Despite a dreadful last few weeks, Peterborough United are just one point outside the League One play-off places, ahead of tomorrow’s now crucial clash with Coventry City.
The weekend’s game against the Sky Blues at London Road is far more significant than it was just a few games ago, after some damaging defeats for the Posh against sides battling relegation.
When Steve Evans was sacked as manager and replaced by Darren Ferguson just seven weeks ago, the club were nine points ahead of Mark Robins’ side with a game in hand – lose on Saturday and they would be overtaken by their opponents.
This alone speaks volumes about the team’s poor form over the past few weeks – particularly since Ferguson took charge – and how it has been more akin to a side battling survival than one pushing for the play-offs.
Peterborough have lost five and won only two of Ferguson’s eight matches in charge since his return – losing to the likes of Shrewsbury Town, Bradford City and AFC Wimbledon.
Fans at London Road are becoming increasingly frustrated, perhaps understandably given their side’s promising start to the League One season.
However, I really don’t think you can blame the manager.
In truth, it has been clear that Peterborough are not good enough to achieve promotion this season for some time. It was starting to become evident even before Evans was sacked at the end of January.
Their home form has been nowhere near good enough and they clearly lack the defensive discipline and solidarity of the likes of Luton and the rest of the teams challenging for promotion.
It is totally unreasonable to expect Ferguson to achieve success with a squad of players that was assembled by a previous manager, just as it was unfair to judge Evens when he took over from Grant McCann last year.
There is no denying that the current Posh manager has some very talented players in his squad, but despite glimpses of more attractive football, the current group of players clearly do not suit his footballing philosophy.
The way I see it, Ferguson has what it takes achieve success with this team in time, but there has to be a sensible long-term plan in place for him to be able to do so.
I have no doubt that he can achieve more success with this club in the future, just as he has done in the past, but he needs to be given time.
When he replaced Gary Johnson as Posh manager in 2011 he was able to guide the club to promotion via the play-offs, but things were different then as he knew most of the players from his previous spell in charge.
It is no good expecting him to achieve success overnight with the current team and that is why the timing of MacAnthony’s decision appears to have cost the club their chance at promotion.
The fact that Posh are still only one point outside the top six is beyond me, but remarkably, they are still in with a decent chance of making the play-offs – especially considering the fixtures over the coming weeks and that Doncaster must play Barnsley and Luton in their next two games.
However, after the way they the team have been playing in recent weeks, performances will have to improve massively if they are to turn things around.