Meet the opposition: ‘It’s taking a bit longer to get them playing well together than we anticipated’ – The lowdown on Posh
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Ambitions are high at Peterborough following a summer recruitment drive. STUART WATSON takes a closer look at Town’s opposition at London Road today.
Since relegation from the Championship in 2013, Peterborough have nearly always been there or thereabouts in the League One promotion mix with finishes of 6th, 9th, 13th, 11th, 9th and, most recently, 7th (missing out on the play-offs by a point).
Now outspoken chairman Darragh MacAnthony is back at his bullish best following a busy transfer window.
"We are all busy putting together a top side capable of winning promotion," said the Irish entrepreneur.
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"There is no hype, there will be no false promises, we are serious about getting into the Championship."
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There have been a constant stream of players sold to Championship clubs in recent years, but this summer Posh turned down a £4m bid for 23-goal front man Ivan Toney from an unnamed second-tier club.
They also paid out a club-record fee - in excess of £1.25m - to sign striker Mo Eisa from Bristol City, allowing 18-goal Matt Godden to be sold to league rivals Coventry for £750k.
They rebuffed interest in Marcus Maddison, despite the star midfielder heading into the final year of his deal, and brought back former fans' favourite George Boyd, with Josh Knight (Leicester, loan) and Serhat Tasdemir (AFC Fylde, seven-figure fee) also fresh central options.
Key centre-back Ryan Tafazolli left for Hull at the end of his contract and was replaced by the experienced Mark Beevers (Bolton, free). The highly-rated Frankie Kent was signed from Colchester as his partner at the back.
There are new full-back options in Dan Butler (Newport, free), Niall Mason (ex Doncaster, free) and Frazer Blake-Tracy (Kings Lynn, undisclosed), while Christy Pym (Exter, free) is the new man between the sticks.
Yesterday, right-back Nathan Thompson, who looked destined for the Championship after running down his contract at Portsmouth, also joined.
That's 11 signings altogether and they've not yet gelled...
Three games, three defeats.
Posh lost 3-1 at home to Fleetwood on the opening day of the season.
Back-to-back 1-0 defeats at Oxford United - one in the league, one in the Carabao Cup - followed, with Cameron Branagan the home scorer on both occasions.
Peterborough's odds to win the title have already slipped from 11/1 to 18/1.
A team that won more games away (11) than they did at home (9) last season now welcomes Ipswich and Sunderland to London Road.
"We can't have started any worse," said Ferguson.
"We are not scoring goals and we are not keeping clean sheets. We are not creating enough clear cut scoring chances, which is a surprise with the players I have in the squad.
"I'm sure lots of clubs are delighted with the way we have started. They would have seen the calibre of signing we had been making in the summer and expected us to be strong contenders this season. We still will be in my opinion.
"We have to keep the faith. This start is testing us, but I'm sure one win will get us up and running.
"I believe in this group. It's just taking a bit longer to get them playing well together than we anticipated."
It's fair to say that Ferguson is still searching for his best team and system.
It was 4-4-2, then 4-2-3-1 and then a midfield diamond in midweek.
"I felt the change to a diamond would give us better balance and so it proved - it caused them problems," said the Posh boss.
"It meant we could keep two strikers in the side and they were able to play much closer together.
"After analysing the three games we've played it's not hard to see that the goals we've conceded have all been avoidable.
"I saw some good signs on Tuesday, added to the second half against Oxford on the Saturday, and we've just got make sure we keep progressing.
"We have got different ways of playing in terms of formations and shapes."
Eisa has, by all accounts, struggled followed a big money switch. He could be dropped.
There's a feeling that George Boyd, now 33, doesn't have the legs to play in a central two and that Maddison, playing on the right, is better suited centrally. Only one of the aforementioned trio can have that No.10 slot.
Dan Butler, a marauding left-back for League Two play-off side Newport last season, is still finding his feet too.
Serhat Tademir, 19, enjoyed a good debut in midweek and is available to play having come off in that game with cramp.