Peterborough United served up timid dross from start to finish, but plenty of credit remains in the bank, rusty rather than refreshed, absent friends badly missed, the man who is missing Ivan Toney more than most, Fergie does a Mourinho, a Posh positive from Steve Bruce
The Posh players might be shocked at some of the comments aimed at them after the 2-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra - the PT Twitter postbag was full to bursting for most of the night and not in a good way - as they remain top after all and it’s now 22 points from a possible 27 since losing rather unfortunately at Sunderland in September. That’s a strong record which should grant them some immunity from criticism, but the most active on social media tend to work in black or white. You’re either brilliant or hopeless and that oftend depends on the result rather than the actual performance.
But this is a Posh fanbase who have seen plenty of false dawns in the previous seven seasons and the sight of such a collective offday brought back painful memories. The fact many fans who have stumped up season ticket cash are regularly being denied pictures from matches probably doesn’t help the mood either, although it’s arguable iFollow incompetence probably did them a favour yesterday.
It’s impossible for individuals to be brilliant every week, but to see so many weak performances in the same 90 minutes was unusual. Several players had enjoyed welcome breaks in the last couple of weeks and yet they looked rusty, certainly in the case of Dan Butler and Sammie Szmodics, rather than refreshed.
Posh boss Darren Ferguson will now demand a reaction. They have played seven of their 12 League One games away from home which makes their position at the top even more commendable and now they have two games at the Weston Homes Stadium to come. They will need to play far better than they did here though.
OTHER TALKING POINTS FROM YESTERDAY...
1) Crewe played well and thoroughly deserved their comfortable win, but some of the praise heading in their direction was a little over the top. Factor in the sheer all-round awfulness of the opposition, the fact the first goal arrived from a free-kick that should never have been awarded and a second goal which involved a desperate moment from Niall Mason and then recall how many other clearcut chances Crewe created. There was only one headed wide by Oli Finney early on. Posh goalkeeper Christy Pym was as quiet as his opposite number. You can see why Crewe don’t always get the goals their possession deserves. What Crewe did expertly though was press, harry and keep the ball. They worked hard, they were organised defensively, they were pretty in possession and impressive to watch, but I’m not convinced they will finish in the top half. I hope they do though as their style of play was very easy on the eye.
2) Jack Taylor wasn’t missed when he was last on international duty because of Northampton Town’s lack of quality, but against a team who used the ball excellently it was a different story. Taylor’s goal-scoring ability and his passing range gets plenty of attention, but he’s also a combative midfielder. Posh missed Taylor’s ability to win the ball as much as they missed his ability to keep it. Louis Reed and then Ethan Hamilton worked hard enough in his place, but they were not adequate replacements in this game.
3) Mason has stood in solidly for Nathan Thompson at times this season, but the latter’s physicality and nous were required against Crewe’s gifted forward player Charlie Kirk. Mason rarely got near him when marking him for the opening 30 minutes.
4) Sooner or later a slow Posh start was going to be punished. Posh need to find a way or a system that enables them to start on the front foot. They lacked aggression as well as precision yesterday.
5) Szmodics is missing Ivan Toney more than most. He was outstanding on loan from Bristol City last season, apart from in the two matches Toney missed through suspension. Szmodics had perked up a bit in his previous couple of Posh outings when only his finishing let him down. Yesterday he had two chances in the first-half and I’m convinced the more confident player of last season would have buried at least one of them. Only rarely has Szmodics connected with Jonson Clarke-Harris and the latter was handed a lesson in hold-up play by the very limited Mikael Mandron at Gresty Road.
6) Darren Ferguson was so upset with the Posh performance he challened his inner Jose Mourinho by congratulating Crewe manager David Artell and walking off towards the dressing room before the final whistle had been blown.
6) Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce was in the crowd. If he was there to watch Siriki Dembele he’d have been disappointed. That’s a Posh positive I guess.
7) EFL chairman Rick Parry was also present. It’s rather galling that real fans of Crewe and Posh couldn’t get in and yet a Liverpool supporter gets a plush seat.
8) Don’t blame Posh for iFollow incompetence. The club are acutely aware they need to do all they can for a fanbase desperate to see their team in action during these dificult times
The Posh press officer was on the phone demanding answers from those in charge of the streaming service straight after the game at Crewe. The club are as frustrated and as disappointed as the supporters at the seemingly weekly problems.