You may think you’ve read that line before on these pages and you’d be right. It first appeared on October 17 the day after Posh had failed to register a single shot on target in a 2-0 defeat at a Middlesbrough side who fielded just one fit defender.
You may also recall Posh won their next two matches prompting the chairman to gleefully mock the author on social media.
But nothing has really changed in the last 125 days. The line that caused so much offence could have been cut and pasted on many occasions since the trip to Riverside. It was certainly true again yesterday (February 19) as Posh failed to force Derby County goalkeeper Ryan Allsop into a single save at Pride Park, not even an easy one. Posh also won just one corner. They now haven’t scored a Championship goal for 473 minutes (plus added time) and for the second time this season they’ve failed to score in five successive matches.
February was rightly labelled a decisive month for Posh given the fixture list and yet they’ve played three games, two of them against teams in the bottom four, and not scored in any of them.
Posh didn’t lack character yesterday. The players put a shift in for the manager and the club. Defensively they were superb, particularly centre-backs Frankie Kent and Josh Knight, but in a must-win game Posh never came close to winning, or even scoring, and it’s not likely to get any better in a hurry. A trip to a Fulham team sitting top of the table and smarting from a rare Saturday defeat are up next at Craven Cottage.
TALKING POINTS FROM DEFEAT AT DERBY...
1) It must be severely frustrating playing up front in the current Posh team. When Jack Marriott was scoring 33 goals in a season for the club in 2017-18 he had a fit and firing Marcus Maddison dropping the ball on a sixpence for him. Posh are now full of hard-working, worthy midfielders and wide players, but who lack the necessary creative qualities, certainly at this higher level. Jonson Clarke-Harris scored 33 goals last season and yet this season has not scored a single goal from open play after starting a match. Manager Darren Ferguson rang the changes yesterday with Marriott and Callum Morton starting instead of Clarke-Harris and Kwame Poku, but there was little change even before the unfortunate Morton was sacrificed 10 minutes before the break after Hayden Coulson’s red card.
2) Plenty wondered out loud in the summer whether the lack of Championship experience would cost Posh this season. At the start of the season six Posh players had played previously in the second tier, but that included players with just a few appearances (Sammie Szmodics, Jorge Grant) and players who had not been seen at that level for years (Clarke-Harris). It was a concern brushed aside last summer, but tellingly Ferguson has spoken about having the youngest squad in the division and having so few players with experience of their current level in the last seven days, even though three of the club’s five January loan signings arrived with Championship experience. It’s a belated acceptance of a crucial error.
3) Was there ever a better chance of a smaller club surviving a Championship season? With the points deductions suffered by others, probably not. Derby have now caught up a 21-point deficit on Posh with 14 games of their season still to play and fair play to them for that. If Posh had suffered a 21 point deduction they’d currently be sitting on zero points. The league table suggests Posh are far from dead this season, but that’s surely just an illusion. Their game in hand on rivals Derby and Reading is at big-spending second-placed Bournemouth. They’ll keep fighting for sure and one hopes the comments at the top of this article are mocked again in May, but that’s the longest of shots.
4) Preparations for next season might as well start now. Posh have nothing more to lose. Knight and Kent could be a formidable centre-back pairing in League One and perhaps it’s time to give striker Ricky-Jade Jones his head from the start of a game, and as a central striker not a winger so he doesn’t feel obliged to defend. Posh have no obvious threats so why not utilise the sheer speed of the teenager? As there is little chance of a defence splitting through ball why not knock a few balls over the top for Jones to chase? It’s primitive I know, but it can’t be any worse than what we’re watching on a weekly basis.
5) The stadia and the atmospheres at Championship matches home and away (it was terrific at Pride Park again yesterday as Posh played in front of the fourth biggest Football League crowd in their history, 30,241) will be missed, but the standard of football at this level is nothing special. It’s all athleticism, power, pace, set pieces and organisation and Posh have been lacking in all departments. There is very litle flair or attractive styles of play, Fulham and Coventry apart. The worst part is watching your favourite team struggle so badly and knowing they could and should have done so much better.