A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have held preliminary talks with Plymouth Albion in an attempt to reduce fixture clashes involving the two sides for next season. Michael Dunford said: "It makes no sense for Plymouth's two major sports clubs to be playing on the same day and at the same time as each other, so this was an initial discussion to see if there is anything we can do about it. We've sent a list of Albion's fixtures to the Football League so they are aware when Albion are playing, nothing more than that. Now we will wait and see what we the fixture-computer hands us; after that, the two clubs will probably have another chat. Whatever happens, it is going to be impossible to reach the perfect situation where we have no fixture clashes."
In public, the Argyle board are still insisting upon their determination to hang on to Tony Pulis - but they are believed to be making plans for his departure to Stoke City. Stoke are unlikely to abandon their pursuit of Pulis, and a deal could be done early next month if they come back with an offer of compensation which is deemed acceptable. It is understood that Argyle have already begun the process of identifying their preferred replacement for Pulis, if one needs to be found, and Ian Holloway may be in pole position. According to reports, Argyle have already held talks with Holloway
Tony Capaldi won his eighteenth cap for Northern Ireland in their 2-0 defeat to Romania in Chicago last night
Paul Stapleton today issued the following statement: "I have received a request from Stoke City for permission to talk to our first-team manager Tony Pulis. That permission has not been granted. No-one at the club will make a further comment on this situation until and unless circumstances change."
Vincent Pericard would relish a return to Argyle - but insisted any decision rests on the future of Tony Pulis. He said: "Yes, I would certainly consider signing for Plymouth - I really enjoyed my time there. But a lot will depend on what happens with the manager situation. I spoke to the manager about possibly signing full-time, and I am thinking about it. Also, I am flying to Cameroon for a holiday today, so I won't be able to make any decision about signing for Plymouth for a week at least. I am out-of-contract at the moment, and I am considering many options from many other football clubs. The offers are not all from English football clubs, but playing again in England would definitely be my preference. I enjoyed my time at the club and liked the players and also the area. The fans were also really nice to me and good supporters for the club. So, it is possible that I will return, but I must look at what is happening at Plymouth and also what other options there are for me."
Argyle fans are waiting to discover if the club will need to find a replacement for Tony Pulis next season. Pulis has been linked with a return to Stoke City where he would join forces again with new owner Peter Coates, who completed his takeover of the Potters yesterday. Phill Gill insisted the club 'would not comment' on the speculation and said: "What's changed? It's the same situation as yesterday and last week - we have nothing to add to our previous 'no comment' on media speculation." Peter Coates admitted yesterday that he has one leading candidate in mind for the managerial vacancy. He said: "Yes, I do have someone in mind. The first task is to appoint a manager."
Tony Capaldi won his seventeenth cap for Northern Ireland in their 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in New Jersey tonight
Paul Stapleton has confirmed that Argyle had to beat off foreign competition to re-sign Mathias Doumbe. Stapleton said: "I'm really pleased Mat is staying with us. You get to know some of the players when you travel with them and I have to say he's a lovely man. He's a really nice person, a very good footballer and he has done well for Plymouth Argyle. Out of Bobby's transfers in, Mat has been the one who has stayed and been a success. His pace is electric for this league. It's what you need to have in your defence. To me, he's a model professional and it's pleasing for us Mat has agreed to stay and sign a new contract when we knew there was interest in him from abroad." Stapleton also revealed the legal process of Argyle's purchase of Home Park from Plymouth City Council was still ongoing
Mickey Evans today signed for Torquay United. He said: "I'm pleased to have signed, I'm a Devon lad and I've always had a soft spot for Torquay United. I can't wait for next season to start and I'm looking forward to working with some of my old mates. The squad is already looking very good. Roll on July!"
Argyle will play Yeovil Town in a friendly at Home Park on Tuesday, July 25th. It will be the only home fixture for the team before the season starts on August 5th. Argyle were thwarted in their plans to bring a Premiership side to Home Park because of the differing start dates for the divisions next season. Michael Dunford said: "We contacted every single Premiership club, but not one of them was able to commit themselves to a game. The late start to the Premiership season means that the top teams will be two weeks behind us in their pre-season preparation. That's no good to them or to us. We considered a match against foreign opposition but, following the disappointing gates for our two pre-season fixtures against Bruges and OFK Belgrade last year, there does not appear to be much appetite for that. In any event, Tony Pulis has preference for playing British opposition and is delighted that we have arranged a competitive game which is sure to provide a good warm-up for the season."
Argyle are waiting to discover if they have to begin the process of searching for a new manager for the third time in as many years. Speculation is mounting in Staffordshire that Tony Pulis is the favourite to take charge of Stoke City. Argyle were maintaining that it was business as usual at Home Park yesterday. Paul Stapleton and Michael Dunford were both unavailable for comment, but a club spokesman said: "Our position is that we do not comment on media speculation, and that will remain the case until factual developments demand a response from the club."
Vincent Pericard is leaving his options open, according to Tony Pulis. And Pulis is still at the centre of strong speculation about a possible return to Stoke City as their manager when Peter Coates completes his takeover of the club, possibly on Friday. But Pulis, who attended a board meeting at Home Park last Friday and outlined his list of potential summer signings, is continuing to shrug off talk about his future. He said: "I have spoken to Vincent. He's in France at the moment but is going to Cameroon soon. He has promised to give me a ring in the next couple of weeks. I think he's leaving his options open at the moment and seeing what's about and what's not about. I think he's relaxed about it. He's a very laid-back lad and, with him, every day is Christmas Day. The contract he's on at Portsmouth is quite a big one so we would have to sit down and talk to him about that." Pulis does not expect there to be much transfer activity across the country until the start of June at the earliest. He said: "Most players and most agents are just testing the water at the moment. The play-offs are still going on so it has been a long season. As a manager, you have just got to keep your ear to the ground so you know what's going on." Argyle are still hopeful that David Norris will accept a new contract until the summer of 2009. Pulis said: "The talks are still ongoing. I have spoken to Michael Dunford and he's quite positive about it. I know he is in touch with the agent quite regularly."
Keith Lasley is set to complete a permanent move to Blackpool. He said: "I think they will be speaking to my agent soon. I haven't received any formal offer yet but I have spoken to the manager and he knows I enjoyed it up there. I think he's maybe looking to sort something out in the next couple of weeks." Lasley signed a two-year contract with Argyle in June 2004 but was never given a chance to prove himself in his preferred position of centre midfield. He admitted: "I suppose the word frustration would sum it up best of all. It was a challenge for me to come down from Scotland and try something new. At the start, it did work out quite well but in the latter part of the first year and then this season I spent a lot of my time watching football, not playing it. If you ask any professional footballer, the most important thing is playing a game on a Saturday, and I wasn't doing that. It didn't work out for me at Argyle but I bear no grudges with anyone. I really enjoyed my time living in the area and being at the club. I wanted to be playing every week but that's not the way football works sometimes. I felt as though I was a little bit unlucky but when a new manager comes in, obviously he's going to try to put his own stamp on the team."
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe spoke of his delight after signing a new two-year deal with Argyle this evening. Doumbe said: "I'm delighted. We have been talking about it for a good part of the season. So, yes, it is nice for me to have everything signed." Kouo-Doumbe was a virtual ever-present last season, missing only three matches through suspension and injury. "It was important for me," he said. "Last season, I was a new player in the team and I didn't play straight away, so this season I wanted to settle in the team. I was really happy this season." Kouo-Doumbe played alongside a variety of centre-back partners during the season, including Hasney Aljofree, Taribo West and Elliott Ward, gelling well with them all. "You always know the people," he said. "I have been training with Hasney for two years now; I had pre-season with Taribo. It was a bit different when Elliott came in but we had two weeks training together and got to know each other better." Mathias scored just once during the season and said: "I'm not disappointed, because my priority is to defend, but it would have been nice to score more goals."
Akos Buzsaky has not been included in the Hungary squad for their friendly international against England on May 30th
Dorchester Town's out-of-contract goalkeeper Craig Bradshaw will have a trial with Argyle in pre-season. Before signing for Dorchester in the summer of 2004, Bradshaw had been at Portsmouth for five years, and was at Fratton Park when Tony Pulis was briefly the manager in 2000. Pulis said: "We know Bradshaw from his Portsmouth days. Mark O'Connor worked with him there and always liked the lad. I think one or two clubs were watching him at Dorchester so we have invited him to come down in pre-season for a couple of days and to play in a game."
Mathias Doumbe has agreed a new two-year contract to stay at Argyle. Tony Pulis admitted he was 'very pleased' and insisted the best was yet to come from Doumbe. Pulis said: "I'm very pleased Mattie has agreed this new contract. He had a fantastic end to the season. He's still young and has got a lot of assets. I'm not saying he has reached his full potential by any means. There is still room for improvement, but this is very good news for the football club. I think the supporters like Mattie as well and they will be very relieved and pleased he is staying." Argyle now have 19 players under contract for next season but Pulis has areas of the squad he wants to strengthen over the summer. One of them is in central defence, where the only options he has at the moment are Doumbe, Hasney Aljofree and Paul Wotton. However, Pulis sees Wotton primarily as a midfielder. Pulis added: "I still think we need an old-fashioned number five." It is thought Argyle will inquire over the summer whether they can take Elliott Ward on an extended loan next season
Tony Pulis spent the weekend watching Colchester United earn promotion with a draw at Yeovil. However, Pulis insisted that his main objective was to assess a future opponent, rather than checking out Yeovil striker Phil Jevons. He said: "I went to watch Yeovil and Colchester on the weekend because I thought there would be a good chance that we'll be playing Colchester next season. I saw Colchester earlier in the season but not since, so I was interested to see what they were doing and the players they have in their team. I wanted to have a look at their formation, shape and get a better understanding of another team that will be in our league. I'm not interested in Phil Jevons." Watching games is the priority over the next few weeks for Pulis, although the FA Cup Final may not be on the list because of a possible trip abroad. Pulis will, however, be watching as much of the World Cup as he can, with one eye on the smaller nations. "I will try my best to get to all the play-off games, and if I don't get there, I shall be watching them on the telly," he said. "We will be trying to find out what's in the market, and watching the play-offs from the three leagues. I might do one trip abroad this weekend and, unfortunately, miss the FA Cup final. The World Cup will not affect us in any way, but I'm quite happy because I love watching football. If we were looking at anybody in the World Cup, it would be from the smaller nations."
Tony Pulis has welcomed Argyle's admission to the South Western League next season. He said: "I think the club, right the way through, needs more games. It's just another step in putting things in place for us to push forward as a Championship club, not as a Third Division club. We are hoping when the first team are away, the SWL side will be at home and get some good crowds to watch them." Argyle's under 18's will play in the South Western League, whilst the under-16s will fulfil the club's fixtures in the Football League Youth Alliance, instead of the under-18s as previously. Argyle reserves will continue to play in midweek in the Combination next season, although there could be a new format. That will be decided when the Combination hold their annual general meeting later this summer. Argyle will split their home reserve games between Home Park and Tiverton. Pulis said: "We will play our reserve games here when the pitch is okay, but when it's heavy in the winter months, we will go to Tiverton."
Argyle are seeking to appoint a head of youth development, a move which must throw into doubt the future of current youth team manager Stuart Gibson. Over recent months, it is thought there has been a strained working relationship between Gibson and Tony Pulis. Gibson declined to comment yesterday. Argyle advertised for a head of youth development in a national newspaper yesterday. It said: 'Plymouth Argyle seek to appoint an experienced UEFA 'A' coaching licence holder to manage and develop further the Centre of Excellence programme in accordance with the requirements of the FA and Football League and to operate within the strategic plans of the club. The head of youth development will be responsible to the board and team manager with whom they will have a close working relationship. Responsibilities will include player evaluation, recruitment and delivering a coaching programme of the highest quality.' Michael Dunford said: "We told Stuart last week that the advert was going in and he was free to apply for the position. That's fact. Other than that, I don't wish to say anything more, and neither will anyone else at the club."
The future of Vincent Péricard is still hanging in the balance. Tony Pulis is waiting to hear the outcome of Péricard's discussions with Harry Redknapp, but is prepared to step in and begin negotiations with Péricard if the striker is not offered the opportunity of staying with Portsmouth. "Vincent reported back to Portsmouth as soon as we finished last week," said Pulis. "I think Vincent is in there discussing things with Harry Redknapp right now. If he has got a chance of playing in the Premiership then that is what he will do. If he hasn't, that does give us an opportunity to speak to him." The downside to Péricard's successful loan spell with Argyleis the rise in his status among other clubs, which could lead to more teams trying to sign him. The Elliott Ward situation is very similar. Pulis would have preferred to sign both players but circumstances worked against him, and their value may well have risen considerably with their excellent displays for Argyle. Pulis said: "I think both West Ham and Portsmouth have benefited from Elliott Ward and Vincent Pericard coming here and doing reasonably well. It does put their stock up a bit, which is not ideal. Loan deals are good to get you through a short period, but if you know the player is a good player, it is better to sign them up. West Ham wouldn't sell Ward - the only deal they were willing to do was a loan."
Negotiations with Mathias Kouo-Doumbe are continuing, Tony Pulis today confirmed. He said: "I will be speaking to Matty Doumbe, so we will see what transpires with that one, but I think Michael Dunford has got it under control."
Michael Dunford has defended the club's decision to increase matchday admission prices for next season. Although the club have kept their season-ticket prices at the same level as last term, if bought by May 27th, they have decided to put up matchday admission by £1 across the board. Dunford said: "Our average gate was just under 14,000 last season, which was two-and-a-half thousand less than the previous year. That means we do have to generate additional income, but our prices are still very competitive and we have stayed loyal to the majority of our fans. Sixty per cent of our supporters are season-ticket holders and we have remained loyal to them. Our season-ticket prices are unchanged. We don't think a £1 increase is unreasonable. If we want to progress, someone has to help pay for it. That's commercial reality, but we have remained loyal to our season-ticket holders and I think our prices are very, very reasonable. And all our prices were announced. We've not tried to hide anything. If you look at the pricing throughout the Championship you will see Plymouth Argyle have the cheapest prices for children, and that will still be the case at £6. All our prices are still very competitive."
Argyle have introduced a new, cheaper, easy-to-remember number for their Box Office. Callers wanting to buy, or enquire about, tickets should now call 0845 338 P-A-F-C (0845 338 7232), when they will be charged at the local rate - less than four pence per minute at all times. Michael Dunford said: "The introduction of this new Box Office number is part of our on-going commitment to provide the Green Army with value for money. Whenever our fans call us on 338 PAFC, to buy, or enquire about, tickets, they can be assured they will be able to do so at the local rate."
Tony Pulis has played down rumours linking him with the manager's position at Stoke City. He said: "I had a good relationship with Peter Coates, so everybody will put that together. I'm not the only one the media has mentioned. Other names included Lou Macari and Gary Megson, who both get on well with Peter. I don't even know whether Peter has done the deal yet; whether it's been completed or what Peter has said about the situation. I think you get used to the speculation as a manager, especially when jobs become available. Managers and players have to just let speculation wash over them. The speculation doesn't bother me at all. I'm at home in Bournemouth at the moment, so I'm away from the talk. No-one in Bournemouth talks about Stoke or Plymouth." Pulis fully understands that the media has a job to do, and conjecture is all part of the fun. He said: "The internet, newspapers, radio and all the media outlets available means that everybody jumps on the bandwagon. The media have a responsibility to write articles and I'd just say - enjoy the speculation." Although Pulis is not planning to go anywhere, he does expect to see a lot of activity in managerial circles during the summer. "I do think there will be a lot of movement this year, from the top level of football right the way down," he said. "Last season was very quiet in the respect of managerial changes, and there will be movement in the summer."
Stuart Gibson believes Argyle's youngsters have enjoyed a successful season and that the club's senior squad are set to reap the rewards of developing their own talent. He thinks with prospects like Chris Zebroski, Scott Laird and Reuben Reid the club are moving in the right direction. Gibson said: "Those three players all turned pro - and all were brought by the youth development." Argyle's under-18s finished the season as runners-up in the Youth Alliance League Division Two and Gibson argues that had the likes of Zebroski, Laird and Reid been available to him, then the under-18s would have ended the campaign as champions. "The under-18s ended up as runners-up and I believe we would have walked it had those players all been available to me," he said. "We have advanced so far technically and physically. It is the only way to get competitive games on a regular basis. The corner stones are in place now - watch it grow."
Paul Stapleton has played down speculation linking Tony Pulis with a return to Stoke City. Stoke's owners have agreed in principle to sell the club to director Peter Coates and sources in Stoke have said that Pulis is the 'firm favourite' to be appointed as manager. But Paul Stapleton said: "As far as I'm concerned Tony is our manager and we want it to stay that way." Stapleton confirmed there had been 'no contact' from anyone about Pulis making a return to the Britannia Stadium
Tony Pulis does not believe anybody should under-estimate Argyle's achievement in finishing 14th in the Championship this season. He said: "I have to be honest, I thought it would go right to the last game. I always had it in the back of my mind we might need to beat Ipswich to stay up. As it turned out, people probably took it for granted we were going to be safe. But I don't think anybody should under-estimate what the football club have achieved this season. If you take away the game against Luton, when they caught us on a bad day. I think the players have had a right go at home. Towards the end of the season we beat two good sides in Wolves and Ipswich with decent performances and we looked like scoring goals in those games. A lot of times managers go into football clubs and they spend a fortune on getting in six, seven or eight players and changing it all around. We have done it by moving players out - a lot more have left the club than have come in - and making a profit of £100,000 on transfers. I'm very proud of that. We have worked very hard with the squad we inherited and, to the credit of the players, they have responded to what we wanted from them." Pulis saw Argyle's defeat at Brighton, as well as the Carling Cup second round exit at Barnet before taking charge of the club. He said: "Having been at those matches, we knew before we came in that it was going to be difficult. There was nothing that really surprised us in respect of the task ahead. We identified what we would have to do, and that was to improve fitness levels, the organisation and to bring in one or two bigger, more solid players through the middle of the team. I knew what had to be done, but it had to be done in a way that didn't cost the football club a lot of money. There wasn't much to spend but we managed to bring in players that we knew would make a difference, such as Elliott Ward, Jason Jarrett and Lilian Nalis." When Pulis first arrived at Home Park, he sensed a mood of anxiety around the club. He said: "A lot of people were very despondent about the way things had gone. When a manager loses his job it's always difficult because there are people left behind who have loyalties to him. Having experienced that before, I knew what to do." Pulis thought the loan signings of Ward and Jarrett in November were crucial to Argyle's upturn in fortunes. He said: "I think when we brought in Ward, Jarrett and Nalis to the football club it raised the bar a little bit and the players that were already here jumped on board." Pulis admitted the low point of the season was the 3-1 defeat against Coventry City in December. Pulis said: "I was desperately disappointed at Coventry. I thought we played exceptionally well until they scored their first goal and then we just fell apart. Usually, teams of mine never fall apart and, hopefully, that was just a one-off. We conceded some very poor goals that day and that was a concern for me, but the players responded magnificently at Watford the following Saturday and got a good point." Having steered Argyle to safety, Pulis is now busy planning for next season. He said: "As I keep saying, Plymouth Argyle is unique because of its location. I think it's a smashing club with very good support and the potential is there for everybody to see. But you can't keep talking about potential forever." Pulis is expected to be busy in the transfer market during the summer with players signing for Argyle as well as departing. He said: "There is always room for improvement. Jose Mourinho is talking about that at Chelsea so we certainly are at Plymouth Argyle."
Bobby Williamson has spoken publicly for the first time about his disappointment at losing his job as manager of Argyle. Williamson, who has just reached a contract settlement with the Argyle board, said: "I had a really great time both as manager at Argyle and also in Plymouth. I'm only sorry that until now I have not had time to say thank you and goodbye properly. It was obviously disappointing to have lost the job I loved doing and perhaps I should have seen it coming. But I can honestly say that I didn't. In fact, it was only when I saw one of the Herald photographers appear at a reserve match I was watching at Home Park, that I felt my time in charge was up. But I have no regrets about leaving Hibernian to manage Plymouth Argyle, as it is a lovely city and has some of the best and most loyal fans I've ever encountered in football. Despite what's been said and suggested, I had no problems with the fans, who I hadn't realised were so passionate about Argyle until I worked here. I always actively encouraged the Argyle fans to come and talk to me about football issues. I have nothing but the highest respect for the fans, particularly those who made the long away trips to clubs like Sunderland. And I felt that as manager of their club I had a duty to get the team to play with a positive attitude away from home. Sometimes, it worked like at Wigan when we ended their unbeaten run at their place. And also when Argyle won at Reading at the beginning of the season just gone. Yes, there were defeats like the 5-1's at both Sunderland and West Ham, but we also beat and drew with both of those, who ended up getting promoted to the Premiership. So, yes, I've got a lot to things I'm proud of, like moving Wottsie into midfield and also making sure the club stayed in the Championship in their first season following promotion. Sometimes, signings pay off and sometimes they don't. I tried to bring both Nalis and Shipperley to Home Park, but Sheffield United came in and he signed for them instead. So, I've more good memories than bad - and I'm genuinely pleased that they stayed up again this season."
Argyle's application to enter a team in the South Western League next season has been approved. Michael Dunford confirmed: "We are in the advanced stages of negotiation with Plymouth Parkway Football Club about the possibility of using their Bolitho Park ground to play our home matches."
Tony Pulis has vowed to spread the net far and wide in his search for new players this summer, and could make as many as six additions to his squad. It is believed Pulis's budget has been increased by around 10 per cent compared to what Bobby Williamson had to work with last term and Pulis said: "I'm going to wait until the list of players on Bosman transfers comes out and have a look at who's available. But there are players who we have watched for the last couple of months, and if we can do a deal we will do it as quickly as we can. The problem is agents try to drag it out and get the best deals they possibly can. It's a part of modern football and it's something which entails waiting and sweating it out. Ideally, you would like to get your squad in place now but that never happens." Argyle are bound to be linked with many players during the close season - some accurately, some not. Burnley striker Gifton Noel-Williams, who played for Pulis at Stoke City, is thought to be one target. Pulis, though, had a message for the fans. He said: "I would tell them enjoy all the speculation, but don't take it too seriously. I have never known a club like Argyle. They love their speculation in Plymouth. Everybody tells you what's supposed to be happening and what we are doing and what we aren't doing." Pulis is still planning an overseas scouting trip before the end of May, after being recommended a couple of players in eastern Europe by his staff. He said: "I'm trying to organise that, but it's whether or not I can fit in the games I want to go and see."
Tony Capaldi has been called up to the Northern Ireland squad for their brief USA tour later this month. The Irish team will play Uruguay on May 21st and Romania on May 26th
Argyle are fighting hard to keep Mathias Doumbe at Home Park. Michael Dunford said yesterday: "We made a third offer to Mat Doumbe's agent at the end of last week and we are awaiting a response. Mat has rejected our two previous offers, but that's not unusual. They start asking for the sky and we start at ground level and, hopefully, you meet somewhere in the middle. You never make your best offer from day one. We have made what we consider a sensible offer and we hope Mat and his agent will look favourably on it. The door is certainly not closed on Mat Doumbe. I think the player and his agent are keen to resolve this and we certainly hope he does stay with us."
Tony Pulis has not ruled out signing his son, Anthony, on a permanent transfer in the summer. Argyle, though, are not the only option for Pulis junior, with a couple of other Football League clubs interested in him. Pulis senior said: "I have got the summer to talk to Ant and see what he wants to do. I think he has done well in the games he has played in. He's a very good passer of the ball. He keeps possession. He just needs to be more competitive and get a bit stronger. I think the players have taken to him and that has helped him. He has trained well. I'm not sure what I will decide with him, but I know there are two or three clubs who want to sign him." The other two loanee's at Home Park at the end of the season were both strikers - Vincent Pericard and Leon Clarke. Pulis is keen on keeping Pericard, who will be a free agent this summer and is expected to have other Championship clubs chasing him. But Clarke is set to return to Wolves after failing to impress. Pulis said: "I will speak to Vincent in the next couple of days. He has gone back to Portsmouth and I'm going to be in Bournemouth for a few days so I might go over there and see him. It's better than talking on the phone. I think Clarke will go back to Wolves."
Gary Sawyer has returned to Argyle from two years on loan at Exeter City, lured by the prospect of playing in the Championship next season. His form at St James Park has not gone unnoticed and Tony Pulis has decided he will be offered a new contract. Sawyer said: "They have offered me a new deal and it should be sorted out next week. I have just got to wait and see how good the offer is. Obviously I have never lied about wanting to go back to Plymouth. I know it sounds bad because it is the rivals, but it is nothing to do with that. I just want to play as high as I can. Given the right deal, I will be going back. But if it is not the right deal then I will come away from that. Exeter is definitely not out of the question." Pulis has seen Sawyer play three times for Exeter this season and believes he has a lot of potential for the future. For that reason, he plans to loan him out next term, but preferably to a Football League club. Pulis has not, however, completely ruled out a return to Exeter for the centre-back. He said: "I have watched him three times and spoke to the lad on Tuesday morning. What I'm intending to do is offer him another one-year contract and then loan him out. In the games I have seen him play, he has done well. Loaning him out will give him another year's experience and we can see how he develops. We will keep him on our books and get somebody else to give him the experience. I would like to get him a Football League club if I can, but Exeter would also be an option.
Michael Dunford is optimistic that David Norris will sign a new contract. He said: "I do sense there is a feeling, from both parties, that we want to reach an agreement, and I am optimistic that will be the case. Obviously he is a prized asset as far as Plymouth Argyle is concerned. His value has increased appreciably with his performances. We've made his agent a couple of offers now and they have been relayed to David. I get the impression that David wants to stay at Plymouth. He has a view on his value, we have a view on his value, and I am certain there is some common ground there that will see David re-sign for Plymouth Argyle in the near future. I'm not suggesting that David is holding any sort of gun to our head - he's not that sort of lad, nor is his agent." Dunford also feels that Mathias Kouo-Doumbe will stay at Home Park for another two years. "We've agreed on a two-year term of contract - that's not an issue," he said. "The only thing that remains to be resolved is the level of financial remuneration within that period of contract. We made a fresh offer to Mat at the end of last week. We are now waiting to hear from his agent. I think it is in everybody's interest that the matter is concluded sooner, rather than later. It is all part of the process at this time of the year. Tony is totally involved in this and is keen to see Mat remain at Argyle, and, from what Mat tells us, he is keen to stay here as well. However, he is out of contract and can look at other options, which we totally understand - that is the nature of the business. We won't allow it to drag on too long, but we're keen to see Mat stay and believe Mat wants to stay, as well."
Rufus Brevett and Keith Lasley have played their last games for Argyle. Michael Dunford confirmed: "Rufus's loan to Leicester City has ended and his contract has now been cancelled, so he doesn't return to Argyle as a registered player. That is the end of it; we wish him well in the future and move on. Keith's loan with Blackpool expires next weekend, when they conclude their league programme. At that point, there are two options: one, he reaches an agreement with Blackpool to stay there and sign a contract; two, he reverts back to being a Plymouth Argyle player and sees out the remaining couple of months of his contract with us, until the end of June. He will then become a free agent. The manager wishes Keith and his family well but he has decided we will not be making him an offer of re-engagement."
Vincent Pericard has returned to Portsmouth following his loan spell at Argyle. Pericard has been recalled as Pompey still have one more game of this season to play, against Liverpool next Sunday
Lilian Nalis is convinced he can play an important role for Argyle next season, even though he will be 35 in September. He said: "I have really enjoyed my time at the club and I'm pleased everything has been sorted out. I can have my holidays and have peace in my head." Nalis, though, will not be taking a complete break before Argyle return for pre-season training at the end of June. He said: "When you are a professional footballer, you have to do some hard work even in the holidays because you need to be fit. When you are my age you have to look after yourself better than when you are 20 years old. Even if I'm going to be 35 this year, I just love playing football and working hard in training - doing all the things you need to do to be a professional footballer. I'm really looking forward to next season. The club are going in the right direction and it's nice to be part of it." Nalis has been impressed with the way Tony Pulis goes about his business. He said: "We have had some really hard training sessions to prepare for games. As a manager, I'm really pleased to work with him. He's very organised and everybody goes out on the pitch and knows what they have to do. I thought in the last 20 games since I have been here the team has been really hard to beat. Sometimes we have lost when we deserved a bit more. With the team we have got already, with four or five new players I think we can be very competitive next season."
Tony Pulis was thrilled to see Mickey Evans score yesterday, and receive an emotional farewell from the Green Army. "I don't think you could have written it any better for Mickey, and I'm very pleased for him," he said. "The day has gone as planned; we've won the game and Mickey's scored the winning goal. We finished with a win, Mickey scoring and 16,000 people going home happy. The reception afterwards shows the feelings people have for Mickey, and he loves the place and the football club." Pulis was equally pleased with the general performance of his team, and felt that a couple more goals would not have been undeserved. He said: "It was important to finish with a win, and with the way we played, it was a shame that we never scored more goals. We created loads of chances again today, so it was a little disappointing to only score two." Pulis felt it was important to finish the season on a high note, and his wife will have been in full agreement. "The club wants to push on and show that we are moving forward and improvements are being made. I think we did that today," he said. "I said to the players before the game that I didn't want to go three and a half months shouting at my wife. It's a big game at the end of the season, especially when you're at home and it was fantastic to get 16,000 supporters in the ground." Argyle finished the season in 14th place, and Pulis was content. He said: "We might have broke into the top half if we'd brought in a couple more players, but I don't think we've done too badly. Although we have signed players, the established bedrock of the team has kept us up. Hodges has come back and been outstanding; he was facing a torrid afternoon looking after Jaime Peters but stuck to his task and, in the end, came out on top. Players like Hodges, Wotton, Evans know what spirit is, and they epitomise what this football club is all about." Pulis admitted that he was a little disappointed to lose Evans, but a debut for Reuben Reid is a sign of the future at Home Park. "I'm disappointed to lose Mickey," said Pulis. "Although he may not have played many games next season, he still has that Green blood in him. I was really thinking about starting with Reuben Reid, but as the week went on I thought it would be better to start with Mickey. I had a chat with him and he was very keen to start the game." Evans was not the only man to be deservedly rewarded on an emotional day; David Norris was awarded with the Argyle Player of the Season trophy. Tony Pulis couldn't help but eulogise over his star performer. He said: "Everybody has played their part, Norris included. It's not just what he does with the ball; he's always chasing back and helping out. He is an outstanding person and an outstanding player." Leon Clarke was conspicuous by his absence but, as Pulis explained, Nick Chadwick warranted a place on the bench after his efforts all season. "Leon Clarke hasn't played as many games as Chadwick, and Chadders gives everything," said Pulis. "The enthusiasm of the group rubs off on him. The three players who came on showed good signs, Anthony didn't give the ball away, made a couple of challenges and kept it simple." Pulis also revealed that Mathias Doumbe is still in discussion with the club about a new contract. He said: "Matty's been made an offer and it's up to him to discuss things with the club. I spoke to him before and after the game and he was fine, although he's struggling with his injury which is why he didn't play today. I thought Aljofree and Wotton did exceptionally well today. Forster is a good player and they brought Parkin on, and they coped." One man definitely staying with Argyle is Lilian Nalis, who agreed a new one year deal earlier in the week. "I'm pleased Nalis is staying because, not only is he a good player, his attitude is what we want," said Pulis. "He's a solid person on and off the pitch. When you're fighting and playing against teams with a wage bill triple your own and the resources to spend a £1 million on players, you need solid players. It can get very difficult out there and Nalis has got the character to dig in and fight."
Mickey Evans bade an emotional farewell to his hometown club after scoring the winning goal against Ipswich yesterday. "It was a perfect ending, and I really enjoyed it," he said. "A goal, a win and a good performance by the team. I don't think you can ask for much more. I slipped for the goal actually; the ball came in from the left and Vincent got a touch, but I'd gone too early. I had to stop in my tracks, and then slipped, but got enough on it to go in." The goal prompted wild celebrations on the terraces, and on the pitch where Evans was consumed by the entire team, including Romain Larrieu. "They're a great bunch of lads and Romain coming the full length of the pitch means a lot to me," said Evans. It is a team effort, and the team has been magnificent over the last five years." Evans has always been a favourite with the Green Army, ever since making his debut 15 years ago. He said: "I've had a great rapport with the fans over the years and it's a really good place to play your football. People may think that we're a bit out of the way down here, but personally, I think this football club is in the position they deserve to be in. If I didn't score the goal, it would not have been the end of the world, but it was really nice to get on the score-sheet." A new addition to the family is next on the agenda for Evans, and he will work what to do next from there. "I've got a baby coming along in the next couple of weeks and that's the important thing," said Evans. "It's our first child and I'm really looking forward to that. I'll decide what to do after that. It's nice to be in a position where I can take my time, and any offers that, hopefully come in, I'll then take it from there. Trigger was understandably tearful at the end as Home Park rose in unison to applaud a true favourite. He said: "I had a few tears at the end I must admit. I've been here a long time and fans have been great to me. It was very emotional and my Mum and Dad were upset too. They've been great for me over the years, so it was a sad day. It was a fantastic reception at the end."
David Norris was delighted after being named as Argyle's Player of the Year yesterday. He said: "I'm over the moon. I'm really pleased to have won this award. I would like to thank everyone who voted for me. It has been a long, hard season and this does mean a lot to me. I have been really pleased with my consistency this season and, hopefully, I can take that into next year. I have had a few niggles in the last couple of months so I'm looking forward to having a nice holiday and spending some time with my family."
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