Peterborough United manager Grant McCann believes his players can’t cope with the expectations of a League One promotion push.
The manager accused his side of lacking heart, desire and passion as they slumped to a 4-0 home defeat at the hands of MK Dons, one of Posh’s biggest rivals in recent seasons.
The impressive visitors scored all four goals in the second-half as Posh continued their recent collapse. That’s one win in seven League One matches for a team in ninth place, but still just four points from the play-off positions.
McCann believes some of his players have had their heads turned by constant transfer speculation, and not for the first time during the January transfer window in recent seasons.
Today’s defeat was particularly disappointing as it happened on a day when the Posh fans were honouring club legend Chris Turner.
“I was worried coming into January,” McCanan admitted. “Our form in January, even in the season we won promotion, in recent years has been poor. The constant hype about our players never helps. Heads are turned by agents and it’s something we need to deal with better.
“It doesn’t look like my players can deal with the expectations of playing for this club. Every club has transfer issues in January, but for some reason it affects us the most.
“We had a run of 13/14 games when we were very good, but we’ve been poor for the last six or seven matches. It’s the same players and we have to get to the bottom of the problem quickly.
“I will always take responsibility for my performance and the players now need to start doing the same.
“We were OK in the first-half without being great. I tried a different approach at half-time as I’m fed up of laying into the players at half-time. We’d had a sniff or two around their goal, but we weren’t getting the ball out to the players who were causing them problems, most notably Marcus Maddison.
“But as soon as conceded the first goal we ‘went.’ There was no reaction at all and that’s the most worrying thing about the day. We had no fight, no passion and no heart in the side to try and get back into a game against one of our biggest rivals and on a ‘legend’s day’ at the club.
“The body language was awful after the first goal. What these players have to realise is to be lauded at this club you have to work hard. Fans will appreciate you if you put a shift in even if technically you are struggling.
“I have good technical players in the squad, but the hunger is not there at the moment. I can’t teach players to show passion, they have to do that for themselves.
“Body language is massive. The conduct of some of our players is turning some fans against them.
“The fans went home disgruntled and half of them are probably calling for my head, but I’m not a quitter. I have never walked away from a challenge in my career.”
The 72 hours before the transfer window closes is now a vital period for Posh with McCann admitting he’s hoping to bring in more than one player. The club failed to land a loan striker despite protracted talks yesterday (January 27).
“Our players who have started to believe their own hype need to realise the only clubs they will be joining are currently below us,” McCann added. “Their current form has decided that,
“I hope we can bring in a couple of players at least to boost our squad. We need that.
“I can’t tolerate what I am seeing at the moment. I need players with the right mentality to see us thpough this season.
“It’s been a struggle lately, but we have 18 games to go and we are four points off the top six. There is plenty to play for.”
Posh are next in League One action at Port Vale next Saturday (February 4).