TALKING POINTS FROM FOREST: ‘It’s not all the manager’s fault, limitations exposed on and off the field, losing comfortably to average opposition, the January recruits will all have to be Dwight Gayle standard’

Well the flat back four returned. More surprisingly so did the midfield diamond. The result was familiar though. Maybe, just maybe, the problem is the personel rather than the formation and tactics, certainly away from home.

By Alan Swann
Monday, 6th December 2021, 6:54 am
Posh star Siriki Dembele has just hit the post at Nottingham Forest. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.
Posh star Siriki Dembele has just hit the post at Nottingham Forest. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

It’s easy to blame the manager, but Jurgen Klopp wouldn’t be certain to get a winning tune out of this squad in this division. Somehow Posh have ended up in a league the powers that be have experienced before without the pace, quality, strength, experience and power you need to have any chance to compete. If Darren Ferguson really did turn down the chance of a couple more signings before the August transfer window slammed shut then he made a big mistake. He probably realised that as Posh went 2-0 to a nondescript Nottingham Forest side yesterday (December 4) in a manner that has been all too common this season.

Ferguson is a good man. You don’t spend as long as he has at the same club without forging a strong bond with a place. He has been successful. He set his team up well enough to play well for an hour yesterday when they would have been 2-0 up with more composed finishing. Posh were the better team on the ball and without it. Some Forest fans were booing at the break, although that might have been aimed at hapless referee Thomas Bramall as much as their own team.

Ferguson currently looks helpless though. His frustration with what he is watching is obvious. Should he go though? Probably not, because he has an excellent record in League One and the chairman’s record at appointing managers apart from the current one is noting to tweet about.

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Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United in action with Djed Spence of Nottingham Forest. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Posh were far from hopeless yesterday - certainly compared to the shambles witnessed at Swansea and Blackburn recently- but they created little when on top in the first-half and conceded twice in 11 minutes when finally put under pressure after the break.

That’s a recipe for relegation, and it’s looking like being an inglorious one.

TALKING POINTS FROM YESTERDAY.

1) For the first time in 19 years Posh have failed to score in five successive league matches. Given Posh’s reputation in recent seasons that’s a shocking (in both meanings of the word) record. They had the best two chances of the first hour with Jorge Grant’s feeble attempt to convert Siriki Dembele’s pass in the first half followed by Dembele striking the post in the second-half. We’ve all been praying the crucial chances would fall to Dembele in recent games, but he fluffed his lines here after latching onto to a flick from Jonson Clarke-Harris to bear down on goalkeeper Brice Samba. With Grant struggling, the limitations of Clarke-Harris and Sammie Szmodics at this level fully exposed, there is nowhere near enough quality at the top end of the field. Posh had to score when on top in this game to have any chance as you knew there would be a second-half response even from a team as limited as Forest.

Peterborough United Manager Darren Ferguson at Nottingham Forest. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

2) Please stop Clarke-Harris blasting every free-kick from 35 yards and under at goal. It’s starting to look desperate. Posh had a free-kick 20 yards out in the first-half yesterday which cried out for someone of quality to have a pop at goal. Grant was on the pitch. He’s a specialist from that range. That particular effort from Clarke-Harris was blocked by a defender who charged to within five yards of the ball before it had been kicked without punishment. It rather summed up Bramall’s performance.

3) Posh deployed the midfield diamond at the City ground which helped them dominate the ball before the break. It presumably caught Forest by surprise. It functioned well enough to be worth another go because at the very least it got Jack Taylor up the field at its tip. Taylor is no Lee Tomlin in terms of passing vision or speed off the mark, but he has a goal in him which is obviously something Posh desperately need.

4) It‘s been frustrating watching Posh lose so comfortably to teams who offer more in terms of organisation than excitement. The likes of Forest, Stoke and Middlesbrough haven’t necessarily outskilled Posh, but they are physically stronger, more athletic and better organised defensively. They are also capable of scoring a set-piece goal and it happened again yesterday. The finish was lucky, but it was another corner that was defended poorly by Posh.

5) One wonders what positions these prospective new players the chairman spoke of in his latest podcast prefer? He spoke of three new men which won’t be enough unless they are all Dwight Gayle standard. Let’s just hope they are all attacking players. It’s difficult to recall a single shot on goal Posh had after Dembele had hit the post 10 minutes into the second half. Posh defended okay for the most part yesterday. Josh Knight looked strong and Ronnie Edwards oozed quality.

6) Oh how Posh would love a lucky goal. Forest scored two yesterday. Firstly after Lewis Grabban made a mess of a tap-in, but the ball ran kindly for James Garner to score and then Ryan Yates benefitted from a cross that hit him and careered into the net. Mind you it’s debatable Posh would ever have players queueing up at the far post and very unlikely they’d ever cause confusion in a defence with a set-piece delivery.