Westley aims to bring ambition back to Stevenage
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage have a battle off the field as well as on it, according to manager Graham Westley.
The ex-Preston North End boss is hoping his rebuilding process at the club can reinvigorate the town and get people back through the Lamex Stadium turnstiles.
Just over 3,000 spectators were at Saturday’s Sky Bet League 1 home draw with former Premier League side Sheffield United.
“I said before Saturday’s game, 10 years ago you’d have been looking at Sheffield United in the cup and it would have been a dream tie.
“The whole town would have been up for filling the stadium,” he said.
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“On Saturday there were 3,000 here watching and we’re almost taking it for granted that we’re a League 1 club now.
“It’s tough, it’s a fight and one of the things we need to do is reinvigorate the town, reinvigorate people’s enthusiasm and their ambition.”
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Westley left Stevenage for Preston in January 2012 with Boro in the play-off places.
However, after an unsuccessful period at Deepdale he returned to the Hertfordshire club in March 2013 following the sacking of his replacement Gary Smith, who left Stevenage 15th in the table after a run of 14 defeats in 18 games.
Westley feels ambition at the club needs reinstalling.
“There’s been a lot of talk of hang in there in League 1 and I said when I came back I could feel that and it frustrated me a lot because when I left, when I walked out the door we were in the top six of League 1 and I’m sure we would have gone up,” he said.
“We need to get people behind that ambition again realising it is possible providing we all knuckle down, believe in yourselves and work hard together.
“The fans here are a tremendous bunch, when people start talking about the fans aren’t getting behind us what they forget is the people who turn up and pay their money and come through the gates are 110 per cent getting behind you.
“It’s obviously frustrating when you can get seven or eight thousand in for a big cup game and you get a couple of thousand in for a league game, that’s frustrating but that’s the opportunity isn’t it.
“What we have got to do is make sure that what’s going on here starts to build that momentum again.”
Westley is trying to change the mentality of the players brought into the club after he left, as well as ensuring the ones he’s introduced are chasing the common goal.
“It’s difficult when you inherit a team that’s lost 14 in 18, it doesn’t happen for no reason I keep saying it, it happens because there’s a lot of bad habits, there’s a serious lack of ambition in the players, a serious lack of dedication to winning and it takes time to turn that round,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s about changing the people around and sometimes it’s about changing the people, we have changed some of the people.
“We need to be getting points per game players that win promotion, at the moment we’ve got a few of them but not enough.
“The challenge is there for all the lads, I keep talking to them about it every day, some people are trying to change, some people are thinking about changing.”