Peterborough United column: Why Championship experience is the way to go with new signings

A column on why Championship experience is the way to go as Posh head into a week where numerous additions to next season’s squad are set to be announced.

Sunday, 20th June 2021, 12:05 am
Updated Sunday, 20th June 2021, 1:19 am
Peterborough United players celebrate winning promotion - Mandatory by-line: Joe Dent/JMP.

I know the Peterborough Telegraph sometimes gets criticised for sharing stories that come out of Darragh MacAnthony’s, and other podcasts, but they provide a brilliant insight into what those with the power at the club are thinking and give us perhaps a greater insight into our club that other 91 sets of fans in the Football League pyramid.

Listening to Stewart Thompson’s appearance on the Soccer Snobs podcast this week, along with reading MacAnthony’s tweets, really got me thinking about just how crucial this week may turn out to be.

It is the final week before the players return for pre-season and the week when a number of signings that will join that squad are expected to be announced. So the question is a simple one, who should Posh sign?

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A dejected Lee Tomlin after Posh are relegated from the Championship following their 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace in 2013.

Speaking on the pod, Mr Thompson said: “As we’re talking about our strategy for the coming year, I’m not going to give it away but do you go and get young, hungry kids from the lower leagues, who have no fear, and let them run amok in the Championship? Or do you go and buy an experienced centre midfielder, for a lot of money, who can marshall the troops and say hey kids, it’s ok, I’ve been here before.”

When asked on Twitter if Posh were looking to sign a couple of experienced proven Championship heads, MacAnthony replied: “Nope. Going for technically good, intelligent minded, motivated, good characters with improvement in them to compliment an already excellent dressing room.”

Whether we believe Darragh’s transfer tweets anymore is an entirely different matter but I think that answer to my earlier question is undoubtedly that we have to go heavy on Championship experience.

A team that were relegated from the division with 54 points needs no reminding how tough the Championship is and the fact that, even after that extreme bad luck, it took Posh eight years to get back, shows this opportunity can not be squandered.

Posh have lofty ambitions and need to move into the Embankment Stadium, let’s pray it happens, as a second tier side. The best way to go about this, in my opinion, is to back old heads that have been there before.

Lessons need to be learnt from the 2008/09 and 2012/13 campaigns when many of the promotion winners were trusted to make the make the grade at the next level and the likes of Scott Griffiths, Exodus Geohagan, Tyrone Barnett, Kane Ferdinand and Danny Swanson found the step-up too much to handle.

The squad has a talented core of youngsters, such as Ronnie Edwards and Ricky-Jade Jones, who will be stars and some very solid performers in Jack Taylor and Frankie Kent, who I have no doubt will take to the Championship like ducks to water, but the ingredient that is missing is a large sprinkling of Championship experience.

That may mean having to get the wallet out but this year is a unique situation, with so many clubs not committing to long-term deals during the pandemic and operating on smaller squads there are a much higher number of free agents on the market than normal. Some of the Championship retained lists must have had Posh fans licking their lips at the prospect of seeing some of those names coming through the door and that’s just old boys Jack Marriott, Britt Assombalonga and Tommy Rowe.

Posh are of course in a new situation, being one of the smallest fishes in the pond, especially since almost all of the clubs in the division have at one time or another played in the Premier League but that just means they will have to shop smarter.

The aversion to loan players may have to go and thinking the same transfer policy the club employed in League One will work in the Championship this season seems to me to be naive for a club that have left to division via the trapdoor twice already.

We don’t want to be a Rotherham, Wycombe or an MK Dons, who have failed to make any of their stays permanent and be sent back down to the tough battleground that is League One.

To do that, we need to hit the ground running and fill the squad players who won’t panic or let their heads drop when things inevitably get tough. Experienced heads to pick up our exciting young players and give them the confidence that they are good enough and they have seen this done before will be vital.

21st place would be a monumental achievement next season and I’m willing to see sacrifices made to make sure it happens.