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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Inside Line: Peterborough United v Bristol City (28/11/2014)

Two defeats in two, albeit both with excuses or reasons of sorts, have dented City’s lead at the top and you’ve got to think a win at London Road in front of the Sky TV cameras is necessary to keep us there with Swindon and Preston breathing down our necks.  It's the least they could do on my birthday, after all!!

That won’t be an easy task though. Peterborough remain one of the favourites for promotion, despite a patchy start that has led to some unrest amongst fans and the now much-anticipated post-match Twitter tirade from outspoken owner Darragh MacAnthony.

Stu Radnedge caught up with friend of the blog, Jamie Jones – one time host of Posh podcast ‘Standing on the Glebe’, which sadly hung up its headphones in the summer and for the music buffs amongst you now hosts an intriguing looking blog (and published book!) named I Blame Morrissey! http://iblamemorrissey.wordpress.com/

Big thanks to Jamie for this detailed overview of the situation.

"The Posh – They score goals for fun, right? They attack first and worry about defending later, right? Not anymore they don’t.

These are strange, unusual times at London Road. After the thrills and spills, goals, promotions and relegations that lit up the last MacAnthony/Fergie era, we have become boring, turgid even. Despite a cracking start to last season we relied on Britt Assombalonga’s goals to keep us in the play-off pack and without him we’ve looked utterly lost. For almost 12 months now we have been crying out for some creativity and invention in the middle of the park but all we get served is cloggers like Michael Bostwick. The Stevenage chairman must light a cigar and chuckle every time he recalls us paying £ for him.

At the back, we are worse than ever though that’s not been helped by the loss of the Jack Baldwin for what appears to be a long lay-off. We don’t have a stead central defensive partnership or system and if he goes with the two rookies, Santos and Burgess, I dread to think about the damage that Agard could do on his return to London Road. 

The one position we have recruited strongly to is right back where we lost Mark Little to you lot and snapped up Michael Smith from The Gas for £150,000. I was always a big fan of Little’s rampaging runs, where he didn’t seem to be in control of his own feet and no Posh fan will ever forget his comedy fall in the box which earned us a tie saving penalty in the play-off first leg at The Franchise in 2011. Smith is a solid and dependable alternative to Litts wanderings.

Marcus Maddison has come in from Gateshead and looked a star in the making before his injury robbed us of his creativity. He is unlikely to be fit for Friday night. Certainly missing due to injury will be our other flying winger, Jon Taylor who has become a firm fans favourite since his move from Shrewsbury in the summer. We simply don’t have the talent to replace them and Fergie may once again utilise the step over show pony that is Mendez-Laing against City.

The one real positive at the moment is the clubs young players but unfortunately they are being let down by the senior pro’s and the managements tactics. Joe Newell is starting to show the London Road crowd why Darragh and Fergie have always rated him so highly and Kgosi Nthle, Jermaine Anderson and Conor Washington have all get bright futures in the game. Jack Payne, our captain, is still only young and should be leading these starlets into the brave new world. Instead he looks like a player that has lost confidence in his own game let alone having the nous and experience to inspire those around him.

The club have done brilliantly in the Darragh MacAnthony era to find strikers that were in the non-league (Mackail-Smith), lower leagues (Gayle) or not playing for their club (Assombalonga) and turning them into superstars who could then be sold on for huge profits. It appears that for now, that recruitment gold-mine has delivered some fool’s gold and the big money that Darragh splurged on Luke James from Hartlepool currently looks like being as ill-conceived as the £1m we spent on Tyrone Barnett a couple of years ago. Aaron McLean coming back to the club where he made his name is designed to give everyone a lift and we have to hope that will be the case. The thing that you can always rely on with Aaron is that he won’t shirk a physical battle or give defenders an easy 90 minutes.

In terms of formation we have tried 3-5-2 and the diamond this year with variable results. Fergie now appears to have settled on the formation that all managers turn to in a time of crisis – the lumpy, cold gruel of a 4-4-2 with two holding midfielders in the centre of midfield.

Personally, I have always been a Fergie fan. Working with Darragh he has, over the course of his two spells, delivered us real success, the likes of which PUFC had only tasted a couple of times previously in our history. But, and you knew there was a but coming, right now, I wonder if he has the enthusiasm and ability to lift the team out of this current slide towards mid table. For the first time this week, after the limp home defeat to Swindon, we saw Darragh break ranks and make it very clear to all on twitter that he wasn’t happy with Fergie’s tactics. I don’t see a parting of the ways between the clubs two big characters (we don’t like to talk about our Director of Football in public) but this run of awful form and even worse performances can only go on for so long before something has to give.

So, what will the travelling City fans and the thousands watching on Sky get to see on Friday night? Well, our new stand behind the goal, that used to host the hordes of away fans enjoying the terracing, is now complete so we have a 4 sided ground back which is always nice. 

On the pitch, I can’t see Fergie finding any kind of alternatives to the dross that he has served up lately and, as long as City don’t start nervously after 2 defeats on the spin, I can’t see anything other than an away win.

Up The Posh!"

The Exiled Robin

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