, but he is not being considered as a replacement for Doumbe. Williamson said: "It has come a wee bit early for Has but I haven't got any problems there. I think we have got players who can come in and do an adequate job." Williamson is aware that there is a lot of history between Argyle and Burnley. He said: "I'm well aware of that, but it doesn't come into my thoughts or reckoning because every game, as far as I'm concerned, is a big, important one for us. We want to win every game if we can and we will hopefully give a good account of ourselves tomorrow. It could be a stuffy affair. They have been playing 4-1-4-1, even at home at times, and it has been successful for them so they might go that way tomorrow. If they do then the fans will need to be patient. If they stand by us and encourage us then, hopefully, we will not let them down. They are not conceding a lot of goals and we are not scoring a lot of goals so you can read into that what you may. We are hoping somebody will get a break tomorrow, hit the back of the net and go on a purple patch. It has been difficult in recent home games. Teams have shown us a lot of respect by sitting in and defending in numbers. Obviously, we have got to be careful about that because they are all very good at counter attacking so we can't throw too many bodies forward in case we get caught at the back."
Ryan Dickson and Blair Sturrock scored two goals apiece as Argyle Reserves beat Yeovil Town Reserves 4-3 last night. Hasney Aljofree got 70 minutes under his belt in his comeback game and Marino Keith played the whole game. Stuart Gibson said: "It was a really good workout, especially for the first team lads, who needed the minutes on the field. We played some good football - apart from a mad few minutes at the end of the first-half - and there was a good tempo to our game. Marino Keith got 90 minutes under his belt, and we gave Aljofree 70 minutes, and he had no problems on his comeback game. Dickson really caught the eye - he had an excellent game." Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Routledge, Aljofree, McKeever, Adams, Hodges, Dickson, Lasley, Keith, Sturrock. Subs – Laird (not used - Summerfield, Bond, Reski, Hoyles)
Bobby Williamson does not consider that there is any pressing need to turn to the transfer market to bring in more competition for his two first-choice forwards at present: "There are places in the squad that we could fill, but I'm not going to fill them with mediocrity," he said. "Any players we sign have got to be better than what we've got. We could bring players in, there are plenty available, but I'm not going to sign players just for the sake of it, or just to appease fans who think we should be strengthening certain areas of the team. People are saying we're short of strikers just now. How many strikers do we need? We need three. That's all we need at this moment in time. If something happens to two of those three, then we've got a serious problem, but at the moment I don't think we have got a serious problem - although we would like to be putting the ball in the back of the net more often. Every club in the League would like to be doing that. Scoring goals is the hardest part of the game and, at this level, it's well documented that if you can afford to spend a million or two on players who can score goals then it makes all the difference. But we're not in a position to spend two million on a striker, and not many teams are. There is always room to improve and we will never sit back and think we are the finished article. People will say 'are you happy with your team?' and 'are you happy with your squad?' Sure, I'm happy with it, but it could be better. If you ask the same question to Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho they will all say there are players who can strengthen them, and we are no different. I speak to a lot of supporters, and there are a lot of supporters who probably don't like what they are seeing at this moment in time, but I think they are in the minority. I think the majority of fans are thinking 'yeah, we are a decent team' and they appreciate what we are trying to do. That makes it all the better for us and makes me work harder to try to please the good supporters we have got out there. They pay good money to come and see us home and away. That's why I work as hard as I do to try to get the best team on the park to entertain those fans and win games."
Everton will not be following up their interest in Mathias Doumbe. Sources on Merseyside have confirmed that scouts from Everton have been monitoring the form of Doumbe over the past month but although Doumbe has been outstanding, the Premiership club are not expected to make an offer for him
Bobby Williamson has called on his players to tighten up defensively. He said: "We have got to work harder at stopping crosses into our box. I was working on that with the full-backs and the centre-backs last Thursday. Unfortunately, some of the players never saw the importance of doing that and we allowed a couple of crosses to come into our box and we conceded goals from them. It is a concern and we have got to keep highlighting this to players and stressing to them the importance of stopping crosses coming into the box. That's on-going and it's up to the players to show me they can take this on board and become better players for it. On certain occasions we have not dealt with it as well as I would have liked and that can't go on forever. We have got to start showing that we are learning lessons, starting on Saturday." Williamson believes Argyle should take confidence from their performance against Leicester, apart from the first 10 minutes of the second half when City got both of their goals. "You look at the game immediately afterwards and you can only see the negatives," he said. "But when you actually look at the game we played well. It was only that 10-minute spell after half-time when they had their tails up and got at us. They hadn't troubled Romain the whole game really. I can't remember him having a save. You have got to look at that and take heart from it and say we can trouble most teams in this league, home and away. We have got to look at the positives now and pick the players up because they were bitterly disappointed not to get anything out of the game. We had a huge travelling support and we thank them for their backing, but we lost the game and sent them home disappointed. We have got to try to make it up to them this weekend."
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