Pilgrims boss: We have to roll with the punches
CARL FLETCHER gave an insight into the difficulties of being a manager after Argyle's 1-0 defeat at Port Vale on Saturday.
The 31-year-old admitted 'non-stop putting fires out' took up a lot of his time.
His pre-match preparations were hampered by striker Warren Feeney failing a fitness test on a calf injury.
Centre-back Darren Purse had also been a doubt for the fixture because of flu.
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In the end, Purse did take up his place in the Pilgrims' defence, but Feeney's absence was a blow for Fletcher.
Striker Nick Chadwick returned to action as the replacement for Feeney, after being sidelined for three games by a hamstring injury.
But the 29-year-old seemed some way short of full fitness, and made way for Ladjie Soukouna in the 59th minute.
Fletcher said: "He (Chadwick) had been out for four weeks, so it was always going to be tough for him on a difficult pitch.
"You can only play with the cards you are dealt. It's disappointing when things change around at the last minute.
"But that's what I have found out. You are kind of non-stop putting fires out. As soon as you think you have got them all out, there are about 10 more."
Argyle's newly-appointed director of football John Deehan, who has been brought in as a 'mentor' to Fletcher, was at Vale Park.
And he saw the Pilgrims beaten by an 86th minute goal from substitute Tom Pope.
It was Argyle's 10th defeat in 15 away games in League Two this season, and they dropped back into the relegation zone as a consequence.
Dagenham and Redbridge moved above them after a 3-2 home win against Rotherham United.
Argyle had only one shot target all afternoon – a free-kick from midfielder Paul Wotton in the first half.
That apart, the visitors were totally ineffective as an attacking force, but they defended solidly throughout.
It looked as though Argyle would take away a hard-earned point from their trip to the Potteries until Pope struck late on.
Fletcher said: "We didn't play that great, but we dug in and worked hard.
"Defensively we looked fairly comfortable. In possession we could have been better, but I thought it was going to peter out to a 0-0 draw.
"It was tough. Feeney dropped out so Chaddy had to play, having been out for four weeks, and Pursey had flu.
"The lads gave me everything, and it's just disappointing we didn't see the game out."
Despite all the possession Port Vale had, and the 13 corners they forced during the game, Argyle gave good protection to goalkeeper Jake Cole.
Fletcher said: "If you don't play well, you try to be hard to beat. We looked fairly comfortable.
"In any game you play, you have to defend when balls come in the box and do the right things, and on a difficult pitch we did that.
"We stuck to our task, but their lad (Pope) came up with a little bit of quality towards the end."
Fletcher admitted he was disappointed with the lack of attacking threat from Argyle, who had scored five goals in their previous three games.
He said: "Sometimes you are going to have loads of possessions in games, sometimes you aren't.
"Here, we didn't, and we dug in and did our defensive duties, but there are always areas you can improve on, whether you win or lose."
Purse played against Port Vale despite sitting out training on Friday because of illness.
Fletcher said: "Pursey travelled up on his own and had his own room. He was kind of out for the count on Friday, but he has got through it.
"When winter comes, you always have to be careful of flu going around.
"It's no different from wherever you are. You just have to deal with it and kind of roll with the punches."
He added: "We would have taken a draw away from home at a tough place like Port Vale.
"Obviously, every game we go into we want to win, and sometimes you can go out there and things click and you don't have too much of a problem.
"But other times you have to grind things out, and that's what we had to do.
"We realised that as the game went on, and it was just unfortunate we didn't see it through."