by Chris Dunlavy
PETERBOROUGH winger Jon Taylor has heard all the scare stories about new gaffer Graham Westley – and he hopes they’re true!
The former Stevenage and Preston chief, 47, was handed the reins on Monday and arrives at London Road with a reputation as a whip-cracker who demands extreme physical fitness.
And, while Westley – whose Stevenage players were subjected to regular double training sessions – has played down his image, Taylor can’t wait to start sweating.
“Obviously you hear the tales,” says Taylor, who joined the Posh following Shrewsbury’s relegation to League Two in 2014. “But all the stuff that people tell me I take as positives.
“People say ‘oh, you’ll be in nine until four’. Well, that’s no different to everybody else who goes to work in this country. And I’m in at nine anyway – it doesn’t make any difference.
“Or they say ‘you’ll be running all day, every day’. Well so what? We’ll be the ones who are getting fitter and stronger.
“People can say what they want. I don’t make any judgements until I meet someone in person. It was the same with the gaffer and I think he’s been excellent in the short time he’s been here.
“And it’s not all about fitness. We actually haven’t been doing any more running than we were before. It’s tactical, technical, shape work – everything. I played against his teams a few times and you always knew what you’d get.
“That’s why I’ve got a lot of respect for him and why I’m sure he’ll be a success here.”
Taylor also had praise for caretaker-manager Grant McCann, who has been promised “a big part” on the coaching staff under Westley.
The 35-year-old took charge following the sacking of Dave Robertson in early September and took four points from a possible six, including a 5-1 thrashing of Oldham.
“Grant was a great player before he retired, someone who liked to get the ball down and play,” added Taylor. “And, when he took over, I think that was the only way he knew how to coach.
“It got us playing better football, changed the dynamic of the team. Even after two games, all the lads began to feel more confident about expressing themselves and I think that showed in the results.”
By the time McCann took over, however, Peterborough – a Championship side only two years ago – were languishing just outside the League One drop zone. Now, with Westley in situ, Taylor says it is time to repair the damage.
“It wasn’t good enough,” admits Taylor, whose side won just one of their first seven league fixtures. “A club like this should be challenging for promotion every season. But, if anyone can get us back on track, it’s Graham. In my opinion, he’s just what we needed.”
Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony interviewed Westley in Florida and has no doubts about the appointment.
“I’ve spent the last ten days getting to know Graham inside out, and not only did we have a phenomenal one-on-one interview in Florida but we have spoken every day since Graham returned to the UK as I took my time making the final decision,” MacAnthony said in a statement.
“I read all the various things written about Graham’s time at Preston, his apparent preference in style of football and his apparent obsession with fitness and physicality over style, flair and fast, free-flowing football.
“To judge somebody on the views of others is something I’m never prepared to do without meeting and judging for myself.”