ALAN SWANN’S Peterborough United talking points from Sheffield United defeat: ‘Why fans shouldn’t be too harsh on the manager and the players, keep the captain at the club until the summer, Poku’s promise and getting to the bottom of Taylor’s problems’

January was always going to be a tough month for Peterborough United and so it proved.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 30th January 2022, 6:17 am
Frankie Kent and Nathan Thompson of Peterborough United look dejected after Billy Sharp of Sheffield United scores the opening goal of the game. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Frankie Kent and Nathan Thompson of Peterborough United look dejected after Billy Sharp of Sheffield United scores the opening goal of the game. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

I did say finishing the month as we started it within three points of safety should be treated as a positive, given the opposition we were facing. We are actually now just two points adrift and we have a game in hand on Reading, the team directly above us.

But Posh can’t keep relying on the incompetence of others. They need to show they have what it takes to win enough games to stay up. They might not need to win that many given how the bottom of the table is panning out, but their fate could well be determined in February.

“We have to beat the teams around us,” Posh boss Darren Ferguson said after yesterday’s 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Sheffield United (January 29). “So February is a pivotal month for us.”

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Kwame Poku of Peterborough United in action with Oliver Norwood of Sheffield United. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

It’s Cardiff away in the Championship next for Posh - and the Welshmen play twice before that game, a tough one at home to Nottingham Forest today (Sunday) and a very winnable one at Barnsley on Wednesday - with Reading (home) and Derby (away) to follow.

It’s not just catching Reading or Cardiff though. Posh also have to stay ahead of Derby who will surely cruise past Darren Ferguson’s side as long as they can avoid a firesale of players before the transfer window closes, something that now looks likely to happen. Derby also play twice before Posh play again and wins against Birmingham (home, Sunday) and at Huddersfield on Wednesday would move the Rams above us on goal differnce.

Whatever the results elsewhere Posh need to show some dramatic improvement. Sadly that’s hard to envisage right now. Not beating a dreadful Birmingham side after working their way into such a strong position was the worst result of January.

OTHER TALKING POINTS...

Steven Benda of Peterborough United challenges for the ball against Sheffield United. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

1) Fans on Twitter were harsh in their treatment of Ferguson and the team yesterday. Yes, it was a comfortable win for the Blades and yes Posh looked pedestrian and impotent for 90 minutes, but this was a visiting side with over 1,000 games more experience in the top two divisions compared with their opponents. Sheffield United have those illogical and unfair parachute payments in the bank and they played a Posh team without numerous key men. It’s true if Siriki Dembele, Ronnie Edwards, Oliver Norburn, Harrison Burrows and Jack Taylor - all shoo-in selections if available - had played the Blades would still have been favourites to win, but a tough task was made nigh on impossible before kick off. Those advocating gung-ho approaches would have been foaming at the mouth if a hammering had happened because Posh tried to play so open with these players.

2) And what a dramatic 24 hours or so for Ferguson whose delight at a new signing in Jeando Fuchs must have been tempered by a player he had entrusted with the Posh captaincy deciding he wanted to up sticks. Norburn is far from ‘one of the best signings I’ve ever made’ as Ferguson claimed a while back. His passing stats won’t be great, but he battles and fights which Posh desperately need in their current predicament. To be fair he has not played like a man who wants to get away and family life is more important than professional sport, but it’s disappointing he didn’t do adequate due diligence about the area he would be moving to. Posh should keep Norburn and tell him he can leave in the summer. It was a distraction Posh didn’t need.

3) I’m wary of players coming down from the Scottish Premiership. I can remember Mark O’Hara. Jason Naismith and particularly Danny Swanson. But I won’t be judging Fuchs on yesterday’s performance. He was on a hiding to nothing with those teammates against that opposition. It did look like he will have an all-action crowd-pleasing style though.

4) Posh claimed they had got to the bottom of Jack Taylor’s regular hamstring injuries in the summer. Yet he didn’t start a game until the win over Birmingham on September 18 and now his hamstring has gone again. Taylor is only 23, but for the sake of his on future he needs to get to the bottom the issue before it has a serious impact on his career. Maddeningly for Posh Taylor had delivered his strongest performance for some time in the return game against Birmingham last Tuesday.

5) Kwame Poku again showed plenty of promise in the first-half yesterday. He skipped past opponents easily and looked confident as well as brave on the ball. He’s been a real plus in the last couple of games.