The current state of play at Peterborough United and their relegation rivals, why February could be the month the fate of Darren Ferguson’s team is settled, and a comparison with the 2012-13 Championship season

Peterborough United are surely doomed? Or are they?

By Alan Swann
Monday, 17th January 2022, 8:19 am
Posh boss Darren Ferguson on the touchline during the defeat to Coventry at the weekend. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com.

Posh have picked up just 19 points from 24 Championship matches and yet they remain just three points from safety with at least one game in hand on every team around them bar bottom club Barnsley.

The Tykes really do look doomed to the drop and surely Derby County will run out of steam given their off-field problems keep mounting up?

That leaves one other team for Posh to catch. Can they do it? We’ll probably know by the end of February, a month when Posh tackle the three teams above them as well as the one just below them.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Here is the current state of play at the relegation favourites.

Relegation odds from Bet Victor

BARNSLEY

Position: 24th

Andy Carroll in action for Reading. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

Points: 14

Games played: 24.

Odds to go down: 1/4.

It’s been a grim campaign for last season’s play-off contenders and to be frank there appears to be no let-up in sight. A change of manager has made no impact and just two wins in 24 games is a sorry return.

They are the lowest scorers in the division with just 16 goals and now top striker and captain Cauley Woodrow faces an extended absence after undergoing knee surgery.

The January transfer window is vital for all clubs with something to fight for, but Barnsley’s need appears to be the greatest.

The bookies know. It’s 1/4 for the Tykes to go down.

Next six fixtures: Birmingham (a), Forest (a), Bournemouth (h), Cardiff (h), Luton (a), QPR (h).

DERBY

Position: 23rd

Points: 14

Games played: 26.

Odds to go down: 1/6.

There has, quite rightly, been immense praise for the job manager Wayne Rooney has done at the apparent relegation certainties, given a 21-point deduction and ongoing financial restrictions.

Derby climbed off the bottom of the table by beating Sheffield United at the weekend and are now just five points behind Posh.

But there is a firesale of players currently ongoing as Derby need to raise funds just to survive. Unless a long-winded takeover finally happens soon Derby will struggle to stay off the bottom. The bookies believe that to be the case. They remain favourites for the drop at prohibitive odds.

Mind you Derby are at home to Hull and Posh soon and wins in those matches would really liven things up at the bottom.

Next six fixtures: Forest (a), Birmingham (h), Huddersfield (a), Hull (h), Middlesbrough (a), Posh (h).

POSH

Position: 22nd

Points: 19

Games played: 24

Odds to go down: 8/13.

A dismal points return, hopeless away form, the worst defensive record in the Championship by three goals, the worst goal difference in the division by a staggering nine goals and the third worst scoring record suggests Posh have no chance of staying up.

And yet here they are one win from a game in hand of catching up with the team directly above then,

Posh had 22 points from 24 games in their last Championship relegation season of 2012-13 and picked up 32 points from their final 22 games. They still went down, but with a record number of points (54)

It could be 42/44 points will be enough to survive this season, and maybe even fewer, and Posh face four of their five main rivals for relegation, Cardiff, Reading, Hull and Derby in February.

If Posh are still in the bottom three at the end of next month they will probably go down.

Next six fixtures: v West Brom (a), Birmingham (a), Sheff Utd (h), Cardiff (a), Preston (h), Reading (h).

READING

Position: 21st

Points: 22.

Games played: 25

Odds to go down: 6/4.

Reading have been without key players because of injury all season and now they could lose Andy Carroll who has stayed fit and scored goals while playing on a £1k a week contract. Bigger clubs are believed to be circling now that Carroll’s Reading short-term contract has expired.

Reading could have experienced centre-back Michael Morrison back soon which will help, but they have not coped with an unexpected relegation dogfight that well. They took Christmas off because of ‘Covid’ but they haven’t won since returning to action which included throwing away a two-goal lead in the final minutes at home against Derby.

Reading are at home to Luton on Wednesday (January 19) and a win would move them six points clear of the bottom three as well as deliver a massive confidence boost.

Next six fixtures: Luton (h), Huddersfield (h), QPR (a), Bristol City (a), Coventry (h), Posh (a).

CARDIFF

Position: 20th

Points: 23

Games played: 25.

Odds to go down: 9/2

Cardiff’s gamble on a rookie manager hasn’t worked just yet and if they lose Welsh international striker Kieffer Moore in the transfer window they would probably continue to struggle. Moore is currently out of action until the end of January with an ankle complaint anyway.

Cardiff have some winnable games on the horizon starting with a game at erratic Bristol City on Saturday. They play Barnsley and Posh in back-to-back games soon. Their rivals will be hoping they are distracted by a forthcoming FA Cup tie at Anfield.

Next six fixtures: Bristol City (a), Forest (h), Barnsley (a), Posh (h), Millwall (a), Coventry (h).

HULL CITY

Position: 19th.

Points: 23

Games played: 25.

Odds to go down: 4/1

Hull looked a poor team when losing at home to Stoke on Sunday. They remain the team most likely to be caught by Posh making their visit to London Road at the end of February a vital one.

But there is a club takeover imminent and if the new Turkish owner throws a bit of money at it (and they spend it wisely) before the end of this month it could make staying up that much easier. Whether or not manager Grant McCann survives the takeover is open to question. He at least knows the division.

Hull are currently out of the bottom three because they strung four wins together in November. They haven’t won any of their five Championship games since and they’ve lost their last three ahead of consecutive games against Blackburn (Wednesday) and Bournemouth (Saturday), two of the current top three.

Next six matches: Blackburn (h), Bournemouth (a), Swansea (h), Preston (h), Derby (a), Fulham (h).

Relegation outsiders according to Bet Victor: Bristol City 7/1, Birmingham City 14/1, Blackpool 16/1, Swansea 33/1