Third time lucky for Ferguson

Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson
Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson
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IN their two previous seasons at Championship level, Peterborough have done – and there’s really no other way of putting this – awfully.

In 1993-94, they amassed a paltry 37 points and finished rock-bottom.

Next time they made it back to English football’s second tier, rather remarkably they managed to do even worse – finishing with just 34 points and again propping up the remainder of the division.

That was a season to forget for Darren Ferguson. He started it bathed in glory, fresh from guiding Posh to two promotions from the bottom division. There was talk of the play-offs.

But results just didn’t happen, things fell apart and Ferguson ended up heading out of the exit door and to Preston.

Less said about Deepdale the better, while back at London Road they missed their old manager badly.

It wasn’t too much of a surprise then, when, after being sacked by North End, Ferguson ended up back in the hotseat at Peterborough.

Some clubs just seem to suit certain people, and Ferguson and Posh are a good example.

The manager guided the club to promotion from League One last season – but, given Peterborough’s previous Championship experiences, he admits he is slightly nervy.

Ferguson said: “I know we’ve had the promotions and we’ve had the relegations, but this is for me our most important year,” the boss said.

“If we can stay in the Championship, I think we can grow and get stronger.

“It’s like baby steps in that it happens gradually. It didn’t go right last time but that’s no bad thing as long as we’ve learned from it.”

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony is singing from the same hymn sheet. He said: “I think the word for us this season will be patience. That’s for all of us, including me.

“We need to be respectful of this league, with the aim of consolidating and sustaining.

“I won’t be making any rash predictions as I’ve done in the past. I’d just like us to be competitive in every one of the 46 matches.

“However we do, I believe that as our young guys adapt to the league we will do well.”

MacAnthony and Ferguson, then, were understandably delighted to get off to a good start last week, depatching of Crystal Palace 2-1.

The manager said: “Everyone is sceptical (about our chances) and I can understand why.

“But I was relaxed and if we can continue to perform like we have done in this first week I think we will have an OK season.

Peterborough followed up that league win with a 4-3 Carling Cup victory at Stevenage on Tuesday when, unlike many other managers – including Ian Holloway – Ferguson fielded his strongest side.

“I didn’t make changes because we’re not at our peak fitness-wise,” Ferguson explained.

“The players needed topping up, so I picked my strongest available team.”

Having sold star striker Craig Mackail-Smith to Brighton for big money, Posh are many pundits’ tip for an immediate return to League One.

But they’ve added to their squad wisely, bringing in Craig Alcock, Nicky Ajose and Paul Jones.

Ryan Tunnicliffe and Scott Wootton have arrived on loan, as has highly-rated Celtic defender Josh Thompson, whos could make his debut tomorrow.

Striker George Boyd remains the standout man and a big goal threat. Ajose, a talented youngster formerly of Manchester United, and perhaps the best of the summer signings, is a doubt after hurting his hamstring against Palace.