ALAN SWANN on Peterborough United’s plight and why he doesn’t expect the chairman’s trigger finger to start itching just yet despite his recent New Year history
Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony’s trigger finger has started to itch early in the last two years as promising promotion pushes started to disintegrate.
Grant McCann was despatched in February 2018, six weeks after reaching a similar points tally after 25 games to Darren Ferguson’s current squad.
But last January Steve Evans was sent packing with Posh sixth in a much-better quality League One. Posh had 48 points from 29 games when Evans left, having reached 44 points in the 25th game, seven more than Ferguson’s men have managed following yesterday’s (January 11) dismal 0-0 draw with a Gillingham side now managed by his predecessor.
I point this out not to suggest Ferguson should be concerned or as a prediction MacAnthony is about to act. He won’t (probably!) and he shouldn’t. The managerial merry-go-round has to stop. Ferguson is heading a project as well as a promotion bid and he should be given time to make it work. Anyway changing horses mid-stream hasn’t worked in the last two years so give Ferguson a minimum of three transfer windows and see where we are this time next year.
Posh shouldn’t be written off this season yet. Despite their crumbling form - an inevitability given their early-season reliance on great goals and three red-hot forwards - they remain just one point outside the play-off places with 19 matches to go.
If Marcus Maddison can find a stronger anti-flu jab, new midfielders Jack Taylor and Reece Brown turn out to be quality creative players and Siriki Dembele can channel his frustrations into some legal aggression I’m confident Posh will start scoring and winning again soon.
I’m also confident Ferguson, who was the subject of more social media criticism than his misfiring players yesterday, will ditch the diamond as soon as Dembele is back from suspension. I hope he does. Yesterday he was bettered tactically by Evans whose team used horrible, windy conditions well and whose players won most 50-50 challenges.
Mo Eisa needs a break for his own sake and, as promising as Ricky-Jade Jones is, there is little forward back up. New signing Jack Taylor showed promise against Gillingham, not least a willingness to get into the penalty area and an ability to use both feet, and looks like he could play right behind Toney with Maddison and Dembele on the flanks.
Taylor and Brown need to show up well. Ferguson can claim Eisa has been a successful signing despite the striker’s current collapse in form, but others who most of us thought would be excellent recruits, namely Mark Beevers, Dan Butler and George Boyd, have so far been disappointments. This jury is still out on Christy Pym and Frankie Kent, while Niall Mason’s versatility has kept him in credit.
The division is ridiculously tight this season with just eight points between third and 15th, but Posh really need to win at AFC Wimbledon next week and then at home to fading Wycombe the following Tuesday because they badly need a dose of confidence with leading sides Rotherham. Oxford and Ipswich all on the horizon.