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Graham Westley has had an eventful time as manager of Preston North End since taking over in January. After a run of 3 wins in 18 league games last season, he completely reinvented his squad, with 18 new additions over the summer, and only 3 senior players surviving who were at the club before he took over.
Reports of tension between him and his inherited squad came to light after it was reported a member of the squad leaked their line up to a Sheffield Wednesday player, who they were due to play the next day. Many fans have been hesitant in their support of the manager, believing he intentionally isolated players to get his own way.
However, after a recent fans forum in Kendal, there are reports on the Lancashire Evening Post website from fans that some of the issues that he faced when he arrived at the club were more the fault of some of his players than Westley himself. Westley has had to work hard to balance the wage bill since arriving, with many players still earning championship wages, and with the clubs tenuous financial situation, coupled with the financial fair play rules affecting all clubs, reducing the wage bill was a priority.
It was suggested at the forum, which took place last week, that one player in particular, Ian Ashbee, was earning a wage more akin to an average premier league wage than a club which at the time was languishing in the bottom half of League 1. Given that Ashbee was brought in by previous manager Phil Brown, who worked with the player at Hull as well, it's no surprise that tensions rose.
It was well documented at the time that a lot of senior players were unhappy with Westley's strict training programme, with the new manager believing that his squad were not fit enough. What was not revealed at the time, were instances of a player being drunk at training, as well as receiving a warning from players that they had seen off the previous two managers, and would do the same to him.
Preston have enjoyed a decent start to the new campaign, with two wins against championship opposition in the league cup, a win in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, 8 points from their opening five league games. The positive atmosphere around Deepdale these days will be buoyed by these revelations, which prove that some of the decisions that Westley made last season, which were met pessimistically by most fans at the time, have proved to be in the club's best interests.