Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughWestley regime starts with a set-back - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Westley regime starts with a set-back - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Westley regime starts with a set-back

Jimmy Smith’s close range finish ten minutes from time to seal a win for Leyton Orient away at Preston on Saturday was probably not the most significant goal in England throughout the weekend at face value, but it did mean that Graham Westley’s brand new era at Deepdale was to end in anti-climax after a week in which the young manager finally left Stevenage to become their 6th manager in 3 years.

Optimism was high after Preston had finally landed 43 year-old Westley, regarded as one of the brightest stars of football league management following his remarkable time at Stevenage in which he led the Hertfordshire club to back-to-back promotions from the Blue Square Premier division to League One, leaving them in a 6th spot playoff place when Preston came calling, citing his ambition to restore the Lancastrian’s performances to that befitting of their history which is inescapable at Deepdale with images of Bill Shankly, Sir Tom Finney and Alan Kelly beaming back from within the seating arrangements at the historic ground.

Phil Brown had failed to last a year in the Preston post after failing to guide them clear of relegation to League One and overseeing an underwhelming first half of the season in the third tier in which they dropped ten places from first after nine matches without a win. Peter Risdale had acquired chairmanship of the club in December and immediately set about searching for stability by disposing of Brown and choosing Westley as the man to provide it, given his rise with Stevenage that resembled the meteoritic and the togetherness he had installed in a side that had recently beaten Newcastle 3-1 in a Broadhall Way giant-killing in the FA Cup.

Preston had finally got their man after agreeing a compensation deal with Stevenage for Westley and his supporting cast of John Dreyer and Dino Maamria, as well as agreeing that the manager could not go back for any of his ex-Stevenage charges whom he had been enjoying continuous success with by occupying the final play-off position in League One. Westley had watched the 3-2 win over Wycombe the previous weekend and with a mid-table opposition in Leyton Orient this was a great chance for Westley to mark his new beginnings with a fresh injection of hope that a push for a play-off could still be achieved in Lancaster.

However, Leyton Orient clearly weren’t reading the script and despite having three debutants in the side, Andy Proctor, Chris Holroyd and Jamie McAllister all failed to make an impact and Orient striker David Mooney saw his effort ruled out for offside in a sluggish first half showing by the home side. Kevin Lisbie then hit a post for the visitors before Marc Laird struck just after the hour mark to flatten any atmosphere that was remaining amongst the home fans. Orient then put a dominant showing to bed with Smith’s close finish which ruined Westley’s day. To make things worse, his old club, managerless Stevenage, were busy showing the fight that had embodied Westley’s stay at the Boro by scoring a late equaliser to scrape a consolidatory point away at Scunthorpe.

Word has also exhumed within the inner reaches of Deepdale that Westley’s bizarre decision to text his players in the early hours of Saturday had back-fired dramatically in that several players were angered at this methodology for providing news of his team selection; David Gray and Barry Nicholson were both reportedly victims of the drop with news provided by text. Furthermore, certain rumours are abound that some Preston players have already grown disillusioned with Westley’s managerial style and midfielder Paul Coutts has had to be dissuaded from handing in a transfer request by the manager, who is facing apparent mutiny according to the scare-mongers trying to derail the Westley campaign before it has even began at Deepdale.

There is too much from his spell at Stevenage to suggest he won’t be another one to follow the same route as Phil Brown and Darren Ferguson with short-lived stints, he turned Stevenage into one of the most effective units in League Two with a scarce budget during their promotion season in which they only shipped 45 goals, the best defensive record in the division. But as he was quick to notice upon accepting the job, this is a step-up in responsibility and expectation and early warnings have been fired at Preston that he will have to re-adjust his methods accordingly. Preston now have upcoming trips to 14th place Notts County and relegation zoned Yeovil Town while Westley will have to target these to gain points to kick-start his much hyped step-up in expectation that was stalled in the starting blocks on Saturday.

Written by Adam Gray; @AdamGray1250