The importance of the feelgood factor, a managerial masterstroke, a player who should leave, a player who might leave and some players who should definitely stay

The importance of taking confidence and a feelgood factor into next season shouldn’t be underestimated.

By Alan Swann
Saturday, 16th April 2022, 7:03 am
Harrison Burrows (left) plays Sammie Szmodics through for his goal for Posh against Blackburn. Photo: David Lowndes.
Harrison Burrows (left) plays Sammie Szmodics through for his goal for Posh against Blackburn. Photo: David Lowndes.

Peterborough United are certain to leave the Championship with some pretty miserable numbers - they are still three points shy of the lowest points total in the club’s history for a start - but the atmosphere at the end of yesterday’s 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at the Weston Homes Stadium was electric.

Okay a dramatic come-from-behind finish will do that, and it’s possible news of Reading’s late winning goal at Sheffield United hadn’t yet filtered through, but a team showing fight and character against overwhelming odds has also rallied the supporters who could have forgiven for becoming toxic towards their team after a run of nine home games without a win.

Manager Grant McCann must take a lot of credit. Progress under him has been too slow to make survival a possibility, but there has undoubtedly been a gradual upturn in performances as well as results.

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Jack Marriott celebrates his winning goal for Posh against Blackburn. Photo: David Lowndes.

If that continues there will be optimism for next season. One is loath to mention the dreaded Wycombe Wanderers on this page, but they finished last season strongly in the Championship even though they never looked like surviving and now they sit in the League One play-off places ahead of some much bigger clubs.

And Posh have better League One players than those to be found at Adams Park.

TALKING POINTS FROM POSH V BLACKBURN...

1) When McCann hinted he wasn’t going to make the obvious selection in Bali Mumba to replace suspended Joe Ward yesterday it sparked a guessing game at the PT. Josh Knight or Ronnie Edwards at right-back or Kwame Poku at right wing-back were our predictions, but not once was Sammie Szmodics mentioned as a contender. And yet there he was. Playing as a wing-back and playing pretty well as it happens, albeit in an unconventional matter. Szmodics didn’t hug the touchline like Ward does and he wasn’t whipping in crosses either. He did play with his usual energy levels though and he still managed to run in behind defenders. He even had two chances to score. Ironically he was less effective when moved further forward and more central after Blackburn had been reduced to 10 men, but then he meandered out wide again late on to pounce and score a fine goal. Ward will be back at Barnsley, but the move certainly opened up more squad flexibility for the future.

Sammie Szmodics is about to equalise for Posh against Blackburn. Photo: David Lowndes.

2) As for Norwich loanee Mumba, he wasn’t even on the bench. There seems little point in him staying here. If he can’t get into this team ahead of a forward who had never played wing-back in his career he is not getting into any Posh side.

3) Szmodics scored after a lovely pass from Harrison Burrows. Proof that the Academy graduate needs to play further forward than his current wing-back position which McCann has doubtless realised. A pair of wing-backs could well be at the top of the Posh summer shopping list.

4) Coming from behind so regularly is a sign of a strong team spirit and work ethic, plus a sign of a manager who can make changes that make a difference. Posh have now picked up points after conceding the first goal in five of their last seven Championship matches.

5) Jack Marriott remains the most lethal finisher in the squad as he proved again with a high-class late strike. Keeping him fit is vital for next season as Marriott, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Szmodics are all proven goalscorers at League One level. If Posh could sign another Siriki Dembele they would have a superb forward line for the third tier.

6) Maybe Joel Randall will give Posh that Dembele-style X factor next season? It was good to see him get 20 minutes yesterday as there is surely a player in there if he can stay fit. Hopefully Randall thanked Marriott after the game for ensuring the million-pound summer signing’s glaring miss late on didn’t become the match report headline.

7) Jorge Grant was presumably signed on a decent wage in the summer and yet he has started just one Championship match under McCann, and then he was hauled off at half-time. I wonder if Posh will seek a buyer for the former Lincoln star to free up some cash?

8) Posh have now conceded the most goals (83) in a Football League season in the club’s history breaking a record set 60 years ago. They did at least avoid equalling a 20 year-old club record of 10 home league games without a win. The current unbeaten run of three games is remarkably the best of the Championship season.