A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle will guard against wear and tear of the Home Park pitch by limiting the number of concerts they stage there. Paul Stapleton is determined the standard of the playing surface will not be compromised, and despite being given a licence by Plymouth City Council earlier this year to stage up to four concerts each summer at Home Park, he admitted it was unlikely they would ever arrange that many because of the possible effects on the pitch. Stapleton said: "We have got to take into consideration how many concerts the people of Plymouth can afford, and we have always got to be conscious of the pitch itself. Colin Wheatcroft is working away feverishly to make sure it is ready for the new season. He's probably glad there has been a lot of rain lately because that helps the grass grow! I know he was concerned about the boards that covered the pitch for the Sir Elton John concert, but it's a learning curve for us in some respects. We have got a brilliant groundsman and we love him to pieces. We want to give him every support we can so I don't think you will ever see four concerts in a summer." Around 23,000 people packed inside Home Park for the concert by Elton John on May 26th, and an estimated 17,000 saw George Michael. Stapleton added: "There are a range of performers you can have and, maybe, we might look at a group for younger people next year." Argyle are one of an increasing number of clubs whose grounds are staging music events in the close season. Stapleton said: "We are on the concert circuit with Coventry, Hull, Ipswich and Bristol City, who we have got a good affinity with. We are in the game now. For years, we were little old Plymouth out on a limb. Now we are a Championship club and all these people are our equals and because of that we think we have got great opportunities."
Ian Holloway plans to arrange a series of friendlies for the club's reserve team next season. Holloway does not believe the standard of football in the Combination is good enough, and is prepared to take the reserves 'all across the country' to get them games against decent opposition. He said: "Unfortunately, the standard of reserve team football down here is awful and we have got to try to do something about it. I might play the youth team in the reserves' league and arrange friendlies all across the country for the other lads. Gordon Bennett has already done that with the under-18s. They played a friendly at Arsenal last season and are playing against Liverpool at their academy next month. Not being funny, but I could easily get a friendly against Chelsea after helping them out with Scott Sinclair last season." Tim Breacker and Des Bulpin will share responsibility for the reserves next season, and Mike Pejic will also assist them from time to time. Geoff Crudgington took the reserves last season but Holloway wants him to concentrate on other duties. Holloway said: "Mike will be asked to step up and assist because a lot of his lads will be involved." Argyle's five first-year professionals, Paul Kendall, Jake Moult, Daniel Smith, Martin Watts and Anthony Mason, can expect to see regular action with the reserves next season, whether that is in the Combination or in friendlies. Holloway said: "They will start off training with the youth team because we have got quite a few numbers in the senior squad. But they will join us for weights sessions in the mornings and, every now and then, they will come and train with us." Holloway believes all five have the ability to make their mark at Home Park. "I wouldn't have signed them if I didn't think they had a reasonable chance of being a first team player within two years," he added.
Argyle's first team squad return to work on Monday after their two-month summer break. The squad will be based at Marjons College for the first three weeks of pre-season training. Ian Holloway will start off with a team meeting on Monday morning, when he will outline what he expects from his players. Then, after lunch, Holloway and his coaching staff will take the squad - plus three un-named foreign trialists - for their first session at Marjons. Holloway said: "We will be training at Marjons for the first three weeks of pre-season. That is so we can keep off our training ground for a little longer and get that to the best standard possible. Hopefully, when we get back from Austria, it will be in fantastic condition and we can start using it then." Argyle's first team squad will use both pitches at Harper's Park next season, instead of sharing them with the club's apprentices, who will be based elsewhere. Holloway said: "If we can't buy a new training ground, we will adapt and overcome. The indoor and outdoors facilities at Marjons are wonderful and I'm sure we will be in our element up there. We will probably use the gym at Home Park at the start of every day before going up to Marjons for two training sessions either side of lunch. It has taken a bit of organising but I think it will work out very well." All the Argyle squad, with the exception of Akos Buzsaky, have been back to Home Park during the summer to have their fitness levels checked. Buzsaky was excused because he was on international duty with Hungary in early June. Holloway said: "We had some fantastic results when they came in, so I'm really pleased with them. You can't stand over somebody and force them to do it but, hopefully, they understand the importance of it. They should be even fitter by the time they come back and we can then get the footballs out straight away." Part of the strict fitness regime next season will be regular early morning weight training session in the players' gym at Home Park. Holloway added: "It's something we will be doing on a regular basis to build up their bodies and get them stronger and fitter. It might take a couple of weeks to get used to it but, I can assure you, they will enjoy doing it. Everything we do is aimed at bringing a Premiership culture to Plymouth Argyle. We are paying them to play football and we are taking over control of how fit they are. Next summer they will look even better on the beaches, the lucky so-and-sos! They are going to have to come in an hour earlier to work on their bodies. Their wives and girlfriends will be delighted with the results and, hopefully, it will show on the pitch."
Ian Holloway has confirmed that Nick Chadwick would be fit for the start of pre-season training. He said: "Chadders is absolutely flying at the moment, so full credit to him. He has obviously been working very hard. I wouldn't like to be his training partner!"
Ian Holloway is confident of completing the signing of Kevin Gallen. Gallen has been offered a one-year contract by Argyle this week and they are awaiting his response. Holloway said: "I'm very, very hopeful indeed that Kevin will sign for us. I talked to his agent a couple of days ago and then spoke to the board of directors. I'm delighted they have agreed to support me in this. Kevin has been around a bit, and been to other clubs and not done as well as he should have, but I still believe he could add a lot to us. Hopefully, we can come up with a deal which Kevin agrees is right and the club agrees is right." Meanwhile, Holloway has still to decide whether to add another defender to his squad after Hasney Aljofree moved to Swindon Town last week. Holloway said: "I'm looking at that scenario, but I have already brought in Krisztian Timar this summer. I have also got Mathias Doumbe and Marcel Seip who can play there, and Gary Sawyer could go back there with Lee Hodges at left-back. The honest answer is that I'm not sure whether I want another centre-back. If there was somebody out there who caught my eye I might consider it. But they would have to be able to double up, and play left centre-back and left-back, or right centre-back and right-back. I'm still a little short of cover for Paul Connolly at right-back." An option for Holloway at centre-back is Paul Wotton, who is currently recovering from a cruciate knee ligament operation. Holloway added: "I think he's a centre midfield player but I would probably consider him for right-back, depending on who we were playing. If he was going to be up against a tricky, flying winger then I wouldn't play him there. But if the other team had an out-and-out left-sided midfield player I could decide to do that." However, Holloway did not rule out playing Wotton at centre-back. "He has great experience and organisational skills, but I would have to have the right blend in the back line," he said. "I don't think I would ever play him and Krisztian Timar together. But I might play him and Mathias Doumbe, or him and Marcel Seip."
Paul Stapleton has ordered an immediate clean-up of the area at Home Park known as Pilgrims Way. The rows of fans bricks behind the Devonport Stand has become overgrown with weeds and moss and some of the bricks are discoloured, which has lead to complaints. Stapleton said: "Obviously things like the weeds can be dealt with pretty quickly. If there is discolouration in the bricks we will have to look at the quality of the bricks that came in the first place and see what can be done. It's a special place and we sold it on that basis. Therefore, it should be given more care and attention. I have made that clear to the people at the club who should be in control of this area that they should get their act together and make sure it's monitored on a regular basis. In fact, I think myself and the other directors will make regular visits to make sure it's in order. All we can do is apologise to anybody who is upset about the condition it is in at the moment. We will make sure it doesn't happen again."
Mickey Evans wants the people of Plymouth and the Westcountry to be the beneficiaries of his testimonial season. At the testimonial launch yesterday, he said: "I'm born and bred in Plymouth, and I want the fans who support my testimonial season and all the corporate people who get involved to know that they will be giving something back to the community. All the charities will be local charities. We've got big ambitions for this year, we want to make it as big and as bold as we can, and hopefully everyone will follow it through with us." Evans hopes that the emphasis on raising funds for local charities will encourage Westcountry folk to turn out and support his events in strength. "I was lucky to have a great career, in which I wouldn't have changed anything," he said. "Doing my testimonial year this way just felt right for me and my family, who as always have given me their full support." Paul Stapleton and his fellow directors attended yesterday's launch, and Evans added: "The club have been brilliant so far. Hopefully they will help us as much as they can. We'll be exchanging ideas as we continue to plan the year's events. I know it will take a lot of effort to get everything organised, for which I want to thank my committee, but it's going to be a big year. It will be good."
Argyle's home game with Cardiff City will be shown live on Sky Sports. The match, on September 15th,, will now kick-off at 5.20
Plans for a testimonial for Mickey Evans were announced today. Evans' testimonial committee will be staging a series of charity events over the course of the forthcoming season, possibly culminating in a testimonial match at Home Park
Argyle start pre-season training next Monday and Ian Holloway is looking forward to the first pre-season friendly, at Weston-Super-Mare, on July 11th. Holloway said: "I'm delighted we are kicking off our pre-season campaign at Weston-Super-Mare; it's a Weston-Super-Place to go! We have been looking forward to the fixture ever since we knew we would be starting off at the Woodspring Stadium. I'm very impressed with the facilities. The pitch looks great and the North Stand is a credit to the club. Let's hope both clubs can look forward to something to celebrate at the end of the 2007/08 campaign."
Hasney Aljofree has spoken of his gratitude to Ian Holloway following his transfer to Swindon Town. Aljofree said: "I had a few difficult times last season and Ollie stood by me. He was always there for me. He's a diamond geezer, as they say in London. I would like to take this chance to say 'thank you' to him. He's a special man with a lot of qualities and I hope everything goes well for him. I also had a good relationship with the chairman and all the directors." Aljofree had some words for the Green Army too. He added: "I have always given 100 per cent for Plymouth Argyle and I'm sure the fans know that. I would like to thank them for all their support." Aljofree spent five seasons with Argyle, and the highlight of his time at the club was the title-clinching win against QPR in April 2004. "That was an unbelievable day," he said. "Everything was riding on that one game and the lads put in a fantastic performance. It will always stick in my mind. Plymouth are now an established Championship club, but had we lost that game who knows where they would be now?" Aljofree admitted he would follow the fortunes of Argyle as they try to improve on their final league position of 11th last season. He said: "It's always going to be tough for a club like Plymouth in the Championship because they don't have the financial clout of other teams. I just hope they have another season of progression next year and, with everyone working hard for each other, I think they can do that."
Argyle's Carling Cup first round game against Wycombe Wanderers at Home Park has been confirmed for August 14th, with a 7.45pm kick-off. Admission will cost £15 for adults and £5 for concessions
Hasney Aljofree admitted he had mixed emotions after completing his transfer from Argyle to Swindon Town. He said: "It's a sad day for me personally. The best part of my career has been at Plymouth Argyle and I'm gutted to be leaving after five excellent years. But, at the same time, I'm excited about the new challenge ahead of me at Swindon Town. It's mixed emotions really. I have really enjoyed my time in Plymouth - not just on the football pitch but off it as well. I have got lots of friends outside football, but in football you can never be somewhere all the time. It's part and parcel of the job. I gave my all to the club and every year I have been there we have progressed, either getting into a higher division or a higher position. I'm proud of that and I will be leaving Plymouth with some fantastic memories and fantastic friends." Aljofree played an important part in Argyle's progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals last season but, after serving a suspension, he could not break back into the first team and sat out the defeat by Watford. Aljofree said: "I was sick not to be involved in that game, especially after what I had done in the earlier rounds of the cup. It was probably one of the lowest points in my career." Aljofree had played in the centre of defence for Argyle in their 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday five days before the FA Cup quarter-final. "I thought I had a good game so when I wasn't even in the 16 against Watford it was really hard for me. It was a bitter pill to swallow," he added. "I never really had a look in after that and I just had the feeling my future was going to be away from Plymouth Argyle."
Hasney Aljofree has left Argyle to join Swindon Town in a £50,000 transfer. Paul Stapleton paid tribute to the contribution made by Aljofree over the past five years. He said: "I wish Hasney all the best and I thank him for the service he has given to Plymouth Argyle. He's a good footballer and has done very well for us. I wish him well in his new married life, and in his new career at Swindon."
Michael Dunford has welcomed the developments at Home Park, regarding seating on the Maylower Terrace, and other ground improvements. "Closing the terrace was not a palatable solution for anybody in the boardroom," he said. "That will keep the capacity up around the 20,000 mark. I know we only averaged 13,100 last season, but we hope that gates will increase next season. The seats will give a very good level of comfort. I've sat in them myself, and I'm very tall. We've also held the price to £18, which is what people paid for terracing last season. We think that's reasonable, and it's the best solution we can come up with." The chief executive is also pleased that improvements to Home Park's lighting and sound systems are taking place. "Both are long awaited," he added. "The two remaining floodlight towers will come down and will be replaced by a modern lighting system which can be integrated fully into any further ground development that takes place in the future. It will virtually double the illumination levels within the stadium, which were inadequate. Likewise, the public-address system is tired and antiquated. We had two different systems operating simultaneously, which was far from ideal, so the board has decided to rip out both of them and put in a state-of-the-art system."
The Argyle board today announced three major summer initiatives for Home Park. The Board has decided to install 3,500 seats on the former Mayflower terracing area. It has also been decided that this will be an unreserved area for League games. Paul Stapleton said: "We've had a good look at the temporary seats and we are very pleased with the quality and the comfort they will afford our supporters. It is a long-awaited decision, particularly for the 900 supporters who have renewed their season-tickets for this area." Match-ticket pricing for the Mayflower enclosure seating area has been set at £18 for adults, irrespective of whether tickets are purchased in advance or on the day of the game. The new Mayflower enclosure will be open in time for the pre-season friendly with Bristol Rovers on August 4th. The board has also decided to install a new public address system, which will be designed to provide the highest quality sound for music and announcements. In addition to that, the floodlight system at Home Park will be upgraded. The two remaining floodlight towers will be demolished and a new system installed, which can be integrated into any further developments made to the stadium. "It was important from an entertainment perspective that supporters can see we are making progress and the new public address system and upgraded floodlights are a major part of this process," added Stapleton. "We feel these are all positive stories for our supporters and we hope the Green Army will be pleased to see that the Board is continuing to improve facilities off the field as well as supporting Ian Holloway's squad strengthening plans."
Nick Chadwick should be fit for the start of pre-season training in 12 days' time. Chadwick and Paul Wotton have been working out at Home Park throughout the summer, and Paul Maxwell has been hugely impressed with the effort put in by both players. He said: "Since the final game of last season, they have had a family holiday each and that's it. Otherwise, they have been at the ground day in and day out. During my eight years at the club, I can only think of two or three other players who have worked as hard as they have to get back to fitness. You couldn't really ask for anybody better than them. Chadwick should be there or thereabouts for the first day of pre-season training. He will be ready to do all the running and we will introduce him gradually through the ball work. As for Wottsie, he's flying at the moment. He's nearly 90 per cent through his rehabilitation programme and we should finish that in the next couple of weeks. Then we are going to go into specific work, such as kicking the ball, jumping and hurdles." The plan is for Wotton to travel with the rest of the Argyle squad to their training camp in Austria. "I'm hoping we will be able to get some really good, intensive work done while we are over there," said Maxwell. Wotton has an appointment with Dr Andrew Williams, the surgeon who carried out his knee operation, in London next Wednesday. Maxwell added: "Before we go into the ball work, jumping and hurdles, I want the surgeon to have a look at Wottsie so he can go into it with confidence."
Argyle have lined up some of the best young players in the Premiership as possible loan signings for next season. Scott Sinclair is one of them, with Ian Holloway confirming he has asked Jose Mourinho about taking him on a long-term loan. Holloway said: "I have left a message with Mr Mourinho and asked him if he would let me have Scott Sinclair on a season-long loan. I have done that with a few other Premiership managers as well. Gary Penrice has identified some of the best young talent in the country and we have asked if we can borrow them. We have inquired about six or seven players. If all the managers come back and say 'yes' I could be going 'holy mackerel!', but I don't think they will. I don't know if any of them will say 'yes' but all you can do is try, and we are trying our very best. Penny has done a marvellous job. It's fantastic the work he has done and it has given me a nice summer. He has seen the players, and I have seen them as well, so we both know what we are dealing with. As far as I'm concerned, they would definitely add to us." Meanwhile, Paul Wotton and Nick Chadwick have been given a two-week break from their rehabilitation programmes. Holloway said: "They have both worked really hard and now they have gone away for a couple of weeks, which is something they are due. Hopefully, when we start back in two weeks' time it will be good news all round."
Ian Holloway believes it is important that Argyle groundsman Colin Wheatcroft gets the best possible equipment to prepare the Home Park pitch. The stadium will be staging a George Michael concert tomorrow night, and Wheatcroft will then have six-and-a-half weeks to work on the pitch before Argyle play Bristol Rovers on August 4th. Holloway said: "We aren't a bish, bash, bosh team. We are a football team. The better the pitch the better we play. I think our results last season proved that. When we had a bit of a dodgy playing surface in the winter we didn't get the results we were hoping for, but, all of a sudden, it firmed up and away we went."
Ian Holloway plans to hold talks with Kevin Gallen this weekend over a possible return to Home Park. Holloway said: "It's quite quiet at the moment, but I expected that. We have got a decent squad. The biggest thing we had to do was to sort out Peter and Krisztian because I felt they really added to us. Now I'm trying to negotiate my way around the Kevin Gallen situation. I'm still to get hold of him, but I intend to do that in the next couple of days. I don't think he will be short of offers so we will have to see how the land lies with him. I shall be looking at that and will be reporting back to the board of directors at their meeting on Monday." Gallen has also been linked with a move to Watford, and Holloway confirmed earlier this month he would only be prepared to give him a one-year contract at this stage of his career. Meanwhile, the manager has confirmed that Argyle have not received offers for any of their players so far this close season. He said: "I would be very surprised if I don't get some offers because I thought we played very well last season. "According to Gary Penrice it's because clubs can't be bothered sending people down here. It's too far for them, if you can believe that. The only time they send people to watch us is when we are in and around London." Holloway is now counting down the days until the squad report for the start of pre-season training on July 2nd. He said: "It doesn't take long does it? It's only two weeks away and I'm looking forward to it."
Paul Stapleton believes Argyle's chances of improving next season will depend heavily on them winning more matches at Home Park. They had only 10 victories in 23 home league games last term, with eight draws. Stapleton said: "We had some fantastic away wins last season, at Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Norwich. That was one of our faults, going a few years back. We couldn't win outside Devon. Now we have just got to tighten up our home form and turn some of the draws into wins. Graham Coughlan came down a couple of weeks ago for a wedding and I got talking to him. He said to me, 'Don't forget, people hate coming to Plymouth. They don't like it.' So let's make it a strength. QPR is an intimidating place when you go there because it's a tight ground and their fans are very loud, and we have got to do that as well." Argyle's attendances have dwindled over the past two years, and last season the average figure dropped to 13,012, while crowds elsewhere across the division increased. Stapleton said: "Gates in our division last season went up from 16 million to 16,500,000, but that may have been partly because Birmingham City and Sunderland had been relegated. They both get good gates, especially Sunderland when they are doing well. Burnley told me when we first played them in the Championship, that our gates would drop for three years because the novelty would wear off. Theirs did, and ours did. I'm just hoping it has reached the bottom and people will say we have got a team that plays attractive football, we have got some really good players and we have invested in the club. The gates last season were disappointing - I had budgeted for over 14,000 - but I can't tell anybody how to spend their money. We started with 15,900 for Wolves, which was more than I had budgeted for, but towards the end we were lucky to get 10,000 or 11,000, and that really is depressing. There are going to be some strong teams in this league next season, we know that, but our aim is to get towards the top 10 and into the play-offs. The season-ticket sales so far are encouraging. They are higher than the previous year, so that's good, because they had dropped two years in a row." Argyle's best home attendance in the Championship last season was 17,088 for the visit of Leeds United in November. Stapleton added: "I was desperate for Leeds to stay up and for Yeovil or Nottingham Forest to come up. It's not because I'm a fan for any of those clubs, but because of the gates. People say, 'Is that all you are worried about?' Yes, it is. Four thousand extra people came to watch Leeds at Home Park because it was Leeds. Well, come and watch Argyle because we didn't get into administration and we didn't get relegated. We are hopeful next season the average gate will go back up to the 14,000 mark - 14,500 if we can. We have got to be positive. We have had the signing of the two Hungarians and there is a chance of some good loan players again, to add to the strength of our team. We will also have Paul Wotton coming back from injury, which is like having a new player. We are pleased with where we are and what we have got, but that's not to say we are resting on our laurels. I'm pretty sure Gary Penrice is looking at every position, trying to get a better player for each one. That's what you do when you try to progress."
Ian Holloway will take his team to Hull on August 11th for the first fixture of next season, little more than three months since ending the previous campaign at the KC Stadium. "It's ironic that we finished last season there and we'll be starting there all over again," he said. "At least I'll have some fresh reports on them! Although they will probably bring in some new players during the summer. Ever since Derby won the play-offs, we've known which sides we will be playing, but it's real now - we know where we're going and when we're going there, so we can start planning." The fixtures include long-haul midweek trips to Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and Scunthorpe, and Holloway sympathised with the fans. "I am looking forward to next season and to seeing the wonderful Green Army out in force whenever it's humanely possible," he said, "but some of the games on Tuesday nights are so far away, it's going to be impossible for them. It's not right." Holloway could be in for a rough ride on March 15th, when Argyle visit Bristol City, and he added: "I will get myself a suit of armour by then." However, the manager has not delved too deeply into the fixture-list. "I've never looked at the fixtures in great detail," he said. "We have got to play everyone at some time and we know we will have to be on our game when we do because we want to move forward. So it's onwards and upwards."
Paul Stapleton is convinced there is a 'good chance' that Scott Sinclair could return for another loan spell with the club next season. He said: "As far as loans are concerned, it's very unusual to get players from Premiership clubs until August or September, when they have had their pre-season and things have settled down. Queens Park Rangers have got two loan players from Chelsea already, so they are a bit ahead of the game. They had them last season and have arranged to keep them now. But they have only got them until Christmas because of the African Nations' Cup. People know the player we had on loan was starting to break into the first team at Chelsea but was then injured. He has made a name for himself, and we hope to be in with a shout of getting him next season. Everything we did for the lad, and for Chelsea, was done right so we have got a chance - a good chance I would think - but you just never know." Sinclair recently returned to Plymouth to visit the landlady he stayed with while he was at Argyle. Stapleton added: "He came down to see her last week, just to say 'thank you' and to keep in touch with her. Now, that's brilliant. Hopefully, that means he has an affinity and an affection for the place. We met his parents and his family when he was here last season and we couldn't have done any more. There is one thing about Plymouth Argyle - we look after our loan players. QPR are sitting there laughing most of the time because they can pick up anybody from London clubs as they don't have to move house. We have always known we are out on a limb geographically. We can't help that - that's the way it is. So we have got to do what we can to make people feel at home."
Paul Stapleton has high hopes for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake after his successful first season at Argyle. Stapleton said: "To me, Peter Halmosi made Sylvan a better player. I'm pretty confident that Sylvan, with the form he showed at the end of the season, has got every chance of scoring 20 goals next year. The way he was playing, and with the service that was coming in from Peter, I can see him doing it. Sylvan has learned a lot off Barry Hayles, and from his sessions with Gary Penrice. I can see him being full of confidence and scoring the goals that we will need to maintain a good chance next year." Ian Holloway was away when Ebanks-Blake visited Plymouth for the first time last summer, but was very keen for Argyle to complete a deal with him. Stapleton said: "Phill Gill and I went down to the Barbican with Sylvan and had a meal with him in one of the restaurants. We showed him the Hoe foreshore. It was a lovely day. The sun was shining and there were ships out at sea. We had been told he was the star player of the future and that Watford wanted him so we had to do what we could to attract him. The full price on Sylvan is £350,000, depending on the total amount of games played. He has got through part of that process already. He was our record signing at the time, although it wasn't splashed around then because it was one of these instalment based things. We put £200,000 down, so that was a gamble on an untried youngster, really, but we backed Ian and Gary Penrice." The signing of Ebanks-Blake was soon followed by that of Barry Hayles, for £100,000 from Millwall. Stapleton added: "I remember doing the deal with Millwall for Hayles. I was going on holiday to America but my plane was delayed for four hours so I managed to conclude it and then get him on the pre-season trip to Austria." Holloway added Marcel Seip to his squad. Stapleton said: "Marcel certainly proved to be a very worthwhile asset. He was a free transfer in the real sense of the thing but we had to pay agents to find him for us, which wasn't cheap." Come the January transfer window, Holloway completed the capture of Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar on loan. Stapleton said: "At the time, we were doing alright but we thought we could do with some reinforcements. Ian came and asked me, 'Where am I up to on the budget?' and I said, 'You are over it'. He told me he had a chance of getting two Hungarians so I talked to the board about it. I said, 'We are going to get them on loan, pay the loan fee and their wages, but we must agree a transfer fee if we do decide to buy them - but it's over the budget. Are you prepared to back that?' The board said 'Yes', even though we were going to be over budget." After a slow start at Home Park, Halmosi was a revelation by the end of the season and Argyle paid a record transfer fee of £400,000 for him last month. Stapleton said: "I went to Norwich when Halmosi made his debut and I thought he was one of the best players I had ever seen. I just thought he had a great work ethic and such skill. And we got a fantastic win, which is not usual at Norwich. I think it's well documented he struggled on the 'pudding' pitches in the winter, but also with the new culture and his family weren't over here. I think there was a situation where the jury was out, although I, personally, had seen enough in that game at Norwich. It was the same with Timar. He was outstanding in his first game, which was Wolves away, and also against Derby and Colchester. Ian didn't play Timar towards the end of the season so you thought, 'Hang on a minute, is it worth paying £75,000 for someone who hasn't been in the team?' But then you thought, 'He has done enough in the games he did really well in to justify that sort of money anyway'. There are games in this division when you are up against a Steve Howard or Grzegorz Rasiak and you need a 6ft 3in centre-half who can match those players. But there are a number of games where you need quick, mobile central defenders like Marcel and Doumbe to play against Robert Earnshaw, for example." Stapleton added: "As far as Halmosi was concerned, the crowd were singing, 'Sign him on' come the end of the season. But if there were any doubters at all in the boardroom they had made their minds up because his performances were fantastic."
Argyle will play Wycombe Wanderers at home in the first round of next season's Carling Cup. The tie will probably take place at Home Park on Tuesday, August 14th. Ian Holloway's said: "I'm happy we've got a home tie - now we've got to make sure we don't get the same result against another 'W' team. With Watford knocking us out of the FA Cup, we don't want a 'WWW' - we want to be the dot in the next round of the cup." With the announcement of the first fixture of the season, Holloway admitted he couldn't wait for the start of the campaign. "It's coming ever closer," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it. We're aiming to make steady progress again, looking to take the next step."
Paul Stapleton has not ruled out Argyle making further signings this summer. Stapleton also revealed that Argyle made offers totalling more than £1m for Oldham striker Chris Porter and Gillingham winger Matt Jarvis last season. Stapleton said: "As a board, we have never turned Ian down on anything. We made a £300,000 offer for Jarvis in November, which was rejected, and a £750,000 offer for Chris Porter in January. But Porter was going to be out of contract this summer so, therefore, didn't want to move. And he thought Oldham would go up anyway. Now, while we have never once turned Ian down, that's not to say we won't ever turn him down. But I think Ian is sensible enough to realise that if you have got 26 pros I don't really fancy buying another one or two to put in the Grandstand - because we might need the seats!" Stapleton believes Argyle have a strong squad with Holloway having plenty of talented players to choose form. He said: "We have got 26 professionals, which is certainly the most we have had in my time at the club. I spoke to some clubs when I was in Portugal for the Football League chairmen's conference last week and they have only got 10 or 12 players. They are scrambling to get people in, but we are sitting back saying 'We could put out a team that would give anyone a good game'. You could pick a team that looks quite strong and leave some good players on the bench, and leave some good players in the Grandstand." Stapleton added that, including agents' fees, Argyle had spent £1.3m on players in the past year. He said: "I don't know if Plymouth Argyle has ever spent that amount in a year before. I know when Dan McCauley first came in, he got Poole, Castle and Dalton, but I don't think that was over £1m. I think it was £800,000, and he sold Edworthy around that sort of time. We haven't sold anybody. So, really, we have invested in the team and basically that's to show to Ian that we are willing to support him. In fact, the wages budget for last year was the highest it has been in the club's history." Argyle have had clubs inquiring about some of their players this close season, but there have been no firm offers for any of them
Paul Stapleton still feels bitterness over the departure of Tony Pulis, 12 months after his departure. He said: "We got Tony in and he did a good job in steadying the ship. He really was a very safe pair of hands. The only thing we didn't know was that we were transitory for him. We were a stop-gap. Once Peter Coates was going to buy Stoke back, Tony had made his mind up. He had only left there because of the Icelandic people, and I understand that. But I would have appreciated him coming to me at the end of the season." During Pulis's spell with Argyle he signed Elliott Ward from West Ham United and Vincent Pericard from Portsmouth, both on three-month loans. Argyle were keen on buying Ward, but he ended up moving to Coventry City for £1 million soon after Pulis quit. Stapleton said: "Tony signed Vincent Pericard for Stoke two days after he went there. And we didn't even know about Elliott going to Coventry, although he kept in touch with some people down here. Okay, people will turn around and say, 'You would never have paid that money for Elliott', but who knows? We all loved Elliott Ward, although unfortunately he didn't have the best of seasons at Coventry - and nor did Pericard at Stoke." It was at the Football League chairmen's conference in Portugal last June that Argyle and Stoke thrashed out a deal over Pulis, and Stapleton added: "It meant we could not start our search for a manager. Obviously, you can make preliminary inquiries but, legally, you can't really do too much." Two weeks after Pulis took over at Stoke, Argyle had appointed Ian Holloway as his successor. Stapleton said: "We talked to Gianni Paladini quite a bit, and to other clubs that had interviewed him Ian. Ipswich Town were one of them. Ian was available and we were able to get him in the day before pre-season training started. That was two weeks from when Tony Pulis left to when we actually got him down here, which wasn't too bad really. Ian had to be broken away from his contract, which we had to help with." Holloway brought Des Bulpin with him as a coach but, otherwise, he inherited the backroom staff left behind by Pulis. Stapleton added: "When Ian turned up he was faced with David Kemp, Mark O'Connor and Lindsay Parsons. Stoke City had promised me they would take them but, when the crunch came, they stayed put, waiting to be paid off, which wasn't the spirit of the agreement with Stoke. The spirit of the agreement with Stoke was that if Tony wanted them they could go and the chairman would employ them. It meant we had a few weeks - and months in some cases - of people working at the football club and doing their job but they weren't Ian's men. We managed to get Des Bulpin in pretty quickly, which really helped Ian a great deal. But it took a bit longer to get Tim Breacker and Gary Penrice because they were both contracted at QPR and didn't want to walk away from contracts which they were entitled to. We understood the situation. I did offer Mark O'Connor a job with us because I thought he was a very good person to have on the team, but he actually then left to join Stoke."
Ian Holloway has revealed he has already got 'a lot of irons in the fire' about possible loan signings for next season, but does not believe there is any rush when it comes to adding more new recruits to his squad. He said: "I think we can sit back and weigh up the situation. There aren't many out-of-contract players that are worth snapping up anyway. I don't anticipate much happening in the next few weeks. People need to chill out at this time of year. We had a very good season and we have got a very good squad so we don't need to panic. There are a lot of high class, young players who will be available for loan once the season starts. We have got a lot of irons in the fire. But now is a waiting time rather than a doing time." One task Holloway does want to resolve sooner rather than later is offering new terms to some of the players who will be out-of-contract this time next year. He added: "We don't want to get caught out by losing an asset when we could have re-signed them or cashed in on them."
Argyle have lost their battle to continue using the Mayflower Terrace next season. The clubs appeal to the Government for special dispensation to keep the standing area open for another 12 months has been rejected. The Argyle board said in a statement: "The club is bitterly disappointed with the decision of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as it felt it presented an excellent initial case for the terracing to remain open, and willingly provided the Department with additional information when requested. Secretary of State Tessa Jowell pointed out that even without the terracing we would still have had sufficient seating to accommodate more than our average home gate. This, ultimately, appears to have been a persuasive influence on their decision. However, we know that supporters who have stood on the terracing for many seasons will also be saddened by the Government's conclusion that it should be shut. The Argyle board will meet imminently to discuss the decision, and a further statement will be issued in due course. Until such time, no-one at the club will be making any statement on, or be talking about, this issue."
Ian Holloway is prepared to offer Kevin Gallen a one-year contract. Holloway said: "I haven't spoken to him yet. He's on holiday at the moment. I don't know what financial package he's looking for but I'm always in the market for good players and Kevin is a very good player. You will struggle to get experience like he has got and, just as importantly, the brain he has got." Holloway thought Sylvan Ebanks-Blake learned a lot from playing alongside Gallen last season. "Kevin did the same thing for a fella called Les Ferdinand at QPR a few years ago," he added. Holloway admitted he would not offer Gallen any more than a one-year contract at this stage of his career. He said: "Kevin will probably want to weigh up his options and I expect us to be in there somewhere. At the end of the day, it's about him and what he wants to do." Meanwhile, Holloway has insisted Swindon Town have not made any inquiries about Hasney Aljofree. He said: "There has been no contact from Swindon. As far as I'm concerned, everyone in the squad has gone away for the summer happy. They have come back over the last couple of weeks, so we can check on their fitness and they are in decent shape."
Ian Holloway is excited about the prospect of playing Bristol Rovers in a pre-season friendly. Argyle lost 1-0 to the Pirates in a pre-season game last July, and Holloway said: "Hopefully, the outcome will be different this time. It's going to be at our ground for starters. It's a shame we couldn't get a Premiership club to come to this wonderful part of the world, but more fool them. Rovers are on the up after getting to Wembley and winning the League Two play-off final. I saw the game on TV. Paul Trollope has done very well with Lennie Lawrence. It's great to know they are back up towards where they should be."
Akos Buzsaky won his fourth cap for Hungary in their 4-0 defeat in Norway last night
Argyle are set to have three foreign players on trial with them when they start pre-season training next month. Ian Holloway does not want to name any of them, or even confirm their nationalities or playing positions, because he does not want to alert other clubs. But Holloway would admit that one of them had been the captain of a team that plays in one of Europe's top leagues and is out of contract this summer. He said: "That's the standard of player we are looking to try to bring to the club. His CV reads better than any of our players." Argyle begin pre-season training on July 2nd , and Holloway admitted some or all of the trialists could be invited to the training camp in Austria. Holloway added: "It's becoming increasingly difficult for us to buy English players. For example, if we were to ring Yeovil Town about any one of their young players I don't think we would be able to afford them, which is quite scary really. Years ago, a Championship club could go to a League One side and buy someone without too much of a problem. It's very expensive to even go to non-league clubs and sign their best players. The football transfer market is even worse than the house price market. It's crazy." Despite that, Holloway does have some potential targets in this country. He said: "Gary Penrice has been working his socks off and I have got a list of players I'm going to watch for myself when the pre-season friendlies start. We have arranged our games around some of those matches."
Argyle have confirmed the opposition for the two friendly matches they will play whilst on tour in Austria, as well as the rest of the pre-season schedule. They will play Turkish side Genclerbirligi SK in Sochau on July 24th and then meet Hapoel Tel-Aviv of Israel in Loipersdorf on July 27th. Both games will kick-off at 6.30pm local time, 5.30pm BST. Argyle have also announced that they will play at Yeovil Town in a friendly on July 17th, at 7.45pm. Argyle host Ian Holloway's former club, Bristol Rovers, at Home Park on August 4th, and will also play at Weston-super-Mare on July 11th, Truro City on August 1st, and St Blazey on August 6th
Argyle's youngsters will face Liverpool during a pre-season programme that will also see them play three other Academy clubs. The full schedule is: July 13th v Fulham, July 20th v Charlton Athletic, July 24th v Saltash United, July 27th v Liverpool, August 8th v Elburton Villa, August 10th v Cardiff City - all fixtures are away. The youth team will also participating in the Duchy College Under-18 International Tournament, along with the Latvian international youth team and clubs including Everton and Middlesbrough. The opening games in the tournament will be played on August 2nd at St Blazey and Liskeard, with the final scheduled to be played at Home Park on August 4th following the first-team friendly against Bristol Rovers
Peter Halmosi insists Argyle can win their way into the Premiership next season. He said: "The last few months have been a dream come true. I became a father and thanks to my team-mates performance in the spring a Hungarian champion. My compatriots had told me previously, and I can now confirm that playing in Britain cannot compare to anything else. I'm glad not to have to worry about my future, but I want more goals. Our chairman has stated the aim is promotion next season and Ian Holloway has echoed that message. I will do everything in my power not to disappoint them and our fans."
Akos Buzsaky was an unused substitute in Hungary's Euro 2008 qualifier against Greece today.
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