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Former Pilgrim Sturrock is confident of Plymouth Argyle's survival

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 23, 2013

By Chris Errington

Former Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Sturrock retains a fondness for the club he led to  great success   picture: Dave Rowntree

Former Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Sturrock retains a fondness for the club he led to great success picture: Dave Rowntree

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Former title-winning Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Sturrock is tipping the Pilgrims to escape relegation from the Football League.

They must avoid defeat in their last match of the npower League Two season against Rochdale at Spotland on Saturday to guarantee survival. Should the 19th-placed Pilgrims lose, they will have to rely on at least one favourable result elsewhere to stay up.

Sturrock was, until recently, the manager of Southend United, but he was sacked five days after a 2-0 defeat by Argyle at Roots Hall last month.

The Scotsman was impressed with the way the Pilgrims played that night, and with the work done by John Sheridan since he was appointed as their boss in January.

Argyle have a very respectable record of eight wins, four draws and six defeats in 18 games under his leadership.

However, the Pilgrims missed out on a chance to make sure they avoided dropping out of the Football League when losing 1-0 to Rotherham United at Home Park last Saturday.

Sturrock had two spells as Argyle's manager, initially from 2000 to 2004 and then from 2007 to 2009.

He has continued to follow their fortunes from afar and wished them well for the trip to Rochdale.

Sturrock said: "I'm very confident they will stay up. They played really well against us [Southend].

"They have been in play-off form of late and, while Saturday must have been a disappointment for them, they have got enough in their locker to make sure they stay in the League.

"Going out of the League would totally drain the football club so it's vitally important they hang on, and I'm very confident they will."

He added: "I met John Sheridan a couple of times when I was at Sheffield Wednesday. He's a very capable and competent manager, as he showed at Chesterfield, where he won League Two and the Johnstone's Paint Trophy."

Sturrock's second spell in the Home Park hot-seat ended in December 2009 when he was replaced by Paul Mariner, with the club struggling at the bottom of the Championship.

However, his first stint was incredibly successful, with the former Scotland striker leading Argyle to the Division Three (now League Two) title in 2001-02 with 102 points, after a thrilling tussle with Luton Town.

Two seasons later, the Pilgrims finished top of Division Two (now League One), with Sturrock leading them to the brink of promotion before taking over at Southampton.

Sturrock said: "I have got a lot of happy memories of Plymouth Argyle, even the second time around.

"I still follow their results from afar and I wouldn't want to see them end up in the Conference.

"It's very difficult to get out of the Conference. Look at Luton, who we had such a good battle with for the title that year. They fell into the Conference [in 2009] and haven't been able to get out of it yet."

Sturrock also pointed to clubs such as Grimsby Town, Stockport County and Wrexham, who have suffered the same fate as Luton in recent times and have not returned to the League.

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