Disagreements over the ability and attitude of certain players appears to have been instrumental in the sacking of Peterborough United manager Graham Westley.
Westley granted his first post-sacking interview to TalkSPORT presenter and Posh fan Adrian Durham this week. They covered the manager/chairman relationship with Darragh MacAnthony extensively.
Westley said: “When I first spoke to Darragh MacAnthony by phone, we struck up a fantastic rapport. The bulk of our chat was around ambition, football philosophy and attitude to winning. I think we both instantly felt on a common page.
“It is evident from outside that Darragh is a tough bloke to work for. Tough has never scared me. I believe in my ability to succeed in a tough situation. In seven months, I produced two full internationals, gave the club a great FA Cup run, in Barry Fry’s words played the ‘best football’ in his 20 Posh years, sold Conor Washington for a considerable multi-million pound fee, helped develop several other lads into valuable commodities (Anderson, Forrester) and lifted the club from relegation candidacy in 18th to mid-table safety in 14th. I won 44 per cent of my games having inherited a team with a poor win record. All that with an inherited squad not my squad.
“But he (MacAnthony) and I disagree on certain players. That is the long and short of the big problem between us. It became a bit destructive between us really.
“The problem for me was that the job next year was about winning a league title. The chairman believed in lads and attitudes that I didn’t. And I believed in lads and attitudes that he didn’t. That is it. That caused our friction. But it was all professional. Nothing personal.
“Maybe he is right. Maybe I am right. We’ll never know. But he wants a manager who believes in his players. He feels he has a title-winning combination. I tried hard to believe in all his men. But I couldn’t see it his way. I couldn’t believe in the same vision of a team as him.
“So he is heading where he believes he will win next year’s title. I respect that. I really do. I could have piped down. I could have kept my head down. But I wanted to win the title and I didn’t want to fall short by not fighting for what I believed in.
“I fought; I lost. I didn’t want to be sacked. But I wasn’t going to fail by not being strong about my beliefs. Just as he wasn’t going to fall short by backing my views that he didn’t believe in. We both move on. But firmly as friends.
“This season the squad was not deep enough in experience, strength or quality to cope without senior lads, especially whilst I was still learning who could do what in the squad.
“You can’t sell Conor and expect a Conference North, U21 or League Two striker to replace him within five minutes. Let’s be serious. They’d be going for millions themselves if they were ready to be Conor!
“I’d work with Darragh again. He is a winner. Which is why he has won promotions. And I would certainly not back against him winning his title next year. Just because I cannot see his way to the title does not mean that it won’t happen. There is more than one way of skinning a cat.
“I think I could have delivered him his stated desire of the League title. But I’d sooner be sacked now arguing, than sacked down the line for failing without sticking to my guns.
“The chairman has a tough gig in front of him. He lives in America, runs the club from across the seas and from time-to-time in the UK, and he has his global business to run, too. It must be tough for him.
“From where I stand, he has given his everything and he needs help. The club has huge stadium costs and every lost season ticket or match day ticket hurts him personally. He even met season ticket holders personally to encourage renewal. That is an incredible effort for a man to commit to. He has left his family in the States to come across and meet season ticket holders. There aren’t many people who would give that much.
“Darragh MacAnthony has led three promotions in nine years. Not many chairmen will deliver that. Those who do deserve respect.”