REVIEW-OF-THE-YEAR: New boss, new owners, but the same old story and without Jack Marriott it would have been much worse

Junior Morias clearing snow off the Posh pitch.
Junior Morias clearing snow off the Posh pitch.
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In what was probably an unguarded moment, a slip of the tongue maybe, current Posh boss Steve Evans made a rather damning comment on his club’s playing staff before he flew out for his four-day pow-wow with the owners earlier this week.

“We might have been staring at a bottom six finish never mind pushing for the top six without Jack Marriott,” Evans stated. “Marcus Maddison was a big help at times, but Jack has carried this team for long periods.”

Jack Marriott with the League One Golden Boot award for scoring the most League One goals in 2017-18.

Jack Marriott with the League One Golden Boot award for scoring the most League One goals in 2017-18.

Marriott scored almost 40% of the club’s 68 League One goals. He scored more than three times the number of goals any other player managed and Maddison’s own tally of eight was boosted by penalty conversions.

It should be of great concern to Evans then that Marriott is certain to be leaving the ABAX Stadium in the summer - Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka is a big fan of the striker - and Maddison will most likely be following him, although far fewer tears will be shed for the latter.

There was no need to rest Maddison for the final couple of games to protect a summer move. The player proved more than adept at keeping out of harm’s way himself.

Posh now face a sixth straight season in League One - a cause for celebration before the arrival of an ambitious and charismatic chairman - but one which causes considerable angst now.

New Posh manager Steve Evans.

New Posh manager Steve Evans.

Posh progress, or lack off, has yielded successive finishing positions of 6th, 9th, 13th, 11th and now 9th again.

One suspected the current campaign was always going to fizzle out no matter who was steering the ship at the end. Squads with little strength in depth and reliant on a couple of players able to create attacking mischief tend not to last the pace.

The stat which revealed four Posh defenders outscored five Posh central midfielders 13-2 last season is rather scary.

Posh will start next season with the most divisive manager in the club’s history. More so than Graham Westley, Jim Iley or Mark Wright.

Old Posh boss Grant McCann ahead of his final game in charge against Wilmbledon.

Old Posh boss Grant McCann ahead of his final game in charge against Wilmbledon.

There appears to no middle ground with Evans. You either revere his promotion-winning capabilities or find fault with every move he makes.

Following Posh fans on social media after Evans’ arrival was like following politics as simple facts/statements were twisted to suit whichever argument you supported.

It’s clear Posh won’t be playing like Barcelona under Evans, but it’s also unlikely they will become as crude as Lincoln City under the Cowleys.

It’s hard to believe a team managed by Evans would deliver a performance as witless as Posh managed against an out-of-form MK Dons with nine men for an hour last Christmas for a start.

It’s hard to imagine a two-goal lead would be surrendered in injury time as Posh managed at Charlton in November.

There is also no chance of Evans being given the extended honeymoon period previous boss Grant McCann was granted. Evans is not one to court popularity and if he did he would never replace his playing hero successor in the hearts of Posh folk.

“My wife told me to go back to what made me successful at Rotherham and other clubs,” Evans told this paper this week. “And that means being completely ruthless. No extra chances, no easy excuses. If you don’t perform you’re out,” which is fair enough as the same will probably apply to him if his newly-assembled squad doesn’t hit the ground running next season.

Evans was hired to win promotion and his appointment suggests MacAnthony is prepared to change tack with the backing of new canadian based co-owners Dr Jason Neale and Stewart Thompson.

The new boss has no real record of promoting youth players, something close to MacAnthony’s heart, but then that particular cupboard looks bare right now anyway as anyone who witnessed an under 18 team outclassed by Cambridge United in the FA Youth Cup last season would confirm.

That promotion wasn’t likely to happen under McCann whose supporters have been quick to point out he never suffered a four-game losing streak like the one Posh under Evans experienced towards the end of the season.

That’s true. Indeed McCann was despatched, unusually, after a four-game unbeaten run. Unfortunately all those games were drawn and came on the back of three straight defeats.

MacAnthony made the switch from the calmness of McCann to the volcanic capability of Evans. Let’s hope it works out for him.

There were still things to admire despite an ultimately frustrating campaign. 
Striker Junior Morias came back for a new season about three stone lighter and promptly put the best team in League One, Wigan, to the sword with two goals.

Morias, along with smiling Steven Taylor, also provided the most humerous moment of the season when borrowing brooms from groundstaff to help clear the lines from a snowbound pitch at the ABAX.

Danny Lloyd was also an enjoyable presence declaring on the day he arrived that he knew ‘Peterborough would get a Labour MP as soon as he turned up.’

But for every Morias, Marriott or Maddison memory, there were moments of horror involving Ricky Miller, Omar Bogle and even popular club captain Jack Baldwin.

‘Abject’ was a word used by MacAnthony himself on the final day of the Posh season.

‘Ordinary and bang average’ were probably more accurate summaries as 17 wins and 16 League One dedefeats would suggest.