Westwood jumped at Pool chance

Ashley Westwood
Ashley Westwood
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WHILE much has been made of Michael Appleton’s appointment last week, there’s another new face at Bloomfield Road which has gone under the radar.

The new manager arrived with Ashley Westwood, his assistant manager at previous club Portsmouth, who’ll take up the role of first team coach with the Seasiders.

But before anyone starts to panic, it doesn’t mean the end for ever popular assistant manager Steve Thompson, who remains in the number two role at Pool.

Westwood arrives boasting huge Football League experience, he’s played in every division before taking up coaching on a full-time basis last summer.

And adding Blackpool to the list of clubs he’s associated with was an easy decision.

He said: “Michael called me on Wednesday and told me he was speaking to Blackpool and asked if I’d be interested in coming here to join him.

“When I heard it was a case of when, rather than if for me it was a simple decision.

“The first thing I did last week was sit in the hotel room and watch DVDs of games this season – it’s something I like to do.”

Westwood was in the dugout for the first time during Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Bolton.

It was he and new boss Appleton’s first real look at their new squad, and it’s fair to say they seem impressed.

“The squad that Ian Holloway assembled here, and the squad we’ve got now, is very exciting,” he added.

“The attacking flair in some of those players, and the qualities the others bring, it’s certainly an exciting time to get stuck into this club.

“It’s a very good squad.

“They started off on fire this season and were towards the top of the league.

“They had a sticky patch, but I think we are through that now.

“This squad has a good mix of everything 

“Youth, experience, talent, flair and defensive players, this squad has the lot.

“It’s juts a case of getting stuck into them and having a look what we’ve got to work with

“It will probably take a few weeks for us to see what we have here.

“I doubt we’ll change too many things at the start, there’s no point coming in like a bull in a china shop.

“We just have to see what we can do and slowly change things as we go along.”

The 36-year-old started his career at Manchester United, along with Appleton, and is best known for his spells at Crewe, Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City.

He ended last season as player-manager of non-league side Kettering, before signing a playing contract with conference side Lincoln at the start of this season.

However, after only one day of pre-season training, he opted to retire from playing in favour of the assistant manager’s job at 
Portsmouth under Appleton.

“I’ve had a long playing career,” he said.

“I played for 20 years in the Football League, and had 14 clubs.

“I was lucky enough to play in every league from the Premier League down to League Two.

“Michael and I first met when we were kids at Manchester United.

“I’d like to think I’ve gone through the leagues and can bring some experience to Blackpool.

“Over the last four or five years I’ve started to get my coaching badges and actually finished my playing career last year as player manager at Kettering.”

Despite playing against the Seasiders many times over the years, there’s only one team he remembers in particular, for obvious reasons.

He said: “I remember the days coming to play at Bloomfield Road when they had Gary Brabin and big Andy Morrison at the back.

“I used to play against them when I was at Crewe, and it was always tough.”

The pair have big shoes to fill at Bloomfield Road following the departure of Ian Holloway, but obviously it’s something Westwood believes they can do.

“Michael brings a vast knowledge of the game and is regarded as one of the best up and coming coaches in the game,” he said.

“He’s worked with some great managers over his career, from his youth days, right through to his coaching career.

“He’s been coach, first team coach, assistant manager and manager now.

“He’s connections and coaching ability stands him is good stead and hopefully he can make all that work here at Blackpool.”