Boro Player caught up with manager Graham Westley after the defeat to Swindon Town on Saturday and he described the occasion as an important chance to see more of his squad, rather than one to reflect on the result.
“I think the last two weeks have been terrific for me in terms of learning about the squad that I have inherited” he began, “the players that are at the club and where they are at in many regards.
“It was good to get the Hartlepool and the Portsmouth points under our belts so that we were clear of the trouble and clear of the danger and we have been shown in the last two games exactly what the play-off sides have got that we haven’t. If you look on all sorts of levels; organisationally, physically, the team mentality, the attitude to winning, the professionalism, there are all sorts of gaps between ourselves and the winning level. Fortunately we are going to have a long hard pre-season next year to put a lot in place that isn’t in place right now.”
Speaking further about the squad that he has met since returning to the club Westley told the press, “I think a lot of the lads are trying to apply themselves to new things, in some instances it’s not in their body to give you the game that they want to give you, you can see lads who are desperately trying to do what you ask them to do but physically they’re just not quite there, or mentally they’re just not switched on to the intensity that you want so it’s been good. I think the four games so far, the results have certainly not been spectacular but I don’t think anybody expected them to be, we all knew that these were going to be tough games and tough tests and I have learned tonnes.”
Stevenage could have felt aggrieved at a few decisions that went against them during the tie, none more so than the sending off of Dani Lopez, but Westley refused to heap blame on the referee who he says has an important job to do.
“In a column I write, I said recently that you have got to respect officials who are in the middle and their right to make the decisions that they see. The fourth official said that there were four occasions where he disagreed with the decision and obviously some of them were big moments so that says everything I guess. But you’ve got to let referees make decisions that they see and obviously there are going to be occasions where crowds affect officials, that’s part of football isn’t it.”
When asked what he had seen of the Lopez red card incident Westley replied, “Not enough to be able to comment – the people who have seen the situation live and the people who have seen footage have said to me that Dani was hit and then tapped the fella in or around his face, I’m not sure what level of aggression there was in it, the kid is in there crying his eyes out and that probably says everything about his nature and we certainly feel that the decision was harsh – certainly if he was hit first, it does seem a difficult situation to say the least.”
To hear the full interview, including Westley’s thoughts on the three changes he made to the side, simply login to your Boro Player account now.