Attitude is the key
Stevenage Boro boss Graham Westley s monthly column for The Comet Our game against Aldershot Town this coming weekend signals the beginning of my fourth year in charge at Stevenage. It has been one hell of a ride so far. And hopefully the best is yet to c
Stevenage Boro boss Graham Westley's monthly column for The Comet
Our game against Aldershot Town this coming weekend signals the beginning of my fourth year in charge at Stevenage.
It has been one hell of a ride so far. And hopefully the best is yet to come.
Initially, I inherited a team that was second from bottom with 24 points from 27 games. Prospects were somewhat gloomy.
My early games did little to instill a solid belief that we would escape. But gradually things changed and we won 28 points in 15 games to eventually finish 12th. It was an incredible turn around.
My second season saw further, if unspectacular, improvement. We worked our way into eighth spot without ever really threatening to do much better or much worse.
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The breakthrough came in 2004-5 when we eventually won our way into fifth spot and, after beating Hereford United over two legs, the play-off final. Our defeat to Carlisle United did not take away from a fabulous effort from our players.
Expectations for 2005-6 were set then. History shows that my teams always improve season on season. So, it was time to go one better.
Initially, we found things tough. Being play-off finalists seemed to change people's attitude when they played us.
Their work rate seemed higher. As if they feared defeat and were going to fight doubly hard to avoid it. It took us time to get to grips with that. When we did, we climbed steadily into third place.
One point from nine in the last week has seen us slip to seventh and give ourselves work to do. But we will bounce back.
As I begin my fourth year here at Stevenage, I firmly believe that we can deliver for the club.
It looks as though Accrington will run away with the championship now. Certainly, it is theirs to lose.
Then, realistically, it will be four from six contesting the play-offs.
Exeter started the season like a steam train with 20 points from eight games. Twenty-seven from the next 19 games has been less impressive. So, on form, they could well fall away. But we should not assume that.
Halifax are a steadily improving side who grind out results. It isn't the first time they have challenged but they could well last the pace this time around.
Grays are an exciting footballing team. Young, fast, aggressive and attacking. They are certainly capable of earning their way into the play-offs now. I would prefer to avoid them over two legs if they do.
Hereford have reached the play-offs in the last two seasons and look set to do so again. Although you cannot take anything for granted.
Then there is Morecambe who we pipped on the final day last year. Probably, they are the best side we have played this year. Their demolition of us up there was thorough.
Beneath ourselves are York, Woking, Dagenham, Aldershot and others who will fancy themselves as challengers.
But we have got enough work to do ourselves and I personally think now that the four teams will come from positions two to seven. Of course, I may be wrong. Football is a funny game.
We have done some sound business and added three big signings in the last week.
Luke Oliver, Adam Miller and Eric Obinna have joined from Yeovil, QPR and Reading respectively. We have funded these additions by selling Anthony Elding and releasing Michael Brough.
Perhaps it is fair to say that the transfer activity affected our results.
Certainly, it forced me to invest many hours of my time in meeting the players, negotiating with their agents and clubs, and ultimately in sealing the deals.
The transfer window brings a real problem to managers in dictating when you have to do your work whether it suits or not.
With Alan Julian, Ronnie Henry, George Boyd and Jon Nurse already attracting attention, our new boys are sure to be back in the news soon. We have some very exciting young talent now.
My forecast is that I will manage to unite our squad and win the points we need to once more earn the opportunity to contest the play-offs. If we can go into those games as runners-up then I would like that.
We have the experience of getting to the final behind us and we will be capable of going that step further.
It is all about the attitude of our players from hereon in. I watched Accrington attack Exeter this week in all senses of the word. They got out there and went ruthlessly for their throats. Their attitude was one of win whatever it takes. We know that their determined approach is key to what they do. And the same goes for any successful side.
It will take 76 points to be certain of the play-offs. So we are looking to win at least 11 of our remaining 15 games.
Our attitude is to approach every game with the mentality we used to gatecrash the play-offs last year. Attack and win at all costs.
If we do better than 11 wins then we will be getting close to that runners-up spot. There's the background. NOW......ACTION.