‘Frustrating start’ – Peterborough United expert gives verdict on Sheffield United’s next opponents

Sheffield United will continue their search for a first Championship win of the season when they take on Peterborough United at Bramall Lane this weekend.

By Steve Jones
Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 12:00 pm

The Blades have picked up just two points from Slavisa Jokanovic’s first five games in charge and have scored just one goal in that time.

Peterborough have fared slightly better on their return to the second tier and have one win and a draw to their name, but have lost their last two.

Ahead of the match, The Star spoke to Peterborough United correspondent Alan Swann to get the lowdown on Saturday’s opponents.

Peterborough United are the next visitors to Bramall Lane.

What's your assessment of Peterborough's start to the season?

Peterborough's start has been frustrating.

They've been good in three home games, but picked up just four points when it should have been seven. They outplayed Cardiff before conceding twice in the last 10 minutes to draw 2-2 and they battled and worked hard against West Brom before conceding the only goal in the 95th minute.

Away from home they have been poor, two defeats at Luton and Preston by 3-0 and 1-0 when they have barely created a chance of note. Home form will be key this season so those dropped points could come back to haunt them.

It's also been frustrating as they've been unable to field what they would call their full strength side. Strikers Jonson Clarke-Harris and Jack Marriott barely played in pre-season so they are still coming up to speed and Siriki Dembele has not managed a full 90 minutes because of an ongoing calf injury.

The team’s best midfielder, Jack Taylor, made his first appearance of the season as a substitute last time out.

You'd assume they will improve. Whether or not they can improve enough to cope at Championship is another matter.

Would finishing 21st represent a successful campaign for the club, or are they better equipped to push on this time round?

21st would be a roaring success in my eyes, but the club don't see it that way.

Manager Darren Ferguson was bullish before a ball had been kicked. He is on the record as saying he wouldn't treat survival as a success (publicly at least). Posh have only spent five of their 61 years as a Football League club outside the bottom two divisions and they've never survived more than two successive seasons at Championship level so the toughness of the task is obvious. The last Posh team to play at this level was superior to the current one and was still relegated so avoiding the drop would be an achievement.

Who are the main threats for the Posh?

Dembele is the best player in the team. He has the pace, skill and finishing ability to thrive in the Championship. There was a huge sigh of relief when he was still at the club when the summer transfer window closed. Dembele, Clarke-Harris, Marriott and Sammie Szmodics is not a bad attack on paper. Only Dembele has scored so far though. The others do have excuses with Szmnodics missing two games after the birth of his first child. There is a buzz about the arrival of midfielder Conor Coventry from West Ham on loan for the rest of the season. He was an unused substitute in each of the Hammers' three Premier League games this season. He could debut on Saturday.

Tell us something we don't know about this team

Since Darragh MacAnthony took control of the club in October 2006, Posh have signed six players for in excess of £1 million, They had never previously spent that much on a player.

The 2020-21 Posh squad recorded the third most wins (26), the fourth most home wins (15) and the third most away wins (11) in a single Football League season in the club's history.

MacAnthony believes Posh have the youngest squad in the Championship (average age 23.2 years). Only five of the current squad had previous Championship experience, including Szmodics (97 minutes) and Clarke-Harris (seven years ago).