Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson claimed after last night’s (November 5) 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury that ‘there is a lot of hysteria’ whenever Posh lose a match.
That’s true of most clubs these days as overreaction has replaced sound judgement, particularly on social media.
It’s also true that Posh were dreadful against their dour hosts last night. Posh seemingly had no rockets to fire on Bonfire Night.
Anyway here are my non-hysterical talking points from the game against ‘the Shrews’, a second successive away defeat for third-placed Posh.
At the end of the day Posh are still third in League One, although probably not for much longer as they don’t play again until November 23..
1) I fully expected Ferguson to change formation last night, but certainly not to 4-4-2 and certainly not by moving George Boyd to the wing.
Posh have been switching to wing-back and three centre-back systems during recent matches and performed pretty well after doing so. They have players like Joe Ward and Dan Butler who look well suited to the wing-back role and Siriki Dembele has looked a threat dashing forward from deep positions. I’m convinced Mark Beevers would be happier playing in the middle of a back three where pace is less of an issue.
Ferguson deployed 4-4-2 for the first game-and-a-half of the League One season and quickly ditched it so it was a surprise to see him return to it last night. Boyd played centrally then and struggled, and he struggled again out wide at Shrewsbury. Boyd is 34 now, He can’t do what he used to be able to do and Dembele must be wondering if he will ever get a start if he is ignored in the formation that suits him best.
Ferguson said afterwards he felt the system was the perfect one to combat Shrewsbury’s unambitious style and their supremely well-organised defence. In his defence the Posh players passed the ball so poorly and so slowly It’s doubtful any system would have worked.
2) Frankie Kent has looked a fragile centre-back in recent games, but in a match where plenty of possession was guaranteed against a team playing one up, he was surely a better bet than Beevers or Rhys Bennett, neither of whom are particularly comfortable on the ball. Kent is capable of bringing the ball out of defence rather than treating it as an object to be passed sideways and backwards.
3) Marcus Maddison was pitiful by his own high standards last night and not just because he failed to convert a penalty. But, chasing a game against a highly-disciplined defence, who is most likely to deliver the goal-creating pass or score out of the blue from distance, Maddison or Idris Kanu? That’s not to denigrate Kanu who looked livelier than the other forward players when he came on.
I was also surprised Ward wasn’t introduced until Nathan Thompson picked up a dose of cramp. Ward’s pace, direct running and crossing ability might just have made a difference to a horrible attacking performance.
4) Ivan Toney’s fifth caution of the League One season compounded a terrible night for Posh. The ace striker will now serve a one-match ban and miss the home match with Burton Albion on November 23.
It won’t happen, but it might be an idea to practice without him in Saturday’s (November 9) FA Cup tie at Stevenage. A 4-2-3-1 formation which has Dembele and Maddison either side of Boyd and behind a sole striker has potential, but the club’s desire to win the tie after two straight defeats will trump any desire to experiment.
Posh have been scoring a lot of goals this season, but, Rochdale apart, they’ve not been carving teams open with passing ability or clever movement. Often goals have arrived through moments of individual brilliance, but if the front three have a collective off-night it’s hard to see how Posh score. Set-pieces have yielded very little although there were at least a couple of good ones in the first-half last night that were well defended.
5) Shrewsbury are awful to watch. They’ve now scored 13 goals in 16 League One matches and yet if they win their game in hand they will be just one point behind free-scoring Posh. Clearly there is more than one way to win a football match. Shrewsbury manager Sam Ricketts deserves credit for getting the best out his limited squad, but maybe it’s boredom that persuaded the home fans to hurl abuse at their former loan striker Toney all game, a player far superior to anyone loitering in the Shrews squad.
There was certainly little football-wise going on to excite anyone supporting either side. The only save of note in 90 desperate minutes was Joe Murphy flopping on Maddison’s horribly weak spot-kick.