BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher

Archives for September 2011

The view from inside the Plymouth squad

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Paul Fletcher | 06:05 UK time, Thursday, 29 September 2011

In September 2008 Plymouth Argyle, then a Championship side, signalled their ambition of pushing towards the Premier League by signing Belgium international striker Emile Mpenza following his release from Manchester City.

While City, bankrolled by their Abu Dhabi owners, have gone on to assemble one of the most expensive squads in history, crippling off-the-field problems at Home Park have left Argyle with a small squad of old heads and willing youngsters scrapping for the club's Football League survival.

"When I think about how we fought and worked so hard to get the club from League Two into the Championship and to see how quickly we have gone right back down, it is very difficult," said French goalkeeper Romain Larrieu, who has been at the club since 2000 and is their longest-serving player at Home Park.

"Considering the size of the hole that apparently exists in our finances, I do not even think that we got to live the dream. I have been through it all and I do not know what happened. Funnily enough, nobody has admitted to me that they made mistakes."

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The Adkins diet gets Saints in shape

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Paul Fletcher | 06:43 UK time, Monday, 12 September 2011

A year since he became manager of Southampton, Nigel Adkins can be pleased with what he has achieved since succeeding Alan Pardew at St Mary's.

In the past 12 months, Adkins has guided Saints to promotion from League One, enjoyed a successful summer in the transfer market (the club pocketed £12m from Arsenal for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain while buying the likes of full-back Danny Fox from Burnley and Jack Cork from Chelsea) and overseen a strong start to the Championship season.

But perhaps his biggest achievement, possibly even the secret of his success, has been to build a winning culture at a club where it was questionable whether everyone was pulling in the same direction.

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Konchesky learns from lessons at Liverpool

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Paul Fletcher | 11:49 UK time, Tuesday, 6 September 2011

This time last year Paul Konchesky was preparing to make his Liverpool debut after a deadline-day move from Premier League rivals Fulham.

Fast forward 12 months and the 30-year-old is gearing up for Leicester's trip to Barnsley as the Championship resumes after the international break.

He has exchanged one of the most famous clubs in England for one of the most ambitious.

The east Midlands club are bankrolled by their Thai owners - the wealthy Raksriaksorn family who own a firm that sells duty-free goods at Thailand's airports - and have strengthened way beyond the means of many top-flight clubs, let alone most of their Championship rivals, as Sven-Goran Eriksson's team attempt to fast-track promotion to the Premier League.

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