JOHN Sheridan’s Derby Day pre-match team-talk will be short.Maybe not sweet, given that he is preparing his players to go out and win the match that will always matter most to the Green Army, but short.
“When you’re a player, these are the games you want to be playing in,” said the Argyle manager, of Saturday’s 99th meeting between his new-look Pilgrims’ and their bitterest rivals, Exeter City. “I shouldn’t really have to say anything.”
The rest of the world goes on hold at 3pm, when a packed Home Park will greet 22 players with great expectations on their young shoulders. Many have not experienced the unique and passionate flavour of a little Westcountry dispute.
“One or two players who have been involved in it have told the others what the atmosphere is going to be like, and they’re looking forward to it,” said John.
“To play in the Second Division against 14-15,000…it’s something that we can attract that here. It’s a massive game. We have just got to go out there and don’t leave anything behind, and have a real good go at winning the game.
“It’s a tough game, but we have got to make sure we go out and have the will to win, and we’ll give Exeter a very tough game.
“It’s a derby game and they’re all different - they’re usually close affairs – but we got to make sure we go and win the game.
“I know the importance of the game and with it being so early – first home game – it would just be good to get a result and give everyone a lift. We have got to start well; we’ll get in their faces.”
For the first time in a while, Argyle go into the fixture as clear favourites, with Exeter having experienced plenty of off-field turmoil recently. A Football League transfer embargo was lifted only the day before the game – which allowed manager Paul Tisdale to sign former Preston striker Graham Cummins – but John beliefs that strength can come out of such adversity.
“That can galvanise a team, get you really close together, and want to fight for each other,” he said. “They’ll want to win it and we’ll want to win it. It’s a big one for the fans and we’ll want to get our crowd going with a win over our local rivals.
“They’re a good footballing side. Paul is an experienced manager, and he knows the importance of this game as much as I do. He’s had them playing the right way; I like the way he’s playing,
“We’ve watched their set-plays and worked on Exeter’s strengths, but I’m more of a person who worries about how we’re going to play – we’re the home team.
“If we go out and play like we did the other night [against Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup] – with that belief, that confidence and that tempo – then we’ll give Exeter a hard game.”