DEANE Smalley is hoping that his third career encounter with Pilgrims’ manager John Sheridan will be as special as the first two.
Deane, 25, has signed for Argyle on a two-year deal after leaving Oxford, renewing an acquaintance with John that began as a teenager at Oldham seven years ago and was renewed when he spearheaded Chesterfield’s 2010-11 League 2 title-charge.
“He was my first manager; he gave me my first professional contract; I like to think I’ve done well for him,” said Deane, who will also renew old footballing friendships with Lewis Alessandra, Luke McCormick and Lee Cox.
“Going into a club where I knew quite a few of the players, and the manager, worked well for me at Chesterfield and hopefully it will be the same again here.
“I played with Luke at Oxford, and Lee. I know Lewi especially – I was with him for four or five years at Oldham. We’re the same age; we had quite a good youth team at Oldham; we’ve played together quite a few times and we had a good relationship
“I still speak to Lewi throughout the year. He said it’s a lovely place here, a lovely club, a great fanbase. You can see, by the results, he’s playing really well and scoring goals – hopefully he can replicate that next year and I can join in.”
Now, in his mid-20s, Deane – who scored twice in a 2-1 Oxford win against Argyle at the Kassam two seasons ago – is arguably reaching the peak of his attacking powers and knows that the manager and the Green Army will have their expectations.
“Every striker has to carry that burden,” he said. “It goes without saying that everyone wants a striker to score goals. Whether [the manager] wants to use me there every single game, because he knows I’m a bit versatile and can play on the wings as well, remains to be seen. We’ll just have to see what his plans are game by game.
“I didn’t have the best goal tally last year – I’d like to improve on that, reach double-figures. Knowing a few of the players and the manager, hopefully I’ll settle down soon and start scoring goals. I hope I can have a really good pre-season, stay injury-free and really kick on.
“With the team having just surviving the season before, I think they had a really good season last year; just missed out on the play-offs. Hopefully, we can better that next year.”