PNE boss vows to sort out card count

Jack King and Jeffrey Monakana
Jack King and Jeffrey Monakana
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Graham Westley has vowed to bring down Preston North End’s card count after their appearance before an FA disciplinary panel.

North End were called before the hearing to explain a higher-than-average number of bookings in League One.

The club were not fined or punished, the meeting in Leeds designed to discuss ways in which some of the yellow cards could be reduced.

PNE boss Westley said: “We were called to the hearing as our disciplinary points-per-game record is above average for the league.

“If you go above a certain level, you get called to a meeting so they can guide and help you going forward.

“We found it a very constructive meeting and were able to make several points to the FA on the subject.

“Our card count has been as big as it is because of small fouls and shirt pulling, rather than anything major. We’ve not had a red card for violent conduct and just one of our bookings has been for dissent.

“Three of our lads who have taken the bulk of our cards – Keith Keane, Jack King and Jeffrey Monakana – have all stepped up from a lower level.

“When you step up, the game is a bit quicker, a bit more complex and the players a bit more clever.

“It’s easier for lads to get caught out, and the FA understood our argument that there has been this adjustment for some players.

“They saw that our recent record is much improved and there was an acceptance that we do get a poor press, in how we are portrayed by other clubs.

“The FA asked us what we are going to do to work on the perception factor.

“Our intention is to work with referees, bring a referee in to talk to the players and show them that they are a good bunch of blokes.

“Some suggestions and useful ideas were put forward by them, something that we’ll take on board.”

Westley takes North End to Colchester tomorrow (3pm), hoping a good result in Essex can help lift some of the gloom which has settled on the club in light of recent results.

The pressure is growing on him to turn fortunes around, tomorrow’s game and Tuesday night’s visit to Yeovil taking on huge importance.

Annoyance and anger from supporters at a run of one league win in 12 is something the PNE boss fully accepts.

Said Westley: “When you are winning football matches most of the fans are with you. When you are not winning most fans aren’t – that is the harsh reality of life.

“If you can’t live with that and can’t be dignified about it, you shouldn’t be in this job. I respect totally people’s view and their right to have an opinion, whether that is for or against me.

“If I was one of them and we were on the run of results we’re on now, I would be as loud as anyone against me. The fans are an honest bunch and generally if you get results, they will be behind us again.

“To get us ready to play Colchester, we have done a lot of work in the two penalty boxes to sharpen ourselves up.

“I took the chance to watch Colchester play Swindon in midweek and it does help to have a look at sides play live rather than just on DVD.”