Westley: This could be the best Stevenage team ever

Graham Westley

Graham Westley - Credit: Archant

Boro boss says current crop of players has plenty of quality

Stevenage's League 2 promotion winning team. Photo: Comet library

Stevenage's League 2 promotion winning team. Photo: Comet library - Credit: Daniel Wilson

Graham Westley says his current crop of players could turn out to be the best Stevenage side ever.

The Boro manager was speaking after Saturday’s 3-2 victory at AFC Wimbledon, a match that saw goals from three new players this season: Dean Wells, Cameron Lancaster and Charlie Lee.

Among Boro’s other signings this summer are hardened Football League pros like Simon Walton and Chris Whelpdale, but they have a big act to follow if they are going to improve on the successful Boro squad that won the FA Trophy in 2009, the Conference title in 2010, promotion from League 2 in 2011 and then made it all the way to the League 1 play-offs in 2012.

Westley, though, believes that if his current squad plays to its potential it could turn out to be the best yet.

“People say to me ‘could this be the best Stevenage team ever?’ says Westley.

“I would never say it lightly, because I’ve got too much respect for the teams that have gone before to say ‘yes it could’ lightly, but it could be the best team ever because there are some fantastic qualities in there.

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“It’s a question of merging them, getting them to understand each other and creating that collective ambition that we’ve always had.

“There were some really good passages of play at the beginning of the second half, and we sowed the seeds that I’m talking about and the qualities that I know are there. They’re certainly going to realise it themselves whether it’s sooner or later.”

It has been something of a Jekyll and Hyde league season so far, with an opening day victory at home to Hartlepool United being followed by a poor performance at Southend United (2-0 defeat), a strong display at Plymouth Argyle (1-1) and a dire 90 minutes at home to Wycombe Wanderers [3-1 defeat] at the weekend.

Westley, though, believes there will be ups and downs this season until the club gets into its groove.

Asked if the performance on Saturday was the best of the campaign so far, Westley said: “I thought we were decent on the opening day in fairness.

“I think we’ve had a couple of difficult displays. We were good down at Plymouth, but certainly the game at Southend we looked like a side that hadn’t played a lot of football together and certainly like a side that hadn’t played a competitive away fixture before.

“Last weekend was one of those difficult days that every new team has. I said after the game there’s going to be some ups and some downs when we’re building a new side.

“We showed a lot of good qualities [against AFC Wimbledon]; it was good to have Ronnie [Henry] back. It makes a massive difference having a player of that quality and that experience in the back line.

“Darius [Charles] went into the back line and did very well in replacing Bira [Dembele] who was out injured. The whole team I think, especially at the start of the second half, really did show its intentions, played some good football and opened them up.”