PNE boss up for fight

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Graham Westley has admitted to having a ‘tough time’ at Preston North End as his first anniversary in charge was marked by yesterday’s Deepdale defeat to Walsall.

It was an afternoon to forget for the PNE boss, with supporters booing him from the pitch after the 3-1 loss and a coin appearing to be thrown in his direction.

Joe Garner

Joe Garner

But Westley has vowed to carry on fighting and believes he can improve results.

North End trailed 2-0 by the interval, goals from Fabian Brandy and Paul Downing doing the damage.

James Baxendale extended Walsall’s lead early in the second half, before Bailey Wright pulled back an injury-time consolation.

Asked about the crowd’s reaction at full time, Westley said: “The crowd have booed me consistently since I have been here.

“I came here 12 months ago and lost 2-0 to Leyton Orient, the supporters weren’t best pleased with that. They expected me to come in and turn things round immediately.

“Since then we have taken millions off the wage bill, cleaned out a lot of history and thrown together a squad of players who at times looked like strangers.

“We are trying to win matches at a big club with huge expectation, at a time when we are not able to spend big amounts. It’s a tough time trying to put the club back on the straight and narrow.

“If you are going to take on a job like this, you have to be a character who can deal with the booing.

“I wouldn’t be at any club where the fans aren’t passionate about winning, and the Preston fans care about winning and have passion.

“I can’t wait for the time when they sing my name because I have lifted a trophy for them.

“The hounds were out for Sir Alex Ferguson many years ago – I think he was one game away.

“His football club believed in him as a good manager. I’m hoping that I’m right in saying that this football club believes in me being a good manager.

“I’m having a tough time, we haven’t produced the results I want and that I’ve shown over 700 to 800 games that I’m capable of.

“I’ve shown that I know how to get a winning team together and I have no intention of stopping now.”

Westley hopes that some work in the current transfer window can produce an upturn in results. He is especially targeting defensive reinforcements, with a right-back at the top of his wanted list.

Some incoming business was managed over the weekend, former Chelsea goalkeeper Rhys Taylor arriving on non-contract terms following the loss of Steve Simonsen to a knee injury.

There was a departure too, Jamaican winger Keammar Daley leaving Deepdale after a disappointing 18-month stay.

Said Westley: “It was another disappointing performance yesterday and another disappointing result.

“The quality of work we have been doing isn’t good enough in many regards. We have a lot of work to do going forward to put things right.

“Some of the work is about recruitment because we’ve lost some quality. We have been building a plan of action since the market opened but it’s not easy.”