Westley’s ‘fantastic opportunity’

Graham Westley the new Preston North End manager at Deepdale Photo Ian Robinson
Graham Westley the new Preston North End manager at Deepdale Photo Ian Robinson
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Graham Westley says landing the Preston North End job is a ‘fantastic opportunity and privilege’.

The 43-year-old was appointed PNE boss late on Friday night, with him presented to the media at Deepdale on Saturday morning.

He admitted North End’s approach for him at Stevenage had come like a ‘bolt out of the blue’ but he quickly made up his mind that this was the job for him.

And Westley can’t wait to take up the reins properly on Monday morning after watching Saturday afternoon’s clash with Wycombe Wanderers from the director’s box.

Westley said: “Last Saturday night was one of fantastic emotion for me after Stevenage put in an exceptional performance at Reading and beat them in the FA Cup.

“Then I woke on Sunday morning to find the papers saying there had been an approach from Preston.

“It was all slightly bewildering, a club of Preston’s magnitude doesn’t come around too often in a career.

“I’ve got to say it was a bolt out of the blue which is perhaps why the negotiations have taken a week or so.

“When you come to Deepdale and see the faces of Sir Tom Finney, Bill Shankly and Alan Kelly looking back out at you from the stands, it brings home the magnitude of the club.

“This club is built on that background and now I want to be a small part of the history here and hopefully a successful part.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity, a great privilege, and I’m delighted to accept the appointment.

“Maybe it happening late on Friday 13th was not my preferred choice - at 10.20pm when I signed, I was thinking should I drag things out until 1.00am on Saturday morning!”

Westley has been joined at Deepdale by his assistant manager John Dreyer and first-team coach Dino Maamria.

He’s signed an open-ended contract, with an agreed compensation figure should another club come in for his services, and a figure should things not work out for him.

His priority is getting North End heading up the League One table as they look to regain their Championship status.

Said Westley: “The club is where it is, so we have some work to do.

“We’ve got to aim to be fit enough, organised enough, strong enough so that we can start winning games again.

“There are some fantastic players at the club who I’m looking forward to working with.

“I don’t know exactly what I have inherited, it’s up to me to open my eyes and ears quickly at the training ground to see what we have here.

“We need to start winning football matches consistently, be in a position where we can get used to winning week in, week out.”

Westley was due to meet the PNE players at 12.45pm on Saturday afternoon, before allowing caretaker pair Graham Alexander and David Unsworth to prepare the side to face Wycombe.

The futures of Alexander and Unsworth hasn’t yet been discussed, PNE chairman Peter Ridsdale saying it was a matter to be discussed in the coming days with Westley.