Peterborough United chairman backs his summer signings to prove the doubters wrong

Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony has backed his summer signings to come into their own in the new year and prove the doubters wrong.

By Ben Jones
Thursday, 16th December 2021, 12:01 am
Joe Tomlinson. Photo: Joe Dent.
Joe Tomlinson. Photo: Joe Dent.

The brains trust at the club stuck to their guns and backed the club’s usual transfer policy in the summer and signed a number of young players and players from below the Championship that they backed to make the step-up. This was amidst calls from a number of fans to sign experienced players.

MacAnthony revealed, on his Hard Truth podcast, that this was an option open to the club, but he turned it down in the interests of the club’s long-term future,

He said: “I know everyone wanted experience players on 10k a week but, year one in the championship, you can’t take that risk. Could I have signed a couple of ex-Premier League players on £12k or £14k a week? Yes, but I refused to.

“With everything going on with covid and the football world, I didn’t want to do that in year one. I didn’t want to upset the apple cart, to rip up the dressing room or take that risk. Those players were not willing to take League One clauses. Say, in the worst-case scenario, Peterborough ended up a League One club; your budget is going to be £3-3.5 million. One of those players alone would take up 23 percent of your budget and I can’t do that. None of those players wanted one-year deals either.”

Instead, Posh backed a number of young players, including Kwame Poku, Joe Tomlinson and Joel Randall, who are 20, 21 and 22 respectively. Between them, they have made just two league starts so far this season. Josh Knight also sat out a number matches before being given his current run in the side and Jorge Grant has been in and out. Both now appear to have nailed down their places and MacAnthony insists the best is yet to come from his youngsters.

He said: “I said when Randall, Poku and Tomlinson were all signed, that from January onwards they’d be very, very useful to what we are doing because we will have given them four to five months at the club, with the Under 23s adapting to the level and the people around them. I think there’s so much more to come from three or four players that have not been involved so far and I’m very, very excited about that.

“We have to trust our coaches; we know what we’re doing. We knew we’ve got some really talented players and it was going to be hit and miss for a while but then they were suddenly going to grow up. These players are the future of our club.

“I think five of our summer signings were crucial in the win on Saturday. Josh Knight is starting to look like what we recruited, Jorge Grant had a terrific game, of course could do better, like the rest of our players but hasn’t let us down, Oliver Norburn and Joe Tomlinson were in there and Dai Cornell, who made an unbelievable save in the last five minutes and again, Dai has not let us down at all.

“At the end of day, you’re judged on a body of work over a season and I’ll be judged when you look back and go, how did Norburn, Knight, Cornell, Grant, Tomlinson, Poku and Randall do? I’m very excited and I think these players are ready to come in and shake things up. The way we’re playing and the way we want to play, are going to be nothing but very good at this level.

“Even, in the U23s, we signed a couple of strikers, Kai Corbett and Joe Taylor, we’re very excited about. They’re going to be a great pairing at that level and will be ready to be called upon in the first team.

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs this season, particularly away from home, but the one thing is we are a really good football team. When the players are at it, we can beat anyone in this league. If they have that belief and togetherness going forward, I still believe they can put a run of four, five or six wins together.”

He also reserved special praise for Tomlinson, who now looks set for a prolonged run in the side given the injury Dan Butler suffered on Saturday.

He added: “What I like about the boy is he brought a house in Peterborough straight away. He’s fully committed to his career and he’s invested himself in the Under 23s. His form had been ropey then all of a sudden, in the last six weeks, its clicked and he’s been the best player in that side; creating goals and scoring goals. He’s pretty much the captain of the 23s with Kyle Barker and he’s stepped up.

“He was never a dud signing, none of those are dud signings. He’s going to be a very good signing for a club, but we want him to be under any pressure. We want him to come in and come out. He’s 21 and this is a massive step up. Saturday was great but if he plays against Blackpool and makes a mistake, then is doesn’t make him a bad player.”