A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have released Republic of Ireland under-18 international Karl Byrne. His departure leaves Argyle with seven second-year apprentices for the 2007/08 season - Lloyd Saxton, Tom King, Shane White, Shane Duggan, Bobby Hopkinson, Damien McCrory and Toby Davis.
Hasney Aljofree is reported to be a target for Paul Sturrock at Swindon Town
Argyle have failed to entice a Premiership club to play a pre-season friendly at Home Park. Michael Dunford said: "We are still trying to sort something out, but it's looking more and more remote. Like us, Premiership clubs want to play at home on the last Saturday before the season starts." Even if those efforts are unsuccessful Argyle still plan to play at Home Park on August 4th. The clubs first pre-season friendly will be at Torquay United on July 14th, a testimonial match for Kevin Hill. Argyle will also play Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium on July 21st, before flying out of London Stansted the next day for their training camp at Loipersdorf in Austria. They will play two games while they are away,on July 24th and July 27th, but the opposition has not yet been confirmed
Argyle's players have been challenged to maintain their fitness during the summer break or risk dropping down the pecking order when the season kicks-off in August. The players have been given advice on how to keep themselves 'ticking over' until they return for pre-season training at the end of June, and Tim Breacker was running the rule over part of the squad last week, with Ian Holloway taking over the assessing role this week. Breacker said: "The lads are professionals and as such realise how big a part fitness plays in the modern game. Being the professional bunch they are, they are also very keen they don't lose that edge over the six to eight weeks they are away. I had a few of them in last week for some fitness tests and Ollie will be doing the others this week. We've given the players some exercises to follow, concentrating on how to improve their upper-body strength, which is increasingly an important part of the game these days. We've been flexible over this, that's why those players with families and whose children are on half-term this week came in last week. It's no reflection on the squad's fitness. They were top-class last year. I'm sure some of the more experienced players in the squad know what it's like carrying an injury, say, in the close season and then having to fight for their place when they come back for pre-season. That's what we want to avoid - players won't want to be revisiting their fitness levels come the end of the month. If you're off the pace fitness-wise, it often takes time to get back to where the others in the team are. We're having the lads in and have given them a challenge in the form of guidelines on how to keep ticking over, so they do not have to play catch-up with their fitness when they return. You have to be careful, of course - you can't set a programme right across the board. We'll take into consideration the players who have played a lot of games last season - their programme will be slightly different from those members of the squad who played less matches. But we can't stand still and so the lads will need to be that fit again next year if like the club, they want to progress." Lilian Nalis flew back from France to have his fitness test, before resuming his summer break at his home in Corsica. He said: "I've always said that whatever your age is, it is just a number. The important thing for a professional footballer is to stay free of injury and stay as fit as you can for as long as you can. I will be relaxing with my family on Corsica for a few weeks but I won't be letting my fitness slip. Look at the careers of the AC Milan players, Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini - they are still at the top, which makes all the sacrifices worth while."
Gordon Bennett hailed Argyle's forward thinking after watching five young players sign professional forms. He said: "It's exciting times for the club and also for these boys. We're really thrilled that five boys have been given the chance by Ian Holloway next season. And we're very pleased that the board have supported that, financially. Lilian Nalis is an absolute model for anyone. He's been brought up by Auxerre, which has probably been the best run club for youth development for more than 40 years. Auxerre has a population of only 20,000 but has consistently been at the top of the French Premier League and competing in Europe. That has been achieved entirely on the basis of the scheme which Guy Roux established 45 years ago and has produced a conveyer belt of talent, like Lilian. That's the sort of concept we would like to gradually introduce at Argyle, which could set this club up for the next 20 or 30 years." Martin Watts, one of the youngsters, is hopeful of following his new team-mates' lead, but yesterday it was all about enjoying the moment. He said: "I'm very, very happy - not a lot of lads get the opportunity to sign professional forms, so I'm honoured. I found out three weeks ago but it really hasn't sunk in until now to be honest. It's been really good and the club's going to get stronger. Ian Holloway's getting a lot of good players in and is looking to strengthen the squad all the time. Dan Gosling got his chance and he took it very well. Ollie said to us before that he's not afraid of using young players. If he feels you are ready, he won't be afraid to use you."
Tony Capaldi has agreed to join Cardiff City on a free transfer
Argyle should be aiming for the play-offs next season, according to Barry Hayles. He said: "I think we had a decent season - we set out our stall with the standards we wanted. But we can always try and be better and I believe we should be looking at trying to get into the top six and the play-offs next season. We should be going that way and if the club make a few more additions, I don't see why we shouldn't be doing that. The problem with last season was that we had far too many draws. We started the season with the 1-1 draw against Wolves at home. We played well against some of the top teams, but we couldn't kill them off - we have got to have that killer instinct. When I look at the teams who finished above us, it was only Birmingham City who really beat us. Colchester, who we took six points off, actually finished above us." Hayles is the same age as Lilian Nalis, both of whom were among Argyle's top performers last season. Hayles, though, is not concerned about birthdays. He said: "I wanted to get to the 15-goal mark last season and I was one short and I hope next season I can do better. At our age, you need to stay in shape and do the right thing with our bodies - and that's what we do. I had my 35th birthday last week, but I think as long as you've got the enthusiasm for the game and the desire then I can keep playing. I'm still finding the back of the net - the minute I don't do that, then people will say that I'm past it. Hopefully, I can continue to score goals."
Peter Halmosi's international comeback has been put on hold because of a back injury. His name was missing when national coach Peter Varhidi announced his playing party for the games against Greece and Norway yesterday
Argyle's new intake of apprentices features a mix of local, national, and foreign teenagers. Michal Misiewicz is a 16-year-old Canadian youth international goalkeeper from Calgary. Other first-year recruits are Ashley Hodgkinson, a defender from Staffordshire, Ben Gerring (defender, Torquay), Ryan Brett (defender, Plympton), Gregg Moseley (midfielder, Derbyshire), Brian McCaul (midfielder, Belfast), Lewis Edwards (midfielder, Plympton), Josh Grant (striker, Torpoint) and Joe Mason, a striker from Plymouth.
Argyle's second-year apprentices next season will be Lloyd Saxton, Tom King, Damien McCrory, Shane Duggan, Bobby Hopkinson, Shane White and Toby Davis. Gordon Bennett and Mike Pejic have pulled Argyle out of the South Western League, and Pejic explained: "It was very difficult, when we came into a situation where the apprentices were being asked to play against men in an open age group. But that wasn't the only issue. The main issue was a massive and damaging effect which not everybody has seen. We're not pulling out of this league just because we felt the Under-18 lads weren't coping with the physical side of it. That was just one issue. The main issue, was that our younger boys, from the ages of 12 and 13 upwards, were massively affected by not getting success." Right up to the Under-16s, all of Argyle's youth teams were playing above their age groups, because of the decision to play the Under-18s in the South Western League. "The younger you get, the more you need to play on confidence," Pejic added. "What the club was doing had a damaging effect, and I feel it was a selfish approach by some people who were only thinking about one age- group. They wanted to toughen up the apprentices, without really looking at the wider picture. That was what we inherited. We need to get the club's young players back into their own age-group. It's up to the coach of each age-group to push forward a player whom they feel is able to step up an age level, rather than the whole team doing so. If they feel one particular player warrants a step-up, then that will happen." The age-group league football will be augmented by friendlies against high-class opposition. "What we plan to do in holiday periods is give our age- group teams some games against top Academy sides around the country," said Pejic. "We intend to run our department on an Academy basis as far as we can." That process will include a plan to upgrade the accommodation provided for the apprentices. Trainees whose homes are not within reach of Home Park have occupied a hostel near Plymouth railway station, which is owned and funded by the Training and Development Trust. Bennett and Pejic have no plans to alienate the Trust, but they are keen to give their players better facilities to live in. Bennett said: "The board is supportive of the hostel principle, but it may be appropriate at some time to consider moving to more modern premises elsewhere in the city. I believe in the principle and the importance of supporters' trusts, and the youth policy at Argyle would probably have withered on the vine but for the input of supporters. I'm very respectful of the efforts of everyone involved, and I'm very anxious that it should continue." Pejic added: "I'm aware of the political issues but you have to ask: Would you put your kid in a place like that? If you do, everything has to be in order. It's a selling-point, like the training facilities. Parents and kids have choices between this club and that club. We have to get things up to scratch, otherwise you get left behind. If you go to different clubs around the country, you'll see how far things have advanced over the past five or six years, never mind ten years."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake finished the season in superb form, and admits that it took him a while to adjust following his move to Home Park last summer. He said: "It has been a steady progress. I got over some injuries, got used to my team-mates and got used to the place. I think that has shown over the season. I finished high and can't wait for next season, and to carry on where I left off. I would like to get into double figures again and hopefully score more steadily over the season, rather than at the back end. It is important for every striker to try and break into double figures. There also needs to be a good spread of goals across the team." Peter Halmosi also grabbed the headlines with some excellent performances and Ebanks-Blake was delighted to hear that he had signed a permanent deal with the club. "This is the first I have heard that he has signed and I am pleased," he said. "Good service from the wing is important to any striker. Some strikers say you are only as good as the service. If you have got decent balls coming in regularly, it is my job to get on the end of them." Sylvan was back at Home Park yesterday with a few of his team-mates for Tim Breacker to keep a check on their fitness. "I have been back home visiting family, taking it easy and enjoying the break," he said. "We had to come back and do some fitness tests to see where we are two weeks into the break. The Gaffer wants to keep us ticking over, so that we can get on the balls quicker. It will definitely benefit us for the pre-season."
Gordon Bennett and Mike Pejic are getting stuck into the task of making major improvements to the Argyle youth set-up, which they inherited. Asked about the strengths of the department which they took over, Pejic said: "One strength is the area. It's a vast area, and there's a big population to recruit from with very few other clubs to compete with. We haven't stopped working since we arrived, because of all the problems which we inherited and which we didn't see prior to coming in. There's a huge amount of work to do. One or two players have come through, but they would have come through anyway because it's their local club. If we start from the bottom, we've inherited a batch of 14 development centres across the South West which, we feel, haven't been able to bear fruit in terms of feeding into Plymouth Argyle Football Club, apart from one or two examples like Gary Sawyer from the Bideford centre. That's a massive area where we have to get to work. There's not enough coming through, compared to what should have come through. Whether that's down to a lack of investment or whether it's because there hasn't been a proper structure in place is a good question, but what we intend to do is make sure that all these centres belong to Argyle. In each area, there will be a feed into the centre from schools and youth clubs, and the better kids will be fed into our proper centres of excellence. We've got centres of excellence in Ivybridge and Bodmin, and we're opening one in Truro and are drawing up plans for two or three others around the area. That will save kids from travelling massive distances, and it will allow us to spend more time with them. At the moment, we're spending only one hour a week with some groups, which is nowhere near enough." The 14 development centres have so far been operated on behalf of Argyle by Plymouth Argyle Youth Development Ltd, a company not controlled by the club which was set up in 1996 and will cease trading at the end of this month in a response to the club's new strategy. Pejic and Bennett feel that a Championship club should be in charge of its production line of school-age players. "We'll be in control of the system, and we'll be able to monitor it," Pejic added. "Argyle will then be able to reap proper benefit of the three million people in the area. Hopefully, we can cover every kid in all groups. That's our goal. Once we get that, the next step is a proper scouting network around the whole area, with a co-ordinator in charge of the network putting everything on a database. That is another massive job, which will take two or three years." As well as the scouting system, Pejic and Bennett aim to overhaul the coaching set-up at the venues away from Home Park. "The centres of excellence have been working," Pejic said, "but when we've turned up we've had coaches not turning up, or getting their mates to do sessions for them. We're addressing that. I've assessed the coaches presently working here. Some have left, and we've taken others on board. We need to be in charge of all the staffing at the centres of excellence and the development centres. Again, that's a massive job." The new additions will include some well-known names. "We've appointed Rhys Wilmot to look after the goalkeeping across all age-groups." Pejic said. "He'll be part-time, but we'll get him in as often as we can. We've also got Allan Evans on board. He's going to head the centres of excellence. He'll be part-time, but it's a big job. We'll be looking to recruit other people as well across the various age groups. It's a massive job. Once we get all this in place, then we'll be looking to increase the standard of player when everything is on board for them. If they want it, it's there. At the moment, we don't feel it's there. We want all this in place and working within three years, and hopefully then we'll see more of what I call A-grade players coming through. That will give us a healthier apprenticeship and more players with a chance of getting through to the first team. With Ian Holloway here as manager, there's a great opportunity for youngsters to come through, because he's brave enough to put them in the first team if he feels they're ready."
Gordon Bennett and Mike Pejic have decided to keep on seven players for the second year of their apprenticeships at Home Park, whilst four youngsters have been released. Lloyd Saxton, Tom King, Damien McCrory, Shane Duggan, Bobby Hopkinson, Shane White and Toby Davis have been kept on board. Tim Sandercombe, Mark Petnehazi, Jamie Laird and Karl Byrne have all been released
Argyle officials are thrilled at how many season tickets were sold up to the end of the discounted period yesterday. "We're delighted with the response from our supporters," Michael Dunford said. "We have now sold more than 7,000 tickets, which is just over 10% up compared to the figures this time last year at the end of the first early-bird sales period. There's a buoyancy, a feel-good factor, surrounding the club and hopefully supporters feel that way as well. The general atmosphere surrounding the club is far healthier this year than it was last year and that's the Ollie factor. We've had the first full season with Ollie and his team in charge and, with the Board backing him by supporting his signings, we finished 11th and played some entertaining football." Although the early-bird prices have now ended, anyone buying a season-ticket can still make a significant saving on the full price of a ticket. "There is still a considerable discount to be had in the second discount period, which finishes at the end of June," said Dunford, who declined to be drawn on how many fans would eventually purchase a season-ticket. "It is difficult to make predictions," he added, "but it certainly gives us a very firm indication that the level of season-ticket support is going to be considerably higher than it was last year."
Allan Evans cannot wait to get started in his role as the new manager of Argyle's Centre of Excellence. He said: "I am really looking forward to getting started - I am genuinely excited. Although I've held a number of jobs in football, at league and non-league level, this one is not one I've ever done before. But I think it's an excellent time to take it on as one season is finished and it gives me time to settle into the job before the next season starts. Basically, I'll be looking after the Centre of Excellence at Ivybridge and also managing the under-16 team. For me it's exciting, because the youngsters will naturally be full of enthusiasm, hoping to become professional footballers. I will be just as enthusiastic to try and make sure they do and provide good players for Argyle." Evans revealed it was the persistence of former Aston Villa team-mate and Argyle youth team manager, Mike Pejic, which persuaded him to take up the post. He said: "When Micky, who played with me at Villa, found out I lived down here, he asked me if I was interested in the youth role at Home Park. I wasn't sure at first, but Micky got on at me. So we had a few more meetings and then I met Gordon Bennett and I agreed to take it on."
A decision on whether Argyle can use the Mayflower Terrace next season is expected by the middle of next week. Michael Dunford said: "The Government have told us to expect a decision by the middle of next week. We have asked for dispensation to use the terrace for another 12 months, but the Government will not give that permission lightly. Richard Caborn came down to the ground three to four weeks ago and he knows first-hand what we are trying to achieve. Hopefully, our application will be granted by the middle of next week."
Akos Buzsaky admitted today that his call-up to the Hungarian national squad had come out of the blue. He said: "I haven't been told yet that I have been selected - I've only seen it on a website. If we are playing those two games, it really is going to be a test against Greece and Norway." Buzsaky accepts that Hungary will not be appearing in next year's European Championship finals, but said the team was being rebuilt for future competitions. He added: "I feel confident about the games against Greece and Norway. We've lost a couple of games in the European Championship qualifying rounds, but we are trying to build the side and consolidate for the World Cup qualifiers in two-and-a-half years' time." Buzsaky was not surprised that Argyle signed Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar. He said: "It's very good news that they have signed on. I wasn't surprised that they have got new contracts with us, because Plymouth Argyle needs those kind of players. Peter scored a lot of goals in the last four games and he was in international form. Krisztian, when he played, was one of the best players in defence for us and the Championship is his style of football. I am in contact with both of them and they are real ly pleased to have signed with Argyle."
Allan Evans has joined Argyle's youth coaching staff. The former European Cup winner has been appointed Centre of Excellence manager, and will also take charge of the club's Under-16s. "Allan is another high-quality and worthy addition to the Plymouth Argyle staff," said Gordon Bennett. "We look forward to having him working alongside us." Evans won the 1982 European Cup with Aston Villa, and also represented Scotland. Since retiring, he has coached at Leicester, West Brom, Stoke and Wolves, as well as managing Greenock Morton
Peter Halmosi today became Argyle's record signing when he completed his transfer, and signed a three-year deal. Ian Holloway said: "I am delighted that Peter has enjoyed it here and settled down, and wanted to re-sign. He is outstanding. He is a magnificent professional. He is so spot on with the way he lives, what he does and how he does it. I am delighted that I have had the backing to able to do the deal." Paul Stapleton said: "Ian came to us and asked us for the money to strengthen his squad and we had no hesitation in supporting him, as we always have done. We are an ambitious club. We equalled the club's transfer record only in January, when Ian signed Rory Fallon from Swansea, and people tend to forget that last summer's fee for Sylvan will eventually reach £350,000. Good judges in football tell us that Peter is Premiership class, and it is important for Argyle that we are signing players who are good enough to play in the Premiership." Holloway added: "When you are a wide-man, it's all about end-product. Most of the time, the people who put the ball in the net get the plaudits, but they will tell you that a decent ball in, which gives them that opportunity, is vital. Some managers get it wrong when they spend all their money on their strikers and don't get a decent winger. Normally, wingers don't like defending very well, but Peter does that very well. It's one of his best assets - he always seems to be in the right place - and he's starting to give an end-product. Hopefully, he will get better and better. It's going to be difficult when you don't speak the native language - but I am delighted with what he is doing for the team. He doesn't need any English information, which is really unusual. I've always questioned, having experienced my daughters' deafness, whether a deaf person would be able to play at the top level - and Peter would be good enough, even if he was deaf." Halmosi almost joined Everton at the beginning of the season before last but the two clubs were unable to agree a deal, and he subsequently had a trial at Celtic. Blackburn, Bolton and West Ham were also among clubs tracking his progress. Fellow Hungarian Akos Buzsaky said: "Because he has been linked with these clubs, he thinks it will be easier to step up later from England's second division, than from Hungary's first division. Hungarian football is different from English football, but he is a typical left-sided midfielder. He runs a lot, which is always good in England."
Krisztian Timar completed his move to Argyle today, for a fee of £75,000, and has signed a two-year deal. "Krisztian is a big monster of a fella," said Ian Holloway, "and he more than played his part in last season. He's added to our squad and has given me a dimension that we didn't have. He's very good in both boxes, and I can only see him getting better and stronger. I'm delighted to have him on board." Timar said: "I like everything about English football. It is good for me - a lot of tackling and heading. I enjoy it. I hope it's good for me."
The signings of Halmosi and Timar were expected to go through at the start of the week but were delayed due to a few minor details. Michael Dunford said: "The two clubs, the agent and everyone involved have behaved very honourably, but we were talking about two foreign clubs and international clearance and these things can take time." Halmosi's agent Vladan Filipovic had stated last week that Premiership clubs had shown an interest in the player. However, Dunford was unable to confirm those reports, but said: "We don't know about any interest from Premiership clubs, but anybody who had seen Peter Halmosi play at the end of the season wouldn't be surprised at that - he is a class act and good left-sided players are at a premium."
Akos Buzsaky and Peter Halmosi have both been included in the Hungarian squad for next month's European Championship qualifiers against Greece and Norway
Argyle have awarded professional contracts to four of last season's apprentices. Paul Kendall, Martin Watts, Dan Smith, and Anthony Mason are all being upgraded from the youth team to the pro ranks for 2007-08. Joining them will be Jake Moult, who played Argyle late last season after being released by Port Vale
Josh Clapham has been released by Argyle. Ian Holloway said: "With two very good goalkeepers in Luke and Romain, Josh's way was being blocked. This will free him to give himself the opportunity to carve out a career for himself elsewhere, which I am sure he will do."
Lee Hodges has agreed a new one-year deal with Argyle. Ian Holloway said: "I think Lee is an absolutely first-rate, top-drawer, fella. He is someone I can rely on, come rain or shine. He was born to play the way he does - it's just in his blood to be in the right place at the right time. He is an unsung hero, what Plymouth Argyle are all about. We're sprinkled with them and I don't want to lose them." Hodges said: "I'm really pleased. I do feel comfortable here and want to be here as long as I can. I have never ever wanted to leave, although I have had chances, and I'm really pleased to sign for another year. I am really pleased, because I didn't know what was happening. I'm getting my head down now. I'm going to have a couple of weeks away, but I will be in over the summer, probably every day. I am looking forward to the new season and will be ready when the others come back for pre-season." Holloway added: "I am delighted to have him re-signing. He's been unfortunate with one or two little problems. He would have played more games for me. He's a natural footballer. You can tell, by his class, that he started a lot higher than lower league players."
Dan Gosling has praised Argyle after almost certainly clinching his place in England's squad for this summer's Under-17 World Cup Finals in South Korea. He said: "For me, it has been a fantastic experience to be playing for England in the European Championships. Getting to play in three of the five matches was a real bonus too, and how close we came to winning it. I didn't feel out of place in the competition, even though some of the England lads were from top Premiership teams. And getting a chance to play in the final was amazing - although it was pretty tough out there as the weather was hot and the pace of the game was very high-tempo. I'm now really looking forward to going to the World Cup in South Korea. I think England are taking the current squad of which I'm a member, plus they are allowed to take three more players up to a maximum of 21. But this time last year, I would never have guessed I would get this far. I owe a lot of my success, of course, to the coaching and support I've received at Argyle, who have helped me to this level of success. They showed faith in me, giving me a good run in the first team last season, which I also enjoyed." Argyle's youth development officer John James emphasised that Gosling's maturity has been a contributory factor in his meteoric rise, which is just as well, because Dan still has to complete his college studies before the summer holidays. "Dan is a very talented footballer and likable young man, but because of his age he still comes under our apprenticeship scheme," said James. "So, it'll be back to training and college for Dan, as he must complete his education. Dan has had a tremendous season and has been a credit to Argyle. Big things have been expected of Dan and he's justifying that opinion. But he's only one of several good players who have come through the coaching set-up and there are some very promising young footballers yet to come through."
With less than a week left for fans to buy a 2007-08 season-ticket at the special early price, Argyle are pleased by the numbers sold. Michael Dunford said: "We have been very encouraged so far. One of the most pleasing aspects is the large number of new season-ticket holders we have attracted. We understand the financial strain of buying a season-ticket, but I think the standard of football and level of entertainment was better than we have experienced for a number of years at Home Park. The transfer speculation surrounding the signing of the two Hungarian players has not done any harm - we expect that deal to be complete by the end of this week. We had 7,300 season-ticket holders last year and I am confident that the vast majority of those will have renewed by Friday. Obviously, it does not stop others coming in to buy season-tickets and pledging their support to join the Green Army but it will give us a good indication and a good building-block for next season. We have held prices firm from last year and all I would ask of people is to seriously think about joining or renewing your season-ticket because every one we sell is like a building-block for Plymouth Argyle. I am certain it will be a hectic summer from a football perspective. Ian will obviously try to re-mould his squad even further and I would imagine there will be further new faces coming in. We need better players and Ian wants that, as do the board. It is a two-way situation because we need to see the level of season-ticket support, which normally represents around 60% of our average support for the season. We normally close at 5pm on a Friday but we will be open until 8pm this week. I am certain there will be queues on Thursday and Friday but we will not to be turning anyone away, that is for sure. If we have to open later than 8pm, then we will do."
Dan Gosling came on as a second-half substitute in England Under-17s 1-0 defeat to Spain in the UEFA Under-17 Championship final yesterday
Peter Halmosi will complete his £400,000 transfer to Argyle by Monday, and Krisztian Timar will also move to the club in a £100,000 deal. Vladan Filipovic, the agent for both players, reported that it was '99.9 per cent certain' that they would sign. Filipovic said: "I can't tell you exactly it's 100 per cent, but it's 99.9 per cent certain. I think we are very close and it will be finished in the next 24 hours, or by Monday at the maximum. Peter and Krisztian have liked playing for Plymouth so much and they want to go back. I hope everything will be okay. We had a few clubs from the Premiership that were asking about Halmosi, but Plymouth was always Peter's first option."
Tony Capaldi has confirmed he will be leaving Argyle this summer. He said: "I'm talking to three or four clubs at the moment and it's just a case of deciding what the best move is for me. But I don't want to rush into anything and then regret it. I want to go to a club with decent ambition and where I think I have got a good chance to play. A move closer to my home in Birmingham would be nice." Capaldi will leave Argyle on a free transfer after negotiations over a new contract broke down in January. He added: "I had a chat with the gaffer after the last game of the season. He has been as good as gold to me, but I just thought things had gone too far for me to stay at Plymouth. It's a bit disappointing because I have had four great years at the club, but maybe it's time for a fresh challenge. The time I have had down there has been brilliant and I have got a lot to be grateful for. Now I have decided to look at something else and, hopefully, it will turn out well." Capaldi admitted all the speculation about his future over recent months had been unsettling. He said: "It has been the worst period I have had at Plymouth. Ideally, I would have liked nobody to talk about my future, or write about it, until the end of the season. As it was, a lot was made of it. I'm quite a private person and I didn't enjoy that. When I didn't sign a contract in January the gaffer could have frozen me out, but that was never the case. The club have been fine with me. I just felt they didn't really come for me until January and, by that stage, I knew there was interest from other clubs. Had I been offered a contract at the start of the season I would definitely have signed it." Capaldi made 153 first team appearances for Argyle, and also became the club's most capped international, playing 21 times for Northern Ireland. He said: "I couldn't have asked for much more from my time at Plymouth - apart from promotion to the Premiership. We have finished every season in a higher league position than the previous year, which is a great achievement. Things have gone really well." Although Capaldi is leaving Argyle, he believes the club can have a bright future with Ian Holloway as their manager. He said: "In the four years I have been at the club, whenever I have been out and about, the supporters have always been very complimentary and very encouraging. I have got a lot of good friends in Plymouth and the lads are great. I really wish them well for the future. The gaffer is definitely the right man for the job. If he gets some support from the board and can make a few additions to the squad I think they have got every chance of making the play-offs next season."
Lee Hodges is thought to be close to agreeing a new one-year contract with Argyle
Paul Wotton feels Argyle's report card for the 2006-07 season should make good reading. "I think they are pleased with what they've done," he said. "First and foremost, they've given their best in every game. I know that's the minimum you can expect, but it's always nice for the fans who pay their hard-earned money to come and see a team who are going to try their best every week. The lads can be pleased, but we know we can improve. You always have to strive to improve. If we'd cut out a couple of mistakes here and taken a couple of chances there, we'd have been really close to the play-offs. It all bodes well for next season. There will be players coming and going, which is always exciting for the fans." Asked how easy he found it to replace participating with spectating, Wotton added: "It's been frustrating. Since the age of six, I've played football every Saturday afternoon. Just watching is something which is alien to me. When something is taken away from you, that's when you appreciate it more. It hasn't been too bad because it has made me realise how much I love playing football and how much I miss it, how much I miss the adrenalin and the competitiveness of a Saturday afternoon. In some ways, it's good that it's been taken away from me - because it's made me want it even more."
Argyle expect to finally hear within the next few weeks whether the club will be given dispensation to use the Mayflower Terrace next season. The club were hoping to hear a decision from Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, last month, but the department asked for 'more observations' on the application before making a final ruling. An Argyle spokesman said: "The department has asked us for more observations - they've come back to us with things they wanted to clarify and we have been happy to do that. We're still waiting to hear whether we've got dispensation or not and we expect that to happen in the coming weeks. The positive thing is that the department is still considering it and it has not been ruled out."
Dan Gosling was an unused substitute in England under-17's 1-0 semi-final win over France today
Kevin Gallen is waiting to find out whether he has a future with Argyle. He will be given a free transfer by QPR this summer and has admitted he would be interested in extending his stay at Home Park. "I'm up in the air at the moment," he said. "I'm not going to be at QPR any more so we will see what happens. I want to keep playing in the Championship - I believe I'm good enough." The move to Home Park saw Gallen reunited with Ian Holloway, who signed him for QPR, and the pair were also team-mates at QPR during Holloway's playing days. Gallen said: "There has been the same sort of antics and banter. It has been really good. I have thoroughly enjoyed it." As to his future, Gallen added: "I will have to sit down and talk to Ollie and see if he wants me first. I would be interested in staying because if they show a bit of ambition and get a few more players in I think they could do well next season. You have to have the right blend of youth and experience, and I think the manager has got that at the moment." Argyle were only eight points outside the play-offs after their excellent end to the season, and Gallen said: "There are games since I have been here where we should have picked up more points than we did, but I suppose it evens itself out. Five wins on the spin is a good achievement in any league." Barry Hayles was Argyle's top scorer with 14 goals while Sylvan Ebanks-Blake ended up with 10 after a strong finish to the season, and Gallen believes the best is yet to come from Ebanks-Blake. He said: "When I joined in January I don't think Sylvan had that many goals. But he has scored a lot towards the end of the season and now he has got to take that into next year and carry on from where he has left. He probably doesn't want the season to end. Barry has done very well and is a real competitor. I think Sylvan can learn a lot off him." Gallen made his 16th and final appearance for Argyle at Hull, and the win was merited, according to Gallen. "It was a worthy win," he said. "I think we were the better team. We were quite comfortable, really. It was a really good end to the season, and it was just a pity we lost three in a row before that. If it hadn't been for that run, we could have talking about the play-offs now. We should have picked up more points than we have done, but five wins on the spin is still a good achievement in any league."
Ian Holloway knows that his players have done him proud this season, yet he also feels that they could have claimed a greater reward for their efforts. "This season, for me, has been a great start, but it's only a start," he said. "I want to move forward. Maybe I'm not the most patient man in the world. Maybe I should learn a bit of decorum, but I don't like losing. Basically, we've lost. No matter how you cut it, we've lost." Asked how he would mark his own work in an end-of-season report, Holloway said: "Maybe about 50 per cent, I would say, if you get 100 per cent for being promoted. We're only halfway there. I think the credit should go to the players. I think they should get 200 out of 100, when you consider the money they're getting paid compared to what some of the people they're up against get paid. The difference is quite gross, and absolutely unfair, but our boys have been absolutely outstanding and they've often ended up beating those so-called superstars. I'm delighted with Argyle, absolutely delighted. Considering what we pay our players, I think we've exceeded where we should finish by a million miles. I think Colchester have out-done us on that, but I don't think anyone else has. That's how you judge it but, for me, that's excuses. What little bit of money we give our lads is still a mountain to me, and I'm expecting certain things from them and they've given me what I want." Asked to identify the highlights of the season, Holloway added: "I think it's been the emergence of some of our young fellows, and the interest that has caused. I think some of the performances of the senior players have been absolutely outstanding as well. You want them to guide the younger players, to show them how to act. They've done that." Holloway is anxious to give his players better working facilities - as soon as the club can afford to do so. "There's loads and loads to do," he said. "We need a new training ground and we need the rest of our stadium, but before that I want to build this team, because I think this team could pay for all of it. We've finished three wins away from the play-offs, and that's heart-breaking for me because I'm a very ambitious person. We've let too many goals in and we've not scored enough to get where we want to get, and we'll have to work on that next year, but the highlight for me from day one has been their effort." Holloway believes that everyone at Home Park has performed a minor miracle to establish Argyle as a Championship team, considering the spending power of many of their rivals. "It's remarkable, the job that this club has done," he said, "and I feel like I'm a lucky person to have inherited it."
Paul Wotton has admitted his five-month absence from football has left a 'massive void' in his life. He is continuing to make good progress in his rehabilitation, but is refusing to set any targets of when he could make his comeback. He said: "I never set targets. I'm boring when it comes to things like that. It's day by day, week by week. If you do that, before you know it you will be back playing. All I can say is that this has definitely made me appreciate how much I love football and how much I miss playing. It's a massive void in my life at the minute and I can't wait for it to come back to me. It has re-energised me and given me a new boost for the game. I'm excited about playing again. I'm going to have to wait and be patient, but when it does come around it will be all the more sweeter, I know that." Wotton suffered a similar injury to Michael Owen, and if he were to take the same recovery time, would be back in action on October 29th. Wotton added: "I think you definitely take playing football for granted. Every Saturday afternoon since I was six years old I have played football, so now it's absolute murder. It's really tough, and being out for this long is not just a physical test, it's a mental test as well. Hopefully, when I come back I'm a more mature person, a fitter player and a better player, because I have watched a lot of football. It's something I'm looking forward to." Wotton could take some part in pre-season training with the rest of the Argyle squad after the summer break, but will need to play several matches before he is ready to play at Championship level. Wotton said: "Me and Maxie have discussed a few things. Basically, I will be with Maxie until he decides I'm fit enough to go in with the first team. It's as simple as that. I have got every faith in him and he will do what's right by me. That's for sure. But, hopefully, I will be involved in one or two little bits in pre-season."
Ian Holloway has admitted he may have to be patient when it comes to building a team that can challenge for promotion to the Premiership. He said: "The board have got a lot to think about and they have got a lot to try to do. I will be speaking to the chairman as soon as I possibly can. I spoke to him last week and he had loads of other things to do. He had meetings up in London about the ground. That's just the way it is. I wish we had a lovely stadium like the one at Hull and it was already done. Then I could just focus totally on the team but, unfortunately, we are not in that position. So I might have to be a bit more patient than I really want to be, because I believe we are a very promising up-and-coming side. We have got a huge fan base with not too much disposable income, so I need to win to get them there every week."
Dan Gosling came on as a late substitute in England's 4-2 victory over Holland in the European Under-17 Championships yesterday
For Ian Holloway, Argyle's success in the FA Cup this season evoked mixed emotions. He enjoyed the experience of a cup run, but also thought it was a distraction as Argyle pushed, in vain, for the play-offs. Holloway said: "It was a new experience for me to have that type of cup run and to have that type of hype. I had to try to keep a whole group's minds motivated and focused for league games, when everyone else was talking about the cup. It was a new challenge for me. I don't think I failed but I just think it really does affect you subconsciously. You lack that yard of zest, if you know what I mean. It's the same as anything you try to do in life. You have to be totally focused on what you are doing. If there is anything else on your mind, whether you are a writer, a pianist or whatever, you can't do it carrying some other thoughts around. You have to be clear." Holloway believes the way cup fever gripped Plymouth before the quarter-final with Watford showed the potential of the club. He said: "Surely we have got to be focusing on getting in the Premiership. I would have to say the best thing about this season was the quarter-final. The excitement that brought, and the build-up to the day, was fantastic - and that was against Watford. With the greatest respect, they got relegated before anyone else. If that was Liverpool, or Manchester United, or Chelsea or Arsenal or anybody - Blackburn Rovers. Can you imagine what that would have been like? Well, I have got a very good imagination. I have seen it when you turn up on a bus at a Premiership ground at half-past one and there are people everywhere. I shall never forget, whatever happens to me, when I walked across the car park before the Watford game and all the people were there. The Premiership is a possibility. It is a reality. We could get there. I still believe that. If I didn't, I wouldn't be here. But everybody connected with the club needs to pull together and stand on the same stair. Nobody is above anybody. Nobody is beneath anybody. We are all doing it together. That's how I feel." In the closing weeks of the season there were some disappointing attendances at Home Park. Holloway made an impassioned plea, calling on more supporters to get behind the teams, and his comments provoked a massive response. He said: "I have had some wonderful letters - very, very constructive ones - and that's all I asked for. I will guarantee you one thing. The board of directors will see every single one of them, and we will discuss how we are going to take this club forward." Holloway thought one of the success stories of the season was the progress made by some of the club's young players. He said: "I think the emergence of some of these young fellas has been absolutely outstanding - far beyond anything I could have hoped for before I came here. We have made great strides in the youth department to actually take the club forward. We have always had some great help, but we are trying to rejig it and make sure everything is for the betterment of the players. Every single thing we do is to develop our players. Hopefully, I can continue playing them in the first team. I think Gary Sawyer has come on in leaps and bounds and he got in the first team on merit in the end. I could have replaced him from outside but I didn't need to, so full credit to him. It's great the fans have got behind him and voted for him as young player-of-the-year because he was consistent. It was a position that was a little bit foreign to him at first, but that's the sort of development and attitude we want." Holloway was appointed as manager last June, the day before the start of pre-season training following the departure of Tony Pulis. He said: "It wasn't ideal, but I was very fortunate that Tony had trouble-shooted a lot of the problems for me. I was left with a blank canvas, so to speak, but we had almost spent all our budget so that was difficult." One of Holloway's first moves was to sign Barry Hayles, and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was also added for an initial £200,000 fee. Holloway said: "We needed some strikers. Everybody knew that. But I think a few eyebrows were raised when I signed Barry Hayles, to be honest. Paying £100,000 for a 34-year-old didn't look good business but, hopefully, it does now." Holloway was also busy during the January transfer window. He added: "When I added those five players in January I really and truly believed that we could get in the play-offs. Unfortunately, we have ended up outside them. I don't think it was the 'Week from Hell' that killed us. It was all the draws we managed to pile up." Holloway was followed to Argyle from QPR by Des Bulpin, Tim Breacker and Gary Penrice, who have all combined well with Geoff Crudgington and Paul Maxwell, who were already at the club. Holloway said: "I would like to congratulate every one of my staff. They have been absolutely outstanding. The ones I have inherited have made me feel really welcome and worked their socks off. They have had to adjust what they do and I thank them for that because, in any organisation, people can be scared of change. We have had far too many changes over recent years. Hopefully, stability is back and our results next season will prove that. You have to progress. No-one likes standing still - me least of anybody I know. I'm not a patient man. I'm not going to put up with standing still and I'm not going to put up with going backwards."
Ian Holloway believes Argyle have made tremendous strides during the course of the 2006/07 season. He said: "Obviously, you are very pleased when you win games and I'm pleased what we are changing into. I thought we looked a very accomplished, calm, decent side who understand the league now and understand how to win games in it. Considering how many young players we have got in our midst, I'm delighted really. Hopefully, we can build on this and we can get better and move forward. I would just like to thank everybody at the club. It has been an absolutely terrific first season for myself, my wife and our kids. Hopefully, they will settle down and stop moaning at Dad, 'what did you move me down here for?' I have a little briefcase and I will travel. It's the life of a football manager isn't it? Holloway admitted he had been disappointed with the way Argyle began their last game of the season. He said: "I thought Hull handled us too comfortably at the start for my liking. We didn't turn their back four and we didn't get our wide men in the right places. All of a sudden, we actually got it down and passed it. We had a decent move, got a penalty and then we missed it. It looked like it was going to be one of those days." Argyle broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time with a goal from Peter Halmosi. Holloway said: "Romain showed a great bit of thinking to send it early and Akos brought the ball down with snow on it, with the outside of his right foot. He played it to Chuck, who picked out Peter Halmosi, and before you know it we are 1-0 up. I think we deserved to be leading by half-time, just about, on the balance of play." Sylvan Ebanks-Blake added Argyle's second in the 59th minute, which made amends for his penalty miss in the first half. Holloway said: "I'm pleased for him. He's getting stronger, he's getting fitter and it looks like he believes he should be in this sort of team now. When he first came here from Manchester United he was a little bit lost. But you have got to remember he's still wet behind the ears. He could have been in the running for the young player-of-the-year this season. At £200,000 for him, going up to £400,000, that's a good bit of business." Holloway added: "Barry Hayles has proved me right again, the old warhorse. I wish he wouldn't shout at referees so much but, sometimes, I can understand it with some of those decisions today. Some of those tackles were a little bit fruity, but everyone is fine."
Peter Halmosi has confirmed he wants to stay with Argyle next season. He said: "I have really enjoyed my time here, especially the last couple of months. I'm looking forward to having an answer about whether I'm staying or not, but I would love to stay." It is thought Argyle have been trying to get Debrecen to accept a smaller payment for Halmosi, but that seems unlikely to be successful. Halmosi said: "There is a price in the contract and Plymouth know they have to pay that money if they want to sign me. I don't think my club will come down from this price. That's why the decision is taking time because it's good money, but for a good player." Halmosi enjoyed his afternoon at the KC Stadium. "At the start of the first half I didn't see enough of the ball, but at the end of the first half and in the second half I really enjoyed the game," he said. "I felt much better after I scored." Argyle's other scorer yesterday, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, took his goal tally into double figures. "I'm pleased with that," he said. "It should have been 11 goals, really, but I missed another penalty, which was disappointing. I picked myself up, carried on with the game and got my just rewards." Ebanks-Blake aimed his penalty towards the centre of the goal, but Boaz Myhill stood his ground. "I thought about slotting it in the corner, but I just stuck to my normal regime," he said. "When you hit it down the middle, you hardly go wrong, so I was unfortunate." Sylvan knew who to thank for the goal he did score. "Peter has been outstanding for us," Ebanks-Blake said. "I hope he gets a contract next year with us. All the lads want that, because he's been a revelation."
Ian Holloway has paid tribute to Kevin Gallen for his contribution to Argyle's season, and to football in general. Gallen was excused the long trip back to Devon following the victory over Hull in order to return to London to pick up an award for being QPR's Player of the Decade. "I am delighted for him to get that recognition," said Holloway. "I was there when he was a babby. To see him play now? He's done it again today - he's come on and organised half my people. He's fantastic. He's a centre-forward, but he can play anywhere. Good luck, mate."
Ian Holloway believes that Argyle would have at least been pushing for the Championship play-offs had it not have been for the 'week from hell'. "We had one week that spoilt our season," he said. "We could have, should have, almost been there. But, there you go, not a bad start, we'll see what we can do next year. The cup run spoiled our momentum. We missed games, then we tried to rush one in at Burnley and that went horribly wrong and blew up in my face. I said some quite nasty things after that little run. The players picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and I thought they were terrific against Leeds. We didn't deserve to lose that game, but we did, and still showed great character to win the last five games. I said I wanted six, seven or eight wins from the last nine. I thought we were good enough. Unfortunately, we had the Week From Hell and it's costs us. Hopefully, we can build on that, we can get better, we can move forward. I'm pleased what we are changing in to. Today, we looked a very accomplished, calm, decent side, one that understands the league now and that understands how to win games. Considering how many young players we've got in our midst, I'm delighted. I'd just like to thank everybody at the club. It's been an absolutely great first season at the club for myself, my wife Kim, and all my kids."
Ian Holloway thinks the £400,000 fee Argyle have agreed for Peter Halmosi represents great value for money. He said: "Considering the rest of the league are playing all sorts of money for all sorts of people, I would think that would be an absolute snippetydoing. I like to keep good players at my football club; hopefully, I can do that. There is an agreement in place. I'm sure, if the lad wants to stay, we can go through with it. He might be fed up with me already. I don't think he can understand one word I say but, to be honest with you, some of my English-speaking people can't. Today, he gave his full-back a bit of a torrid run around. He scored one goal and made the other, and he hit the post. His brain is moving. Everything about him has proved to be what we hoped he would be." Holloway put Halmosi's improved form down to his settling in at Home Park and the harder playing surfaces. He said: "Football is so expectant. It's like instant coffee. The kettle's boiled and all the fans are 'pour it on, pour it on'. You can't expect that. He needed his family here - his daughter wasn't here for a month - and the pitches were terrible. You have got to adapt. But he's quality. You pour some cream in your coffee and eventually it comes to the top. That boy is a quality player, absolutely outstanding, and has made a huge difference in the last six games. You cut your cloth accordingly, and hopefully we can make a very nice suit out of our cloth." Holloway hailed another bargain-buy as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake notched double-figures for the season, despite missing another penalty to open the scoring. "He could have had 12 or 13 if he learned to take penalties, but I'm pleased for him," he said. "He's stronger, he's getting fitter, and he looks like he believes he should be in that team now. When he first came here, he was a little bit lost, but £200,000 for him - that's quite a good bit of business." Holloway will now sit down with his players and outline his plans for next season. It is not a task he is altogether relishing. "Football is so harsh when it ends," he said. "It's not fair. Even when you are having a divorce, you have got to go and see her now and again, have a little chat but, with a football contract, you are out. It is awful."
Phil Brown and Ian Holloway were in complete agreement that Leeds United escaped lightly from the club's off-field financial problems. Hull manager Brown said: "I think it's disgraceful. It's almost tantamount to cheating legally, if there is such a thing. We're trying to get rid of diving, because that is cheating, and then, off the field, we have chairmen who pull the plug. We've been working our tripe off since Christmas to survive and then, to pull the plug, in terms of the way Leeds United did, I felt almost cheated before the game. We were beaten by a better team today. I thought Plymouth were a good side, and they are a top-half side, but, before the game, there was almost a surreal feeling. I'd like the fine to carried over to the next season and I'd like it to be 50 points, as opposed to ten." Holloway was in complete agreement. "You shouldn't overspend," he said. "You should run your club properly and you shouldn't run up these debts. It's not right. I don't like what's happening around football, plunging into administration when you shouldn't. I think that's absolutely, terribly, disgustingly wrong. You don't go running up debts and cheating in the end. You should be docked ten points from next season, like poor old Rotherham were, in my opinion."
Argyle won 2-1 at Hull City, the goals scored by Peter Halmosi after 45 minutes and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (59). Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Seip, Kouo-Doumbe, Sawyer, Buzsaky, Nalis, Norris, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs - Gallen, Fallon (not used - McCormick, Timar, Djordjic). Attendance - 20,661.
Ian Holloway has promised that Argyle will be going all out to finish the season with a fifth consecutive win tomorrow. He said: "It's a strange one because it's a Sunday and it's a one o'clock kick-off so that makes it all a bit different, but we want to win. Simple as that. Questions were asked a few weeks whether we still had our minds on it. I think we had terrible disappointment after losing to Watford in a game that we knew we should have done better in goal-wise. We had a little blip after that but, overall, I think the lads have been magnificent all season really. It's not good enough for me, though. I'm only interested in winning and I'm only interested in progressing and moving forward. I would see anything other than a win at Hull as a failure. I think we have drawn far too many games this season. You end up where you deserve to be. Football is like water - you find your own level. It's our job to push things forward and try to get a better squad than we have ended up with this season. I'm not going to take anything else less than that so onwards and upwards." Two Travel Club coaches will be leaving Home Park at 5am tomorrow to take Argyle supporters to Humberside, and Holloway added: "I think the fans have been magnificent, particularly the away ones. However awkward it is to get to Hull, I'm sure there will be loads there. It's absolutely outstanding. What more can I say? Everywhere I have been throughout this city, and throughout this part of the world, the people are genuine and they want you to do well. They really do care. We will be trying to win because it would be a magnificent achievement to get 67 points from where we started. But I'm not going to put up with that. I want better than that. I want promotion - end of story. The people down here deserve it."
Holloway is not expected to make many changes, if any, for the game. He said: "I will have a look at it. I will tell the players first. I don't think Bojan is going to be fit, and I don't think Hasney is going to be fit at all." Holloway admitted it was unlikely that Ashley Barnes would be included in the squad for the first time. Holloway said: "I haven't got any injuries up front or to any of the players on the bench so it would be a bit silly and unfair to just catapult him in there. I want to give him a message that 'look son, you are earning it on merit'. He has just come from Paulton Rovers and I don't just throw someone in my first team squad. Other managers might do that but I have been steadily playing young fellas all season because they have earned it. I think it's a very dangerous ploy to throw someone in who hasn't earned it. There has to be a structure." If Barnes is part of the squad he will experience a 683-mile round-trip by road, and not by air as has been the case for some of this season's games. "We're going by coach, and I'd like to think that if we were in with a shout of getting promoted we wouldn't be going by coach," Holloway said. "It's been deemed that we've got to cut our cloth that way, so the lads have got to do it. I'm not letting them use that as an excuse, but that is not ideal preparation for a Championship club."
For most of Argyle's senior squad, the summer holidays will start after tomorrow's game at Hull City and will end some time in late June. Paul Wotton though, faces a rehabilitation schedule which has been mapped out for him by the club physiotherapy and medical staff, and which will last almost all summer. "I'm looking forward to being in all the summer," he said. "It's part of being injured, it's a mental test as well as a physical challenge, and at the moment I'm not coping too badly with it. In a way, it won't be so bad in the summer, because I won't miss any games." Wottons injury was sustained against Hull in early December and corrective surgery took place in London in late January. That was the start of the road to recovery, and a trip to the continent was part of the process. The destination was a clinic which had treated Romain Larrieu, who had a similar injury in the opening weeks of the 2003-04 season. "I went to France for three weeks, straight after the operation, which was good," Wotton said. "It gave me a good start on the knee. 90 per cent of the clinic's work is ACL reconstructions. I was in good hands, and since I've come back I've been working with Maxie. I've been working hard in the gym and now I've progressed to some running as well. It's all good, Maxie's happy and so am I, but it's slowly but surely rather than rapid progress. That's the way it has to be. You can't rush this. You set yourself tiny little targets, and when you reach them you set yourself another little target. To some people the target might seem silly but, when you haven't been able to do something and then all of a sudden you're running - no matter how slow it is - it's a big incentive to keep going and it's a good motivation for you. At the moment I'm only doing straight running, and then we're going to bring in checking, turning, zig-zag running, backwards running, and then the final few things will be kicking a ball and jumping to head a ball. I'll get around to recreating the header that I did against Hull, which will be a mental test more than a physical one. Maxie has got the programme set out and it's very thorough, so when I'm back I'm sure it will be spot-on. The ball-work will come when it comes. I'm not sure if it will be pre-season or later or earlier. At the moment the furthest thing from my mind is kicking a ball. That's pretty much the last thing for me to do. Once I start doing that, it will be all systems go."
Lilian Nalis firmly believes that Argyle can make the play-offs next season. He said: "We really believe that what we have done this season and what we have been learning can take us into the play-offs. I think the draws we had before Christmas cost us a lot. We also lost three games in a row after the FA Cup run, which was hard." Victory at Hull would make it five wins in a row to complete the season and Nalis is a firm believer in ending on a high note. "We have got four wins in a row and we need to try and make it five," he said. "I really believe that you start the season the way you finished the one before. If we can finish with five in a row, it has got to be great for us." After signing a one-year extension to his contract, Nalis admitted that he is looking forward to returning home to Corsica in the summer. He said: "I will go back home to Corsica and stay on the island. We might go to Italy because my wife likes to go there. If not, we will stay at home, chill out and see some friends and family. I will still be running, cycling, swimming and doing everything I can because I always need sports. My son was jumping around when he knew I had signed an extension because he is really happy at school."
Dan Gosling played in England's 1-1 draw with Belgium in the European Under-17 Championships today
Ian Holloway has admitted no decision has been taken yet on the future of Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar. Holloway is awaiting confirmation of his playing budget for next season, and said: "I can't tell you anything about that. I'm hoping to have some clarity as to who's staying and who's going by Monday so I can go off and have a holiday."
Romain Larrieu is convinced that what he has been through in the past year has made him a stronger person as well as a more experienced sportsman. Larrieu was diagnosed with testicular cancer during the close-season last year, but won the battle to conquer the illness - and the long-term prospects are good. "I have had a check-up every three months, and so far so good," he said. "I finish the first year of check-ups at the end of August, and from then on I will have a check-up every six months. A year later, it will be every year for three or four years. Everyone at the hospital has been very positive in the way they have been dealing with me. My case is pretty straightforward and no more worrying than any other. There is very little chance of a recurrence, almost no chance." In partnership with BBC Devon presenter Gordon Sparks, who experienced the same illness last year, Larrieu became heavily involved in raising funds for Plymouth's Mustard Tree Centre, which provides information and support for cancer patients. "If people want to hear how I dealt with the illness, I am happy to tell them," he said. "I have been through a long process of sorting out what is important in my life, and I feel a lot better for it. I feel a stronger person now than I was before cancer, I have to say. The illness is something that makes you feel very lonely, because it is not something that you want to talk about very much. Cancer is a scary word, and when you have it the first thing you want to do is make sure the people you love are not worried. You protect them." Larrieu made his return to the Argyle first team last December but, after four games and a couple of costly mistakes, he was left out. His recall, it seemed, had been premature. The solution was a 12-week loan spell with Gillingham. "I think my time with Gillingham went to plan, more or less," he said. "I found what I was looking for. The first thing was match practice, and in some ways to try and salvage the season. The season started really badly for me, but now I have played 19 games. If you had given me that back in August, I would have taken it. I felt good when I was with Gillingham. There were ups and downs, there were some really good performances and some not as good, but all in all I think everyone at Gillingham was happy with what I gave to the club, and that's what I went there for. They were in a relegation scrap, and I was glad I was able to stay there long enough for them to get enough points to stay up." Ian Holloway gave Larrieu the chance to demonstrate his progress since the turn of the year against Preston last Saturday. "I did not have much to do," Larrieu said, "but I was happy with the way it went with what I was asked to do. We kept a clean-sheet, and our defence was first-class. Preston hardly had a shot on target." Argyle finish the season at Hull City on Saturday. "I don't know if I'll be asked to play or not," Larrieu added, "but I have managed to turn things round a little bit and I am sure it will help me greatly for next season. I am already looking forward to the pre-season period, and I have been for a long time. I want to make sure I'm ready, and then we'll see. I'm not worried, I just want to get on with it and just work and feel fit. From then, the manager will pick me or he'll pick the other guy. That's just football."
Bojan Djordjic and Hasney Aljofree are expected to recover from their injuries and be available for Argyle's final game of the season at Hull City on Sunday. Paul Maxwell said that if neither player suffers a reaction then they could be included in the travelling party for the trip. He said: "Bo should be okay, but he's been suffering from a slight inflamation on his Achilles, so we'll need to keep an eye on that. Has took a blow to the foot when he was up at Oldham and it has caused him a fair bit of discomfort. We'll see how they get on over the next couple of days but, hopefully, they should be fine for Sunday." However, Lee Hodges will not play any part in the game. "Hodgie's coming along all right, but Sunday would be too soon for him - his hamstring is still a bit sore," said Maxwell. "Obviously he wants to play, but we're playing it safe with him. With rest the injury will settle down."
Argyle have extended their sponsorship with Ginsters. The company will continue to be the club's main sponsors for another two seasons. Paul Stapleton said: "We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Ginsters, and proud to wear their logo on our shirts. They have been our valued partners for five years now and it is entirely appropriate that the two of us have forged such a special bond as we are both proud of our Westcountry roots, but recognised all over the world in our respective fields. Ginsters is this nation's best loved brand of snack foods for people on the move and we are a club on the move, as we have shown since they began sponsoring us in 2002. They are a brand well known to football supporters all over the country and one that our Green Army can easily identify with and be proud of." The deal was announced this afternoon in the Argyle boardroom. Financial details of the sponsorship package were not revealed, but both sides agreed that it was based upon 'significantly improved terms.' Ian Holloway said: "It goes without saying that the support we have from Ginsters is vital to this football club, and I would like to add the thanks of myself and players for their continued backing. As well as sponsoring the shirts, Ginsters also support the club in a number of other ways. For instance, they provide the boys with food on the team bus for our away trips: sandwiches, wraps, buffet bars, sausage rolls, savoury slices, as well as traditional Cornish pasties - sometimes we get as far as Taunton and still have some left. Since becoming manager of this great club, I have realised how important Argyle is to the Westcountry and, in turn, how vital the support of the local community is - the more we get backing of good people like Ginsters, the better it will be for our future. I am committed to Argyle, Ginsters are committed to us, and we are both committed to doing the best for the Green Army."
Dan Gosling came on as a substitute for the second-half of England's 2-0 victory over Iceland in the European Under-17 Championships today
Argyle reserves lost 2-1 at Cardiff in their final game of the season today, the goal scored by Shane Duggan. Mike Pejic said: "We looked good until half-time and should have gone in with more than a 1-0 lead. But after the break we let them dominate and didn't adapt quickly enough when I changed the system. Overall, though, I was pleased with the boys' display, but our failure to score more in the first half cost us." Argyle: Clapham, King, Watts, White, Moult, Laird.J, McCrory, Duggan, Malsom, Davis, Smith. Subs - Grant, Gerring, Hopkinson (not used - Brett)
Argyle end their 2006/07 campaign at Hull City on Sunday, after which the squad will have a meeting with Ian Holloway at Home Park before starting their eight-week summer break. Holloway will emphasise to them the importance of maintaining their fitness levels during that time. Each player has a personal development folder which contains all sorts of information about them, such as the percentage of body fat for example, and all will have to report to Home Park once during the summer so these figures can be checked and assessed. Holloway said: "There are two dates - and they can choose either one of them - where they come in and do some testing. That will be either three or four weeks before we are back for pre-season so we can see if anyone is slacking and give them a separate programme. It tells us where they all are." Argyle will start pre-season training on July 1st, and Holloway has high expectations of his players in terms of their fitness. He said: "We are demanding them to come back ready to do full training, which means we can get the ball out and do things. We don't want to have to catch anybody up because they haven't done what they should have done in the summer. They realise that when you play for me you have to be really, really fit. I was always very, very fit and I demand that my players are fit. It might be new for one or two of them, but it should be good. Before they go away we are going to check their diets and tell them what's good for them and what's not. A lot of them know it anyway, but we are just running a final rule over them. We are expecting them to improve on their body fats, not get worse. That's a problem if you put some weight on because you can't carry it around."
Argyle's youth structure is set for a major shake-up this summer, with the club taking back complete control of all activities. This follows the announcement that Plymouth Argyle Youth Development Limited have 'reluctantly decided' to cease trading on May 31st. PAYD have not revealed exactly why they are to cease trading, but reports state it is not because of financial issues. Earlier this year, Gordon Bennett took over as Argyle's head of youth development, with Mike Pejic taking over as chief coach. Bennett said: "Firstly, I think everyone associated with Plymouth Argyle would like to place on record their appreciation of the enormous amount of time and money which the supporters' trust, through PAYD, have put into both the centres of excellence and the development centres. They handed the centres of excellence back to the football club last year and the proposal now is to hand the development centres across. We are calling a meeting with all the coaches and organisers at the 14 development centres next month to have an initial discussion about how we improve the contribution they can make to the overall youth development programme at the club. Since Mike Pejic and I have been down here, we have been very impressed with the potential that there is for developing a thriving conveyor belt of homebred talent from Devon and Cornwall for the benefit of Plymouth Argyle. We shall be doing our utmost to carry on the good work that PAYD has been doing for the past 11 years." The demise of PAYD was confirmed, after several weeks of rumours, in a Press release yesterday. It said: "The directors of Plymouth Argyle Youth Development Limited have today announced that, after careful consideration, they have reluctantly decided the company will cease trading on May 31, 2007. Following discussions with Plymouth Argyle Football Club Co Ltd, which are still ongoing, it is hoped the running of PAYD's various soccer and development centres will pass to the youth department at the club. The directors of PAYD Ltd would like to thank everyone who has assisted and all those who have donated the money which has seen the youth scheme open the centres operating from Somerset in the east to the west of Cornwall."
Lilian Nalis has paid tribute to the supporters who have made him Argyle's player of the season - and also to the team-mates who have been by his side throughout the campaign. He said: "I was really proud and I want to thank everyone who has supported me all year. I like the team spirit here. I would never have done anything this season if all the players had not had great seasons too, and I really believe that. A lot of them could have been players of the year as well. It is a team sport, and I wanted all my team-mates to share the trophy with me. Everybody has been working really hard to get the team to where we are now, and I can't see one man coming out of that and saying: 'I'm player of the year'. I'm proud of my work, but my award goes straight to the team." The club's young player of the season trophy was awarded to Gary Sawyer, and Nalis said: "I saw Gary in training at the end of last season and he worked really hard in every session. This year, when he came in at the start, he showed no nerves. He was training really well and taking that onto the pitch. He has done fantastically well, but it is not only him. There is Danny Gosling and Luke Summerfield as well. They are the future of the club. They have got a great mentality and fully deserve to be where they are now. Having seen their mentality, I'm sure they are going to keep working and take the club forward." Sawyer was proud of and pleased with his prize - and with his season as a whole. "This season has gone a lot better than I expected," he said. "I've knuckled down and I've worked hard, but really I've just got to thank the gaffer for putting me in the team. I'm delighted, absolutely delighted with the award." Sawyer supplied an excellent cross for Barry Hayles to score the second goal against Preston. It was also from his free-kick that Preston conceded a penalty, which led to Sylvan Ebanks-Blake opening the scoring. Sawyer added: "I'm more of a centre-half than a left-back so naturally I defend more, but I'm working on getting forward. I'm starting to do that and it's something I will be working on throughout the summer." Sawyer just edged out Dan Gosling to claim the young-player prize, while Scott Sinclair was in third place in the voting. Nalis added: "We dominated the game and we deserved the win. Barry has been injured for a while and Sylvan has taken time to adapt, but, when they play together the way they are playing now, you can see that they would have been a great boost for us if they had played together all season." Like Nalis, Sawyer was delighted with the way the team have responded to the three bad results they suffered in quick succession a few weeks ago. "Because of the week from hell, as we put it, the lads owed it to the fans and to themselves to come up with a good end to the season," Sawyer said. "That win might have stopped Preston getting promoted, but it was pay-back time after they turned us over so badly up there. We did really well. I think Marcel and Mat were fantastic and so was Paul Connolly."
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