Peterborough United manager insists he wants to thrive rather than just survive in the Championship this season

Survival is not enough for Peterborough United boss Darren Ferguson this season.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 7:05 am
Posh manager Darren Ferguson celebrates promotion from League One with Sammie Szmodics.

Survival is not enough for Posh boss Darren Ferguson this season.

He expects his strengthened Posh team to compete strongly in the second tier following their memorable 2020-21 League One promotion-winning season.

Of course promotion shouldn’t be expected, but then neither should relegation. And that’s a strong claim as two of the three teams promoted to the Championship at the end of the controversial 2019-20 season - Wycombe Wanderers and Rotherham United - were sent straight back down.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Posh boss Darren Ferguson with Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.

There’s a school of thought that the gulf between League One and the Championship is now greater than the gap between the Championship and the Premier League, But Ferguson believes his side can make a mockery of that belief.

“Obviously it’s a lot more difficult to set a target for us in the Championship,” Ferguson stated. “In League One it’s easy because promotion is the only target. But I’m not one of those who will be happy if we just survive this season. That’s not me and it’s not this team.

“It’s not rocket science. Obviously we will be playing against better teams and better players in better stadiums, but we have a strong group here who are all willing to learn and improve. We will have to learn quickly, but I expect us to compete and I expect us to compete strongly.

“It’s been tough for promoted League One sides in the past - we have found that out ourselves - but we can also look at the likes of Luton Town and Barnsley from recent seasons to see how teams can thrive after winning promotion.

Summer Posh signing Jorge Grant.

“And we have plenty going for us this season.

“My own experience of the Championship will be important. I’ve been up there with this club before and the knowledge I’ve gained will hopefully be important.

“Concentration is one word I will be drumming into the players from day one. The things you can get away with in League One will be punished in the Championship. The finishing will be better and the defending will be better. We have to take our own chances when they come and we have to restrict our opponents to as few chances as possible. It’s pretty basic stuff, but we are all looking forward to the challenge.

“We don’t have a lot of Championship experience in the squad which is one reason why I was delighted to get Jack Marriott back. The three years he spent at Derby will be beneficial for him and the team.

Summer Posh recruit Josh Knight.

“We have a lot of momentum as well, not just from last season, but from the season before that as well when promotion was taken out of hands through no fault of our own. We’ve played very well and very consistently for two seasons now.

“I know we have gone up a level, but the confidence gained from winning regularly is never a bad thing.

“I’m looking for a strong start and then a solid season to follow. I want us to thrive rather than just survive.

“Eight seasons away from the Championship was too long for this club. We have to establish ourselves this time around.”

Ferguson’ confidence for the season ahead was boosted further by a strong summer recruitment programme.

“I didn’t want to make too many signings as one of our strengths will be the length of time we have spent together as a squad already.

“We already had strong partnerships in all areas of the pitch so we only went for players we knew would enhance what we already had and we’ve done that with Jack, Jorge Grant and Josh Knight.

“There hasn’t been as much transfer activity in the Championship as usual. League One has been very busy, but the Championship transfer market has been very quiet.

“There has been a levelling up financially speaking with some clubs affected more than others by two years of Covid. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there is plenty of panic buying towards the end of August if teams start badly.

“That’s something I was keen to avoid and we will.

“If we can start well and if we can get over the inevitable hiccoughs quickly we will have a strong season.”

And that doesn’t mean finishing 21st.