I won’t change, says PNE boss Westley

PNE manager Graham Westley
PNE manager Graham Westley
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Graham Westley says the rumpus caused by the leaked text message sent to some of the Preston North End squad won’t lead to him changing his ways.

The North End boss has been bemused by the reaction to the text, in which a group of players were informed they wouldn’t be training with the first-team squad.

A national newspaper ran a story containing the message, and it’s been a big talking point among the PNE fans since.

But Westley will carry on texting, as he sees it as just one of the many forms of communication he uses in his job at Deepdale.

He told the Evening Post: “The way I see it is that some of our players were given information about training arrangements –shock horror!

“From that, someone has decided there is a story there.

“The impression people might be getting is that the only way I communicate is by text.

“That isn’t the case, I speak to people in person, speak on the phone, email, write letters.

“So me sending a text message shouldn’t be seen as bizarre in any way.

“When you want to pass information quickly at a time when people are on holiday or away from the club, a text message is an ideal form of communication.

“I took to using electronic communication when Clive Woodward did it during his time coaching England’s rugby team.

“People take their phones everywhere and are always picking them up to check messages.

“In this particular case, I believed text messaging was the best way of getting accurate information to a group of players quickly.

“This is not an issue as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to change.

“I am sure other clubs communicate in such a way.

“Players have to text the FA most days to inform them when they are training and not training, as part of the anti-doping rules – that’s normal practice.

“This only becomes a big deal when someone chooses to blow it out of proportion.”

Westley is keen to draw a line under the issue and focus on North End’s pre-season preparations.

He said: “To be frank, it is about time we started talking about the squad we are building here.

“I understand the reasons why we have some issues at the moment.

“There has been an absolutely huge turnover of players in recent weeks and months, so we’re not going to keep everyone happy.

“But we have to start realising that the future is a different place to the past.

“We want to create a winning way here and I don’t know why people are trying to hold us back.

“This club deserves better than to be held back – we want to move forward.”

Eight players were sent the text by Westley, asking them not to report for pre-season training until Tuesday this week.

They are training separately from the North End squad at a gym in Rossendale.

The eight are Paul Coutts, Iain Hume, Craig Morgan, Conor McLaughlin, Adam Barton, Danny Mayor, Jamie Proctor and Keammar Daley.

Coutts is currently attracting interest from Derby County.

The Rams have been in contact about the midfielder but have yet to table a firm bid.

PNE chairman Peter Ridsdale said: “I’ve had a telephone call from Derby about Paul.

“It was an enquiry at this stage rather than an offer.

“That might lead to them making a bid, but it’s up to Derby.”

Coutts rejected a move back to his former club Peterborough a fortnight ago after North End had accepted an offer from Posh.

Birmingham City are also interested in the Scotsman, having recently had a Football League transfer embargo lifted.

Ridsdale added that he had received enquiries about ‘two or three’ of the other players, but they hadn’t been firm offers.

PNE’s club shop will be closed today and tomorrow for stock taking, before re-opening on Saturday morning at 9am.

Former Preston goalkeeper David Lucas has joined Birmingham on a one-year contract.

Lucas, who came through the youth ranks at Deepdale, had been a free agent after being released by Rochdale in the summer.

The Lancashire Evening Post has launched a FREE football app which is now available to download on iPhone and Android devices.