Graham Westley says his smile has returned after he started to get a more positive response to his tough regime from the Preston North End squad.
The North End boss detected a more upbeat attitude following a recent training stint, and hopes that is the way forward as preparations continue for Saturday’s visit to Tranmere.
Westley admits that the longer hours and more strenuous approach he demands has been ‘brutal’ on the players over the last three weeks.
But there will be no let-up as he strives to put North End back on a winning track.
He told the Evening Post: “After a fairly disruptive few days with a lot of new lads arriving at the club, it wasn’t really until the end of last week that we got together as a squad and things settled down.
“When the Brentford game was postponed, we had a training session on Saturday morning and it was the first time I had walked away with a smile on my face.
“There was a sense of urgency and togetherness – a determination to move forward was evident.
“I found that a really positive day and I want that to continue.
“I’m someone who likes to be straightforward and honest.
“That doesn’t always go down well with people, especially the players.
“But I start as I mean to go on, and didn’t see the point in approaching this job with half measures, only to suddenly change further down the line. I’ve been brutal with them in all honesty.
But after the initial resistance, people have started to realise that my approach is a long-term measure.
“This club is determined to get back on the front foot again.
“It hasn’t enjoyed the relegation or the slide this season.
“So there is an urgency to raise standards, and I’m not being disrespectful to anyone in saying that.
“You’ve got to be true to yourself, and I believe in what I’m doing.
“I really did sense a positive energy in training , and I can’t say there have been too many times when that has happened.
“There has been a big change here, with the hours we work and the training we do.
“The hours are a disruption for players – I don’t doubt that it has made an impact on them.
“When you are a manager who comes in to bring about change, you have to accept there will be resistance and pain.
“There’s been a bit of pain so far but we will get through it and push on.”
Westley took advantage of North End’s free weekend to run the rule over Tranmere in their visit to Wycombe.
Although they were beaten 2-1 at Adams Park, the PNE boss was still impressed with what he witnessed.
Said Westley: “Everything we do this week is geared towards playing Tranmere because the next game is always my focus.
“I went to watch them on Saturday and even though they lost, I thought it was a positive performance from them.
“There was a good energy about them and they could count themselves unfortunate to get beaten.
“We won’t be under-estimating them in any shape or form.”