MATCH PREVIEW: No more talk about the play-offs says McCann

Michael Bostwick picked up a knock against Southend but will be fit for the Rochdale game. Picture: Joe Dent
Michael Bostwick picked up a knock against Southend but will be fit for the Rochdale game. Picture: Joe Dent
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Posh boss Grant McCann says his players are feeling the play-off pressure.

Ahead of tomorrow’s (February 25) home game against Rochdale, the manager revealed there will be no more talk about reaching the play-offs.

Craig Mackail-Smith of Peterborough United is closed down by the Southend United defence. Picture: Joe Dent

Craig Mackail-Smith of Peterborough United is closed down by the Southend United defence. Picture: Joe Dent

“I honestly believe the players have been put under too much pressure regarding play-off expectations. It’s important to take that pressure off and we’ll now be approaching games a little bit differently,” said McCann.

“I will give them the licence to go out and perform and play with a smile on their face.

“I’m not going to mention the play-offs again to the players. We’ve been trying to run before we can walk and we need to get back to basics and to concentrate on the process. And that process is trying to accumulate as many points as possible and see where it takes us.

“It’s not about individuals any more. Individuals won’t get us where we want to be. It’s about everbody galvanising together.”

Following two defeats in four days - 2-0 at Walsall and 4-1 at home to Southend - Posh find themselves ninth in the League One table but they are still only five points off a play-off place.

Those losses have, however, disappointed fans, many of whom have pointed a finger of blame at McCann.

McCann said he understood how they felt and admitted he’s made mistakes but urged the supporters to be patient.

“The fans may be frustrated but it’s important they stay behind us. What I’m trying to evolve at this club takes time. I’m trying to get everybody playing the same way - the younger groups as well so that when youngsters come into the team they know what we’re about.

“I’ve made mistakes. It’s my first managerial job and I’m learning every day. But I can assure fans I have got the passion to get better. I’m from a very tough background - Northern Ireland - and I don’t give up.”

McCann did accept that injuries and suspensions had not helped him recently.

He said: “It’s been hard to get a settled team. There’s been a lot of chopping and changing because of injuries and suspensions but all teams have that.

“What I have to do is get a team on the pitch that can win games. We have a squad here that whichever team is put on the pitch they should get a result. And results are important - football is a results business.

“We have to defend first and attack second. That’s the clear focus for the team.”

McCann described the backing he got from chairman Darragh MacAnthony after the Southend defeat as ‘brilliant’.

He said: “I’m really pleased he’s done that. It’s brilliant. He knows I’m fully focussed on what I want to achieve at this club. If it arrives this year then great but if it’s next year then no problem.”

Chris Forrester and Anthony Grant will complete their two-match suspensions on Saturday but McCann reported no new injury worries ahead of the Rochdale game.

“Jack Baldwin and Michael Bostwick picked up niggles but will be fine for the weekend,” said McCann.

And Baldwin will skipper the side once again after standing in for Forrester on Tuesday.

McCann said: “Jack’s got great leadership qualities. He has a tremendous calmness about him. He’s very clear when he speaks. He loves the football club and only wants to do well for this football club not himself.

“And being captain doesn’t just mean on the football pitch. You have to do everything right off it as well. Jack is top drawer at that.

“If Jack’s in the team he will have the captaincy, Passing the captaincy about has happened too much. It’s been passed about too much over the last three or four years like a sweet.

“If Jack’s back he will be captain. Chris Forrester is still our club captain.”

Speaking about Rochdale, McCann said: “They are a good team. We’ve all watched a lot of their stuff - not just clips but games.

“They have a very good manager, really good legs in the team and at the top end of the pitch they have players who can hurt you.

“We know it will be tough. They like to get it on the floor and play so we have to be defensively strong first and foremost. We have to nullify their threats and then take the game to them.

“The belief needs to come back into our squad and it’s important not to look too far ahead.”