Has any Peterborough United manager ever made such a dramatic impact as Steve Evans?
It has to be doubtful. He’s either cruelly insensitive or refreshingly honest depending on how you view regular digs at his predecessor and the belittling of a squad he has to work with for another 10 days at least.
His anger after this latest giveaway was intense, understandably so some would say. Players he was apparently glad to inherit 10 games ago now bring shame to those who brought them to the club. They are ‘mentally weak,’ which last night’s visible wilt after conceding a goal probably confirmed. They are certainly not the ‘team of winners’ we were told about on a weekly basis at the start of the campaign.
Even last night’s mitigation (no Jack Marriott for the first time in a League One match, no Marcus Maddison again) was diluted by Shrewsbury’s decision to rest a few of their better players. Posh still fielded a starting XI good enough to dominate the first hour and take the lead before they self-harmed. The manager had every right to blast the second-half sitters missed by Leo Da Silva Lopes and Danny Lloyd as well as the latest calamity to befall skipper Jack Baldwin which effectively presented the points to the home side. After from picking the players involved, Evans can’t be blamed for those sort of personal mishaps.
Baldwin, a terrific Posh off-field ambassador, and striker Junior Morias, ignored until the final 15 minutes here despite Marriott’s absence, are two who will surely be shown the door in the summer and maybe they’ll be glad to get away from what must be a demoralised dressing room. Who and what they are replaced by will be fascinating because last night Evans pretty much promised promotion next season. His self-confidence has clearly not been damaged by four defeats in a row and a slump from fifth to mid-table no-hopers.
“I’d have to be asleep six days of the week to fail to improve this squad,” Evans stated. “And that work will start as soon as the final game at Portsmouth is over.”
Evans went on to claim Posh fans will be singing his name next season. Some already are, but not in a positive way. He’s managed to heap considerable pressure on himself 10 games into his reign, especially as old quotes are so easily dug up and used as tools of ridicule.
It could of course all come good. Evans has built promotion-winning squads quickly in the past. Next season he will presumably have players who match his own passion for the club and who are happy to take on his methods. There can be no buck-passing, or blame-deflecting, but Posh fans shouldn’t use current failings to re-write recent history. Maddison and Marriott have pretty much carried this squad all season which can only deliver success if a team also boast a rock-like defence.
Posh have now conceded 30 points from winning positions this season. It’s a curse Evans has failed to cure as Posh have taken the lead in their last three away games and lost them all. Successfully managing a game remains an absent skill.
The form of Gwion Edwards offered some hope for the future. His well-taken goal on 14 minutes capped an excellent first-half performance by him and most of his team-mates, but Da Silva Lopes’ awful miss early in the second-half and a similar one from Lloyd soon after Shrewsbury had equalised through Omar Beckles from an awfully-defended corner were as crucial as the ham-fisted backpass Baldwin tried 15 minutes from time. Stefan Payne’s shot was deflected past Jonathan Bond in the Posh goal as was a last-minute strike from Shrews substitute Lennell John-Lewis. Lady Luck (refereeing decisions at Plymouth and Blackburn as well as ill-timed injuries) has also been an absent friend since Evans arrived.
The chance to shine for some of the non-regulars wasn’t really taken, but some would have to be pretty stupid not to realise the writing was already on the wall. It’s now all over this website as well after what was a quite remarkable managerial rant.
Posh: Jonathan Bond: Jack Baldwin, Steven Taylor, Andrew Hughes, Leo Da Silva Lopes, Anthony Grant, Michael Doughty, Gwion Edwards, George Cooper (sub Junior Morias, 74 mins), Danny Lloyd, Joe Ward.
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Chris Forrester, Lewis Freestone, Jermaine Anderson, Idris Kanu, Liam Shephard.
Shrewsbury: Craig MacGillivray, Max Lowe, Ben Godfrey (sub Joe Riley, 6o mins), Nathan Thomas, Bryn Morris, Luke Hendrie, Sam Jones, Abo Eisa (sub Arthur Gnahoua, 85 mins), Aristotle Nsiala, Stefan Payne (sub Lennell John-Lewis, 75 mins).
Unused substitutes: Jordan Henderson, Carlton Morris, Alex Rodman,
Goals: Posh - Edwards (14 mins).
Shrews - Beckles (60 mins), Payne (74 mins), John-Lewis (90 + 3 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Grant (foul), Morias (foul).
Shrews - Eisa (simulation), Godfrey (foul).
Referee: Mark Heywood 7
Attendance: 4,666 (233 Posh).