Are Peterborough United in terminal decline? And what can the manager do to turn things around? A strange selection yesterday, difficult decisions for the future and how good fortune can play a big part in team building

Frankie Kent scores for Posh at Ipswich. Photo: Joe Dent/ Kent scores for Posh at Ipswich. Photo: Joe Dent/
Frankie Kent scores for Posh at Ipswich. Photo: Joe Dent/
Peterborough United are sixth in League One and yet closer to the relegation zone (11 points) than the automatic promotion places (13 points).

That’s how congested the third tier table is when ignoring the top three. And it confirms the rest of League One is just bang average this season.

Just as well for Posh who now own a symmetrical record of 10 wins and 10 defeats from 21 matches. That’s not what anyone was expecting least of all the chairman after he’d held on to an entire Championship squad, albeit a bad one for that level, with the exception of Sammie Szmodics.

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Darragh MacAnthony’s frustration was obvious in his most recent podcast. Certain fans have irritated him, his well-paid players have proved annoying and he was angry with his manager Grant McCann even before yesterday’s 2-1 defeat at new League One leaders Ipswich Town, a fourth in a row which has surely ended interest in the top two with over half a season still to go.

Ronnie Edwards in action for Posh at Ipswich. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.comRonnie Edwards in action for Posh at Ipswich. Photo: Joe Dent/
Ronnie Edwards in action for Posh at Ipswich. Photo: Joe Dent/

To be fair Posh have played far worse this season, but they again failed to create much against a team who are efficient rather than frightening. Ipswich have lost eight fewer games than McCann’s men which is a startling statistic so early into a season.

How MacAnthony is currently viewing the rest of the season is anyone’s guess, although changes in the playing squad remain much more likely than in the management team.


1) It is remarkable to see Posh clinging on to the final play-off place given their poor run of form. Others in and around the top six for a while have also stuttered.

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But six teams below Posh are now within three points of them. If Posh lose to a Shrewsbury team who have suddenly hit some form at the Weston Homes Stadium next week they will slip below Steve Cotterill’s side and the clamour for change will go up a few decibels.

On paper Posh could well win the next four as Charlton, MK Dons and Wycombe follow Shrewsbury as opponents, and they won four out of five competitive matches after losing six in a row earlier this season, but this seems a more terminal decline.

2) The change of formation from 4-3-3 to 3-4-1-2 made sense. It certainly freed Joe Ward and Kwame Poku who both played well. Posh were only a threat at Portman Road from the crosses they provided. Poku’s cross for Frankie Kent’s goal was delicious.

But if greater defensive solidity was an aim it didn’t happen. True, apart from the goals neither side created much, but the failure of three centre-backs to deal with a cross for the first home goal was most disappointing as was the defensive collapse that led to a strike from a set-piece for the winning goal.

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The collapse of goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom’s form hasn’t helped obviously. He looks a bag of nerves when dealing with shots and crosses yesterday and if fellow loanee Harvey Cartwright is fully fit it might be worth throwing him in next weekend.

Clean sheets currently look as likely as away wins so it’s probably worth persevering with a system that least gets an extra attacker onto the pitch to give us a chance of outscoring the opposition at least.

3) Ipswich were always going to cause problems for Dan Butler on the left-hand side. He was often left with two players to deal with and he didn’t know whether to stick or twist. If he got in close Wes Burns or Sone Aluko would run by him and if he stood off a dangerous cross would come into the box with no certainty of being cleared. Butler struggled, but he got little help from those in front of him or Kell Watts alongside him. If wing-backs are employed next week against a team with far less talented wide players Harrison Burrows would probably be a better bet given his attacking superiority.

4) Against an Ipswich team likely to dominate the ball it seemed a strange decision to start with Hector Kyprianou over Jeando Fuchs in central midfield. Maybe McCann fancied a change after watching the witless attempts to pass the ball forward from midfield in the previous game, but Fuchs ball-winning skills would have made more of an impact against this standard of opponent.

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5) And do we now pesevere with Jack Marriott as Jonson Clarke-Harris’s strike partner, or go with the fresher legs and greater strength of Ephron Mason-Clark in the next game? Certainly Marriott’s current form is poor. He was caught in possession far too often yesterday. McCann seemed reasonably pleased with his players at Portman Road, but too many are not making his team selections very easy.

6) The story goes that striker Kayden Jackson was on his way from Accrington Stanley to sign for Posh in August 2018 when Ipswich Town hi-jacked the deal and Ivan Toney came to London Road instead. Watching Jackson make no impact on a game yesterday was proof of how good fortune as well as great talent spotting is key to building a strong squad.