September 14, 2012 by mapperleystag1
As the only side in the Football League yet to pick up a single point, we look at why Peterborough United seem destined for relegation back to League One.
After promotion via the playoffs, Peterborough’s first season back in the Championship was a tale of two halves. Up until the New Year, Peterborough had been safely in the top half of the table, with some fans dreaming of securing a playoff position and replicating the success they had enjoyed the previous season. However, the second half of the season saw the Posh slide worryingly down the table, with only their early season form saving them from immediate relegation back to League One. Although finishing in 18th place was undoubtedly a success for the Cambridgeshire side, the warning signs were there that the following season would be a difficult and turbulent one for the Posh. As a result, it is no surprise that Peterborough have started the season so poorly. Below are suggestions as to why the Posh appear to be strong favourites for relegation.
Inability to keep key players
Over the previous few seasons there has been a growing trend at London Road for the Posh to sell their prized assets. In League One, this was perhaps a necessity as players such as Aaron McLean wanted to showcase their abilities on a higher stage. However, since victory in the playoff final in May 2011, leading striker Craig Mackail-Smith left to join also newly promoted Brighton & Hove Albion, centre-back Ryan Bennett was transferred to Norwich City and striker Paul Taylor joined fellow Championship side Ipswich Town. Moreover, George Boyd, their key attacking playmaker, has refused to sign a new contract and has thus been transfer-listed. Whilst the club has been compensated in monetary terms for the loss of these players, Peterborough have found it difficult to replace these players with similar quality ones with Championship experience.
Lack of experience in the squad
The lack of experience in the squad, not helped by the departures of the players mentioned above, was exposed in the second half of last season, and has not been addressed by manager Darren Ferguson. None of his summer signings (Robert Olejnik, Michael Bostwick, Danny Swanson, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Kane Ferdinand) have any Championship experience. These players have been added to an already inexperienced and naive squad, one that appears to be mentally, if not technically, unprepared for the difficulties and pressures of such a competitive league.
Strength of the newly promoted sides
The strength of the sides promoted from League One is also a significant concern for the Posh. League One Champions Charlton Athletic cruised to the title last season with a team basically built from scratch. Having kept the nucleus of their squad together, this much-needed stability should allow them to build on their excellent performances last season. Fellow automatic promotion winners Sheffield Wednesday are also better equipped to survive in the Championship, due to their large fan base which should see them win enough home games, and strikers Gary Madine and Jay Bothroyd who should score plenty of goals between them. The other promoted side, Huddersfield Town, will also be confident of survival, despite the loss of star striker Jordan Rhodes. Huddersfield have a settled squad, the majority of which played in their famous 44 match unbeaten run and, therefore, will have a winning mentality, something Peterborough seemed to lose during last season. Furthermore, all of these sides have substantially larger fan bases than the Posh. The average attendance at London Road last season was 9119; in the league below Charlton averaged 17 428, Sheffield Wednesday averaged 21 338 and Huddersfield averaged 14 171. As well as the financial benefits from having higher attendances, a larger crowd tends to lead to a more intimidating atmosphere for visiting sides. The early season defeats at home to Leeds and Millwall suggest that London Road does not fit into this category of being a difficult place for visiting sides to get results, which does not bode well for the rest of the season for Peterborough.