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Late-night texts and line-up leaks - the problems at Preston

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Paul Fletcher | 22:15 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

What is going on at Preston North End?

Is manager Graham Westley out of his depth, floundering around desperately trying to keep his head above water, and his team in League One?

Or is he in the midst of a much-needed overhaul at a bloated club, instigating a period of change that was always going to be difficult and painful but will eventually reap rich rewards?

The new North End boss won back-to-back promotions with previous club Stevenage, taking them from non-league to the higher reaches of League One.

He was brought in by chairman Peter Ridsdale - formerly of Leeds, Cardiff and Plymouth and himself a relatively new addition at Deepdale - in mid-January. Ridsdale took his time over the appointment, spending a month searching for the right man to succeed previous incumbent Phil Brown.

But the events since Westley took over have made largely miserable viewing for North End's supporters.

Preston manager Graham Westley

Graham Westley is trying to change the culture at Preston, but it isn't proving easy. Photo - Getty Images

The latest bizarre development in Westley's reign came last weekend when the manager claimed that members of his squad leaked the line-up for Saturday's match against Sheffield Wednesday to their opponents in advance of the game.

Westley said after the 2-0 defeat that he had been told about it during the second half of the match by someone in the opposition dug-out. The 44-year-old chose to go public with the news because he said it illustrated the different factions within his squad. "When you've got a number of different agendas these things happen," he said.

Striker Iain Hume did not seem to agree. He argued on Twitter that "the squad is close and it needs to stay that way". On this evidence then, at the very least, the manager and one of his senior players seem to be at odds.

A lack of unity appears to be a feature of Westley's time in charge so far. After succeeding Brown, he quickly got rid of senior professionals such as Clarke Carlisle and Ian Ashbee, while Paul Coutts was stripped of the captaincy and told to go away and think about his attitude.

A text from Westley to his squad on the eve of his first game in charge quickly appeared on various websites. There were several false, trumped up versions of it. The club disputes that it was sent at 2am on a Saturday and that it was the first means by which four players first learned they had been dropped. Nonetheless, Westley did text his players with words of encouragement and news of it was picked up by large sections of the media.

Every day after the 44-year-old's appointment seemed to bring about new changes. Westley reconfigured the club's Springfield training ground, reducing the size of the area for injured players. "The place was feeling to me more like a spa than a football training ground so we have shifted the facilities around," said the PNE boss.

Westley sometimes sounds more like a middle-manager than a football manager and unquestionably has his own way of doing things. His players often work a full day, with double training sessions the norm, and his philosophy requires a degree of buy-in from his players that I suspect makes it difficult for him to take over a club in mid-season.

This is not to say that Westley has not brought in players of his own choosing. He has - and lots of them. He has signed enough new faces to field a fresh starting XI.

Westley's new additions mean he now has a first-team squad of more than 30 players, far more than Preston can afford, especially considering attendances at Deepdale are now regularly on the wrong side of 10,000. The list on the back of the match programme seems to go on forever.

Despite the seeming abundance of selection options, Aaron Brown, a central defender by trade who arrived at the club in January having been unable to secure regular first-team football at Aldershot, was up front at Wednesday.

It hints at Westley's dissatisfaction with his squad and his desperation to put points on the board.

Results show that the new signings have failed to improve form. Under Westley, North End have won twice in 15 games, scoring eight goals. Preston contested three successive goalless home draws in late February and early March and looked completely devoid of attacking spark.

Westley has a reputation for building robust and competitive teams and is keen to stress that he is working hard with his players to build from the back, create a solid base, and maintains that in time he will win over the doubters in the stands. It did not sound that way last Tuesday at the end of an inept 3-1 home defeat against Brentford as fans booed Westley all the way from the dugout to the tunnel at the final whistle.

It took the manager two hours to appear in front of the media after that defeat but when he finally showed up he admitted the performance had left him ashamed and embarrassed. He added that he would take it on the chin and hinted at significant changes in the summer.

Just as well because the sad truth is that more than 40 players have represented the club this campaign and of these in excess of 20 have made their debuts.

North End are now 16th in the table, six points above the relegation zone with six fixtures remaining and a tough run-in that includes games against MK Dons, Huddersfield and Charlton. If they had not won seven of their first nine league matches they would now be in horrific trouble.

The club are appealing for a bumper crowd on Saturday to celebrate the birthday of Sir Tom Finney, who turns 90 on Thursday.

In one sense Finney is an ever-present at Deepdale as his image looks down from the stand named in his honour. I imagine that he cannot be very impressed by what he has seen in recent months.


  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    I feel sorry for the fans of Preston, I respect the club and their history and traditions, but Graham Westley wouldn't have been my choice of manager, the way he gets his teams to play is anti football. In a way i can understand the players who don't perform well when the manager is trying to get them to play a certain way which doesn't suit their abilities. I saw his Stevenage team a few times and it was all 6ft 2+ players jumping and lumping and if it gets you results then you're happy until you're sick of neck ache, but it isn't getting results.

    He should have stayed at Stevenage as he had everything in place to work the way he wants to work.

    If he is still there in the summer then expect a lot of player upheaval because he will want players of a certain type shall we say.

  • Comment number 3.

    Small correction to the blog - it was Paul Coutts not Paul Parry who was stripped of the captaincy. I can only see crowds going down if this guy stays as manager. He has bought a team of "players" who are barely league two level and the brand of football is truly awful.

  • Comment number 4.

    I fear this is another classic case of the man at the top not having a clue about football. I wouldnt want this P Ridsdale anywhere near my football club !!!

  • Comment number 5.

    My feeling is that Westley is doing the right things but perhaps in the wrong way. He should have taken a more cautious approach to start with and once safety was assured then started to strip away at the frankly disgusting player power that has held sway over Deepdale since the Billy Davies days and has seen the sackings of Simpson, Irvine, DarrenFerguson and Brown, all of whom have shown they could bring success elsewhere (well apart from Irvine).
    Although the entertainment thats been offered so far by Westleys team has been very poor I just have a feeling that given time and the full backing of the board he will be a success, but will he be given time by a vitriolic and impatient crowd?

  • Comment number 6.

    Dicko PNE has stolen my thunder to a degree here

    A number of managers have gone to Preston and left after a relatively short period of time........Go figure!

    Simpson,Irvine,Ferguson and Brown. These arent bad managers, nor do they turn into bad managers overnight.

    Westley arrived and instantly made them work harder and work longer hours.

    If you work 9-5pm and are told this will change to 7.30am until 6pm would you be happy? No is the likely answer. The players have more than likely moaned to each other about the new regime and formed a clique.

    The players at Preston need to take a long hard look at themselves and their lack of professionalism, not just with Westley but the previous managers mentioned.

    At least Westley is trying to change things and improve the club.

    I for one hope he remains and the players responsible for any lack of professionalism end up in the Blue Square North (no disrespect to that League)

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Westley has squandered the goodwill of the fans, who largely acknowledged the need to change the players' general attitude, by signing so much dross and embarrassing the club on an almost daily basis (Leak-gate being the latest example.).
    The poor quality of his signings has astounded many fans, as they do not look much better than non-league scufflers.
    This may have worked for him when he began his Stevenage project - in a non-league setting - but clearly doesn't work in League 1, as results show.
    The thoroughly discredited Ridsdale won't sack him as it would reflect badly on his own judgement, but this theory that given time all managers will bring success is a myth.
    Even if Westley survives into next season, the best we can look forward to is ruck of poor signings playing an appalling brand of football, which doesn't seem to involve attacking the opposition goal.
    And that would be in League 2, as relegation is a virtual certainty, given our run-in.
    We're not the new Stevenage - we're the new Bradford.
    Then there is the issue of his 'personality'.
    It's all well and good coming across arrogant and cocky if you are Cloughie or Jose, but when you have signed nothing but donkeys and produced some of the worst football ever seen at Deepdale (and that includes the John Beck era) then you just can't get away with it.
    So far, his reign has been ill-judged, clumsy and naive off the pitch and disastrous on it.
    I don't accept that he has divided the camp, however.
    On the contrary, he's united 95 per cent of the fans . . . they all hate him.

  • Comment number 10.

    I wasn't surpirsed to hear that players leaked their tactics to us, I was surprised they had any tactics in the first place!!!!

    Seriously though, who starts a centre back not good enough for Aldershot upfront instead of Iain Hume???

    He'll just come out with more excuses to hide the fact he's a very poor manager

  • Comment number 11.

    I've supported North End all my life seeing the lows of 4th division football and the highs of play off wins. I had no pre-concived idea about Graham Westley, having only seen his Stevenage side once but it soon became apparent that his appointment was a mistake.

    The first thing the club had to do was reduce the out-going so we knew the high wage earners would leave or take a reduced deal but I don't understand why we have taken on additional salarys to boost the squad to 35+ pros. There have only been a few players leaving, Carlisle's loan was terminated and Ashby's contract treminated so now we have 11 extra players plus the compensation to Phil Brown and Brian Horton to pay.

    The new signings have been truely awful - players from Accrington, Torquay, Rotherham and Aldershot who couldn't get a regular game. If we are buying league 2 players and doubling salarys as appears to be happening at the moment then we should be able to attract players of some quality who perhaps don't perform week in week out not journeymen pros on the fringes of league 2 teams, but generally do a good job.

    Again I agree that a team should be built from the back, we were shipping alot of goals under Brown but the 4-3 home win against Yeovil or even the 3-2 win against Wycombe seem a very long time ago. Instead we have 1 or 2 attempts on goal in a match and seem content to defend and look very unlikely ever to score from open play. In Tuesday's match against Brentford we were 3-1 down in the dying minutes. Brentford won a corner and we brought all 11 players back to defend whilst Brentford only had 2-3 players forward - the rest standing on the half-way line having a drink! This is the GW way - it's regimented and the players have a role to fulfill. Preston players were looking across to the bench for permission to leave their defensive position to head towards the half-way line but GW refused and told them to defend as previously instructed. "3-1 down and we don't attack" sang the 6,000 faithful who had bothered to turn up. How many of them will be there next year is a real worry? Already the talk is of plenty not renewing season tickets whilst Westley remains in charge meaning further cuts and probably a budget smaller than our affluent neighbours.....Fleetwood.

    Happy 90th birthday Sir Tom Finney. I really hope you don't have to sit through the whole game on Saturday.

  • Comment number 12.

    Two words - Peter Ridsdale.

    Receipe for disaster wherever he goes.

  • Comment number 13.

    Between Risdale and Westley Preston North End have the two most psychotic 'leaders' in the Football League. Dump them both and start over...I was going to say "Before it's too late," but it's too late for that now.
    Happy Birthday Sir Tom Finney and thanks for the memories.

  • Comment number 14.

    PNE's big club status and ground to match belies the truth that they are a third tier club now and need to adjust to life in the lower leagues, stabalise on a realistic cost basis and build for the future if they want to get back up a level.

    In that sense Westley's appointment was logical given his knowledge and success with lower league players from which a debt loaded club needs to draw upon. Some of his signings do seem odd though.

    Phil Brown's arrogant pre season statement that "second place would be failure" set the scene it seems and would have got most supporters of other clubs laughing , a more humble approach would have been better.

  • Comment number 15.

    They will be involved in the relegation battle - with the way Preston are playing at the moment, I cannot see them picking up any points. Who know's we might be watching a side playing in League 2 next season. Regardless what division they are in BIG BIG changes are needed in the summer and I think there will be an entirely new playing squad next season.

  • Comment number 16.

    Now then,

    Many thanks for your thoughts so far - and first up an apology, originally writing Parry instead of Coutts, unforgiveable, a brain meltdown of the highest order.

    How a manager is judged ultimately comes down to results and if Westley is to succeed then he has to make sure Preston are playing League One football next season.

    His style was always going to alienate some but if he is successful in the long term that I suggest that all will be forgiven.

    At the moment that seems a very long way off. Watching his team has been a joyless experience of late and, providing North End stay up, then I do not think it incorrect to suggest the club faces its most important summer in a long, long time.

    I would like to know - do most people think North End have enough/will scramble enough points to stay up?

  • Comment number 17.

    I think a gap of 6 points with 6 games left will be enough. It's asking a lot for teams that have struggled to win all season to accummulate 7 points from a possible 18 and for Preston to lose all 6 games. Although having said that, teams sometimes find some form when it matters, just like Bolton, Wigan, Blackburn in the Prem.

  • Comment number 18.

    It seems the whining from some folks on here matches the players. From experience I have seen the why on earth has westley signed x or y. Normally they show they had class that I was incapable of seeing or developing. It's almost like westley is a better football manager than me......

  • Comment number 19.

    The appointment of Graham Westley has been the single biggest mistake that PNE have ever made. Recent managerial appointments have not been good but at least all the previous managers had an understanding of football. Graham Westley has no comprehension of football tactics, he clearly cannot motivate the players, zero ability to recognise and pick players available on transfer plus his ramblings in the press prove he is a very poor communicator. I totally agree that the club needed an overhaul and a dose of financial realism but it could and should have been done without the new manager embarrassing the club to such a degree. Whether we go down or not I am not renewing my season ticket with Westley in charge as I have no desire to watch the dross that he will undoubtedly serve up then in his post match incoherent ramblings quote all manner of statistics telling me we have never had it so good.

  • Comment number 20.

    Read with interest the comments about Westley at PNE,a club of great tradition,who obviously been underacheiving for quite a time. PNE fans will know more about this than I do, but having seen Stevenage play against Shrewbury Town last season, I think anti-football is the the perfect way to describe it. A team that looked more suited to the set of 'Gladiator' and football matching the Colisseum,'brutal' is the word that comes to mind.I sat behind the goal,and every time their keeper kicked the ball,I thought it was going to go into orbit! Fortunately Town won the game,but everyone was glad to see the back of Stevenage,it's a shame that such an awful brand of football won them promotion.
    Westley strikes me as arrogant,obsessed with physicality,and media inept,Jose Mourinho without the charm,and football know how! I hope PNE stay up,but have a new manager next season,when they take on Shrewsbury Town! PS congrats to Tom Finney a REAL footballer and gentleman.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have been a North End season ticket holder for over 40 years.

    I was neither impressed with the choice of Ridsdale nor GW, however they are winning me over, particularly the former who clearly is a 'football man'.

    The club needed a radical overhaul, not just in personnel but, of at least equal importance, attitude.

    There has been too much swapping and changing and searching for instant success and it's more than time a manger was allowed to implement his approach.

    So far it has been dire...but he has been hampered by a reactionary old guard, and having to ship in players he could get mid-term and the salary implications given the extent to which the squad has been loaded.

    Given 21 players out of contract in the summer and PR saying that there has been no finacial restrictions imposed then there is the opportunity to rebuild the club.

    As for style then having seen teams like Owls and Blades, MK Dons, and Stevenage adopt a very physical approach then I've no doubt a bit more muscle is required. However, and people ignore this, Westley has also given more reserve/youth team players an opportunity than the last 3 managers put together. I believe he has got the mesage over 'quality' and what PNE supporters are prepared to accept.

    The time to judge is not now, but next Christmas.

    I can't pretend that I'm happy so far with what I've seen on the pitch but despite the mistakes that GW has made so far (such as going public over the 'leaks') I'm happy wiht what's going on off the field and the basis this provides for the future.

    As I said club requires an overhaul and these two will do it..but they need time.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    I agree with a number of comments posted. Graham Westley is out of his depth and his now hitting the desparation button. But the blame must lay with Peter Ridsdale, where ever he goes there is a trail of failure and incompetence. Leeds and Plymouth for example.

  • Comment number 24.


    In answer to your question . . . we are certainties for the drop.

    Our run-in is horrendous, the players are either not up to it or not up for it and the atmosphere is poisonous from before kick-off.

    I remember the damage done by Tommy Doc and the John Beck era and can see nothing other than history repeating itself with Westley.

    Even if he could spot a decent player - who in their right mind would come to Deepdale at the moment amid such a terrible atmosphere on and off the pitch?

    It's a shame that Ridsdale has picked such a turkey, because - once they got over the initial shock horror - most fans were starting to warm to him.

    But choosing Westley was a huge mistake.

    Sticking with him is football suicide.

    And for those saying 'give Westley time', we'd be prepared to give any manager time if we could see signs of progress, a couple of good signings or some decent performances.

    But there's been none of those - just things getting worse ever since he walked into the club.

    Time? It's a bit like saying if England had stuck with Steve McLaren, eventually we'd win the World Cup.

    Yeah, right.

  • Comment number 25.

    Graham Westley was MR. STEVENAGE - he has made a big-time mistake in going to PNE (no dis-respect for them), as he built a very good side at Stevenage; he may live to regret this move now as Stevenage could get promoted, and PNE relegated. If he stays at PNE he needs to be given time to develop his footballing authority and skills to the players he wants to work with and bring in. One thing he'll install is a very, very, good level of very fit players, and you need this for a winning side!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    I think most PNE fans would agree that our club has been on a downward spiral for the last few years, both on and off the field. Something fairly drastic, therefore, needed to be done in order to turn things around. Our financial difficulties have been well documented and had it not been for the (now) club's owner Trevor Hemmings we would not have a club to support.

    Graham Westley has been brought in to make those significant changes and he is clearly trying to do so. I am not saying whether he has gone about things in the right way or whether I think he will succeed in the long term - like all other supporters I do not really know the full facts about what is going on behind the scenes. Is it a case of players not liking the new regime because they are being told to do things differently, work harder etc ? Or has Westley alienated so many people (players and staff) unnecessarily through his abrasive, my way or no way approach ?

    What I do know is that the quality of football is very very poor and not at all enjoyable to watch and I have genuine concerns for our survival in league 1 this year on our current form.

    I have supported PNE for 50 years now and been a season ticket holder for the last 20 years. I desperately want the team to be successful again and will support players and staff alike "through thick and thin". I agree with peter Risdale when he says that the club has changed managers too often in the past and there needs to be some stability and therefore I hope that Graham Westley is successful and takes our proud club forwards. But I also want to enjoy watching my team playing attractive and entertaining football. Can Graham Westley deliver ? - I honestly don't know !!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Sad to read so many long-term North End supporters taking such a dim view of the current situation. After all, they will have supported the club through the bleak times in the 70s and 80s.

    Of course, with Sir Tom Finney turning 90 on Thursday, the contrast between the images conjured up when one thinks of the club's greatest player and the current situation is stark.

  • Comment number 28.

    I saw Preston draw 0-0 at Carlisle, the attitude of the team and coaching staff was an embarsment to the good name of PNE. The team was set out to stop Carlisle playing, with numerous late tackles and players constantly complaining to the officials. The attitude of westley and his assistant Maamria was even worse constantly complaining to the officials. The sooner you get rid of him the better. Apparently after the game Ridsdale met Westley in the tunnel and concratulated him on afantastic performance???

  • Comment number 29.

    Do PNE have a tactic of taking a drink break half way through the first and second halfs? At Stevenage, one of their players would go down 'injured', and the rest of the team would have a short drinks break. It happened it virtually every game.

    It is another reason not to like Mr Westley, so PNE do this now?

  • Comment number 30.

    As an outsider, it sounds like a case of pampered players, used to the good life under everybody's buddy, Sunbed Brown, objecting to being made to EARN their money.

  • Comment number 31.

    Mr Westley certainly polarises opinion. However, if you are a football fan AND a North End fan, then you can't defend his way of "playing" the game. It is poisonous. Mr Ridsdale claims PNE need stability, but on arrival, one of his first moves was to sack Brown for "not winning football matches". Westley has now won 2 in 15 with not much prospect of making it better than 2 in 21 by May. Over to you Mr Ridsdale - I supported your appointment, now is the time to be big enough to admit you were wrong on this one and put it right immediately. Or face the consequences yourself, along with your chosen accomplice. It simply cannot go on like this. When everyone talks of the "years of decline" we made the Championship play offs three times in nine years, the last in 2009, twice making the final. It's only been three years from that ...... to this. Go figure.

  • Comment number 32.

    How did Peter Risdale get this job? He's been in charge of Leeds (nearly bankrupt) Cardiff (nearly bankrupt) Plymouth (nearly bankrupt) and his clubs have never won a bean with him at the top. Having worked in business, I know of several useless individuals who talk a good game and get promotion after promotion, or jump ship for the next big payday. In football, Adam Crozier certainly seemed to fit that description, leaving the FA potless for another big day ruining the Royal Mail. But this guy Risdale defies belief how he always lands another payday after he's overseen the ruination of a club. To be honest, when PNE are left ruined, they'll only have themselves to blame.

  • Comment number 33.

    Reminds me of Aidy Boothroyd.

    Had a group of players at a close-knit, small, unfashionable club (for Stevenage, read Watford) who all bought into his methods playing a very direct style of football that saw promotion. Has completely failed to replicate it since at a bigger club (for Preston, see Coventry), largely due to a very limited and increasingly out-dated style of play that has no long-term sustainability. I dare say Westley will follow Boothroyd back down the divisions, at a club similar to the latter's Northampton.

    I cannot sympathise with managers of this ilk. They are quite happy to take the plaudits when things are going well but are not very good at handling things when they go wrong. The reason fans don't like them is simple - people don't turn up on Saturday to pay their £30 quid to watch utter crap. They want entertainment, after all football is meant to be an escape, not a chore.

  • Comment number 34.

    In defence of Peter Ridsdale, didn't he only go to Plymouth once they had been placed in administration, or were about be, in order to run the club whilst a buyer was being found? I certainly don't think he is to blame for their financial difficulties, notwithstanding what happended at other clubs.

    As for everyone's friend Mr Westley... whilst he undoubtedly, and unfortunately from my point of view, did very well for Stevenage over the past few years, it is worth bearing in mind that was his second spell there. And I believe his reappointment initially did not go down at all well with their fans.

    I'm also surprised we've not heard from any Farnborough fans yet. Or Farnborough Town as they were know during his tenure there, before Chairman/Manager Westley packed his bags for Hertfordshire following a lucrative cup tie at Highbury...

  • Comment number 35.

    PNE join a long list of clubs this season that have oddly sacked their manager whilst in a reasonable league position with some rather vain hope that they can do better with someone else. Brown may have been a showman but they were closer to a play off position when he was sacked than they are now.

    Leeds, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday to name but a few have all done the same.

    Division 1 is the most even of all four league divisions , anyone can beat any other team and those at the bottom are not that far from those nearer the top. A bad time then to be in nosedive form wise. PNE are one of 5/6 clubs fighting to avoid 21st place.

  • Comment number 36.

    Post 32, Mad Cow, you've summed in one post, the real reason why Britain, is, and has been since the turn of the century (19th in this case) in and out of ever greater messes. We cannot produce decent management. From SME's to mega corporations the ratio of idiots to competent managers is 100-1. But then, when so much emphasis is placed on the gift of the gab and being 'go getters' over genuine ability, what do we expect?

    The same applies in the Football world. Westley comes over as an old fashioned 'run 'til you drop' merchant with no footballing ability what so ever. He obviously 'talks a good talk' though or Risdale wouldn't have gone near him. As for Risdale, yes he arrived after Plymouth's troubles were well set in, but he did nothing to help an already difficult situation, and his career prior to arriving there was a catalogue of disasters that would grace any boardroom (football or otherwise) in England.

    While I understand fans frustrations with under performing players, taking Westley's approach (if they won't play I'll bring in donkeys who will) is hardly the answer. The best way to get anyone to perform is to shape their expectations, give them direction, and train them properly.

    PNE fans are obviously seeing none of that on a Saturday afternoon........

  • Comment number 37.

    How Westley was given the job anyway should be a complete mystery, but Preston have been doubly cursed, Ridsdale & Westley, a marriage made in heaven, except if you support Proud Preston.
    Westley is one of the most unpopular managers in the game, along with the nice Mr. Evans at Crawley, he and his method of management can only work with players who have small club mentality, it has been widely rumoured that Westley has helped financially with clubs he went into as the manager in the past.
    Any manager who texts his players in the early hours of the morning (2am)to announce his team for the following day, despite being with them throughout the day, deserves to loose any respect, if they had any for him in the first place, nice way for a professional player to find out that he is not playing in the game.
    Everyone, apparently with Ridsdale the exception, knew what Westley was like and now it is coming home to roost. Preston may not have the best squad even in league 1, but they do have decent players in there, with Westley in control there is little chance of a unified effort, he has by all the evidence available ruined the dressing room, without that, there is only one way and that is a downward spiral.
    Having said all that, I dont blame Westley for his own appointment, somebody somewhere have not done their homework, the buck stops with Ridsdale.
    A smashing club like Preston do not deserve muppets like Ridsdale and Westley in control, there will be tears before the morning.

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm a Manchester City fan, but my dad and grandad are PNE fans and I attend a few games a season at Deepdale. 'Anti-football' is a very apt description of Westleys tactics and his signings have been a joke - struggling at League 2 clubs and played out of position such as Aaron Brown. The country saw them last week attempting to foul their way through the game at Sheff Wed and once Wednesday scored there was absolutely no desire or quality to get back into the game.

    There was also a spate of 0-0 draws recently against the relegation candidates at home and Deepdale has been a guaranteed point or three for visiting teams all season and obviously away they have been poor because they never score first and Westley hasn't got the tactical nous to change to a more attacking side.

    Phil Brown may have been a bit too matey but Westley has obviously alienated most of the squad and I can see them getting relegated, we just have to hope that the teams below don't start picking up points...

  • Comment number 39.

    Carry on the good work agent Westley

  • Comment number 40.

    Forgive me for this and i mean no disrespect to PNE but the club has been on a downward curve since the day it lost the Championship play off final v West Ham.

    Since Davies they have had Simpson, Irvine, Ferguson, Brown and Westley.

    Phil Brown said on this very site that he had never worked with a "clique" of players such as this.

    The common denominator here is the players.
    First they whine about a new training regime then comes a further list of dislikes. Westley then drops some, removes the captaincy from one of them ....and so on..and so on.

    Yes Preston can cave in again and sack another manager in a short space of time and appoint someone else who will fail.

    Unless someone stands up to the players then the club will just continue on this roundabout

  • Comment number 41.

    The weekly mocking and vitriol directed towards Leeds, not only by the bitter PNE fans, but also the shameful Lancashire Evening Post, seems a long long time ago now...

  • Comment number 42.

    Leeds fans are a disgrace - I was on the Deepdale Kop against Leeds in our Playoff defeat and I watched hundreds of those vile so called football fans spitting at PNE fans (on children and women), then following the game you ripped up seats in the stand and then broke into the players changing room and smashed it up. Shameful - take a look in the mirror foolish Leeds!

  • Comment number 43.

    A big factor is that Westley and his entourage have refused to move to the Preston area and commute from the south of England meaning that he demands that the team train in the late afternoon and evenings and not at the training ground but on Deepdale. How many other jobs would let a prospective employee demand changing everything about the nature of the organisational working pattern before offering them the post? its not a player rebellion its just poor management. Ridsdale's history says everything there is to say about him and football clubs. Quite simply the wrong people at the wrong club at the wrong time.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm a Sheffield United supporter and have always respected PNE as a club with a great traidtion, decent supporters and who played in the right way but our home game against Preston this season was a disgrace.

    From the kick off they set about kicking and bullying our players and made little effort to play football. It was ugly and if I was a Preston supporter I would have been embarassed by what I saw.

    In the event United eventually beat them but without question they were the diriest team to visit Bramhall Lane this season.

    I have no doubt that they will change the manager sooner rather than later but at what cost to their club, both financially and reputationally.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Whites played well against Sheff Wed for the 1st half and should have gone in ahead. The tactics were wrong, but they worked reasonably well for 5o minutes or so. No excuses for Brentford game, just a joke.

    I believe Westley has brought in players now rather than in the summer, giving them more time to bed in, i think the gamble to get rid of the old pro's was a far larger one than he expected, as we have been struggling.

    Please to god start Hume from now on in !

  • Comment number 46.

    Ask any Farnborough FC fan, I am sure they have a few choice words about Graham Westley.

  • Comment number 47.

    PNE are a club with a fantastic footballing history and in recent years (Moyes & Davies era) have played some fantastic football putting the Pride back into Preston.

    Unfortunately, a few managers later and the club is in big trouble. Financially, it is no secret that things are not great and result wise the form is an embarrassment for professional sport.

    The current manager is at best described as a 'clown' or a poor man's John Beck (for those who remember those days). Football has progressed both in physicallity and technique yet he seems to think that playing 5 centre halves (3 out of position) will produce positive results. Unfortunately Preston probably can't afford to get rid of him.

    Why Preston aren't playing a mixture of youngters (homegrown) and established players is beyond belief. There is no way PNE would in this situation is they had; at worst they would be in the same table position but the youngsters would have half season of experience.

  • Comment number 48.

    I have to say Westley has had me changing my mind more times than any other manager at Preston in the 17 years I have been watching.

    If we are all honest as Preston fans then the club has been on somewhat of a downward spiral since Billy left. Paul Simpson got by with what Billy left and then as soon as he started making his own mark the players ran riot. Irvine started off well but faded badly and the football was poor.

    Under Ferguson Jnr and Brown we just fell further away from where we were. Players on big wages with big egos cost us badly and when Westley came in I knew change was needed and needed badly. We were crap and almost all the fans knew things had to change.

    Problem is Westley wants to change with a sledge hammer and you just cant do that. We can't just pay players off so you have to placate some of them till the summer and try and keep some harmony. He just hasn't seem to have accepted that fact.

    Some of the signings have been poor, but some are a risk worth taking. Cummins for instance - taking a player with a proven goalscoring record is a risk worth taking but not mid-season when you are desperate for points. He should have been integrated to this level not thrown in at the deep end.

    Westley could very well be the man for the job and I definitely want to see some of the players we have out of the door but if Westley is not careful (and if he hasn't already) he will lose the fans and next season we will see 6 or 7,000 on a best and then we will be in trouble.

    I think we will stay up - but only just!

  • Comment number 49.

    What makes matters worse for PNE is the success of their neighbours. Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn in the Premier League (it doesn't matter they are all fighting relegation), Blackpool getting promotion and even when relegated, staying in the upper reaches of the Championship. To rub salt in the wound even Fleetwood and Southport are showing signs of better days to come with the likelihood that Fleetwood will be in League 2 and Southport may join them through the play-offs. PNE never seem to get over missing out on the Premier League in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

  • Comment number 50.

    The same advice to him that should have been given to Steve MacLaren. Stay where you float with your head above water. MacLaren got lucky with a return to Twente. Westley should be so lucky. Much of what is wrong with PNE has been wrong for some time. Same thing happened to DF when he was there. He also got lucky and went back to where he could tread water and breathe.

  • Comment number 51.

    The focus of the article is the disaster that is PNE on the pitch this season. What is going on off the pitch is even worse. I fear for the very future of PNE. I think you should look into this aspect more Paul. It is a model for all clubs on what not to do in trying to reach the Premier League.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Such a shame for PNE, lived with a Prestonian at uni and therefore have a bit of a soft spot for them. As has been said, if they had come up at the start of the millenium when it seemed they were there or thereabouts every year, they might have done as Bolton Wanderers have, which in many ways is a very similar club.

  • Comment number 54.

    Have to agree with many comments about Ridsdale and Westley.A definite marriage made in hell.Preston are a a club with a fantastic history going down the
    pan.The club will go nowhere with someone with the way of working of Westley
    backed by Ridsdale with his previous record at Leeds and Plymouth.

  • Comment number 55.

    Whilst the football under Westley has been dire, the slide was evident before his arrival. Even when winning 7 in a row under Brown we weren't playing well. When Brown shored up the defence and switched from 433 to 442 the football became dour, culminating in a woefully drab performance against Westley's Stevenage.

    Don't forget that this season we have had some seriously well remunerated players on show. The average wage for a League 1 footballer is £1500. Some of our lads probably earn up to four times that amount. The rate of return has been abysmal.

    Westley has some into the club with a massive job on his hands and will need the opportunity to completely shape the squad in the summer, but there are two huge problems:

    A) the signings he has made so far have been shocking; and
    B) we might be in League Two by the end of May.

    There's no point sacking him now. We have to hope we stay up and that he performs a successful and massive rebuild over the summer.

  • Comment number 56.

    We were 5 points off the Play-offs when Phil Brown was Sacked.We had just ended an extremely poor run with Victory at Hartlepool and the draw versus Westleys Stevenage when he was Relieved of his duties.Ridsdale stated after appointing GW that PNE would be in a better position sooner rather than later....He was wrong,and now we face relegation and potential years of decline,it took us the best part of Twenty years to get back to the Second tier of Football the last time we were this low ! We should have stuck with Brown,or at the very least Graham Alexander and David Unsworth,who had a decent record in the few games in charge, until the end of the season then take stock.

  • Comment number 57.

    Paul: Since you obviously know a lot about the game, I am surprised you didn't talk more about how he wants PNE to play, vs. how they were playing before.

    What is Stevenage known for? Do they bang the ball around, do they go route 1, are they known for firmness at the back? And is that what this man is trying to teach?

    USA Soccer has had similar problems with Jurgen Klinsmann. The results haven't been good. Failing to qualify for the Olympics hurt A LOT, and his defense of the coach who lost grated. But he does have a vision, a way he wants the USA to play from youth level to national first team.

    What's Westley's?


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