Fergie determined to create some more great Peterborough United memories
Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson is determined to right a couple of wrongs this season.
Ferguson, the most successful manager in Posh history with three promotions in two glorious spells at the club under his belt, is set on erasing the memory of how his last stint at London Road ended in 2015 when he was sacked by current chairman Darragh MacAnthony after a horrible 3-0 defeat at MK Dons, a scoreline that flattered only Posh.
And he’ll do that by taking Posh back up the Championship which is when he will work on scratching another irritable itch.
“I don’t think I’ve managed in the Championship as often as I should have,” Ferguson stated. “That’s where I want to be and with this club there is always a chance of getting back there.
“I know I said I would never come back for a third spell, but so much has changed since I left the last time.
“Myself and the chairman have certainly changed. We’ve grown older I guess.
“Don’t get me wrong, he’s still the most demanding of chairmen, but I don’t mind that at all.
“He says it how it is. You are never unsure of how he feels.
“He has expectations that he will let everyone know about. I’m aware of what he’s said in the PT this week and I have no problem with him saying it.
“Managing expectations is always a big part of managing Peterborough United and the experience of my previous times here will help with that.
“I have no doubt that the presence of co-owners Jason (Neale) and Stewart (Thompson) have helped the chairman and not just financially.
“They’ve been heavily involved in all the good stuff happening off the pitch. Their extensive business background has given them calm heads.
“All three owners have been brilliantly supportive of me, not just with the signings we have made, but also with my backroom team.
“This is a different club to when I left the second time. I struggled after the relegation game at Crystal Palace and stayed on because of my relationship with the chairman.
“That was a bad time for me, but I’ve become more relaxed as I’ve matured. I’m delighted to be back. I only have to look at the training ground to see how far this club has travelled in the last few years.”
After leaving Posh in 2015 Ferguson managed Doncaster Rovers to promotion from League Two – he was there when they went down the season before – and helped keep them up before leaving last summer, and not just because he felt the club wouldn’t be able to challenge for promotion.
The sudden illness suffered by Sir Alex Ferguson last year weighed heavily on his son.
And the return to robust health of the legendary Manchester United boss has been a huge factor in the Posh manager’s change of demenour.
I’ve known him a long time now and, trust me, he’s a completely different character to the intense, driven figure of his previous spells.
But no-one should think his desire for success has been diluted.
“I left Doncaster for a combination of reasons,” Ferguson insisted.
“But most importantly I needed a break after what happened with my dad.
“The hunger is back now. Dad has made a good recovery and I can concentrate on my job here.
“I’m excited by the challenges ahead and if I can help this club back into the Championship it would be another career highlight.
“The structure behind the scenes is definitely good enough for the Championship, and now we need to do the business on the pitch.”
But can they? Fans approached before this interview in the hunt for penetrating questions mostly commented on central midfield becoming a big issue as the season wears on.
From seeking a couple of young, dynamic, box-to-box playmakers, Posh appear to have settled on converting club legend George Boyd into a cross between Grant McCann and Dean Keates.
Financial fair play is an issue, but Posh are still hopeful of recruting in this crucial area with Leicester City’s Josh Knight getting a mention in the press this week, not that Ferguson would comment on individuals.
“Central midfield is the one area I would strengthen if I had the chance,” Ferguson admitted. “We do have to be careful with financial fair play as we are close to the limit of what we are able to spend, but if the right one came along I’d be interested.
“But I am very happy with the recruitment we’ve done this summer.
“Mark Beevers and George Boyd are huge signings for us because of their experience.
“When we’ve won promotion from this division before we’ve had experienced players like Chris Westwood, Dean Keates and Grant McCann alongside some high quality attacking players.
“Boydy does have a new position to learn, but I’ve always felt he would became a talented central midfield player in the latter stages of his career.
“He brings great ability, but he also brings a wealth of experience which will help develop what is still a relatively young squad.
“It’s tough to compare this squad with the ones that have won League One promotions with Posh before, but I will say I am very pleased with what I have here.
“Time will tell, but my successful teams in the past have always had strong characters and an ability to cope with adversity and I sense I have that now as well.
“Of course no-one should expect it to be a stroll, not for us, not for the likes of Sunderland and Portsmouth either.
“League One is tough. Sunderland found that last season when they were big favourites to go straight back up. It will be a difficult season for every club with plenty of ups and downs, but I’m looking forward to it.”
And what about the other big issue of the day? The presence or otherwise of talisman Marcus Maddison, who’s barely been seen in pre-season for reasons rumoured to relate to vanity as well as injury.
“I have big plans for this season and they involve Maddison,” Ferguson said. “If he starts this season like he finished the last one there will be interest in him, but I don’t expect anyone to pay the release clause.”