New manager Steve Evans believes the Peterborough United squad he has inherited is the most naturally talented he has worked with in his promotion-laden career.
Evans met the Posh players for the first time yesterday (March 2) and spent the time building confidence, boosting morale and warning them all hard work must be allied to ability for the club to have any chance of gatecrashing the League One promotion party.
Evans told Marcus Maddison he was ‘a genius who needs to work harder.’
The players will have to wait a week before having the chance to impress Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor as tomorrow’s scheduled League One game at second-placed Shrewsbury has been postponed.
Posh are next in action against Charlton at the ABAX Stadium on Saturday, March 10 in a massive match which will have a huge bearing on the race for the play-offs. Posh are currently eighth, three points outside the top six. Charlton are seventh, one point ahead of Posh with a game in hand.
“I had a fantastic meeting with the players,” Evans insisted. “It as talented a group as I will ever be able to work with. I congratulate Darragh MacAnthony, Barry Fry and Grant McCann for assembling this group.
“I told Jack Marriott he is as natural a goalscorer as I’ve seen at League One level. I told Marcus Maddison to his face in front of the group that he is a genius who needs to work a bit harder.
“I believe Leo da Silva Lopes has become a bit timid. There’s no need for that. He’s a player I once tried to sign and he should just run out on the pitch and express himself because he is a very good footballer.
“There is still a chance we can achieve something special this season. We might need eight or nine wins from the final 12 games, but this group is capable of doint that. Reaching the play-offs with momentum is vital. We have 12 cup finals and we might need a bit of luck along the way, but there’s no doubt we can do it.
“We won’t be able to just outplay teams though. We need to work harder than the opposition and be smarter than them. They will get all the help they need from me and Paul Raynor. This team has lost too many points from winning positions and to late goals - well with our tactical nous that won’t be happening any more. We will find the consistency the team has lacked this season.
“Paul Raynor is a fantastic coach. He always gets the best out of players. I am the disciplinarian in the partnership.
“Paul never gives up on anyone. I’ve seen him on the training ground at 4, 5 and 6 o’clock working with players, A lot of the success I’ve had in management is down to him.
“If we all pull together for the rest of the season we will have a chance and I get the impression we will all pull together.
“The players are obviously disappointed to lose their leader, but there is a new boss in town now, one who will give them every opportunity to be successful.”
Evans’ is confident he can win over the minority of Posh fans who were angered by his appointment. He also accepts he can improve his record concerning younger footballers.
“There is nothing more exciting than to give young players a chance,” Evans insisted. “But they have to be good enough.
“I admit I have to be a bit smarter in that regard, but there are some top young players here and I’m looking forward to helping them develop.
“There has been a mixed reaction to all my managerial appointments, but I tend to win the doubters over by winning matches and delivering success. The supporters will see the management team’s passion and commitment, our drive and determinaion and our ability to build promotion-winning sides.
“You never have 100% support for 100% of the time, but if I get it up to 95% support I’d be a very happy man. The club is nothing without its supporters. They are the only constant at a club.
“Watching football is expensive these days. Performing well is important, but it’s winning matches that gets people through the door.”
Evans has won promotions with Rotherham United, Boston United, and Crawley Town in his career. He also won non-league titles with Stamford and Holbeach United.
According to the Soccerbase website Evans has managed 858 games at Boston, Crawley, Rotherham and Mansfield, winning 368, drawing 234 and losing 256. That’s a win percentage of 42.9.
Posh have yet to make a comment on current first-team coach David Oldfield’s future.