Talking points from Peterborough United v Manchester City: ‘The Posh future looks bright, Ricky was a revelation, fantastic fans, Fuchs v the skipper, City were classy on and off the pitch on a memorable occasion, humble Pep and now to find some goals for the relegation battle’

Peterborough United’s present isn’t particularly appealing, but the future? That could be a different matter altogether.

By Alan Swann
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 10:43 am

New Posh boss Grant McCann sent a side out with an average age of just a little over 23 to take on the best side in the country, if not the world and the universe, last night (March 1).

And, while claiming they went ‘toe-to-toe’ with Manchester City in an FA Cup tie at the Weston Homes Stadium is an exaggeration given they understandably spent most of the game on the back foot, they certainly competed to a far greater degree than most expected.

Posh, who were 50/1 to win the match at one stage pre-match, went down 2-0 which is a scoreline many Premier League teams would accept, against a club with immense firepower and the sort of quality only billionaire owners can buy, never mind one rooted to the foot of the Championship table.

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Captains Frankie Kent of Posh and Manchester City's Oleksandr Zinchenko show support to Ukraine before the match. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

McCann started with two teenagers, including locally reared striker Ricky-Jade Jones who hasn’t yet made the starting XI in a Championship fixture, and no-one was older than 27-year-old Jorge Grant, and yet Posh both frustrated and worried their illustrious visitors before conceding defeat to two second-half goals.

It was all highly encouraging to say the least. The standing ovation Posh received at the end of the game from a packed stadium was thoroughly deserved. Posh displayed the sort of spirit and commitment that, if replicated often enough in the remaining Championship matches, gives some hope they might at least go down fighting.

“One of the reasons I came back here was the quality of the young players at the club,” a proud manager stated after the game.

Let’s hope he’s allowed to keep most of them at the club.

Posh manager Grant McCann and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on the touchline. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

TALKING POINTS FROM POSH v CITY...

1) There were a glut of excellent individual displays from Posh last night and well done the manager for being brave enough to throw 19 year-old Jones into the starting line-up. Sheer pace will unsettle the best defenders, but Jones showed last night he is more than just a speed machine. He was often found at the front of the rearguard action, but always with an eye on making runs beyond the City defence. Nathan Ake took a caution as he realised he would not be able to keep up with the Posh youngster. Jones deserves to stay in the side at Huddersfield.

2) Jeando Fuchs claimed the man-of-the-match from ITV for his midfield efforts last night. It was certainly an all-action display full of timely tackles and interceptions from a man who probably wouldn’t have played if skipper Oliver Norburn had been available. McCann now has a selection dilemma as he probably won’t use both of them in games Posh have to win.

3) McCann felt Posh carried a threat from set-pieces last night and a long throw did lead to Szmodics’ chance. Dead-ball situations have been a weakness at both ends of the pitch this season. “They will get better,” McCann insisted and hopefully he is right as they are crucial in the second tier.

Sammie Szmodics of Peterborough United gets away from Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

4) Big night games at a packed London Road are a delight. The Posh fans matched the effort of their team last night with a non-stop display full of energy. It wasn’t quite to the standards of the MK Dons play-off semi-final of 2011, but it wasn’t far off. Playing midweek under the lights rather than on a Saturday afternoon might actually have enhanced a fabulous occasion.

5) City are a class outfit on and off the pitch. Manager Pep Guardiola went out of his way to thank the people of Peterborough for the support they showed to City’s Ukranian international, and captain for the night, Oleksandr Zinchenko before and during the match. Guardiola also spent 10 minutes with McCann after the match. “It was an amazing experience to meet Pep,” McCann enthused. “He seemed genuinely interested in how we set up for the game and answered my questions about his approach. He is such a humble guy and listening to him was just fascinating.”

6) How Posh react to the high of last night is now key to the rest of the season. It should be easy to get up for a home game live on TV against top-class opposition, but the fixture list has shafted McCann’s side by following it with a less than glamorous Friday night fixture in Huddersfield, who will have had the week off, three days later. Defensively Posh were pretty sound for most of February, but they’ve now failed to score in six of their last seven competitive games. They should even have scored first last night with Sammie Szmodics missing a glorious opportunity at the start of the second-half. Defensive organisation and commitment will only get you so far. Posh need wins and to get them they obviously must start scoring regularly. Draws are no use when you are eight points from safety with just 13 matches to go.

Posh defender Ronnie Edwards stretches to block a shot from Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.