Peterborough United’s 4-0 League One win at MK Dons yesterday (August 24) delivered some very postive talking points according to Peterborough Telegraph Posh writer ALAN SWANN
1) I have to confess I was close to writing record signing Mo Eisa off after three games, and I suspect I wasn’t alone.
Clearly I was confusing an apparent lack of interest from the striker with a lack of confidence. I was seeing something more sinister than a new player, one who had barely played competitively in the previous year, simply struggling to get up to speed with new teammates and a new manager.
Posh’s previous million-pound signings Britt Assombalonga and Tyrone Barnett hit the ground running. Both scored on their club debuts, but Eisa looked lost and more likely to become the next Barnett than the new Britt.
Sorry Mo, and sorry Fergie. Eisa has scored four goals in his last three games and he’s now joint top scorer in League One alongside club-mate Ivan Toney, James Norwood (Ipswich), Paddy Madden (Fleetwood) and Chris Maguire (Sunderland).
Eisa looks sharp and boy he can finish, He’s quick and he seems to set to profit from the skills of a rejuvenated Marcus Maddison. In those two plus Toney, Posh look like they have an attacking arsenal to frighten the third tier of English football.
The most irritating thing about Eisa’a arrival will turn out to be the cheesy puns (see headline above) his name attracts. Expect lots of wordplays on pensions from us easy-to-please journalists
2) Laughably there are still some regular Posh watchers who don’t rate Maddison. They won’t concede they were ever wrong about an admittedly maverick footballer with a somewhat eccentric personality.
Yesterday the player’s ability to roam free and find space, the accuracy of his passing and the delivery of his set-pieces made the release fee in his contract (believed to be £2.5 million) look absurdly cheap, and that was before he sealed the Posh goal of the season competition on August 24 with a 30-yard blast.
Most of Maddison’s previous top form came from wide positions, but Posh boss Darren Ferguson has given Maddison licence to roam from the tip of a midfield diamond and he’s proving hard to mark, never mind contain. Ferguson described Maddison yesterday as an ‘intelligent tactical footballer,’ something he used to say a lot about Lee Tomlin.
Thanks to the stupidly early August transfer window Maddison looks set to be at Posh until January at least. He should be savoured by fans while he’s here. Those fans should also rest asured that an ambitious chairman and board will be working tirelessly to keep him at the club beyond the new year.
3) Ferguson insisted he was as pleased with the clean sheet as he was with the four goals his team scored at stadium:mk. He reasons this team will always score goals so a blank at the other end will almost always guarantee a win. Posh weren’t perfect at the back yesterday - there isn’t a great deal of pace in the centre of the defence - and if MK striker Jordan Bowery hadn’t missed a free header from six yards on the hour mark Fergie’s men might have been forced into a more uncomfortable last 30 minutes instead of cruising to an emphatic win.
4) Ferguson was also more pleased with the second-half display than the first half even though they reached the interval 3-0 to the good. Posh were certainly very professional after the break by making their hosts work hard in blistering heat just to get close to the ball.
5) Midfielder Alex Woodyard and right-back Jason Naismith were good, honest professionals for Posh last season and yet both have now been ruthlessly discarded by Ferguson. It’s his way or the highway for players this season and his way is to have footballers who are comfortable in possession and who are likely to keep hold of it until a deadly front three can work their magic. Louis Reed has been outstanding in midfield in the last two away wins and is a clear upgrade on last season’s skipper, while Niall Mason enjoyed his best performance of the campaign at right-back complementing solid defence with accurate passing, including an assist on Maddison’s spectacular strike.
Mason can’t relax though. Nathan Thompson hasn’t been signed to sit on the substitutes’ bench.
6) Ferguson wasn’t getting carried away by a poor start and he won’t be sitting at home today believing he’s cracked this season by reverting to a midfield diamond system which suits the talents at his disposal.
Posh look to have cover for all back four positions, but a new central midfielder and a back-up striker would give the squad a promotion-winning look. As Idris Kanu has disappeared from the squad recently, Siriki Dembele, a winger, looks to be the back-up forward which isn’t ideal.
Mind you watching the confidence and quality in 18 year-old substitute Harrison Burrows yesterday made me think George Boyd will have to get his standards high to keep the kid out of the first team. Burrows was that good on his Football League debut.
7) MK Dons are a shadow of the team that used to challenge Posh hard for promotion from the lower divisions, but I’m delighted for Ferguson he was able to erase the memory of his last visit to stadium:mk as Posh manager, one that ended with a tired, shot club legend getting the sack.
8) The sight of League One title favourites Sunderland and their army of fans at the Weston Homes Stadium (August 31) should ensure feet remain firmly on the ground for now. Get through that game unscathed though, and a with a set of favourable-looking fixtures in September to come, Ferguson will have to start managing expectations again.