Is Preston a sideways step or big leap for Stevenage’s saviour?
The Spoiler tries its hand at playing career guidance officer...
If you’re going to make it all the way from the Isthmian League to the Premier League as a manager, chances are you’ll have to take the odd gamble, and it appears that Stevenage boss Graham Westley is about to go all-in with a risky hand.
The man who has not only led an unfashionable non-league team up to League One in two seasons but catapulted them into the play-off picture and inspired cup shocks over Newcastle and Reading en route is ready for a change of scenery.
But he isn’t trading in the delightful scents and sounds of Stevenage for a picturesque view from the top of the Championship. In fact, he isn’t even adapting to a higher altitude because he’s heading down League One Lane seven doors to Preston.
A bigger club no doubt, with league titles and FA Cup trophies crammed into the trophy cabinet to prove it, and a launching pad for the likes of David Moyes and Billy Davies in the past. Right now though, they are 14th in the third tier.
And on top of all that, there’s Peter Ridsdale as chairman. Yes, he’s not the football club wrecking ball that some critics suggest, however he’s hardly a lucky leader either. Has any manager working under him ever moved on to bigger and better things?
Naturally, Westley realises that the glorious ascension of Stevenage has an expiry date and wants to escape before things starts smelling funny, but surely he’s entitled to tick the ‘Championship’ box on his match.com application for a new partner.
If life was just one giant game of Football Manager – oh how great that would be – I’d be inclined to finish the season in bella Hertfordshire to see if there’s any mileage in this absurd triple promotion concept, then check the lie of the land. Would his stock really fall if they slump to 16th?
The other issue with starting anew is that one of Westley’s managerial calling cards is the uber-long training session: finishing the working day at 5pm, it’ll never catch on!
When he brings players to Stevenage, they know what they’re signing up for. A squad featuring ex-Premier Leaguers perhaps used to half-days, leisurely lunches and preferring to see team-bonding conducted over an Xbox might not be so keen.
In case you wondered, Stevenage are 8/1 to be promoted with friend of Paddy McGuinness, Victor Chandler, whereas Preston are 20/1.