Peterborough United Season So Far – ‘It will come down to who can hold their nerve’

It’s time for another of our season so far pieces, this time Peterborough fan Chris (Twitter Handle: @StAlbansMassif) is in the hot seat.

How has the season been for your team?

Having lost the first two League games, we got going mid-August and resumed our normal service with a strong early season and some convincing wins against MK, Sunderland and Rochdale. On the 23rd October, we lead the table. Posh were the top scorers out of all four top English leagues with the goals from the front trio of Toney, Eisa and Maddison alone outscoring everyone bar Man City and Oxford. Even the national press picked this up. Happy days for Posh.

However, we then got a nose bleed at such altitude. With alarming symmetry to previous seasons – once the clocks went back so did we. The initial decline was gradual however it endured. Our weakness in midfield became apparent, the goals started to dry up and the defence was left exposed. Christmas brought precious little seasonal cheer. Goals for 1, goals against 9 and 0 points. Worst of all were the performances – Utter Pony. ‘A typical Posh Christmas’ observed some fans.

My view on our annual festive woe is that our brighter stars can become distracted by potential suitors and want-away divas shy away from their on-field duties. Quite how not turning up for games will land their desired glamour move is a logic that defeats me but hey, I’m not a professional footballer. I’m a professional fan.

The transfer window opened and over the next two weeks, we got three of our summer targets that got away. Jack Taylor signed from Barnet, Reece Brown was loaned from Huddersfield and Sammie Szmodics was loaned from Bristol City. The signing of these three midfielders was pivotal.

We now played with a back 3, ditched the midfield diamond and the transformation was immediate. High noon was reached with the Marcus Maddison circus when Sammie Szmodics arrived. Darren Ferguson was very clear that Marcus Maddison (whose contract is up at the end of the season) whether he signed for another club or ran his contract out would not feature for Posh again. This may raise a few eyebrows for those less familiar with Posh given his earlier season assists and goals tally, however, his availability to play games, the more recent performances and off-field interests all signalled he wanted to go. Bids were accepted from several Championship clubs, and naturally, terms were not agreed with either Charlton or Birmingham by the player. So, a loan move was arranged with Hull City. And off Mr Maddison went. Thanks and good luck.

Our new shape, new personnel and new outlook spurred us on to a six-match winning run that included playing the top teams Wycombe, Rotherham, Ipswich and Oxford scoring just the 20 goals and conceding 2. Propelling us back up to the automatic places. Briefly.

Off the field, Posh have continued their work with local schools which has helped increase attendances. The academy is now providing a stream of talent for the squad, and there have been successes for our ladies and U18’s. However, the big news is a new multi-purpose stadium (close to our current location) is in the pipeline. The plans are to also use the stadium for non-football events to generate revenues which enables growth and development. The engagement with the fans regarding a move and a new stadium has been first class. Huge credit going to our three owners – Darragh, Jason & Randy.

Which game has been a particular high point and why?

So far, the 4-1 away win at Ipswich has been the high. The way that we high pressed and dominated was so impressive. Sammie Szmodics taking the ball off their keeper and tapping it in for the 2nd was a joy.

Which game has been a low point and why?

New Years Day away at Lincoln was just grim. The way in which we lost 2-1 was just woeful. First half we were pretty “meh” and that was as good as it would get. Dembele was uncharacteristically sent off moments after coming on, Maddison could not have been less interested in playing; overall this was a game to forget.

Which player(s) is your Player of the Season and why?

The obvious choice is Ivan Toney. So strong, full of running, a nightmare to play against, scores goals (lots of goals), and as good in defence as attack. We did well to retain him during the January window, everyone expects that in summer he’ll move up a level with or without us.

Which player(s) have disappointed and why?

Marcus Maddison. When he wants he is unplayable at this level. He’s too good. When he isn’t interested it’s painful to watch. However, what really grates were his antics leading up to the January transfer window i.e. declaring himself unfit hours before kick-off and an overdeveloped level of self-interest.

What are you expecting from the final two months of the season?

The League 1 run is going to be a roller coaster. There are so many teams in with a shout of the automatic and play off positions. I think it will come down to who can hold their nerve, maintain performance levels, keep players fit and available. My heart says automatics. Head says play offs. However, the Coronavirus may have another view.

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