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Posh in 2020 - a look back

Paolo takes a look back at Peterborough United’s 2020 as they continue their push back to the Championship for the first time since returning to League One back in 2013.
Chris Turner statue
Chris Turner statue at Posh ground

2020 has been a unique and controversial year, with Darren Ferguson’s side suffering heartbreak in the 2019/20 campaign - unfairly, in the opinion of most.

Where did Posh finish in 2019/20?

Posh finished seventh in the 2019/20 campaign, just two points off second place in League One before the season was suspended, then cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Ferguson’s men were sat in fifth in the table before the EFL used unweighted PPG to decide the final outcome of the league. This dropped Posh down to seventh as Wycombe Wanderers climbed to third after having a game in hand while being level on points, and eventually led to their promotion.

2020 Summer Transfer Window business

The summer transfer window was heavily dominated by Premier League and Championship clubs looking to sign goal-machine Ivan Toney. The 24-year-old was Posh and League One’s top scorer last season with 24 goals (26 in all competitions) before he was finally snatched up by Championship side Brentford, who narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League.

His departure allowed the club to sign Bristol Rover's striker Jonson Clarke-Harris for an undisclosed fee, with the 26-year-old returning to The Weston Homes Stadium for the first time since he was a youngster.

Posh also strengthened their attacking options by re-signing Sammie Szmodics on a permanent deal from Bristol City. Szmodics enjoyed a short loan-spell at Posh last season, contributing to eight goals (four goals and four assists) in 10 games. Midfielder Ryan Broom also joined Posh in the summer after impressing at Cheltenham Town last season in which he was involved in 15 goals in 40 appearances. 

They also welcomed Reece Brown on another season-long loan, while Ethan Hamilton and Daniel Gyollai joined the club on a free transfer.  

How is the 2020/21 season going so far? 

Posh are currently fifth in League One, six points behind Lincoln City with a game-in-hand. Ferguson’s side started the 2020/21 campaign shakily after losing two of their opening three games, but went eight games unbeaten from October to November, sending them top of League One. However, Posh have since endured a rather rough turn of form, losing four of their last six games, dropping them into fifth.

In terms of domestic competitions, Posh was embarrassingly beaten by National League North side Chorley FC in the FA Cup second round, while they were knocked out of Carabao Cup first round by Cheltenham Town. A trophy is still on the cards as they progressed to EFL Trophy third round to face Portsmouth in January.

Best Performance 

One of the best performances by Posh in 2020 came in the 2019/20 campaign. Posh dismantled fellow League One high-flyer Portsmouth 2-0 at the Weston Homes Stadium, with Dan Butler and Ivan Toney getting on the scoresheet.

Ferguson’s men had failed to win in their previous two games before this encounter, mounting pressure on whether the side could remain in the fight for promotion. They certainly displayed that in a fantastic performance against Portsmouth. It seemed genuine that Posh could finally secure promotion to the Championship until disaster struck.

Disappointing moment

That leads nicely onto the most disappointing moment was June 9, 2020, when the EFL announced that the League One season was being cancelled. Despite the Premier League and Championship sides resuming their battles behind-closed-doors, League One and League Two clubs voted in favour of cancelling the rest of the 2019-20 season.

A few weeks later, EFL announced that the final League One table would be decided by unweighted PPG. That ultimately dropped Posh out of the playoff zone. United finished the season on 1.69 PPG, while Fleetwood Town, who took the final space in playoff places, finished sixth on 1.71 PPG. A disappointing and frustrating end to a fantastic campaign.

Key Player – Sirike Dembele

Dembele has unquestionably been eye-catching in the early stages of 2020/21 campaign and has been involved in 10 goals (five goals and five assists) in 17 League One fixtures so far this season. Although he doesn’t have the physical presence of Toney, Dembele has been causing havoc among defenders with his silkily dribbling and outrageous skills as the 24-year-old has completed 3.3 dribbles per game so far this campaign according to WhoScored – 1.4 than any other player in League One.

The Scottish international has struggled in recent weeks after failing to contribute to any goals in the four previous fixtures, still, he will be heavily important to push Posh back into playoff contention.

Breakthrough talent – Flynn Clarke

Co-owner Darragh MacAnthony has been vocal in making sure Peterborough United academy graduates have a path to the first team. In 2019, we saw teenage striker Ricky Jade-Jones promoted to Ferguson’s squad and quickly become a fan favourite at the Weston Homes Stadium. Now his academy striker partner Flynn Clarke has enjoyed a similar rise to the first team after featuring in 10 games for Posh.

The 18-year-old netted three times in three EFL trophy games and was even voted the player of the round for his performances in the Group Stage. His displays in the Cup saw Clarke promoted to their League One starting eleven as he featured in Posh last two games in 2020.

Looking forward to 2021

2021 could be more disruptive than ever for football clubs across the country as the rise of coronavirus cases has meant fixtures are being postponed left, right and centre in League One.

Posh suffered a positive coronavirus test in the camp and had to postpone their next three fixtures over Christmas - that was later extended to four as Doncaster Rovers suffered an outbreak.

Posh haven’t kicked a ball since December 15 and will be 25 days without a competitive fixture when they travel to Lincoln City on January 9.

Hopefully, the 2020/21 campaign can be decided by results and not PPG again, while Posh will definitely need to hit the ground running on their return to remain in the fight for a playoff spot.