I have, as most people realise, always been something of a traditionalist where football is concerned. That, of course, means I get upset when teams ditch their traditions for no other reason than to present a more “modern” image. Well, yet another reason to take a dislike to the club I will always know as Stevenage Borough, but who thought that “Borough” didn’t suit their promotion to the football league and ditched it. The other reason is, of course, their odious Manager, Graham Westley.
Why Westley, you may ask? Well, there is his reputation for playing terrible, physical, long ball football, the controversy that surrounded his abandonment of Farnborough Town, leaving them in the lurch and, most of all, just him. Clarke Carlisle, one of the nicest men in football, summed him up when he said in his book,
“The other manager I wouldn’t endorse was Graham Westley at Preston. GW, as he referred to himself in text messages, strode in when appointed and made a favourable impression with his ethos and reasoning. Then it all came crumbling down.
‘My kids don’t call me dad,’ he said. ‘They call me medal winner.’ I waited to see if it was intended as humorous, but it wasn’t. Oh dear.
I could hear a few giggles and chuckles, but generally the mood was of disbelief”.
Says it all, really.
Dean Smith has a fully fit squad to choose from, but that won’t make his task any easier in deciding which formation to play and which bodies will fill the positions. The experiment of playing the 4 3 3 at home backfired against Bradford, so I think a reversion to the 4 2 3 1 is almost certain, with Featherstone standing down from the “3”.
Lalkovic will be back from International duty, but Smith will be tempted to push Westcarr up front and bring Sawyers in, I would have thought, not to mention giving Julian Gray a start after his successful introduction as sub last week. Decisions, decisions.
Stevenage welcome back Michael Doughty and Luke Freeman.
Midfielder Doughty and striker Freeman missed last weekend’s clash with Brentford through suspension after collecting five yellow cards each this season – another indication of Westley’s “style” of play.
Former Tottenham midfielder Dean Parrett could also be added to the squad after signing as a free agent on Thursday.
Forward Darius Charles remains sidelined by an ankle injury and defender Ben Chorley is short of fitness following an injury-hit start to the campaign.
Stevenage started badly this season and stand above the relegation slots on goal difference only. They have won their last two games, however, against the Franchise in the Paint Pot Trophy and at home to punchless Brentford in the League (might have been different if Brentford had spent a fortune on a striker in the closed season!). We should have enough to win this one, as long as we sort out our personnel up front!