SPECIAL REPORT: Finding a finisher is a top Posh priority
Managers often say they don't take any notice of league tables until 10 games have been played.
Well we’re at that point now. Here’s what Alan Swann has learnt so far, what he believes Peterborough United need to do to get into the top six and whether or not he believes they will.
1) Grant McCann didn’t think much of the attacking legacy left behind by previous Posh boss Graham Westley. He’s dumped Westley signings Aaron Williams and Jordan Nicholson. He is trying hard to get rid of Shaquile Coulthirst and Adil Nabi, two more players brought to the ABAX by Westley.
Posh sold a player in Jon Taylor who scored a hat-trick in 12 minutes in his last appearance for the club and another in Harry Beautyman who played with promise in the second-half of last season.
Posh remain well enough off for goalscoring midfielders (Gwion Edwards and Marcus Maddison have been exceptional and George Moncur will be when played in the right position) but a lack of depth in out-and-out strikers is a huge concern.
Lee Angol’s broken leg has not helped obviously, but that injury occured in July and yet Posh seem happy to get by with Tom Nichols, who has only scored in two League One matches, and a 17 year-old in Deon Moore.
It’s a gamble (as is assuming Angol will kick on from a promising first season) and so far it hasn’t paid off.
2) People who believe Tom Nichols is the next Luke James (an expensive young flop) are way off the mark.
His movement is excellent, he takes up better goal-scoring positions than Conor Washington often did, but clearly he needs a goal - even if it’s off his backside as manager Grant McCann stated in yesterday’s (September 29) Peterborough Telegraph.
3) Is it possible to play George Moncur and Paul Taylor in the same side effectively? I’m not so sure as they both like to occupy the same space behind a striker, or a pair of strikers.
Moncur scored twice and looked a class act against Port Vale, a game in which Taylor started on the bench.
Taylor has qualities, but if McCann wants the ball moved quickly in and around the opposition penalty area, Moncur is the better bet.
4) Despite their forward failings, Posh remain the third highest scorers in League One with 17 goals from 10 games.
Defensively they’ve done okay (13 goals conceded) but clumsy penalty concessions, avoidable errors and red cards are hindering progress.
Ryan Tafazolli’s red card at Shrewsbury on Tuesday was awful timing as he and Michael Bostwick will be a tough central defensive pairing in time.
McCann has not bought into claims that Ricardo Santos is a star of the future. His signing of Andrew Hughes suggests he has a good eye for a defender.
5) Fans need more than gentle persuasion and unlucky draws to return to the ABAX.
Average attendance at five Posh home games in League One is a pitiful 4,711, the 15th highest in the division just ahead of Shrewsbury and over 1,000 behind Northampton. Winning and winning well at home will change this dispiriting fact so McCann must find the right formula.
6) Posh have a keeper on Luke McGee who catches crosses and saves penalties. This is a vast improvement on recent times.
SUMMARY: This looks another below par League One. There is no Wigan Athletic around, a club with massive financial advantages thanks to parachute payments.
Most clubs will fancy their chances of reaching the play-offs and Posh will, and should be, one of them. Finding a reliable finisher (it may well turn out to be Nichols) is the most vital priority as it seems certain chances will continue to be created.
I believe defensively Posh will be far better than in recent seasons once the back four becomes settled.
I just hope McCann is given the time to learn from his mistakes.
Beating Northampton on October 18 will ensure his honeymoon period extends into 2017.