Should Peterborough United fans be getting excited about the 2015-16 campaigh in League One?
Of course they should. Their team is playing the most exciting brand of football seen at London Road since the days of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of George Boyd, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron Mclean. Arguably this team is better technically, but weaker, to use manager Graham Westley’s favourite word, in terms of ‘clinicality.’
Here is the Peterborough Telegraph opinion of the season so far and a prediction of how it will end
1) Momentum is massive in football as is confidence and commitment. Posh are not lacking in all three. They are on such a positive roll it’s hard to see them not picking up nine points from their next three games against Shrewsbury, Blackpool and Chesterfield (Posh have won eight of nine games against teams currently in the bottom half of the table) and that could push them very close to the top two on Boxing Day.
2)But all the League One fixtures Posh have scheduled for January are against teams in the top half of the table (plus they travel to third placed Walsall on December 28). Posh are due to tackle Sheffield United, Burton (if, as expected, it’s re-arranged for January), Southend and Gillingham early in the New Year. Is that a problem? A record against teams in the top half of League One that reads P11 W2 D3 L6 suggests it might be. Improvement against the best is clearly needed.
3)Getting into the thick of the promotion race brings pressure. Having a young team could work both ways. They are currently playing without fear, but will they cope with the big pressure matches? Those who have been there before like Michael Bostwick and Grant McCann will be vital figures in the second-half of the season.
4)Posh have made no secret of the possibility of selling a couple of players during the January transfer window and a loss of £1.9 million for the year ending June 2015 might help to explain why the club could so some business.
The ‘talking up’ of teenage talent Jermaine Anderson started in earnest in November, but Posh have a lot of depth in midfield and could cover the loss of a player from that area, no matter how gifted they are.
5)It would even make some sort of sense to sell star man Marcus Maddison (if the price is right) as Posh have been brilliant without him. I believe this would be a mistake in terms of a promotion push. Erhun Oztumer has staked a big claim to be the most naturally talented player in the squad, but I’d back Maddison to finish off scoring chances more accurately and more often than any other player.
6) The team are creating so many chances in every game the lack of a ‘natural’ finisher is not hurting them, but it might against the better sides when scoring opportunities become less frequent. Put Britt Assombalonga or Dwight Gayle in this Posh team and they’d probably have 25 goals apiece by now.
7) If ever a team has proved how important appointing the right manager is, it’s Posh this season. Under Dave Robertson the football was dull and his early season team selections have been made to look foolish by the management team of Graham Westley and Grant McCann. Robertson didn’t select either Oztumer or Lee Angol in his six League One matches in charge this season which now seems bizarre. McCann deserves enormous credit for bringing them straight into the team when Robertson departed and Westley has been sensible enough to keep them there.
8) Westley has proved me wrong. I thought he was a bad choice as boss (I’d have taken Steve Evans), but that opinion was based entirely on a reputation that might well be ill-deserved. Westley doesn’t lack self-confidence, but he’s backing it up with results and performances. Robertson’s awkwardness in front of a microphone emphasised the importance of a strong media personality. Westley sounds like he knows what he’s talking about which breeds confidence in supporters, and probably in the playing squad, and he’s been refreshingly honest, most noticably after the Wigan defeat and Barnsley victory. I am confident Posh have a top managament team.
9) This is a weaker League One than last season. Barring a freak run of injuries, an unfathomable loss of form or a mass sale of key players I can’t see Posh surrendering their place in the top six. If they learn how to beat the top sides they might even make the top two.