POSH REVIEW OF THE YEAR (Part one): Broken promises and a change of boss
We heard the usual pre-season promises from Peterborough United.
Kgosi Ntlhe reckoned he was in line for a better season, Jack Collison insisted he would stay fit, and manager Dave Robertson promised promotion, something chairman Darragh MacAnthony promised in triplicate.
MacAnthony also claimed Benfica had been in contact re Posh defender Ricardo Santos which was like hearing the Bridge Street busker had been invited to perform at Last Night of the Proms.
Sadly it was a difficult start on the pitch with an opening day League One defeat at Rochdale and two more by the end of the month when three points had been garnered from four matches. The only League One win arrived in rather fortunate fashion at home to Colchester United.
Robertson didn’t have a lot of luck. A brave fightback from 2-0 down at Burton Albion was ended by the most useless of decisions by referee Graham Saslibury who ruled out a perfectly good equalising goal from Jermaine Anderson in the 96th minute.
Posh finished the month in 18th place and out of the Capital One Cup after losing 4-1 at home to Charlton Reserves.
Top quote: “I want to see the following things happen this season - promotion, promotion, promotion, another cup in the trophy cabinet, a proper title challenge and 120 goals from 60-odd games,” MacAnthony.
Out went Robertson after 23 matches in charge to the delight of pretty much everyone, and in came Graham Westley to the delight of pretty much no-one.
Robertson partly blamed Twitter for his demise straight after a sorry display and a fourth defeat in six League One games, live on TV, at Southend.
Brian McDermott was installed as the fans’ favourite to replace him, but instead MacAnthony was seduced by the long-winded self-promotion skills of Westley.
Westley took over a team instantly improved by caretaker-boss Grant McCann and sensibly resisted any temptation to tinker.
He won his first game in charge 2-0 at Bradford, but a 3-2 defeat to Bury in his first home game left Posh in 15th place.
Robertson’s legacy did at least include the signings of two promising players in Chris Forrester and Callum Elder.
Top quote: “I am feeling the pain as I am convinced I could have turned things around, but the chairman came under pressure from fans on social media” deluded Dave Robertson.
Westley, perhaps forgetting he was managing Peterborough United and not Barcelona, set his players targets of 500 passes and 25 shots in every game.
To be fair the new manager also promised goals which his team delivered as they beat Millwall 5-3 in a thriller at the ABAX Stadium, also the venue for a 4-0 thumping of a Doncaster now managed by former Posh boss Darren Ferguson.
Westley’s witterings this month included a plea for his defenders to become much nastier (some Posh fans already found them scary) and insisting Tuesday night form would soon improve.
The team were improving steadily however and even after, for the second successive season, losing a 2-0 half-time lead at Coventry to lose 3-2, Posh finished the month in 10th.
Collison played his last professional game at the Ricoh Arena, as a second-half substitute.
Top quote: “The only good part of the day was my reception from the Posh fans,” Darren Ferguson.
Westley’s wonders took off in November winning all five competitive matches to finish the month in the final play-off place (sixth) and they reached the second round of the FA Cup by winning 3-0 at Burton Albion, League One’s version of Leicester City. Westley was a deserved winner of the manager-of-the-month award.
Naturally no-one at Posh was getting carried away apart from the manager, who compared midfielder Jermaine Anderson with Dele Alli and insisted Conor Washington was good enough for Championship and international football. The January sale pitch always starts early at the ABAX.
Posh scored nine goals in back-to-back away wins at Crewe (5-1) and Scunthorpe (4-0) where a young Norwegian on loan from West Ham by the name of Martin Samuelsen made an impressive debut.
Top quote: “It’s nice that I have a manager and chairman who seem to rate me,” Anderson.
Highlights included a rare Boxing Day win (2-0 against Chesterfield), progress in the FA Cup when Mark Tyler saved Luton from a complete drubbing and the promise of an assault on the automatic promotion places.
Lowlights included Tyrone Barnett scoring for Shrewsbury to end a six-game Posh winning streak and the realisation that a top player would be sold in January.
Defeat in the final game of 2015 at Walsall left Posh in sixth place.
Top quote: “We’ve made great progress as a club in the last three months,” Westley.
JANUARY to MAY will appear online tomorrow (May 15).