League One Club-by-Club Preview for 2017/2018: Peterborough United

Best Blog or Account to Follow: Alex Batt, who also takes a keen interest in Arsenal and MMA by writing on the latter for GiveMeSport.

2016/2017

Record Last Season + Quick Summary: 

League One - 11th; W 17 / D 11 / L 18 / F 62 / A 62 / Pts 62

Another disappointing campaign for the Posh. The notoriety they have garnered for being free-scoring in attack was still in evidence in the early rounds of 2016/2017, with the Cambridgeshire outfit hitting five on two separate occasions and rarely having ‘nil’ next to their name. The first half of the season was promising and they were well within touching distance of the play-offs. The Christmas period proved to be when the wheels started to come off and proceedings continued to be frosty throughout winter, suffering a 5-1 shellacking at Bury in January and a 4-0 thrashing at home to MK Dons in February. The goals started to slowly dry up with one or two notable exceptions but in truth, their season was over well before the final game in May came around.

Top Goalscorer: Tom Nichols (10 goals in 37 starts/3,035 minutes)

Top Creator: Marcus Maddison (17 assists in 37 starts/3,310 minutes)

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Marcus Maddison had the equal highest number of assists in League One during 2016/2017; transfer listed as per the club policy for players in the final year of their contract, he is vital to the Posh and will not be allowed to leave for “anything under seven figures”, according to chairman Darragh MacAnthony

2017/2018

Manager/Head Coach: Grant McCann; the former Northern Ireland international midfielder, capped 40 times by his country, his first job in management was taking over as caretaker at Peterborough back in September 2015 and this was made permanent after Graham Westley was sacked at the tail-end of the same season. Still only 37, his first season was a mixed bag and he will need to demonstrate that he has learned from his trials and tribulations fairly quickly to escape the wrath of outspoken chairman Darragh MacAnthony and the Posh faithful who expect a little more given some of the players at his disposal.

Ins: Jack Marriott (Luton Town), Josh Tibbetts (Birmingham City U18s), Danny Lloyd (Stockport County), Steven Taylor (Ipswich Town), Ricky Miller (Dover Athletic), Liam Shephard (Swansea City), Michael Doughty (Queens Park Rangers), Idris Kanu (Aldershot Town), Alex Penny (Nuneaton Town) & Jonathan Bond (Reading on loan).

Outs: Jerome Binnom-Williams (Chesterfield), Paul Taylor (Bradford City), Shaq Coulthirst (Barnet), Michael Bostwick (Lincoln City), Lee Angol (Mansfield Town), Bradden Inman (Rochdale on loan), Luke James (Forest Green Rovers), Harry Anderson (Lincoln City), Michael Smith (Hearts), Mark Tyler (retired), Hayden White (Mansfield Town), & Dion Henry (free agent).

Predicted First XI & Shape:

Peterborough1718

Tactics: The formation has yet to be set in stone but it could well be a 5-3-2, with former Newcastle veteran Steven Taylor occupying the middle of the central three. Ryan Taffazoli brings strength and balance to his left and captain Jack Baldwin provides composure under pressure to his right. Taylor is of course vastly experienced but is very slow on the turn these days, so expect him to stay slightly deeper than the other two in order to minimise the risk of exposing Jonathan Bond more frequently than would otherwise be the case.

Andrew Hughes is more suited to a conservative full-back role, but could be asked to get beyond the halfway line nevertheless to support Marcus Maddison and the rest of the midfield. Lewis Freestone is an exciting understudy in the same area and could be given more gametime as the season progresses. Liam Shephard is more comfortable in his own position than Hughes and will bring a more convincing, consistent thrust to their attacks on the other flank.

Anthony Grant will stay close to Michael Doughty in possession but fall back when the Posh surrender possession. He can outmuscle most attacking midfielders before they reach anywhere close to his penalty area and his positioning will be key to preventing these instances. Doughty favours getting into the half-space and playing in early crosses and is a well-rounded, technical individual. Maddison is a peerless playmaker who can operate on the wing or centrally in midfield or up front – he’s just as effective wherever he is. He’s quick, agile got a powerful shot on him and his skill on the ball gets him into places to deliver goals on a plate for the strikers.

Ricky Miller is suspended for the first six games of the season, so Junior Morais could deputise whilst he sits on the sidelines. The stocky inside forward will use his low centre of gravity to take him into favourable shooting areas. For a relatively short player, Jack Marriott can jump and hang well in the air. He’s also quick on the ground and will use that to his advantage by moving quickly to receive the ball in close quarters from another blue shirt.

Leo-Da-Silva-Lopes.jpg
Leo da Silva Lopes is highly regarded by both McCann and coaches in higher tiers; at 18, if he can add consistency to his game as he grows older, he could be a real star in the top flight but still might not be first choice for the Posh’s opener

Predicted ‘Area’ of Finish: Circling the relegation drainDespite the bravado emanating from MacAnthony and the repeated aim of gaining promotion back to the Championship, they look further from that than at any other point in the four years to date since relegation to the third tier. The forward line are untried or untested at this level and whilst in one way the acquisition of players from non-league is admirable, it does represent a considerable gamble, especially when you’re relying fairly heavily on at least one of those paying off this term in a sport (and under a chairman) not renowned for patience. I am far from convinced that McCann is the right man to take the Posh forward regardless of the ability, especially in midfield, at his disposal. I could easily be proved wrong but at the same time, I wouldn’t raise much of an eyebrow if they were sucked into the scrap at the wrong end of the table.

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