JOHN Sheridan, in his first game as Plymouth Argyle boss, had one simple aim. And he achieved it.“Three points; that’s all I was looking for,” he said, shortly after his new club emerged victorious by two goals to one against Morecambe.
It was a busy opening period to John’s tenure on the touchline. The Pilgrims lost Warren Feeney to an early injury, but found themselves 2-0 up after 16 minutes thanks to goals from Conor Hourihane and Paris Cowan-Hall.
Morecambe pulled a goal back with ten minutes remaining, and much of the second half saw the away side doing the pressing, trying to get back into the game.
However, a dogged Argyle clung on for their first win in seven games, and of course their first with a new manager.
“I’m really pleased with the players,” said John. “Their attitude has been different class since I came in. The tempo of training has been really good.
“It was a great start; a great goal from young Conor. I’ve told him that he could be getting in the box a bit more to support the front men, and he did that. With his weaker foot it was a great strike, a great finish.
“To get two goals gives you a cushion and something to keep - they’ve got to score three to win the game.
“With poor Warren, I don’t know if it’s his ankle or Achilles. I think he was in a bit of pain. He’s got a big boot on at the minute.
“It’s a crying shame. He’s a bubbly character; he’s good to have around the place. It’s a shame that he’s got off to a start like that, because he could be a big player for me. I love his enthusiasm in training and in the changing room.”
A week is not a long time to get to know a full dressing-room of players and impose a style on them, not to mention the work needed to bring some new players in and ingratiate them.
This win was obviously the perfect start for Sheridan, but he is keen to stress that these are early days in his reign, and that we will begin to see the volume of his fingerprints on the football club increasing as time goes on.
“I’m still getting used to one or two of the younger lads’ names,” he said. “It’s early days, and, with the weather as well and the condition of the training pitch, you can’t really do a lot of team play.
“We’ve done some nice, bright stuff. Hopefully, a new manager coming in might just give the players a lift, and hopefully it’s worked today. We’ll be organised a little bit more as I start to tell people little thing about how I want us to play.
“You can see the edge in the players, and that’s something I’ve got to try and get out of them. But you’ve got to accept that – we’re near the bottom of the league and we know what’s at stake. But the work ethic ...I couldn’t ask for any more.
“If we get that little bit of nous into them – I can teach them - that when we’re in the lead dictate the game a little more. A lot of our problems – and it’s a pet hate of mine – were little things like miskicking the ball and not clearing the ball properly and it comes back into an area where it’s going to give you a problem.
“But we’ll learn from it; we’re a young team. I’m just very pleased to get off to a winning start.”
It was a winning start which pulled Argyle out of the bottom two.
“I just wish it was the last game of the season,” said John, “We’d be alright then, wouldn’t we?”