Graham Westley: A Questionable Managerial Hire For Barnet

After weeks of uncertainty amid one of the poorest run of results in Barnet’s history, Graham Westley was appointed as the new Head Coach of the Bees in a move which has divided the club in half.

The season is panning out to be far removed from the promise made by chairman Tony Kleanthous at the beginning of the season that the play-offs/promotion is the aim, the only thing Barnet are looking at is relegation to the National League.

Whilst you can’t disagree the Bees have been dealt a bad hand when it comes to injuries to key players this season, the squad was certainly big enough to cope with this.

Westley is the 3rd man to control the fortunes of the club and in the week when 4 years ago Edgar Davids left the club, another who divided opinion, ironic Westley arrives but with not much on his side.

Let’s explain why. Not only did he manage local rivals Stevenage, he did it with an arrogance that unfortunately he couldn’t back up.

‘Destiny will always take over’, long remembered in Bees fans memories came from Westley’s mouth during the Conference winning season of 2004/05 for Barnet. Destiny did indeed take over and propelled the Bees back into the Football League!

That arrogance did carry Stevenage into the league years later, but that personality didn’t carry much weight higher up at Preston and things then turned sour, Westley then returning for a second spell at Stevenage which proved indifferent, quick sackings at both Peterborough and recently Newport County.

He arrives at The Hive with a poor recent managerial record, like Mark McGhee and many supporters believe he’s not an upgrade on the man who’s now moved ‘upstairs’. He inherits a squad which seems unable to win games, defend, control a midfield and look unlikely to get themselves out of trouble.

McGhee failed to get any more out of the squad than Rossi Eames before him, McGhee is behind the appointment and given the Scotsman hasn’t endeared himself to Bees fans either, many are less than impressed with either man at the top end of the table.

Supporters are very much divided, some willing to get behind the team, but not the coach, some are prepared not to even attend the Hive whilst Westley is in charge.

Westley has nothing to lose given the team is in such a rut and heading for the National League, but there is a belief amongst a few that Westley will get the team organised and there might be a glimmer of hope relegation can be avoided.

There is talent within the squad and Westley must get John Akinde firing again, he could be the difference between relegation and survival.

There’s experience from Michael Nelson, Curtis Weston and Jamal Campbell-Ryce amongst others, but the rest must also step up and be counted, there is an expectation Westley won’t stand for anything less than hard work and organisation.

Kleanthous has maintained there is money available to strengthen the squad while the transfer window is open, and movement is expected both in and out, there must be if Barnet are to survive and remain a Football League team.


Written by Trevor Knell

Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37

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