Critics quick to point to team selection when things don’t go well, says Stevenage boss

Luke Freeman began the game at left-back, but was better deployed later in the game further upfield.

Luke Freeman began the game at left-back, but was better deployed later in the game further upfield. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Graham Westley looked to Manchester United when formulating the XI that started against Colchester United at the weekend

Graham Westley believes he picked the side he thought had the best possible chance of getting three points on Saturday.

The Stevenage manager made a number of surprise selections for his club’s biggest match of the season against Colchester United with winger Luke Freeman starting at left-back while handing first starts for the club to both on-loan MK Dons centre-half Tom Flanagan in place of skipper Jon Ashton and Hull City loanee Conor Henderson in midfield.

Speaking afterwards, Westley said: “When you lose a game everybody can point to your selection; when you win a game people can point to other things.

“A lot of thought goes into selection, there’s a lot debate. There’s a lot of information as a manager that you’ve got when you’re selecting a team that perhaps you don’t have when you’re standing outside of it.

“For instance my skipper has not trained all week, my skipper has got a foot injury that he was prepared to grit his teeth and play on [through].

“We all heard [Manchester United manager] David Moyes after the game the other night talking about [Wayne] Rooney and the fact that he couldn’t kick a ball in front of goal because he had a broken toe or a chipped bone in his toe.

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“When you’re managing a team and picking a team you want to make sure you put players out there who have got the legs, who have got the energy at this stage of the season.

“Players who perhaps have got a little bit of motivation that could drive them on to that performance that you need.

“Let’s face facts: at 1-0 up going into half-time most people probably would have looked at it and said ‘on the whole [Colchester] haven’t caused too many problems and it is a deserved lead. If he kicks them up the backside at half-time and gets them going then maybe we can go on and build on this’. At that stage selection looks alright.

“When you’ve three or four players who don’t do their jobs right; one doesn’t get out to the ball, second doesn’t stop the cross, the third heads it back across goal and then [Freddie Sears] bangs it in the back of your net then selection is a problem.

“With the players that are available, with the information that we’ve got about the players who are available I think we’ve put the team out there that gave us the best chance of winning the game.”

Speaking specifically about Flanagan and Henderson, Westley added: “I though both of those two lads gave a good account of themselves. Tom had some good moments in the game.

“I say to them all ‘don’t be afraid to make mistakes. at the end of the game we’ll balance them off with what you’ve done well with what you haven’t done well and the job you’ve got to do is make sure that the weighing scales are in your favour, that your bank account has got a credit not a debit’.

“I think both of those boys did enough good things on the field of play to make you believe that they’ve got good futures.”