Peterborough United are a team looking to get back to their goalscoring exploits of 3 or so years ago. The Posh were relegated from the Championship in 2012/13 with the highest points total for a demoted side. After for manager Darren Ferguson was sacked in March, Dave Robertson will look to lead his team forward, with this being the first senior team he has managed.
A loyal 20 goal a season striker has been needed since the departures of Craig Mackail Smith and Aaron Mclean in 2011. Both were firm fans favourites and worked like clockwork on the two man frontline that Ferguson deployed in his first spell with the club. Britt Assombalonga and Dwight Gayle have been and gone, leading to the suggestion that posh need to find a permanent striker that has intentions of staying with the club on a long term basis. Current number 9 Kyle Vassell flourished in the opening stages last season, but is likely to find himself as 5th choice striker behind 3 new arrivals and last seasons’ top marksman Conor Washington.
Washington, who blossomed later in the season has partnered new arrival Joe Gormley in many of Posh’s pre season friendlies. Northern Irish striker Gormley spent 4 seasons in semi professional football with Cliftonville, scoring 80 goals in his 135 appearances. From what I have seen so far, you could compare the 25 year old to former striker Craig Mackail Smith, both have that knack for goals, and are not afraid to run themselves ragged in order to get a shot on goal. I just wonder whether the huge step up in quality could prove too much for Gormley in his first season as a professional.
The marquee signing of former West Ham and Wales international midfield Jack Collison, was music to the ears of many Posh fans. Creativity was severely lacking from the centre of the park last term, to the degree where the only service came from the forwards themselves. The inclusion of a highly thought of, experienced pro, should have a similar effect to what Grant McCann did when he signed from Scunthorpe United in 2010. Collison actually adds similar qualities to McCann, he may not posses the killer set pieces that the Northern Irishman fired in time and time again. But he has a huge range of passing and a definite eye for goal. If the medical staff can keep him off the treatment table, I can see him being a fundamental part of Posh’s engine room.
Elsewhere in the midfield, we have to talk about Michael Bostwick. The boisterous midfield was one of Boro’s most impressive performers last season. His versatility kept Fergie in a job for a few more weeks, but came good under Robertson at the heart of the midfield. He looked more like his old self, bruising tackles, huge headers, and a catalyst to start attacks. Something that Posh were desperately lacking under Ferguson. Bostwick will now skipper the side from the centre and hope to add more goals to his game this time round, something he proved towards the end of last season with goals against Crawley Town and Oldham Athletic.
Defensively, posh look extremely thin. Following the sale of Christian Burgess, Robertson has a choice of just 3 senior centre halves. Gaby Zakuani remains a dependable option at the back, although he will miss a large chunk of games this term due to being away on international duty. He is joined at the back by the monstrous looking Ricardo Santos. The Portuguese born defender is a favourite of Robertson’s, as are many of the younger players. But with his physique and tackling improving by the minute, he could be the answer to many of Posh’s defensive problems.
I am yet to be convinced by left back Kgosi Nthle, but the arrival of Andrew Fox could be the kick up the backside the South African needs. He has been a regular fixture In the starting eleven for some year now, without facing any serious competition. Fox, who is naturally a winger, will definitely aiming for Nthle’s spot, with the left wing position already occupied by Marcus Maddison.
Posh certainly have many of the tools required to launch a promotion push, but unless everybody in the squad can find consistent form at the right times, it could be another long season for the Boro faithful. I am not persuaded that the so called ‘Wash and Go’ partnership will do the business up top. But with the unpredictability of Jon Taylor and Marcus Maddison on the wings anything can happen. Bostwick provides a solid base to the midfield while Collison’s creatively will give the strikers further chances. Finally the backline could once again be a major flaw in Robbo’s plans. Unless a covering centre back in brought in sharpish, defensive issues could be posh’s downfall.