Stevenage boss Westley looking to beat the bookies ahead of Oldham opener

Graham Westley

Graham Westley - Credit: Archant

STEVENAGE boss Graham Westley is cautiously optimistic of starting the season with a win on Saturday as he gears his team up to take on Oldham Athletic at the Lamex Stadium.

The bookies have tipped both sides to be facing a fight against relegation from League 1 this season, but Westley is relishing the challenge of proving the doubters wrong.

“I think the club has lost its way a bit, results on the pitch, the back end of last season was difficult and that’s why the bookies are putting us where they are putting us,” said the 45-year-old manager.

“It’s a reflection of the results in the second half of the season that people don’t really fancy Stevenage this year.

“But I think underestimating us, that’s good, I don’t have any problem with that, it’s not an issue and never has been.

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“I think we were favourites for relegation the year we got into the top six in League 1 and stormed it if we’re honest, so it’s not an issue to us what people think.

“What is an issue is how we play, the commitment, the togetherness, the organization we put in. We think we can be in a position where we can win the game on Saturday.

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“We felt we could win the game whoever we played and wherever we played them on the opening day. We felt we could do that and nothing has happened in pre-season to change my mind.”

Oldham have been similarly confident that they too can defy the bookies’ odds and have a successful season under the stewardship of 32-year-old boss Lee Johnson.

Westley believes getting younger managers into the game is a positive move forward, and won’t be taking anything for granted come 3pm on Saturday.

“I think it’s great that young managers are being given the chance, I think you underestimate young managers at your peril,” added Westley.

“We all started somewhere, with a base of knowledge, when you managed your first game, I can’t really remember it now, probably 800-900 games ago, when you manage your first game you have got a freshness and it’s dangerous, just ask his dad [Yeovil manager Gary Johnson].

“He got turned over by him, you wouldn’t think the boy would beat his dad but it shows what can happen.

“So you must never underestimate anybody. He’s got a knowledge base and it’s his first job but his enthusiasm and his knowledge are the reason why the club decided to give him his chance, and it’s good to see young coaches coming through and we certainly won’t be taking it for granted.”

Westley’s attitude towards Saturday’s opposition was echoed by new club captain Jon Ashton, who was handed the armband following the departure of Mark Roberts to Fleetwood Town.

He added: “I’m sure he [Johnson] will be wanting to impress and stamp his name in the league.

“His side will be full of enthusiasm and they will want to impress the manager. It’s early in the season so they’ll be fighting for the shirt for the next game.

“It will be tough game but we’ll be more than ready.”

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