After losing seven games in a row, Peterborough United finally picked up three points last Saturday as former Forest striker Emile Sinclair bagged a hat-trick — and then three more on Tuesday. John Verrall from the Standing on the Glebe blog tells us what to expect from the home side.

What are the expectations for the season?

Before the season started everybody was cautiously optimistic of a slight improvement on last season’s tally of 50 points. However, after winning just two of our first nine fixtures expectations have dropped markedly and simply surviving would be beyond most people’s wildest dreams. People are just hoping to avoid having a repeat scenario of the very depressing 2009/10 season – where we exited the Championship with 34 points.

What’s the general verdict on Darren Ferguson?

Despite our poor start the fans still remain firmly beyond Ferguson. There have been a few murmurings of discontent towards his management – after a series of strange team selections and constant tinkering with the formation – but a recent poll on our most popular forum had 89% of people still in support of Ferguson.
That said, he has not come out of this summer looking perfect and much of the blame for our season can be placed on him. He has suggested that we now have the strongest squad that he has ever worked with and yet results and performances have been largely woeful this year. Furthermore, many of his initial statements have been seemingly forgotten: we have now made a loan signing despite both Darragh MacAnthony, the chairman, and Ferguson saying we would not be using the loan market this season as he is “not a fan of it”. Fergie Jnr also stated he would have huge faith in his youth this season and already they have been pushed out of the first team for more experienced counterparts, with the manager suggesting that he was looking to add a more experienced Championship campaigner to the team in recent interviews.

Have there been many changes since last season?

In terms of personnel, only Bobby Olejnik and Michael Bostwick have made any real impact of the summer signings. Olejnik put an end to the on-going goalkeeping debate, with both Joe Lewis and Paul Jones finding new clubs, and he has done reasonably well so far. A commanding presence and decent shot-stopper, few have put any blame on him for the poor start.

Michael Bostwick has made a less impressive start. Ferguson stated he was his number one target over the summer and Posh spent a fairly considerable amount of money on him (somewhere in the region of £800,000) but he has not really proven he is worth the money just yet. Off-the-ball, his pressing of the opposition is excellent, but it is often in possession that he is found-out, sometimes dallying on the ball and giving it away cheaply. That said, there have been glimpses of his talent and a few performances have been excellent, namely Birmingham, so it may just be a question of giving him time to adapt to the jump up in standard from League One to the Championship.

What can we expect tactically?

Presumably we will play a 3-5-2 formation similar to the one that got us our first win of the season against Hull. Mark Little and Tommy Rowe will provide the width as wing-backs with George Boyd playing in-behind the strike-force of Emile Sinclair and Tyrone Barnett.

Who are the key players to watch out for?

Emile Sinclair will be full of confidence following his hat-trick against Hull at the weekend. The striker has been much maligned in his time at Posh and often seems devoid of any sort of ability in possession, yet he has a happy knack of scoring goals and all three of his strikes at the KC Stadium were remarkably well taken.

What’s going to happen on Saturday?

I wish I knew. We’ve had an awful start to the season, but the weekend’s win will have no doubt helped matters and we like playing the role of underdogs. I will go with a 1-1 draw.

You can follow John on Twitter: @JohnVerrall

Image: Richard Humphrey (CC-BY-SA-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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