Profile: sacked Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher
Plymouth Argyle are today hunting for a new manager after sacking boss Carl Fletcher.
Fletcher, who had been at the club’s helm for 15 months, was fired on New Year’s Day minutes after the team lost 2-1 away to 23rd-placed Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium.
The sacking of the 32-year-old, who retired from playing in May 2012, came as little surprise to fans. Keith Bulley, chairman of the Plymouth supporters' club, said: "I think his inexperience has been shown up this year, in terms of his use and timing of substitutes and also his tactics, particularly in home games.”
Fletcher began his career at AFC Bournemouth in 1997. He made his professional debut in February the following year at the age of 17, in a 2-1 loss at Grimsby.
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Fletcher went on to become the Cherries' youngest ever captain, and made 225 league and cup appearances for Sean O'Driscoll's side.
Having become captain in the summer of 2002, Fletcher led Bournemouth to promotion in the play-offs that season.
In February 2004, eligible to play for Wales through his grandmother, Fletcher made his Wales debut in a 4-0 win over Scotland. In August that year, at the age of 24, he moved to West Ham for £275,000.
Boss Alan Pardew said at the time: "He is a Welsh international and we have got what we feel is a fantastic deal for him.
"He can play two roles, in midfield or as a defender, and he is a very good passer - but most importantly of all, he is a leader and a character.”
Fletcher enjoyed a month-long loan spell at Watford in 2005, and made 12 league appearances for West Ham upon his return.
In July 2006, having struggled to hold down a place in the top flight in the season previous, the Welsh international penned a £400,000 deal with Crystal Palace.
In May 2008 Fletcher captained Wales for the only time against Iceland. Having won 28 caps since making his debut against Scotland in 2004, Fletcher was one of the oldest and most experienced players in the squad.
The midfielder said at the time: "I was a little bit shocked when John pulled me aside in training. I’m obviously delighted, although a little bit nervous, but it will be a really proud day for me and I’m looking forward to it.
"For any footballer there is nothing bigger than being the captain of your country and that chance has now come for me."
Conversely, his domestic future looked uncertain. Having become a somewhat marginal figure since the hiring of Neil Warnock as manager, Fletcher admitted his time at Crystal Palace may be nearing its end.
"This season has not gone as well as I would have liked," he said. "A new manager has come in and changed a few things about. The team started winning and it was hard to get back into the starting line-up.”
In October 2008 Fletcher spent a month on loan at Nottingham Forest, and played four times before sustaining a back injury in November.
In February the following year he joined Plymouth Argyle on an emergency one-month loan. His stellar performance saw his loan spell extended to the end of the season, and following his release from Palace in May 2009 he penned a permanent deal with the club.
Three months later 29-year-old Fletcher announced his retirement from international football, despite being named in the Wales squad for an upcoming friendly against Montenegro.
In September 2011, having made 103 appearances for Argyle, Fletcher was named as the club's caretaker manager. In November that year, having led Argyle to two wins and a draw in his seven games in charge, Fletcher was appointed player-manager on a full-time basis.
He went on to lead Plymouth to Football League safety in April 2012.
The following month, after his position as manager was reviewed, Fletcher agreed to stay on as Plymouth Argyle manager until at least the end of the next season. He also announced his decision to retire from his playing career.
"A lot of people said I needed to play, but I felt that was not right for the whole club and the team,” he said.
In November that year, the Plymouth squad threw their weight behind under-pressure Fletcher.
Midfielder Conor Hourihane said: "The gaffer is terrific with us and everyone is behind him."
Speaking shortly after being sacked yesterday, Fletcher admitted it had been “a tough four years” at Argyle, and revealed he might consider coming out of retirement as a player.