Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson remains determined to ride out the latest storm of protest following today’s (January 10) League One defeat at home to lowly Colchester United.
Ferguson came under fire again as Posh - fresh from a five-day warm-weather training break in Marbella - lost 2-0 to the team who started the day in 23rd place. It’s now five points from the last 11 League One matches for a Posh team who haven’t scored in their last four home matches at the ABAX Stadium.
But Ferguson, who was sent to the stands at half-time by referee Jeremy Simpson, claims to retain the backing of chairman Darragh MacAnthony. The pair met before the manager faced the press and, while MacAnthony’s views on that meeting are not yet public, Ferguson was happy to offer his interpretation of the conversation.
“We are sticking together,” Ferguson announced. “And I think that is a credit to the club that we are prepared to ride out the storm. I feel sorry for the chairman because he has been nothing but supportive.
“That’s why I went to see him straight after the game.
“Of course there will be criticism for me and for him this week. I accept that. I know there will be people telling him he should make a change, but thankfully for me he is sticking with me.
“I would never walk away. I would never quit. I still believe that we can force our way into the top six. If the players were ‘chucking it in’ during games things would be different, but the one positive that me and the chairman can see is the effort the players are putting in.
“We need a win. We need to play badly and win if necessary. That is obvious and my staff and the players are all working so hard in an attempt to make that happen. I have a bunch of players who are committed to making the club successful, but we have to stop the rot soon.
“This defeat was hard to take. The chairman took us away which gave us the chance to reflect on what had gone wrong in the first-half of the season and put it right.
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“We had the sense that we were starting the season again so to not win the game was obviously very disappointing. All the optimism hasn’t come tumbling down, but this was a hard kick to take.
“But anyone who has watched us regularly would say that today’s display summed us up. We played well for 30 minutes, but couldn’t find a goal and then we let bad goals in. We let ourselves down in both penalty areas and that’s where games are won and lost.”
Posh remain 11th in League One. They are five points off a play-off place, but only six points from the relegation zone.
Ferguson tinkered with his playing formation for this game. He played a 4-2-3-1 formation with Luke James as the sole recognised striker, but with Marcus Maddison, Erhun Oztumer and Joe Newell offering support from midfield.
Posh started the game brightly, but appeared to become frustrated when failing to find the breakthrough their early domination deserved.
“The first 30 minutes were pivotal,” Ferguson stated. “We had to score in that period as we were so dominant. It’s important for any team to score while they are on top, but particularly a team in our position.
“You could see towards the end of the first-half that we were trying to force the passes and we became sloppy. At half-time we asked the players to up the tempo and stick to what we wanted to do, but instead we let a dreadful goal in and we couldn’t find a way back.
“I like the formation though. It enables me to get the most creative players in the side. It’s not really playing one up because there are three other players who have the freedom to get forward and join in the attacks. We are really trying to play with four up.
“Erhun started the game well, but we didn’t get enough runners ahead of the ball at times. Joe should probably have scored, but Marcus was getting frustrated which is why I took him off.
“That’s 10 different games in which we haven’t scored this season which is unusual for my teams.
“We don’t want to starting looking towards the bottom of the table, but we’d be stupid not to. I don’t think it will come to that, but the players have been warned that’s where we will end up if we don’t improve.”
Ferguson admitted that re-inforcements are not likely to arrive in January until other players have left London Road.
“I’m not exactly in a strong position to be knocking on the chairman’s door asking for six new players,” Ferguson added. “Parts of our budget are down as we didn’t reach the third round of the FA Cup and our gates are lower than anticipated, obviously because of the results.
“I felt the fans stuck with us today which was encouraging.”
Referee Simpson, who wrongly sent off Posh defender Michael Bostwick earlier this season, cautioned eight players, five from Posh. Ferguson’s questioning of the referee’s consistency caused Simpson to send him to the stands just before the start of the second-half.
“I’ve said a lot worse in the past,” Ferguson claimed. “I asked the referee why he kept cautioning my players for their first offence and yet let one Colchester player make four fouls before cautioning him. The referee told me to shut up which I didn’t and a minute before the start of the second-half he decided to send me to the stands, so he obviously thought about it.”
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