Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony had made his mind up before yesterday’s (April 23) home defeat to Scunthorpe to sack manager Graham Westley.
Dreadful home form, falling gates and unhappy fans were cited by MacAnthony as reasons for parting company with his seventh manager in a nine-and-a-half year reign. The chairman revealed that Westley fought tooth and nail to stay in a job he’d held for just 215 days and 41 competitive matches.
MacAnthony has thanked Westley for his work at the club and now accepts his next appointment is ‘critical,’ as he bids to end Posh’s four-season stay in League One. Caretaker-manager Grant McCann will be a serious candidate if he decides to apply.
MacAnthony, in an exclusive interview with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire sports editor Nick Fairbairn, said: “Graham fought his corner passionately to stay in the job, but once I have made a decision I tend to stick with it. He was upset with my decision, but I had made my mind up before yesterday’s game. It’s the right decision for the club and me.
“But you will only hear positive words from me about the job Graham did. His stats were not that bad, he had bad luck with injuries and we collectively suffered a poor transfer window in January.
“Initially he had the team playing scintillating football, he got us into the play-off positions, he delivered some magic in the FA Cup, got us a live televised game and he helped turn Conor Washington into a million-pound striker.
“But it’s been a disappointing run of late. We’ve lost 8 of our last 11 matches at home, our gates are dropping and there was a lot of disappointment, as well as a lack of support, in the area. The form has had an effect financially. We’ve won something like 20% of our last 20 matches.
“We were sixth when the slide started and 10 home defeats this season is really poor. We’ve lost at home lately to Rochdale, Oldham and Scunthorpe and we threw away leads against Swindon and Port Vale. We should be beating those teams at home.
“As far as I am concerned Graham leaves us with his reputation enhanced. He has proved his teams can play good football and he has proved he can turn develop multi-million pound players. I know he wants to get back into football straight away and I believe he will do just that.
“I am fed up with changing managers every five minutes and that’s a criticism I have to take on the chin. The next appointment is critical.
“Grant McCann has been given the job for the next two games so we will see what he makes of it. If he wants the job he can apply and he will be guaranteed an interview. I would want to see the desire and hunger for the job in his eyes.
“Grant is popular with the players, with the fans and with me so put your money on him to be at the club in some capacity next season. Ideally I would want someone who has had experience of getting out of League One to work with Grant.
“I will draw up a short list and interview candidates, probably four or five, when I’m back in the UK after the final game of the season (May 8). I would then hope to appoint by the end of May and certainly before we go to our pre-season training camp in Portugal on June 26. The e-mails and texts have already started, but there will be no power-point presentations!
“I have had my toughest season as Posh chairman, just a bit tougher than our very first season in the Championship (2009-10) when we were getting beaten badly. I also changed managers a lot that season and we fell into disarray.
“It’s my 10th year at the club next season and I am desperate for it to be a good and very successful one.
“We don’t need a massive re-build. Our midfield will be fine, but we need to sort out the defence and the strikers. We need new defenders and I’m not sure I see 40 League One goals between any two of our strikers.
“We will hopefully have Callum Elder back and we will definitely have a fit-again Jermaine Anderson back and a refreshed Chris Forrester. We just need to add a bit of experience and we will have a strong playing squad. We have some very good transfer targets in place.
“I’ve told Grant to call all the current players and cancel every day off between now and the end of the season. The players don’t deserve any time off. They can concentrate on winning the final two games and putting some smiles back on the faces of our fans.”
Posh travel to Shrewsbury next Saturday (April 30) for their final away game of the season. They host Blackpool on Sunday, May 8 in their final match.
Posh are currently 14th in League One.
Managers who have experience of winning promotion from League One, who might be available to Posh, include Steve Cotterill, Chris Powell, Karl Robinson, and of course former Posh boss Darren Ferguson, who managed it twice,
More on Graham Westley sacking:
- Alan Swann’s view: A ‘Hokey-Cokey’ manager who fans had started calling David Brent