Former Bengaluru FC manager Ashley Westwood has signed the dotted line to be the manager for Malaysian Super League side Penang FA. The former Manchester United youth player has been one of the most successful managers on Indian shores and is known for his tactical team formations and rigid defensive structures.
Westwood has joined the Panthers, as they’re fondly called, for the 2017 season. Westwood was rumoured to have made a trip to the Batu Kawan Stadium in the last few days and had apparently held talks with senior officials of Penang FA. A source had revealed that Penang FA and Westwood had discussed terms and conditions the past few days, and the deal looked imminent for a while now.
The Englishman started his football career with Manchester United’s youth set-up, before playing for a number of English clubs across various divisions. Known to be an astute defender, Westwood began his managerial career by becoming a player-manager for Kettering Town in 2012. A year later, Westwood joined the then-newly found Bengaluru FC and led them to the title in its first season.
The British coach, who led his former team Bengaluru FC to I-League victory in its debut season (2013-14), announced his arrival in Indian football with a bang. The coach, yet again, led the team to the I-League throne in 2015-16 season, also winning the Federation Cup in 2014-15. The team recently reached the AFC Cup finals under new coach Albert Roca, and a lot of credit has been given to Westwood, who formed the crux of the side.
The coach almost became a cult hero in Bengaluru and his abilities were recognized by the All India Football Federation, who wanted him to manage the U-23 side, according to some reports. The coach left the Blues with mutual consent in May. Westwood takes over from Nenad Bacina, who led the team to the 10th spot this season.
Known for his defensive and counter-attacking style of play, it will be interesting to see what Westwood achieves in Malaysia. Westwood is said to have brought professionalism into the hugely successful Bengaluru FC, which was one of the key reasons for the club’s success.
He has said to have had a superb working relationship with his players as well as his club officials. With Penang looking to rise and challenge at the top, Westwood is just the right man to lead the charge.