'They absolutely bottled it'- Darren Ferguson launches into furious rant against his players as Posh dumped out of EFL Cup
Posh missed the chance to move into the last 16 after conceding in stoppage time against League Two Mansfield and then scoring just one of their four spot-kicks to lose the shootout 3-1.
Posh had recovered from a poor start, which saw them fall behind after just five minutes to a Will Swan penalty with Jonson Clarke-Harris scoring either side of the break.
Ferguson’s side, however, lost control of the match in the closing stages and eventually conceded a second penalty in added time - which was tucked away by Lucas Akins.
In the shootout, former Posh man Christy Pym- who spent the entire half as subject to abuse and taunts from the Posh fans behind him- saved efforts penalties from both Jonson Clarke-Harris and Ronnie Edwards to become the hero for his side. He also appeared to mock Ferguson at the end with a handshake from a distance as the players walked off.
Ferguson did not address this in his various post-match interviews.
The performance caused Ferguson to tear into his players at full-time.
He said: “It’s staggering or maybe it’s not for this group of players, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.
“We started the game well, but then we were indecisive. When the ball is bouncing around in the box, just clear it and then argue about it. It’s a poor start with the penalty. We lost it to no one taking responsibility Then we took control and should be equalising before we did.
“Jonno scored a good goal, then we are completely on top. For 60-70 minutes, they couldn’t get near us, it was just a case of killing the game off.
“Then, all of a sudden, they start going forward and we just bottled it. Pure and simple, I can’t dress it up. We found a way of losing a game when we should never be losing.
"I don’t like criticising my players in public, I very rarely do, but I’m not letting them get away with that. They absolutely bottled it.
“We lost our composure, we were losing tackles, we were kicking the ball anywhere, we looked so ragged and were all over the place. As soon of the game got tough, we went under and it disgusts me to say that. I’m not defending that.
“We knew they would play a diamond and how we could hurt it and we did. It was nothing to do with anything other then when they started putting us under pressure, we simply did not cope.
"A lot of them are still here from Hillsborough, maybe I should have got rid of the whole lot of them because a lot of them who couldn’t handle it then are still here. As a manager, you’ve got to have a team that can back up what you’re about and I’m not having that tonight.
"I don’t know why I should work with them when they do that. What’s the point? They don’t deserve it
“The main credential you need as a footballer is character and, when it’s tough, they need to roll their sleeves up and keep playing the way we want to play. They know how we want to play so to stop doing it because they started to get about us is an absolute crime.
“It’s a massive opportunity missed, it’s a terrible result. I hope Mansfield get Man United away or someone like that so the players can see it tomorrow night and be hurt because that is nowhere near good enough.
“I don’t know what to expect on Saturday, ask the players. I’m sick of protecting them, I’ve seen enough of this. They’re going to have to start showing a bit of bottle. It’s nothing to do with anything else, in the last 20 minutes show some bottle; they were running around all over the place. When you have to tackle, tackle like men. We can’t keep saying this.
“Seven of these played at Hillsborough. They bottled it that night and they’ve bottled it tonight. It’s absolutely horrendous for me to say - it’s my group of players - but they absolutely bottled it.”
Posh’s players must find a response to their manager’s criticism on Saturday as they host Bristol Rovers in League One on Saturday; the club Jonson-Clarke-Harris - who how has four goals in three games - was seconds away from joining on deadline day.