One reason for optimism as Peterborough United head into a new month is Darren Ferguson’s managerial record in March when in charge at London Road.
In his first four seasons as Posh manager Ferguson’s record in March is astonishing as 25 Football League games yielded 19 wins and just two defeats.
In March 2009, Posh won all six matches in March before securing runners-up spot in League One behind Leicester City and automatic promotion.
Three of those seasons ended in promotion so Ferguson is clearly right to identify March as a key month. His most recent League One season in March with Posh (2014) was more modest, but Posh still finished in a play-off place.
Four years of Fergie in March at Posh:
2007: P5 W3 D1 L1
2008: P8 W6 D2 L0 (promoted from League Two)
2009: P6 W6 D0 L0 (promoted from League One)
2011: P6 W4 D1 L1 (promoted from League One after play-offs).
Posh look to have a favourable set of fixtures this March, but that can be misleading as they’ve already failed to beat struggling sides Scunthorpe, Plymouth, Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury in 2019. They lost at home to three of them.
Ferguson is probably right to claim that the home game with mid-table tomorrow (March 2) is a ‘must-win’ match. Three points would set them up nicely for trips to the bottom two teams, Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon. Inconsistent Coventry and injury-stricken Southend then visit the ABAX Stadium.
And, although home form is an obvious concern, Posh still boast an excellent away record. Remarkably Posh have picked up more points (31) from 17 away games than a Luton team (29) who haven’t lost anywhere since October. Posh haven’t performed anywhere near as well on their travels in recent games, but they still appear to enjoy life far more away from the ABAX.
The workload in March is unusually light compared to previous years especially as a trip to Portsmouth scheduled for March 30 must be rearranged as Pompey will be in the Checkatrade Trophy Final that weekend.
Posh games in March this season: (five games) v Wycombe (h), Bradford City (a), AFC Wimbledon (a), Coventry (h), Southend (h).
From a superstitious point of view Posh should play in white at every opportunity.
Social media threw up the playing record of Posh, when they at least look like Real Madrid, as eight wins, one draw and one defeat, the loss coming at Wycombe.
From a more practical point of view I’d ditch the midfield diamond.
Posh don’t have the full-backs (they need to be very athletic and fast like Mark Little) or the midfielders (they need to be better technicians and more accurate passers of the ball) to make it work.
I did think previous boss Steve Evans had hit on a formation that could work just before he left the club, namely the 4-2-3-1 he used to find an effective role for Lee Tomlin.
Tomlin’s return hasn’t worked so far, but his own red card and the red card last Saturday of Ivan Toney have worked against him as has four months on the sidelines before arriving at London Road.
But for Posh to have any chance of success this season a system that gets the best out of Tomlin and Marcus Maddison must be found.
My preferred team for Saturday would be:
Naismith, White, Tafazolli, Lafferty.
Ward, Tomlin, Maddison.
Godden lacks the presence of Toney which is a shame as Maddison and Ward are capable of delivering accurate crosses, but his mobility should enable him to get on the end of Tomlin’s through balls.