WEST­LEY:

I’m feel­ing like a Posh boy again

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE -

NOBODYwants to see any man­ager lose his job, but when it does in­evitably hap­pen, there is a clam­our for the role. I saw it writ­ten that around 70 se­ri­ous ap­pli­cants ap­plied to re­place Dave Robert­son at Peterborough United. I was one of them.

Be­ing an out-of-work man­ager had been a hard-earned break for me this sum­mer. Af­ter my Steve­nage team were de­feated in the League Two play-offs by Southend, I was able to rest my­self and clear my head. Af­ter seven con­sec­u­tive sum­mers with­out respite, it was a welcome breather.

But the start of the football sea­son hit me like a brick. I en­vi­ously watched man­agers play­ing the game that I love while I looked on from afar with­out an op­por­tu­nity to com­pete.The pain was aw­ful.

Am­bi­tion

I be­gan man­ag­ing in the Ry­man Premier Di­vi­sion be­fore win­ning sep­a­rate pro­mo­tions into the Con­fer­ence, into League Two and then into League One. Although I have beaten Cham­pi­onship and Premier League clubs in cup com­pe­ti­tions, I have never man­aged at those lev­els and my am­bi­tion is to do so. Sit­ting on the side­lines was never go­ing to help me move to­wards that ob­jec­tive.

By chance, I was at Southend to watch Dave’s last game in charge of Peterborough.

I was hugely im­pressed by some of the tal­ent on dis­play. Play­ers like Ben Al­nwick (a goal­keeper des­tined to re­turn to higher lev­els), Michael Smith (al­most cer­tainly a fu­ture in­ter­na­tional full-back), Ri­cardo San­tos (who at 6ft 5ins has the phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal at­tributes to go all the way), Mar­cus Mad­di­son (who could well de­velop into the club’s latest multi-mil­lion pound de­par­ture this sea­son), Michael Bost­wick (who played so bril­liantly for me at Steve­nage), Jon Tay­lor (the dy­namic wide man), Conor Washington (al­ready with around one goal in three and im­prov­ing) and young loa­nees in­clud­ing Alex Davey (Chelsea) and Calum El­der (Le­ices­ter City) made a re­ally strong im­pres­sion on me.

I knew that other top play­ers in­clud­ing Gabby Zakuani,Jack Bald­win and Jer­maine An­der­son were also at the club and un­avail­able.

So when the job came up, I put my name into the frame.The op­por­tu­nity to work with that tal­ent was too good to ig­nore.

For­tu­nately for me, I was called from Amer­ica by Dar­ragh MacAn­thony, the Peterborough chair­man, four days af­ter ap­ply­ing.We shared a long transat­lantic tele­phone call af­ter which I was ab­so­lutely clear that I wanted to work for the man. He has in­cred­i­ble vi­sion, out­stand­ing football knowl­edge and a spe­cial kind of am­bi­tion.

Sub­se­quent to the call, I was in­vited to fly out to Florida to meet him in per­son.We had two lengthy meet­ings in the space of un­der 24 hours and did a lot of talk­ing.We got to know each other well.

At­trac­tion

What I learned in those meet­ings was an in­spi­ra­tion to me.The chair­man’s con­tin­u­ing am­bi­tion for Premier League football and his learn­ing from the club’s pre­vi­ous Cham­pi­onship ex­ploits was a key at­trac­tion.

It was clear to me that I had both the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence to do the job at Peterborough, es­pe­cially in terms of sup­port­ing the de­vel­op­ment of an ex­pen­sively as­sem­bled squad of huge tech­ni­cal at­tack­ing tal­ent where my track record has been strong.

As I boarded my re­turn flight I hoped that I had done enough to land the job be­cause I felt a gen­uine pas­sion for it.

I waited sev­eral days be­fore I was asked to dis­cuss a con­tract, while other in­ter­views took place, but it only took us a mat­ter of min­utes to reach agree­ment. It was great to be wanted and to feel so pas­sion­ate to­wards the club and the op­por­tu­nity.

On Mon­day I was an­nounced at a Press con­fer­ence and this week was my first back at my football desk. I took time to meet peo­ple all around the club and to learn about all as­pects of what we do.

Peterborough em­ploy a truly fan­tas­tic staff; skilled peo­ple with out­stand­ing drive for the club’s pro­gres­sion. The club are at the cen­tre of their com­mu­nity and take their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties very se­ri­ously.Watch­ing our peo­ple work so dili­gently and pro­fes­sion­ally for the club and their fans has re-in­forced my belief that the Posh was pre­cisely the right place for me to flour­ish. Peterborough build star play­ers for a rea­son. Its chair­man and di­rec­tors are huge in that. So, too, the en­tire back room team. And es­pe­cially the fans.The club de­mand pos­i­tive, pos­ses­sion based, at­tack­ing football

and they en­cour­age play­ers to play with ad­ven­ture and free­dom of ex­pres­sion. The con­se­quence of this is that the likes of McLean, Mack­ailSmith, Boyd,Tom­lin, Gayle and As­som­ba­longa have been de­vel­oped and sold.

Dar­ren Fer­gu­son, of course, played the sig­nif­i­cant man­age­rial role in all that too and will un­doubt­edly go on to re­peat sim­i­lar suc­cess when he de­cides to re­turn to man­age­ment.

In front of me then is the job of build­ing an ex­cit­ing and win­ning Peterborough team from an ex­pen­sively as­sem­bled squad (c. £4m of tal­ent ac­quired). I have in­her­ited a won­der­ful coach in Grant McCann and a great group of pro­fes­sional staff.

The philoso­phies of the club are clear. The unity at the club is ex­cep­tional. If I play my part then we see many rea­sons why we can con­tinue to re­cover from a dif­fi­cult start and push on into the pic­ture at the very top end. One game at a time.

The chal­lenge sure beats the pain of the side­lines!

PIC­TURE: Joe Dent

WELCOME: Graham West­ley at his un­veil­ing with di­rec­tor of football Barry Fry, right, and chief ex­ec­u­tive Bob Symns

VI­SION: Chair­man Dar­ragh MacAn­thony

TOP CLASS: Ben Al­nwick

PHYS­I­CAL: Ri­cardo San­tos

PROGRESS: Mar­cus Mad­di­son

BRIL­LIANT: Michael Bost­wick

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