Peterborough United talking points include Adrian Durham’s take on a quiet dressing room, tactics and selections that didn’t work and how a massive points deduction is disguising the true horror of the season

We can all talk tactics, formations and selection until the cows come home, but if the players aren’t good enough any manager is effectively operating with a blindfold on and one hand tied behind his back.

Jeando Fuchs of Posh wins a header against Swansea. Photo: David Lowndes.
Jeando Fuchs of Posh wins a header against Swansea. Photo: David Lowndes.

And yet Peterborough United’s approach last night (March 16), in a game they really had to win, was baffling for the first 45 minutes, and indeed for the final quarter against Swansea City, although the final stages can be forgiven if only because their one attacking threat had left the stage by then.

There was logic to the strategy of denying Swansea space to weave their pretty patterns before hitting a suspect defence on the counter attack, but the players couldn’t cope with such a complicated approach. Even with little possession Posh enjoyed enough promising moments on the ball to offer hope, but that hope was usually extinguished by a poor choice of pass or an inaccurate one. There is very little consistent atacking quality in the squad since Siriki Dembele departed.

It’s not as though an ultra defensive approach ever looks like succeeding anyway. Even faced with what resembled a 5-5-0 formation at times Swansea created enough chances to be out of sight before the interval, but took until the final minute of the half to take the lead. The fact it then took the visitors until the 91st minute to seal their deserved 3-2 win was a result of weak finishing, good goalkeeping and a powerful 15-minute spell at the start of the second-half when Posh were allowed out of their defensive shell.

Joe Taylor in action for Posh against Swansea. Photo: David Lowndes.

TALKING POINTS FROM POSH v SWANSEA...

1) This Posh set-up required speed in attacking areas and yet Jonson Clarke-Harris was the main striker. Clarke-Harris had enjoyed back-to-back decent displays, but mobility is not a strength and he was effectively made redundant by the tactical approach for this game. He lost possession deep in his own half for the second Swansea goal. Clarke-Harris needs feeding in the opposition half preferably with a mate alongside him which he had for a brief spell in the second-half.

2) Ricky-Jade Jones was outstanding. There’s nothing complicated about his game. He knows his strengths and uses natural pace to run past cumbersome defenders. His left foot is improving and he delivered a couple of teasing crosses before setting up a goal for Sammie Szmodics. But constant injuries are a worry and he will receive rough treatment from opponents scared of his speed. His departure just past the hour mark was a decisive moment in the game even allowing for the fact his replacement Jack Marriott scored with his first touch, albeit courtesy of a defensive clanger. That gave Posh the lead, but they immediately retreated (or were pushed back by a team who noticeably upped their game) with little chance of getting out because they couldn’t hit the ball over the top to a speedy striker and the other forwards were sitting too deep again. Swansea always looked like they would equalise and probably win as gifted players were given so much time on the ball.

3) The manager’s perseverence with Joe Taylor on the substitutes’ bench has merit with an eye on the long-term future, but would on-loan striker Callum Morton hold the ball up better? Would he make better runs behind a defence? Is he more likely to score a goal? The answer to all three questions is yes.

Jonson Clarke-Harris on the ball for Posh against Swansea. Photo: David Lowndes.

4) There was plenty of chatter before the game about a sodden playing surface helping Posh counter slick-passing opponents. If anything the reverse was true as the heavy rain softened a bumpy pitch. The lack of an effective press probably pleased the visitors as well as they popped the ball about at will for most of the game.

5) Post-match the manager moaned about a quiet dressing room. Well-known Posh fan and TalkSPORT Radio host Adrian Durham was quick to answer that one. “The captain (Oliver Norburn) wanted to leave in January. The man chosen to lead wanted to go in the middle of a battle. Any wonder the rest are quiet? Players like Sammie Szmodics, Joe Ward, Ronnie Edwards and maybe a couple of others deserve to have better, more committed teammates.”

6) Remarkably Posh were off the bottom of the table for nine second-half minutes last night. A more realistic appraisal of the season so far is that without Derby County’s 21-point deduction Posh would be trying to chase down Birmingham City and Hull to get out of trouble and they are both currently 18 points ahead of Grant McCann’s side who have just nine games to play.