Long-term, and especially given the circumstances, Tuesday’s failure to beat Tranmere might be the best thing to happen to Peterborough United so far this season.
Football League campaigns, and not just at Posh, have often flattered to deceive. It’s usually the hope that kills you. If it doesn’t kill you, it leaves you demoralised and irritated.
I can remember Barry Fry, when he was Posh manager, predicting his team would score 100 goals and reach 100 points. It was a remarkable forecast as Posh had just been outplayed and beaten 2-1 at Hartlepool on a cold Tuesday night.
Posh ended up with 67 points and 63 goals and they finished 10th in the old Division Three.
They did win promotion a couple of seasons later though, bizarrely five months after selling their best two players – Matthew Etherington and Simon Davies – straight after a club record 5-0 home defeat at the hands of a flu-stricken Rotherham United side.
The point of this column is it’s often difficult to tell in January how successful a season will be. It’s therefore downright impossible in August and September so any result that dampens expectation – like a 2-2 draw from 2-0 up against modest opposition – shouldn’t be treated as a disaster just like a 6-0 home win against a team with suicidal defensive tendencies shouldn’t lead to boasts about winning the League One title.
Great expectations can lead to over-confidence and Tranmere’s Prenton Park passion the other night showed how easily superior natural ability can be neutered.
This isn’t me being unduly negative. I expect this Posh squad to finish in the top six, maybe even higher if midfield and forward back-up arrives in January, but most probably lower if Marcus Maddison or Ivan Toney depart in the next transfer window.
Posh might even win the league. If Sunderland are the title favourites, Posh can’t be far behind given the beating they handed out to the biggest club in the division and given a fair following wind.
There are too many imponderables to be certain of the future in football. I’m intruiged by how Posh will respond when they fall behind for a start. Clearly they are dangerous frontrunners, but they are currently working miracles on limited possession.
Even the hype surrounding the fabulous front three prompted a prickly response from current Posh boss Darren Ferguson when asked to compare Mo Eisa, Ivan Toney and Maddison to the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Craig Mackail-Smith, Aaron Mclean and George Boyd.
“That’s a comparison that can only be made at the end of the season,” Ferguson said, clearly implying the current strikers hadn’t won anything yet. In mercurial Maddison’s case he hasn’t won anything at Posh in five years.
Posh are certainly ticking along nicely. They have been a joy to watch, but cautiously optimistic is as daring as I will get just now.