Preston – A fans view by Morgan Russell
Last season was bitterly disappointing we conceded a lot of last minute goals due to inviting pressure and sitting back when leading. We would have had automatics if we didn’t concede all the last minute goals. Also there seemed to be that lack of the final pass but that seems to be fixed with Brownhill now.
Peterborough- A fans view by James Bloodworth
In years gone by, a place in the play-offs and silverware in London Road’s trophy cabinet would have been considered a wonderful season by any Posh fan. However, since Darragh MacAnthony’s takeover in 2007, the Cambridgeshire side have enjoyed 3 terrific promotions and some of the most entertaining football ever seen at the club. With that in mind, last year can best be described as ‘underwhelming’: their scintillating start to the campaign was quickly forgotten when the team went on a torrid mid-season run, which saw only 8 points collected between October 22nd and New Year’s day. A varied second half of the season saw victory at Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, as well as some disappointing results in the league, in a campaign that was ultimately ended at the hands of Leyton Orient in the play-offs. Despite this disappointment, very few fans felt that Posh’s performances justified the promotion they craved.
This season, an improvement is definitely expected. Chairman MacAnthony made the decision to hand Darren Ferguson a new 3 year contract in June-a move that divided fans, despite the Scot’s excellent record in his two spells at Posh. Ferguson emphasised his desire to play entertaining, fast flowing football, and despite his caginess when asked about goals for the season, he is almost certainly targeting a fourth promotion in 7 years.
Ferguson’s decision to refurbish the squad has endeared the 42 year old to his doubters. Nat Knight-Percival and Danny Kearns left on free transfers, and despite the club’s failure to retain skipper Tommy Rowe, Craig Alcock, Mark Little and Danny Swanson, fans were not too disappointed with the outgoing business.
However, excitement mounted when Shrewsbury winger joined the club to add some much needed width, pace and flair, along with Dulwich Hamlet’s diminutive star Erhun Öztümer, who scored a staggering 33 goals from midfield last season. Posh’s next signing was probably the most surprising; DR Congo international and club legend Gaby Zakuani returned after a 6 month excursion in the Greek Super League having been deemed surplus to requirements by Ferguson at the turn of the year. Posh fans know what Zakuani is about: he wears his heart on his sleeve and is an excellent defender. Although he has no problems getting the ball off opposing players, what he subsequently does with it can prove to be problematic, and his limited ball playing abilities don’t fit the character of the fast flowing side Ferguson is assembling. Bristol Rovers’ right back Michael Smith signed to fill the void left by Craig Alcock and Mark Little, and he promises to offer a blend of the aforementioned two’s attacking and defensive qualities. Goalkeeper Ben Alnwick was snatched away from the jaws of Blackpool, and his signing should offer the former Spurs man a real chance to get regular first team football for the 1st time in his career, just as he is arguably reaching his peak as a shot stopper. The final addition was ‘Mini Bale’ Kenneth McEvoy, a pacey winger who has joined on loan from Tottenham, a spitting image of the most expensive player on earth. This is arguably one of the most exciting transfer windows ever seen at the club, and it will be interesting to see how the signings gel together. The business is not over yet though, larger-than-life Barry Fry is working around the clock to offload £1m man Tyrone Barnett and last season’s custodian Bobby Olejnik, among others, all of whom are out of favour with rapidly expiring contracts.
The star man for this season is undoubtedly Britt Assombalonga. The ex-Watford man netted 33 times in his debut season at London Road, and the club are desperate to keep hold of him. He has the knack of being in the right place at the right time, and manages to score when he isn’t playing particularly well. A natural goalscorer is invaluable to any team, and Posh certainly have one in Assombalonga. However, others to watch include classy defender Jack Baldwin and young midfielder Jermaine Anderson, who shows a lot of promise and has been dubbed ‘the new Viera’ by several.
This season looks set to be an exciting one, and one that many Posh fans are quietly confident about.
The Odds (Via WilliamHill)
Our Verdict? 3rd
Leyton Orient are the final stand-out automatic promotion hope and undoubtedly not one to write off. The surprise package last season missed out ever so narrowly to Rotherham in play-off final and it could well be the fuel to propel their quest for the automatics. Bringing in experienced signings Jobi McAnuff and Darius Henderson will help them in their quest as well with those two players offering fantastic quality for an already brilliant side from last season.
With Orient not just keen to prove doubters wrong but to excel many people’s expectations, Russell Slade’s men really could be in with a shout of claiming that seemingly elusive automatic spot that slipped through their fingers last term.
The Odds (Via WilliamHill)
Our Verdict? 5th