PETERBOROUGH UNITED TALKING POINTS: ‘Far from the mismatch many expected, JCH settles a debate, Fergie’s excellent gameplan, the midfielder who must be the first name on the Posh teamsheet, Dembele is class, but can contribute so much more’

This was supposed to be one of the biggest mismatches in Championship history.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 7th November 2021, 10:05 am
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United rues a missed chance to score against Fulham. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United rues a missed chance to score against Fulham. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

As Peterborough United fan, and ace pundit, Adrian Durham said beforehand: ‘With Fulham’s summer signings & new contracts I reckon this is the biggest financial gap between clubs ever seen in the Championship. Mitrovic is on £100k pw, Wilson cost £12m. Anything can happen over 90 mins, but Posh’s 100% league record v Fulham possibly under threat.’

Tongue in cheek at the end as Posh had only previously played Fulham twice before the owner of Harrods took an interest at Craven Cottage, but the rest was fair comment.

There were two divisions between these two teams last season and the clubs remain several leagues apart financially.

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Harrison Burrows of Peterborough United battles for the ball with Jean Michael Seri and Antonee Robinson of Fulham. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

But you always have to factor in the human element, the fact that some players can be horribly over-valued - quite a few judged on this one match - and those memorable one-off occasions when the underdogs rise as one to the challenge, while the bigger club have a collective off day.

This was one of those days and yet Posh still lost. That’s presumably why manager Darren Ferguson didn’t trot out what would have been a predictable line about pride in defeat and instead looked and sounded thoroughly downcast after the game...

OTHER TALKING POINTS

1) A few Posh managers of the recent past would certainly have pointed to the huge disparity in wage bill, the farce of rewarding regular failure with parachute payments and a glut of multi-million pound signings as an excuse for a home loss.

Siriki Dembele of Peterborough United is closed down by Fulham players. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

It was actually quite refreshing (and a little surprising) to hear Ferguson, and goalkeeper Dai Cornell, deliver miserable post-match reactions. Ferguson’s faith in his players, unlike some in the media and the fanbase, has rarely wavered and, although he was referring to away form specifically on this occasion, he was at it again after this match. ‘I wish they believed in themselves as much as I believe in them,’ Ferguson said. If anything expressing regret and frustration at missed chances and leaving the most lethal striker in the land unmarked six yards from goal should act as a confidence booster. If the manager believes you have it in you to beat a top side like Fulham the then take it on board. Play this well against weaker teams and mid-table could even beckon by Christmas.

2) Jonson Clarke-Harris went some way to settling the debate as to whether or not he should start. He has limitations, but his mere presence can be unsettling. Fulham had kept four clean sheets coming into this game and yet they required a key performance by goalkeeper Marek Rodak to make it five. Much of that was down to Clarke-Harris winning challenges and forcing errors. He hit the woodwork twice, the second time after a fine save, and played Sammie Szmodics through on goal in the first-half. But Posh have now played pretty well at home against the top three this season, but they didn’t score in all three games which is a concern. Only the bottom three have scored fewer than Posh’s 17 goals.

3) Ferguson was right to switch to a flat back four for this game. Fulham would have revelled in space behind wingbacks as they like to keep two players out wide at all times. Mark Beevers was much happier with support either side of him and full-backs Joe Ward and Dan Butler were very good against excellent players until the former was defeated by Neeskens Kebano for the only goal. Frankie Kent made a splendid return to the starting line-up. It all went swimmingly at the back until the centre-backs dozed off fatally and the country’s top goalscorer Aleksandar Mitrovic pounced.

4) A small complaint, but in the minutes leading up the only goal of the game Fulham looked strong down their left as Ward and Harrison Burrows appeared to tire. Could the substitutions have been made earlier?

5) And it is still a cause of some irritation that Siriki Dembele spends so much of a game out of the action. Two more opposition players were cautioned yesterday for hacking him down. He is seen as a threat so play him more centrally so he can get on the ball more, and turn and run at central defenders. Picking up the ball in that sort of area enabled Dembele to set up the late chance for Clarke-Harrs=is Fulham’s centre-backs looked vulnerable, particularly a plodding Tim Ream, all match and surely Dembele would have left them for dead given the opportunity.

6) Posh set-piece work looked better at both ends of the pitch.

7) Oliver Norbun is playing so well his name must be written a teamsheet before Jack Taylor which is high praise. Taylor did play the Posh pass of the game though, a terrific ball over Ream’s head which led to Clarke-Harris striking the post in the first-half.