When You're Smiling

JOHN Sheridan has been “walking round with a smile on my face” during the Pilgrims’ build-up to the weekend’s Sky Bet League 2 encounter with Southend United.

The Argyle manager’s cheeriness has less to do with his team’s inconsistent start to their new campaign, which he readily acknowledges, more that he has the utmost confidence in his players and their talents to a be a force in the division this season.

“I’m staying really positive,” he said. “I’m walking around with a smile on my face. I think I’ve got a really good group of players and I think they really believe we are going to do well.

“We have all got to stay focused because I think we are doing okay at the moment. I’d like more points and I’d like us to win more games, but we are unbeaten at home and have scored seven goals; we’re at home on Saturday and there’s a game there for us to win.

“We didn’t play well in our last [home] game but we scraped a draw against Stevenage; the previous two games, we scored three against Exeter and three against Orient, two very good performances.

“We’re doing something right. We have got to keep those attack-minded instincts and try to win our games. We have started okay, but we have got to do a lot better at home.”

Phil Brown’s Shrimpers, who are coached by Argyle legend Graham Coughlan and have former Pilgrims Ryan Leonard, Conor Clifford and Will Atkinson in their squad, will be the latest to attempt to thwart that desire.

“They are always strong and organised,” said John. “They have got players who are at an age and have been around this level, if not a little bit higher, and have played regular football at this level. They know what their strengths and weaknesses are.

“Phil does like to get the ball down. I think he’s been quoted as saying he likes our pitch and they’re going to come and pass [the ball] around.”

Slick passing is something which John would like to see his side do more, after coming up short in that department during the 2-1 defeat at Bury last week.

“I don’t believe we showed any cuteness,” said John. “When I say ‘cuteness’ I mean that, instead of clearing the ball with a header, can we bring it down on our chest and play? I’ve watched the DVD, and when we did pass [the ball], we caused [Bury] a problem, but we’ve only done it four or five times in the whole game. It’s about being cute and how we can affect the game.”

Another area on the could-do-better scale is defending crosses, the source of both goals conceded at Gigg Lane.

John said: “It’s something we have addressed. There are not many teams that play through us – I think our shape is quite good. We had a chat; we watched DVDs; hopefully, we can take it out on to the pitch on Saturday.

“We have got good quality going forward, but we can’t keep giving goals away. We have been giving away poor goals and it ends up costing us.

“I have got to get belief into the players; I’d like us to get in and around things and be a little bit sharper on the pitch, in the head; seeing situations and reacting to them a lot quicker. Be sharp and think quicker – it makes your job a lot easier.”