Alan Swann’s Peterborough United review of 2014, part 2: May to August -
May: Leyton Orient provided the opposition for Posh in the League One play-off semi-finals. Unfortunately ‘The Os’ proved too strong over two legs and won 2-1 at the Matchroom Stadium following a 1-1 draw at London Road to book their place in the final at Wembley.
The pre-season boasts of winning the title looked very hollow right now with MacAnthony describing a campaign which included a trophy, a Wembley appearance and a play-off place as an ‘epic fail’. Truly these are demanding times.
MacAnthony had a heart-to-heart with Ferguson where tactics and late-season team selections were questioned, but the chairman still supported a manager who had looked downcast and dejected after a long, painful season. He’d presided over a disjointed dressing room full of players who couldn’t cope with the expectations of a demanding chairman and fanbase.
Several, including first-choice goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik, were promptly transfer-listed as Ferguson was ordered to slim down his playing squad and the wage bill.
June: The blame for an ‘epic fail’ was officially placed somewhere other than at the manager’s door as extensive talks with the chairman ended with Ferguson brandishing a new four-year contract.
Ferguson’s long-time assistant Kevin Russell departed and was replaced as first-team coach by youth team boss Gavin Strachan.
Jon Taylor and Erhun Oztumer moved to Posh andMacAnthony’s ability to exaggerate was again to the fore as he described Oztumer as a ‘Turkish Messi”. Well Oztumer is Turkish and he is small so give or take a few hundred top-class goals and the comparison couldn’t be faulted.
Out of contract skipper Tommy Rowe wanted a move back North, but instead moved West to Wolverhampton. Craig Alcock wanted a move to the West country, but instead went North to Sheffield United.
July: New right-back Michael Smith’s two player-of-the-year awards at Bristol Rovers were greeted with a shrug as a training cone could have made the top three, but the fact that he was named in League Two’s PFA team of the year despite playing for a relegated side hinted at a serious talent.
MacAnthony did believe that the wow factor would return to London Road because of Taylor and Oztumer’s presence - and not in the sense of ‘wow, they’re both small.’
Posh were also linked with Swindon defender Nathan Thompson because of his versatility and pace and with Dundee midfielder Gary Mackay-Steven because it had been months since the club had signed a player with a double-barrelled name.
August: There was a huge blow for Posh just two days before the start of the season when Nottingham Forest signed Assombalonga for £5.5 million.
Posh still managed to win their opening game at Rochdale and went on to finish the month top of League One after also seeing off MK Dons, Bradford City and Colchester.
They did lose at League Two side Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup though.
Attacking midfielder Marcus Maddison was signed from Gateshead. He had a reputation as a naughty boy during his time in the Newcastle Academy, but Gateshead reckoned he was a messiah.
Luke James went on strike at Hartlepool to secure his move to Posh from the frozen north.