Posh target young guns
POSH manager Darren Ferguson reviews the 2011/12 Championship season for the Evening Telegraph.
POSH boss Darren Ferguson is ready to put his faith in youth rather than experience as he plots next season’s Championship campaign.
If Ferguson’s team building plans come to fruition in the summer, the oldest squad member on the first day of next season will be just 26.
Ferguson has confirmed that transfer talks are already underway in an attempt to land a handful of new players.
He made eight of last season’s squad available for transfer earlier this week, including 32 year-old midfielder Grant Mccann.
Ferguson said: “We like to pick young players who we can improve over a period of time and that’s still the case.
“We could be even younger next season as Grant may go and so might George Boyd and they are two of our oldest players.
“I have identified two players who can play in Grant’s position and, although I wouldn’t expect anything to happen quickly, talks are ongoing.”
A quick look at the squad as it stands without the players on the transfer list or out of contract highlights the areas that require Ferguson’s attention.
He will seek just one goalkeeper if Paul Jones decides to join Joe Lewis in leaving Posh and he already has a potential replacement in mind.
Ferguson has targetted a rightback to challenge Craig Alcock, but he is happy to leave the left-back slot in the hands of Tommy Rowe.
Wrexham centre-back Nathanial Wright-percival is expected to join Posh when his current club’s involvement with the Blue Square Premier Division play-offs is over, but Posh are currently light in numbers in both midfield and up front.
Stevenage midfielder Michael Bostwick and Northampton playmaker Michael Jacobs are two possible targets.
Ferguson is keen to find some bigger, more powerful forward players this season.
“I WAS very confident approaching the first game of the season that we would be good enough to avoid relegation.
“I know we were getting written off by most people who remembered the previous Championship season two years earlier.
“But I knew we had learnt our lessons from that season and I also knew what I had in my dressing room.
“I felt sure that if we started well we would be okay and I firmly believe that winning that first game of the season against Crystal Palace was crucial.
“Two seasons before it took us ages to win a game and that couldn’t happen again. I was happy when the fixtures came out as, no disrespect to Palace, but they had struggled the year before and they weren’t going to be one of the bigger hitters.
“And the way we won by coming from behind did us the world of good. From then the players believed as I did that we would be okay.
“I can’t pay the squad enough credit though. Some of our football in the first half of the season was simply fantastic.
“We were one of the better footballing sides in the Championship and that was no mean feat consider- ing the clubs we were up against.
“We were brilliant against Ipswich at home, but we also gave a good account of ourselves against other top sides.
“In hindsight we were always likely to hit the wall at some point and we struggled after Christmas, but we usually still managed to pick up a win when we needed one.
“The games we won in successive weeks against Coventry and Nottingham Forest over Christmas were important as were the three home wins we managed in March. To beat Reading, Blackpool and Leicester, three top teams, was a great effort.
“And once we picked up a point at Coventry on Easter Saturday I felt deep down that we were safe, it was just a question of getting over the line.
“It was a great relief when safety was mathematically confirmed, but we have not relexed. Planning started for next season before last season was over.
“I have made mistakes. Certainly not fighting harder to keep Ryan Tunnicliffe and Scott Wootton here for longer was one of them.
“Ryan simply hadn’t been playing enough games when it became time to extend his loan, while I let Scott go because at the time I didn’t believe Ryan Bennett was going to leave.
“But overall it’s been an outstanding season. There is no doubt that staying up is a bigger achievement than going up in the first place as the difference between League One and the Championship is huge.
“Just how good it’s been will probably sink in in two or three weeks time when I’m sitting on the beach with my family!”
POSSIBLE TARGETS: Michael Jacobs and Michael Bostwick (inset).
MISTAKES: Fergie says he should have tried harder to keep Ryan Tunnicliffe (far left) and Scott Wootton (left) at Posh longer.