Existing players will get their chance in League 1 says Westley
Boro boss says current crop have earned right to show what they can do next season
GRAHAM WESTLEY says he will not be looking to overhaul his playing squad ahead of next season, insisting his current crop have earned the right to play in League 1 after Saturday’s play-off final win over Torquay United.
“When you win promotion I think it’s important the players who earn the right to play in the league above should get a chance to go and show what they can do,” said Westley.
“We played against MK Dons in the FA Cup earlier on in the season and we managed to knock them out over the two games.
“The lads have already shown what they can do against top league 1 sides so while we don’t underestimate it – and believe me we don’t – I know just what a big leap it will be. Dagenham have shown that this year. They’re a fantastic outfit and well managed and they’ve been relegated so we know it’s going to be tough.”
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The Boro manager says the feeling of winning at Old Trafford was something special, and says it was just rewards for all the hard work the players have put in over the second half of the season to make it possible.
He added: “Any Saturday when you win a game feels fantastic but I have to say that it’s doubled, trebled and quadrupled out there today – it’s a fantastic feeling. People say it’s the best way to go up. A league championship is special but winning a play-off final is a great feeling.
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“It’s my job to anticipate that it was possible. You don’t go into a season as a manager and want second best. You don’t want second best, you want to get somewhere, make progress and earn medals. That’s the name of the game. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy – just like next year isn’t going to be easy.
“It was a big jump to go into the Football League and the players had to work phenomenally hard.
“They were 18th in January which shows what a big leap it was but they kept their confidence, kept their work-ethic, kept their spirit and they’ve gone on to show what those things can give you.”
Westley says his team did tremendously well to keep out a resurgent Gulls in the second half after going into the break 1-0 up following John Mousinho’s 41st minute strike.
Torquay put Boro under a lot of pressure but Boro, who finished the season with the best defensive record in League 2, held firm to clinch back-to-back promotions.
He said: “The lads have produced the best defensive record in League 2 this year and that’s three clean sheets in the three play-off games. There’s a bedrock of defence in the team and that starts at the front and works its way through the side.
“It was, to coin a clich�, a game of two halves. In the first half we took the game to them. I thought they were a little bit nervous and apprehensive and we tried to exploit that. I thought we had by far the better of the chances in the first half and I thought we deserved to go in ahead.
“Second half, whether it was us dropping off the game, it was difficult to get out at times but you have to say they worked the ball very well at times and they made it very difficult for us at times and it took some fantastic defending to dig ourselves out of several holes they got us into.”