The good, the bad and the ugly of the Championship and optimism for Peterborough United's immediate future

Ah well good-bye to the Championship, hopefully just for a season, as long as hard lessons have been learnt.

By Alan Swann
Sunday, 8th May 2022, 6:40 am
Jack Taylor of Peterborough United celebrates his goal against Blackpool. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com

I will miss the stadia, and their most helpful employees, the atmospheres at some historic old grounds and the facilities at some of the newer ones.

But I won’t miss games in which Posh don’t have a single shot on target or press boxes full of club employees and others who act as fans rather than working journalists, and there are plenty of them knocking about these days (apologies to anyone who may have overheard me cursing at referees or time-wasting play-acting ‘professionals’, something that probably won’t go away just because Posh have dropped down a division).

I will miss seeing so many quality players and teams, although there aren’t as many of the latter as you might think. There are plenty of big, well-organised, fast and athletic outfits with formidable presences at set-pieces, but few even try and play like Manchester City. Coventry City and Middlesbrough delivered the most entertaining performances I saw.

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Jonson Clarke-Harris of Peterborough United scores the opening goal of the game against Blackpool. Photo: Joe Dent/theposh.com

I also won’t miss the dreadful officials with even Cobblers ref Andy Woolmer managing to irritate me with his erratic decision-making during a 5-0 win against Blackpool yesterday (another thing that won’t change even though Posh have gone down a division).

It’s probably best not to get too carried away with this one result and performance as end-of-season games can’t mean a lot when the next match is still three months away, but it’s only natural to have left London Road full of optimism yesterday. You can only beat what’s in front of you and Posh eventually swept aside mid-table opposition with contemptuous ease.

I’ve long held the opinion that a flat back four brings greater attacking freedom and that was certainly the case yesterday. The front four were exceptional with Kwame Poku’s display most eye-opening, but Jack Taylor, surely someone who will relish having a master passer as his manager, and Sammie Szmodics were not far behind. The pass from Ricky-Jade Jones to Szmodics for his first goal against Blackpool was astonishingly good.

Credit too to the players for refusing to down tools, certainly once McCann’s methods were taken on board, in the most hopeless of situations. It’s a very small consolation, but Posh managed to avoid setting five new (unwanted) club records with their big win yesterday, although a new low number of goals scored (43) was set, to go with the most goals conceded (87), a pretty fatal combination.

It was a shame McCann didn’t get one of the two rookies on the bench on yesterday, especially as he made two substitutions at 3-0 with just 15 minutes to gto, but that’s a minor quibble on what was a most enjoyable afternoon.

Posh will almost certainly be one of the favourites to go up next season, but they will be wary. It looks like they will be joining a much tougher League One than the one they left. It will be full of ‘big’ clubs with large fanbases, especially if little unloved Wycombe Wanderers manage to grind their way up ahead of Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday.

There will also be a lot of travelling, especially now that Bristol Rovers dramatically stormed past Northampton Town (no laughing at the back) on the last day of the League Two season.

The retained list can be expected early next week and it could be a fascinating read as well as an indicator as to what positions Posh will try and strengthen for next season.

Steven Benda, who made a bg impact on loan at Posh last season, said ‘see you again’ to the club’s fans as part of a Twitter message last night.

It might not mean anything just as McCann’s surprise post-match pronouncement that ‘something’ is going on in the background with Reading’s financial issues probably doesn’t mean a lot, not to Posh’s immediate future at least.

You never know though. Even the tiniest speck of hope is always welcome after such a disappointing campaign.