Peterborough United manager Graham Westley admitted he got things ‘massively wrong’ today (February 13) as Peterborough United crashed to their heaviest Football League defeat for over five years.
Posh were beaten 4-0 by Bradford City in their League One fixture at the ABAX Stadium after Westley struggled to come to grips with his team selection at the end of a long week of football.
Last Saturday (February 13) Posh finished their 1-0 win at Chesterfield with nine men before taking Premier League West Brom all the way through extra-time to a penalty shoot out in an FA Cup fourth round replay on Wednesday (February 10).
Westley, who gave a full debut to midfielder Adil Nabi against Bradford, started with just three players who didn’t play against ‘The Baggies’. He was also guilty of placing players in unfamiliar positions - he also substituted left-back Andrew Fox after half an hour for tactical reasons - and Bradford took full advantage to romp to an impressive win.
The players’ verdict on the afternoon included words such as ‘embarrassing,’ ‘humiliating’ and ‘shambles’ and their boss wasn’t in any mood to disagree.
“The words the senior players used when they came into the dressing room were right,” Westley admitted. “We can all search for the reasons why, but I have to take responsibility for picking the wrong team.
“I can’t stand here after the game and embarrass myself by making excuses. I selected badly.
“There were too many players out there who hadn’t recovered from the West Brom game. It can be tough for a manager because the players all quite rightly want to play, but I listened to them, I watched them train and I made the decisions based on the information received and I got it massively wrong.
“Sometimes a manager is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If I had made wholesale changes and our organisation had become a mess I would have been criticised for that.
“But the freshness I did introduce to the side did not have a huge impact on the game.
“Bradford didn’t play brilliantly, but they deserved to win. We had chances to get on the scoresheet, but again we weren’t clinical.
“The start of the second-half was crucial and we were very close to equalising straight away, but instead they scored the second goal and the wind was taken from our sails. Some of the lads had had enough by then after two very tough matches in a week,
“I was disappointed I had to take Gaby Zakuani off after 70 minutes and didn’t get Ricardo Santos on at all. Andrew Fox was outstanding against West Brom when he ran 17k in the game, but I could see after 30 minutes I shouldn’t have picked him. I probably should have picked Harry Toffolo, but sometimes players earn the right to keep the shirt and that’s the decision I made with Andrew.
“Erhun Oztumer has needed a rest from the number 10 role. Adil did what he does in this game and they will compete for the shirt in the future.
“Obviously giving Chris Forrester a rest was a big decision, but he has played an awful lot of football and there is a need to look after him.
“We won’t dismiss this result as it’s on our CV. It’s happened, but there were reasons why the performance was understandable.
“It’s gone now and we must make sure we are ready for the final 16 matches of the season, There are 48 points we can still win and we will have to win an awful lot of them.”
It doesn’t get any easier next Saturday (February 20) for Posh as they travel to sixth-placed Millwall. Millwall. who play Scunthorpe at the New Den on Tuesday (February 16), occupy the final play-off spot - they are currently six points and four places ahead of Posh.
Posh dropped two places to 10th as a result of this defeat. They will drop a further place if Bradford pick up a home point against Southend on Tuesday.
Today saw the biggest Posh defeat in a Football League match since the 5-1 home defeat in League One by Charlton Athletic in November 2010. Posh went on to win promotion that season.