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Archive for the ‘Peterborough United’ Category

Zak is Back

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Gab‘It was the right time to move on – some people have been here too long.’ Darragh MacAnthony, speaking about Gabby Zakuani after he left the club for Greek side FC Kalloni in a very frank interview on 3rd April.

Fast-forward through a miserable defeat over two-legs to Leyton Orient in the play-off semi-finals to the evening of the 6th of June…

Cue chatter across Twitter and popular forum londonroad.net being dominated by the return of Zakuani. Was Darragh just ‘fishing’ and Gabby acting as the bait, to dangle a Zakuani shaped piece of crill in front of Posh fans? Well two days later, after some more Huddersfield related ‘banter’, Posh fans got this news…

ZAK IS BACK.

Gabby signs a new two-year contract, citing that ‘re-signing for the club is like a homecoming’.

Second time lucky

‘I know the saying is ‘never go back’ but I don’t believe in that.’ The words of Darren Ferguson after his return to the club, just fifteen months after his sacking and the bumpy break-up-holidayish-thing which was Preston North End.

Did he believe it when he said it? Perhaps not. The man needed work. Especially after an awful season at Preston North End, which no doubt lowered his managerial stock considerably. However after Paul Taylor’s second spell and now the return of Zak, it’s got to be said that the man is not afraid of kicking a certain cliché right in the spuds and telling it to get stuffed.

Fergie’s immediate return was obviously lauded as a success. Posh stormed into the Championship after a second half of the season which involved some of the most exciting football seen at London Road – followed by the club staying in the Championship against all odds. But since then, Posh have seen relegation and a stagnant campaign in League One which led to many fans falling/jumping off the much subscribed #InFergieWeTrust wagon.

So with Zak coming back to Posh what does it mean for the sides fortunes next year? And what will it mean for the Posh players who are still at the club?

Where will Zak fit in?

One thing is for sure here. Gabby Zakuani has come back to London Road to be first choice in Darren Ferguson’s back four – alongside Jack Baldwin. The ex-Hartlepool defender impressed in his performances in the play-offs and in games against MK Dons and Coventry; performances which lead some fans to liken him to Ryan Bennett.

What was apparent though, especially during the play-offs, is that Baldwin struggles with extreme physicality. When Baldwin has come up against big strong centre forwards he has failed to hold his own – with Kevin Lisbie, in particular, dominating the slightly built defender. Baldwin is a ball player and a good defender. But with the physical battles which League One will throw-up in mind, Fergie has brought in Zakuani.

The advantages of bringing him back, over the importing of an unknown entity from the lower leagues, is that the coach, the fans and the players will know exactly what to expect from Zak. He’s not the classiest footballer and is a keen purveyor of the type of passes which are sure to make fans and Bobby O, if he is still around, sphincters tighten in earnest regularly throughout the season. But the man heads it and kicks it and gives 100%. Any Posh fan knows that without a doubt. His performances in the season past left a lot to desire – however the same could be said of most of the team’s top earners and most experienced players. On top form Gabby Zakuani will undoubtedly be a class act at League One level.

We saw him a few seasons ago, alongside Bennett in League One, play superbly. With Michael Bostwick he was solid. Alongside Craig Morgan he was a colossus. Posh fans will be hoping on that evidence, another cliché can take a bashing this season.

‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’

At this level Gabby Zakuani unquestionably has the class to make a huge impact for Posh.

What is Michael Bostwick?

With Zakuani’s arrival questions must be asked of the future of players who occupy a similar position. Are they considered to be good enough by Fergie? If not, why are they still at the club?

The question I want to answer though is one which has plagued me about a few Posh players in recent times. Most recently it has been ‘What is Danny Swanson?’ A fleet footed winger? A creative number 10 threading passes through? An agile midfield pivot on the right side of a diamond? Perhaps we’ll learn next season, eh? That’s of course if the much lambasted player signs a new contract.

The question for now is ‘What is Michael Bostwick?’. He arrived from Stevenage off the back of a campaign where he’d played almost solely in central midfield and scored seven goals. He then slotted into Posh’s Championship midfield the way a Cyclops foot would slide into a ballerina’s pair of point shoes. With Shaun Brisley flattering to deceive alongside Zakuani, Bostwick was moved back to centre-back and seemed to find his place there. In midfield he seemed to slow play down and often get left behind, whilst in defence – he wasn’t imperious – but he was certainly more proficient than he was in midfield.

Then after relegation and starting the season in League One at the heart of Posh’s defence, as arguably the club’s best defender Bostwick was moved into midfield. Why? That move followed Posh’s mid-season slide, so Fergie had to change something. Did moving Bostwick forward make much difference? Arguably not! He again looked sluggish and didn’t provide any of the incisive passing the McCann’s, Rowe’s, Coutts’ and even the Paynes’ have provided in the past from central midfield.

But, with Zakuani returning and Bostwick (last season’s most used outfield player, with 40 appearances) most definitely staying around the first team, it seems Posh fans should expect to see Bostwick in the midfield role for which he was expensively acquired.

Of course it is a worry that Fergie still after two seasons, doesn’t know where one of our most experienced and arguably most talented player’s best position is. But hey, Tommy Rowe played in central midfield a lot when he’s quite obviously a left-back… Or a left-winger… Oh god.

The end for Shaun Brisley?

Nathaniel Knight-Percival has left London Road, leaving Brisley, Baldwin and youngster Ricardo Santos as the only specialised central defenders at the club. As form goes it seems obvious that Baldwin will be a first team stalwart for the campaign to come, and as mentioned Gabby will not have been signed to warm the bench. So with the middle of the back-four effectively printed on the team sheet before the season starts in August where does that leave Shaun Brisley?

A bastion of petulance on the pitch – perhaps not in the same way Lee Tomlin was – and regrettably not the footballer he thinks he is, Shaun Brisley looks set for a season of strain upon the gluteus maximus.

He may have been Man of the Match in Posh’s Johnstone Paint Trophy Final – but indisputably his performances during the season have perturbed, frightened and even annoyed many Posh fans. He’s had good games for sure. Nevertheless he lacks the kind of consistency that top teams must demand of their central defenders. The blips in his concentration which have affected Posh over the past two and a half seasons have been plenty and without a move on the horizon (that I’m aware of) the ex-Macclesfield man will, absent of injuries, likely be third choice for the lion’s share of the campaign.

Is there anyone BETTER out there?

When Gabby Zakuani was signed again, Posh had only made one other signing. Jon Taylor from Shrewsbury – a superb young talent who ticks all the boxes of a MacAnthony/Fergie era signing; young, talented, hungry, petit and pacey.

More recently Peterborough United has seen Erhun Aksel Oztumer arrive. Boxes ticked once more.

Zak of course fits the bill far less than say a Baldwin, a Taylor or an Oztumer, but he brings with him bags of experience for the level at which Posh are competing. A quality which when coupled with the class Zakuani brings to the team, cannot be found easily or cheaply.
Baldwin is obviously a phenomenal talent – looking to emulate the feat of Norwich’s Ryan Bennett. Nonetheless he’s a player who will only benefit from the experience and guile which a player like Zakuani brings.

Darragh knows it:

And it’s quite obvious that Fergie believes it as well.

The verdict of course will be passed at the end of the season. But, in re-signing Zakuani, Fergie has made a bold statement and nailed his colours to the mast. There will be no mid-season departures without uproar, so Fergie will need to hope that his ‘Plan Z’ will come good. That, or he’ll most likely find Darragh getting ready to go over the side on the #InFergieWeTrust wagon.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

A doomed campaign…

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

LT

Peterborough United’s hopes of a glorious league campaign – a campaign in which we were set to get promoted automatically – was doomed from 24th September 2013, at around four minutes to eight, as Ki Sung-Yeung delivered a shattering blow to Lee Tomlin’s ankle.

That’s not to say there haven’t been other factors which have led to Posh’s mid-season capitulation. But in my opinion it was that ‘fateful night’ which proved to be the catalyst.

Before that game, Tomlin had scored seven goals in 11 League One appearances and his partnership with record-signing Britt Assombalonga was flourishing. Meaning, whilst Posh were broadly scraping through games by the skin of their teeth, Darren Ferguson had a strike force capable of bailing the team out. Even if Posh were looking as defensively porous as a sheet of crêpe paper, whilst also seemingly becoming a team who were incapable of holding onto the ball, for more than five passes.

Lee Tomlin, no matter his faults was by far the best player in League One on his day.

Of course the problem was that day tended to be infrequent, due to his abysmal disciplinary record and even more appalling temper. The injury against Sunderland led to Tomlin being ruled out for around six weeks and after that lay-off, his patience with a club who had blocked his chances of Champions League football at the Nou Camp – so he could slog it out at Stevenage – had finally snapped. A mission of self-destruction, leading to numerous cautions and sending off, made Tomlin’s departure to Middlesbrough on transfer deadline day – whilst being a surprise, in its announcement – something any Posh fan knew was coming sooner or later, a reality.

His departure left a team who were dreadfully bereft of confidence, short of creativity as well.

Arguably the next in the line to fill the role of creator in this Posh team, is Danny Swanson. A player who since arriving at the club, has confused most fans, with his inability to pass, tackle and generally perform in the manner expected for a midfielder who arrived at the club with the tag of ‘the most technically gifted player’ an international manager had worked with. Sure, that manager may have been Scotland’s doomed Craig Levein – a man who attempted to play a 4-6-0 with some of the most technically inept footballers around – but Swanson arrived with high expectations. Expectations which the Scotsman has failed to meet, barring some fleeting glimpses of quality recently (notably Crewe, where he played more as a winger, not as a number 10).

Posh’s lack of creativity was probably best displayed last Tuesday against visiting Bristol City. Two early goals from once Posh target Sam Baldock and an early sending off for City’s Adam El-Abd for a clash with Assombalonga meant whilst Posh were 2-0 down – they had 70 minutes against 10 men. A goal from a corner, scored by centre-back or midfielder (who bloody knows at the moment) Michael Bostwick before half-time meant Posh went in, with voices around London Road chattering about a come-back.

However it was in these 45 minutes where Posh’s tremendous lack of creativity – a lack of almost any willingness to take a risk – was exposed. Posh’s midfield consisted at that point of Grant McCann, Michael Bostwick, on-loan Josh McQuoid and striker Nicky Ajose; a group of players who consistently over that 45 minute period stuttered and stumbled in their attempts to break down an incredibly stubborn Bristol City defence. When it looked like a defence splitting pass was available for any of the four – a pass which would have unleashed Assombalonga or new boy Conor Washington – they faltered and bottled it, playing the safe square ball across the penalty box, which allowed Bristol City to consistently park 10 men behind the ball and scupper Posh’s feeble advances.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that the midfielders tasked with unlocking the Bristol defence weren’t helped by the incredible lack of movement and guile showed by Assombalonga and Washington. For the second half they seemed glued to the sides of Karleigh Osborne and Brendan Maloney – showing a frightening apprehension at the thought of coming dropping off either of the defenders to make a run towards the ball.

Posh may have peppered Frank Fielding’s goal with shots, but the eventual result was a dismal defeat for Darren Ferguson’s men. The result and performance led to a Tim Sherwood-esque blasting of the Peterborough United playing staff by Fergie Jnr.

Was it justified? Arguably yes. The Posh first half performance was atrocious, and for a team with ambitions of promotions via the play-offs the defending was utterly laughable.

The next three games against (sort-of) rivals MK Dons, Rotherham and Preston will be telling. Often it’s against the best teams in this league where Posh have performed best this season. But after such dismal defeat midweek, this Posh team will need to muster all of their character to get any semblance of a play-off promotion push back on track.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

How might Posh line up for the 2013-14 campaign?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The last League One campaign of 2010-2011 saw the archetypal Peterborough United of the MacAnthony era: a team that scored goals for fun, slayed giants, but that also haemorrhaged defensively, on an almost weekly basis.

The tail end of 2012-2013 saw a tightening up of the ship at the back (just ignore Crystal Palace please). Partly it seems due to the introduction of ex-Posh and Republic of Ireland centre back Gary Breen as a first-team coach, partly down to the exceptional performance of midfield enforcer turned rock at the centre of defence Michael Bostwick and partly down to the form of the seemingly Birmingham-bound Jack Payne.

This campaign, if the team goes into the season with most of the same side that finished our ill-fated Championship campaign, it COULD be more of the same as the 2010-2011 venture.

DMAC seems to want to see us play the diamond formation which succeeded, after the return of Fergie Jnr. in the second half of the 2010-2011 season, with ‘Lee Tomlin playing behind two pacey 30-goal a season strikers.’

Whether that comes to fruition is partly down to whether we can keep our grubby League One mitts on the tremendous talents of Lee Tomlin and Dwight Gayle, and if we can find somebody to partner the pesky ex-Stansted man up top as he comes face to face with the brutish defences of League One for the first time.

I’m in the camp of thought that it would take utterly stupid money for any club to pry Gayle or Tomlin from our grasp. So I fully expect to see them in Posh shirts for the upcoming promotion push. But in football anything can happen.

Whether Ferguson follows his fearless leader’s calls for a 4-1-2-1-2, is something which I won’t be dabbling into.

What I will be dipping my toes in to though, is how the expected departure’s gaps will be filled. Gabriel Zakuani and Tommy Rowe are two players on the transfer list, and whether it’s a good idea for their careers or not is hardly my business. However, how they are replaced in the 2013-2014 season, is something I am curious about.

Defence – Rowe and Zakuani to go?

Tommy Rowe at times last year was inspirational. Whether he had been secretly training with Gareth Bale is up for debate. But what is certain is that no current Posh player will be able to replicate his lung-busting 60-70m runs from deep which carved defences open at the mid-point of the season and won matches solely due to his contributions.

What Posh do have, is a young left back, who in our most despairing part of last season, plugged on and proved to be a more than a sturdy stopgap at Championship level, in the shape of Kgosi Nlthe.

Already he’s been called up for a full South African international squad. Against Brazil no less.

The diminutive youth-team graduate showed enough in his first full season, even with an almost season-ending injury, to merit the chance to make the troublesome Posh left back slot his own. Defensively solid, he will be comfortable in a back-four behind a flat bank of four and with the attacking instinct to be able to contribute width to a diamond formation and as the left sided wing back of a 5-3-2.

The Zakuani situation is even less of an issue. Whilst Gabby may be a firm fans’ favourite, with his Terrier baiting, Twitter banter and his general no-nonsense style of defending – he’s not the ball-playing defender that a Ferguson team craves. Michael Bostwick was the stand-out centre back last season as he was comfortable on the deck and the ground. A skillset which sadly, the ex-Potter, Zakuani lacks.

Waiting in the wings are the more than capable Shaun Brisley, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Craig Alcock and perhaps even James Sage – all players who could fill the gap left by big Gabz, in any formation that Fergsuon chooses to tackle League One.

The seemingly imminent loss of Mark Little is disappointing, due to the Wolves trainee’s fantastic levels of effort in a Posh shirt over the last three and a half years. But again, ready to step in Posh have the capable, steady eddyish replacement in the shape of Craig Alcock and a more wildcard option in highly rated, though injury-plagued, wing-back Michael Richens, who we poached from Luton a few years back.

The defence, it seems is as sorted as a Posh backline will ever be. Olejnik proved to be comfortable at Championship level, and at League One I fully expect him to be one of the division’s best #1’s, and if he could work on his kicking over summer though, well that would be just fantastic.

Midfield – Posh’s Payne, Birmingham’s gain?

It’s in midfield that the saddest story of Posh’s off-season is most likely to emerge from – this being the inability to sign young loan-star Jack Payne whose displays after we plucked him from Gillingham, showed a maturity and a level of ability that belayed his tender age.

A midfield two of Grant McCann (contract renewal permitting), and Payne in League One was a perfect board to build attacks on and while Kane Ferdinand is still somewhat an unknown entity, providing energy and graft, Payne’s composure on the ball and ability to break up play seemed a perfect fit for the Posh midfield in League One – whether we went for a diamond, 3 centre backs(3-5-1-1), or a flat 4-4-2.

If we do go hell or glory again in League One, with the diamond formation, then wingers like Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Joe Newell may struggle for gametime in their preferred positions. As while they’re both capable of playing in multiple positions, somewhat awkwardly (Newell at LWB vs. Crystal Palace at home for example), their true callings lie out wide running at full-backs. However, if Posh go 4-4-2, then the Swanson’s, the Newell’s and the Mendez-Laing’s could find their level at League One, causing havoc to lumbering, ageing League One full-backs. A boy can dream surely?

Forwards – To trust in youth? How very Posh

Up front, as mentioned earlier, it is whether we can keep hold of Tomlin and Gayle which will be integral this summer. As receiving big fees for either would be fine for the club, but the search for a future 30-goal a season striker or creative force, willing to come to a recently relegated club, may in fact be difficult – no matter what our tremendous record of unearthing non-league gems is and our newfound financial clout.

Twitter tattle leads me to believe that many Posh fans see youth striking sensations Janaii Gordon-Hutton and Shaquille McDonald, as the future of Posh’s strike force. With their youth team record bordering on the ridiculous, it’s difficult to disagree.

However, the youth team, and first-team graft in League One week-in week-out are very different things. To pin a promotion push on the goals of these two starlets, could see fans disappointed and the careers of two young Posh products damaged in the process. Something which, with players of such promise I’m reluctant to vindicate.

Verdict

As it is so early in the club’s transfer dealings, it is extremely difficult to judge who will still be at the club, who we will bring in, and how we will eventually start the inaugural game of our season.

However, I’m going to have two speculative bashes. The first assuming that we hold onto the stars, and that the listed players leave and the second with a worst case scenario of our attacking force leaving and the transfer listed players leaving also. Here goes:

OR:

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

Peterborough 2012-13 season review

Monday, May 6th, 2013

In the 89th minute of the final game of the season, the well laid plans of Darren Ferguson, Barry Fry and Darragh MacAnthony came crashing down, as a free-kick that should never have been was converted by Palace skipper, Mile Jedniak.

The entire season turned on this single incident with Posh moving from safety to the final relegation spot. For those who hold Posh so close to their hearts it was the bitterest pill to swallow, yet another poor refereeing decision was to condemn their team to League One football next season. Despair and disbelief flooded the Twittersphere as those fans poured out their hearts and souls online.

True, Posh had once again given them the ride of their lives, they had watched their team from the lows of August and September when they had failed to collect a point in their first seven games, to the relative high of seeing them come within two minutes of pulling off what would truly have been the greatest escape of them all; in the process they had seen their team score more goals than promoted Hull City. Once again, following the Posh was not for the faint hearted, perhaps next season their London Road ground should be posted with warning signs urging those of a nervous disposition or with a heart condition to turn away.

A torrid end to the 2011-2012 season secured the club’s Championship status but saw Posh finish the season in abject form and with key members of the squad, including that season’s captain, Grant McCann, on the precipice of leaving London Road. However, Ferguson Jnr. recruited well in the summer, in all the key positions; ensuring that the club had a core of players that he and the supporters believed were capable of securing Championship status once again.

All was not as well as it seemed, as Posh were found tactically wanting in the first seven games of the season and left cut adrift at the foot of the table. Hope seemed in pretty low reserves even after Posh picked up their first win of the season, away at high flying Hull City, following a tactical switch and a tremendous counter-attacking performance from Emile Sinclair and George Boyd.

Even with the team wallowing in last place Ferguson Jnr. ensured fans that ‘he knew what to do’ and was ‘confident of survival’, and while few truly believed, there was always hope. The abject form of the initial period of the season was left behind and results slowly picked up. There was no one reason for this upturn but one key factor was the return of injured left wing-back Tommy Rowe, whose Bale-esque displays won points on their own at various stages of the season.

The arrival of Dwight Gayle midway through November added goals whilst the ‘Peterborough Four’ incident blew over seeing Barnett, Sinclair and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing at least temporarily leaves the club. The former non-league striker’s form beggared belief at times after his arrival, and the confirmation of his transfer from Dagenham and Redbridge was hugely symbolic in the quest for survival. The diminutive hitman’s flourishing partnership with Lee Tomlin was a breath of fresh air, with Gayle’s perfect hat-trick against former Premier League winners, Blackburn Rovers, providing a memorable moment for all in a blue shirt.

The tail end of the season was when Posh really found their momentum though, and while their 172 game record of no matches without a nil-nil draw was broken, a 12 game unbeaten run gave hope where many had long since stopped believing. Entering the final stretch the atrocious start to the season was a distant though painful memory and Posh had Championship survival within their own grasp, even if the survival permutations required a super computer to calculate.

Posh went into a decisive game with Sheffield Wednesday knowing that a win would ensure that come the last day of the season they would be the masters of their own destiny . An ugly game of hoofball from the visitors meant Posh’s passing play was often disrupted, and it took a moment of brilliance from free-kick specialist and man for the big occasion, Grant McCann to see Posh emerge with the three points and the all important ability to forge their own destiny come 4th May.

The day itself is now history, another appalling refereeing gaff condemned Posh to filling the last relegation berth and with a draw then good enough to secure the survival of both Huddersfield and Barnsley, the Yorkshire compatriots then stood motionless in anticipation of their final whistle, the sound which served as the death knell to Posh’s two year stint in the Championship. As Posh sunk back into League One Darren Ferguson’s post-match interview did little to allay fears of a Posh firesale and while the London Road faithful may be hopeful of holding onto the key assets at the club, the likes of Gayle, Tomlin, Rowe and Bostwick seem unlikely to be lining up in a Posh shirt next season come August 4th.

Relegation alone is enough to give rise to a fan’s despair, but the stark reality is that this youthful Posh team could have kicked on next season and perhaps moved away from the yo-yo status it had hitherto occupied. Yet now, the team who performed so admirably and fought so bravely in the second half of the season looks destined to be torn apart.

Having sat in the main stand at London Road with those who have supported the Posh for many decades I can only imagine the pain that they are feeling, my own Posh journey began just short of two decades ago when, aged one, my dad took me to see Posh play at home to Wolves, we lost 1-0, to a 90th minute Cyrille Regis goal in a season that also saw us relegated from the second tier of English football. If that experience tells us anything then as with the last few years we must see it as a chance to rebuild, to regroup and to challenge for the League One title. No matter which players we hold onto, DMAC, Ferguson and Fry have the best interests of the club at heart and the expected departures in the summer, whilst heart-breaking, are a necessary evil.

2013-14 is the year for players like Newell, Ntlhe, Jonson Clarke-Harris, Swanson and perhaps Shaquille McDonald to flourish and show why they are at the club. This season may ultimately have ended in failure, but to dwell on that would be a mistake, for it was glorious failure, and whilst not quite on the scale of the Charge of the Light Brigade, the club enters 2013-14 with one of the best lines of form of any team in any division. There is plenty to be optimistic about, this is just a setback and as Posh have shown over the years the club can recover and reclaim its place in the Championship.

See you at Stevenage.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

Should Barnett be welcomed back?

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

On 21st February 2012, Tyrone Barnett was announced as Peterborough United’s first £1m man.

He then scored on his debut, from a beautifully weighted Ryan Bennett cross on his last game for the club, before scoring three in his next five matches to well  and truly get Posh fans excited for the prospect of a new goalscoring sensation to revel in, after the departures of Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean.

Fast-forward eight months and the image of Barnett in most Posh fans mind isn’t of the versatile target man we were promised, but of a lazy and lethargic frontman, well in need of a spell out of the first team.

First Barnett was dropped, and then due to his own ridiculous actions on a night out with three other players, he found himself transfer listed and told by Fergie he ‘would never play for Posh again.’

The situation moved on and Barnett was shipped on loan to Ipswich, where he told the local press: “if I could get away [from Posh] I would be delighted.”

Not really a way to endear yourself to fans Tyrone. But I suppose, he was less fussed about what fans of a club that he had no future at would think.

Now with Posh sitting at the bottom of the Championship table, and with goals again becoming a problem, after Dwight Gayle’ s scoring streak seems to have ended, Barnett is back in the match day squad.

The burning issue then is whether Barnett’s value as a player for Peterborough United, in these tough times, outstrips fans loathing of a player who disrespected the club he was welcomed to with open arms just over a year ago.

Before Barnett’s loan move to Ipswich and indiscretions off the field, the ex-Macclesfield and Crawley striker looked like a £1m wasted. He contributed little to the offensive side of play, with his lack of pace and ability to get muscled out in the air much easier than a man of his size should only going to show why he has looked so out of his depth in the Championship. Whilst when the phase of play transferred to defending, Barnett would often be the last to track back and only really be effective defending a corner.

Dwight Gayle and even Saido Berahino’s arrival has given Posh fans a taste of what a striker who chases every second ball looks like. Maybe not in the way CMS did, but with a kind of endeavour that a team at bottom of the league needs to see from its frontmen.

So with all these negatives about Barnett, surely the answer to whether he can contribute to the Posh fight is a staunch NO.

With Barnett looking to find a new club it seems, perhaps the former West Brom trainee could pick up his performances in an attempt to allure a move to another Championship club. Maybe the enticement of a lucrative move elsewhere, sooner rather than later will force some of the goalscoring form seen in League 2 return to Barnett.

Will Posh fans welcome back Barnett with open arms. No, I have to say no.

But if he scores the goals that keep us in the Championship, then perhaps Posh fans may warm. It’s a longshot, but it’s one of those all hands to the mast situations which could require some fans (myself included) to reserve their bitterness.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

A Tale of Love

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Every football fan has that moment where you get a text, usually from your Dad, informing you of the extraordinary news unfolding at your club at that very moment. You can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing. Most of the time you’re at work or at school and it tends to be just before lunchtime. Lunch suddenly becomes a bit bland and tasteless as your mind is racing, questioning everything that’s just happened.

As a Posh fan, I have had two very distinct moments like that. The first was on Tuesday 18th September 2006. Posh were entertaining Everton in a Carling Cup first round clash that evening. I’d finished getting changed after a particularly rough Rugby lesson in P.E. and had just claimed my horrifically retro Siemens mobile phone from the ‘valuables box’. Looking back at said valuables box, I can’t imagine it was a particularly secure place to leave anything of any monetary value but that’s neither here nor there.

After the phone eventually switched back on I had a text and instantly went to read it, expecting it to be from the girl in my Science class that I evidently took a liking too. Unfortunately it wasn’t and instead it was my Dad with the words “Ring me”. My 12 year old self was more disappointed about the lack of text from aforementioned girl rather than the potential gravity of the situation my Dad wanted to inform me about.

Eventually I rang him, expecting him to tell me that I left the freezer door open again or something along those lines. Instead he told me that Posh had been taken over by a young Irish businessman called Darragh MacAnthony. I knew this was a watershed moment in Posh’s history, we were about to get an awful lot of money injected into our faltering club, the times were a-changing and I distinctly remember London Road bathed in the late evening sunshine before kick-off.

Everton beat us 2-1.

That’s beside the point though. The other moment occurred this week, yesterday to be precise – on the 21st February just after 5 in the evening. I was getting ready to meet my girlfriend for dinner (not the same girl who I used to sit next to in Year 8 Science for the record). Technology has come an awful long way since 2006. Siemens thankfully no longer make mobile phones and we can all now enjoy the immediateness of news thanks to Twitter and Facebook (in between the pictures of people you don’t particularly like doing things where you’d question the necessity of a camera.)

With my girlfriend being a Hull City fan, I recently discovered that I am a follower of Hull city’s official Twitter page. I can only imagine this was down to some playful flirting during the early days of our relationship or some really terrible hijack of my Twitter while I wasn’t looking. Either way, I am regularly updated of the dates and venues of Andy Dawson’s testimonial events that are being put on throughout the East Yorkshire and Humber area. A casual browse just before I set off meant I stumbled across a tweet announcing the unveiling of an “emergency loan signing” at Hull City with an image attached. I questioned whether sitting second in the table really constituted an emergency but none the less, I expanded the tweet to be greeted with a familiar face.

Sat staring at me from the computer screen was none other than George Boyd. My feelings can be best described in going back to how I felt after the girl in my Year 8 Science class ultimately rejected my advances to take things to the next level (start holding hands) – numb, sick and a little light headed. No longer would I see the fancy footwork and flowing locks at London Road. A model professional and a fantastic footballer, Posh have been well and truly blessed to employ him for the past six years.

The fantastic thing about George Boyd is that he is not the kind of player who will constantly take on one player too many. There is a sort of timing to his game, knowing exactly when to release the ball and equally knowing how long to keep hold of it for. It’s a pleasure to watch and it’s why he has had such loyal support from each and every Posh fan. All he wants is to play football and to play it bloody well at that.

His departure marks the end of an era at Peterborough United – an era that started all those years ago on Tuesday 18th September 2006 on a warm September evening. Three names have graced Posh history during that era and have helped develop the club and push it to new highs, Aaron McLean, Craig Mackail-Smith and George Boyd. What they have done for Peterborough United Football Club has been absolutely fantastic but now, as Posh find themselves sitting second from bottom, desperate for survival, the last of the old guard leaving could be a blessing in disguise.

Many Posh fans, including myself, have clung on to the days of the appropriately dubbed ‘Holy Trinity’ which saw two successive promotions and more goals than anyone can remember. Perhaps at Posh we are still under the impression that one of the holy trinity will ride in and save the day but it is never good to live in the past for too long. The club have laid some fantastically strong foundations, but it’s no good simply admiring the sturdy handiwork.

There is a real crop of young, potential talent at the club. Kgosi Ntlhe looked the part in the early half of this season and the young South African had earned himself a call up to the national side and looked set to play at least a small part in the African Cup of Nations until he succumbed to an ankle injury in early November against Sheffield Wednesday. And the man to step in Boyd’s boots? Tommy Rowe. Since promotion to the Championship second time around under Ferguson, Rowe has quietly been plugging away, contributing a lot to the build-up of a number of Posh goals this season, even netting one himself against Millwall this week.

George Boyd will always be remembered as a loyal servant to the Posh. Just as he was at Stevenage before and as I am sure he will be to Hull City. It has been an absolute honour and privilege to watch him over the years and I no doubt echo every Posh fan when I say all the best.

Note: some of you may be wondering what happened to the young lady in my Year 8 Science class after she rejected a long, happy life with me. I checked her Facebook page and it tells me she is an avid supporter of the legalisation of marijuana and is a fan of many marijuana related fanpages. I can’t help feeling she’s thinking what could have been?

Written by Liam Smith, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

Liam tweets @liamsays92

Would Posh be better off Fergie-less?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

As a Peterborough fan, a season in the Championship five years ago would have been beyond a dream. To have even uttered such a statement would have had you sneered and jeered at by your own brethren on the Glebe.

In 2013 though, it’s a reality. Posh, under the stewardship of Darren Ferguson, have not only reached England’s second tier, but stayed there for more than one season. That status though, is under threat, rumours that Fergie Jnr. has lost the dressing room have surfaced and signs are bleak.

A winless run of seven games at the start of the season coupled with incidents off the field which have seen players shipped out on loan to relegation rivals, means that Posh are by no means guaranteed Championship status for 2013-14.

Peterborough United currently sit rock bottom at the foot of the Championship table, and although they have a game in hand, positivity has evaporated at London Road. With managers in the division being hacked and changed more frequently than a new-borns nappy, many of the Posh faithful cry for blood. ‘Fergie out!’ is the taunt from the terraces.

What good will does that do though? What purpose would be served by getting rid of, arguably, the most successful manager to have graced London Road since the club was founded in 1934? Brought in at the inauguration of the MacAnthony era, Ferguson has overseen triple promotions, relegation and the sale of over seven millions pounds worth of non-league booty (players). The man embodies exactly what Darragh MacAnthony envisioned when he bought the club.

The MacAnthony/Ferguson axis has focussed on lower-league exuberance, hunger and the harnessing of raw potential, which Posh fans have seen through not just the Holy Trinity of Maclean, Mackail-Smith and Boyd but also in the acquisition of exciting young players like Shaun Brisley, Tommy Rowe and Dwight Gayle. This focus on unproven talent combined with free-flowing attacking football has left long-term Posh fans gasping for breath at weekly 5-4 thrill fests. It is now 150 matches since Posh fans have witnessed a goal-less encounter!

Sacking Ferguson can only upset the apple cart and see a team already struggling to cope at this level descend into free-fall. Sure, if Posh go down this season, it would be disappointing, particularly as only last season the club made a huge step in signing its first one million pound player, and whilst that hasn’t worked out as all had hoped it still marked a monumental point in the history of the club. Ask any Posh fan, whether they expected us to ever shell out that kind of cash and you’ll be met again with a booming chorus of no’s.

If any Peterborough fans are Fergie doubters, then ask yourself this. If Fergie Jnr. was to be sacked which manager could come in and spearhead a charge for survival better than the Scot? Anyone thinking London Road could attract a Curbishley, a Howe or even a Di Canio is sadly mistaken. Posh should stick to their guns. Posh fans should cast their minds back to 2010-11 where they went through four managers in one season. Disaster. Nothing more.

If anyone can grab survival from the jaws of defeat, it’ll be that man Ferguson, and with 17 games to go, one hopes that a little bit of that old Ferguson magic returns to the club.

Written by John Fernandez, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

John tweets @johnfernandez1

The Forest Have Eyes

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

I tried telling myself that this article wouldn’t simply be a collection of cheap, tasteless puns but unfortunately EYE couldn’t pass them up and SAW this as a fantastic opportunity to deliver a fantastic piece of journalism.

Unless you’re a Posh or a Crystal Palace fan those carefully crafted witticisms have probably gone straight over your heard. Perhaps you can quite fathom what you’re seeing before your eyes. Posh star George Boyd managed to find himself in the midst of a transfer fiasco with Nottingham Forest. He looked set on joining Forest, with Posh pocketing a tidy sum just before his contract runs out in the summer, but naturally when Posh are involved, things didn’t go exactly to plan. Boyd somehow managed to fail his medical at Forest. It’s not exactly a common mishap. In most peoples’ minds a medical is simply a formality to signing a contract. If Owen Hargreaves managed to pass a medical at Manchester United, arguably the most successful club in the world, surely anybody can?

Here’s the real eye-opener, Boyd didn’t fail because of a unreliable knee or a dodgy back – that wouldn’t be ridiculous enough. He managed to fail that all-important eye sight test. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even aware that an eye sight test was a requirement of being a professional footballer. If it is anything like the eye sight test you do for your driving license than it is safe to say that George Boyd is in fact blind. Looking back through the numerous Posh players I’ve seen over the years, I begin to question how on earth some of them managed to pass the eye sight test. As much as I’d love to continue the eye-wateringly funny gags, there are some serious questions that need to be asked, particularly in the light of Alex McLeish’s departure from Forest. George Boyd has played over 260 games for Posh in the league managing to find the back of the net 63 times. It’s certainly not a shabby record as a winger and you’d think that alone would probably satisfy the requirements that he does possess the sense of sight. You’d also think his uncanny knack from scoring from the halfway line would be conclusive in proving that he is perfectly aware of where that net is in between those bright white posts. The whole fiasco is probably the doing of the Al-Hasawi family rather than Alex McLeish who was keen on taking Boyd on. Before this becomes an article on Forest, it’s important to remember that, as much criticism as they can receive, professional footballers are still workers and it can’t be nice to come within inches of a promotion (because let’s be fair Forest are one of the bigger clubs with a fantastic amount of history) to have it snatched away simply because of bickering and in-fighting between manager and owner. It is another case of owners getting themselves bogged down (intentionally or unintentionally) amongst the grass roots of the club. An owner is an owner not through their extensive knowledge of football but rather because they (reportedly) know how to run a business. Clubs would probably find a bit more success if owners knew better than to mangle in football affairs. Equally though a good chairman does know when to get involved, for the greater good of the club, and in the end it all comes down to a very fine and delicate balancing act.

What now for Boyd? There have been talks with his boyhood club Crystal Palace but relations between Palace and Posh have been dwindling after Darren Ferguson claimed Ian Holloway, not one to shy away from the limelight, had been ringing Boyd constantly in a manner not to dissimilar to a stalker ex-girlfriend. Inevitably though Boyd won’t be a Peterborough player for much longer and his departure will mark the end of the eloquently dubbed ‘Holy Trinity’ that composed of himself, Craig Mackail-Smith and Aaron McLean who terrorised defences in League 1 and catapulted Posh into the Championship. It is hard to deny that Posh won’t miss George Boyd, he’s been ever present for Posh, but there is hope in the form of Dwight Gayle who is fast becoming a fan favourite amongst the London Road faithful.

Moral of this story: Never put off an eye test, they’re just as important as your dental check up.

Written by Liam Smith, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

Liam tweets @liamsays92

Gayle Force Winds

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

It’s been a while hasn’t it? So much so, little old Posh find themselves in the Championship for a second successive season. Perhaps the reason for the lack of Posh updates from me is because it was such a ruddy exciting time last season that it was all just too much to adequately put into words. But to be fair, it was mainly for the fact these days I find myself living in Yorkshire, far from the safety of my beloved London Road.

Being a Posh fan is hard at the best of times, particularly after the start we had to this season. Try, however, being a lone Posh fan in the heart of Sheffield. It’s a very lonely existence let me tell you. It’s not like being a Manchester United fan for example where you can watch the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young on a (somewhat illegal) Iranian website streaming all their games. At least those fans have some form of connection with their team.

Posh rarely find themselves in front of the Sky cameras. Even when we are, do you genuinely think anyone else is willing to trudge down to the pub on an early Saturday evening in the middle of November to see Posh take on the mighty Blackburn Rovers? The answer is no. So much of my time watching Posh is done on my own, in a pub, while drinking vast quantities of alcohol. In later life, a doctor will probably tell me this is where the drink problem began.

But enough about football fuelled alcoholism, what about the season Posh have had so far. To be truthful, it’s nothing surprising. We’re the smallest club in the league and we’ve struggled for the vast majority of the season so far. But then something happened, Lee Tomlin started playing well. Some of you probably know young Tomlin as ‘the fat one’ or ‘the one that told a police officer to get a proper job and offered to buy him a BMW’ or perhaps more simply a rather rude word beginning with ‘C’ and, to be honest, that’s how he’s known universally amongst Posh fans.

I really am not sure what clicked inside Lee Tomlin’s head but, after so many seasons of distinct averageness and scrapes with the law, he realised he had a bit of talent. He could not have picked a better time to decide all this either. Posh are lumbering at the foot of the table in the fine company of Barnsley, Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday. Ahead of the infamous festive period, a decent run was exactly what was needed and to bolster a lacklustre team, Ferguson brought in 22 year old Dwight Gayle from Dagenham & Redbridge.

Gayle had previously been on loan at Conference North side Bishops Stortford and managed to score 42 goals in a single season. Ferguson has always been about plucking youngsters from the lower divisions and if it worked with Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith surely it could work again? Gayle was partnered up front with the newly reformed Lee Tomlin and the two clicked exactly when Posh needed them most – during that dreaded festive period.

12 points out of 15 meant Posh suddenly found themselves outside the relegation zone. What’s more, Posh weren’t simply grinding out wins in an ugly fashion; they were beating teams in a classy manner. On the 1st December, Posh lost 4-1 to a rather bland Blackpool side but just two short weeks later, Posh rather convincingly had beaten Cardiff City at home. Let’s not forget that at the time Cardiff City had the best home record in Europe. Wins against Bolton, Wolves and Barnsley wrapped up a rather jolly festive period (the only loss being against Bristol City) and gives a rejuvenated Posh side a fighting chance to beat the drop.

What should be expected in 2013? Survival now seems like a reachable target but it relies on Dwight Gayle and Lee Tomlin staying fit. They have been the difference in recent weeks and their absence in today’s FA Cup game against Norwich really showed. Nobody else stepped up to the mark and finishing in the final third was non-existent. It’s worrying to think that if both these players are out for a considerable period, then Posh’s survival hopes could be flushed away just like that.

Written by Liam Smith, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

The Long Journey Begins

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Not even the dreary sounds of Chris Martin going through his perpetual midlife crisis resonating from the PA system could put a downer on today. It was the first day of the new season and even the grey clouds which covered the sky that morning soon dispersed and London Road was bathed in the afternoon sunshine just as kick off approached.

Dougie Freedman’s Crystal Palace were the opening day visitors and bookmakers up and down the land were confident that Palace would beat the favourites to go straight back down. But being the underdog isn’t all bad, you’ve got no pressure to deal with and players feel more relaxed. And things were looking bright. As we kicked off we looked comfortable on the ball and were hardly giving Palace a sniff. Grant McCann underlined our domination in the early stages of that first half by striking a powerful ball causing Julian Speroni in the Palace goal to really stretch to keep it out. As strange as it was, Posh weren’t simply keeping Palace at bay but they were doing it with ease and with attacking flair (almost).

Unfortunately, relaxed at Peterborough United can take a very literal meaning at times. With a little over half an hour gone a long ball from Palace’s goalkeeper beat Ryan Bennett in the Posh defence and allowed Irishman Sean Scannell to slip past and lob the hapless Paul Jones. It had begun to turn bleak, especially since Nicky Ajose had to depart the field when he picked up a hamstring injury. He was replaced with the man with the rather aptly named David Ball. But to the London Road faithful, it was a dream start.

I know what you’re thinking; a goal down due to the defence daydreaming and our striker limping off doesn’t seem like the recipe for success but Posh relish in the unconventional. Perhaps the moment the ball hits the back of the net and they find themselves behind they realise they’re going to get the hairdryer treatment from Fergie. He learnt from the best after all. Posh quickly re-found their momentum, discipline and vigour, most likely with this in mind, and ended the first half brightly. Apart from the goal, Palace hadn’t really had any other chances while we had quite a few attacks on goal. Yet we didn’t have that crucial equaliser. I tried to put it out of my mind but I couldn’t help thinking at half time were we missing a certain Craig Mackail-Smith’s goal scoring ability?

I didn’t have to wait too long for an answer in the second half. A George Boyd free-kick was played across where it was struck firm and low first time by Grant McCann just outside the penalty box. This time Speroni couldn’t prevent it from going in and Posh found themselves with their deserved equaliser. All the tension that had built up amongst the Posh fans was emphatically released. If we kept playing how we were, could we do the impossible and take three points? No one dared say it aloud considering the last time we were in the Championship it took ten games to get that precious win. But you can hope right?

As we were reaching the final quarter we were increasingly bearing down on goal but, rather frustratingly, trying to walk the ball into the net with some rather slick passing for a newly promoted Championship club. Ultimately Palace buckled under our relentless pressure when David Ball connected with a low cross at the far post to grab what would be the winner.

With a well earned win under our belts we now have the bragging rights of being above all the teams relegated from the Premiership, at least until next Saturday. More importantly thought, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. It is after all only one game and as good as it feels to prove a few (alright many, many) people wrong about us we are still the favourites to end up at the foot of the table. We’ve got two extremely difficult games coming up next in the league as we take on Blackpool and Ipswich. Games like that certainly won’t be as smooth as perhaps it was against Palace and even getting a point against the likes of Ipswich will be a massive achievement. But for now, we can celebrate with smiles on our faces and maybe, just maybe, hold off the inevitable Great Escape theme at least until February or March.

Life without Mackail-Smith doesn’t seem too bad after all; I can’t even remember what all the fuss was about anyway.

Written by Liam Smith, We Are Going Up’s Peterborough United Blogger

Liam tweets @law_liam