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Locked Out

In a world where we can communicate with anyone globally in an instant, it’s odd to think that we have trouble reaching ourselves. It is almost as if our freedom of communication with others has locked us out of reaching inside as freely. For years now, I’ve suggested to people that they not sleep near their device nor use it for the first 30 minutes of the day. The reason for this is to allow time to decide your own priorities before the feed from your Insta, Snap, Twitter, Facebook or even your email gets its claws into you. It’s easy to think that you’re just checking on what’s going on but usually you’re giving up the reigns of your focus to people who may not care much about you.

It’s easy to blame social media or greedy companies that want to usurp your attention and dollars. Unfortunately, that situation isn’t bound to change any time soon. Even before the technological upheaval of the past few decades, people were giving away their attention to the unimportant long before the internet or cellphones came along. To be honest, distraction isn’t even fully what I’m worried about. It’s being locked away from the things that you truly want.

Each of us has potential beyond our reckoning but the things that we allow ourselves to believe as possible are often disappointing. The extreme of this is the “I can’t” that is attached to normal things. “I can’t get in shape!” “I can’t find the time!” “I can’t find get a break!” Language and thought processes lock the person out of something that’s more than likely within their reach. It’s not REALITY. It is just their reality formed from a variety of things. Possibly past experience but more than likely, it is just easier to believe that something is impossible than to try.

So don’t lock yourself out! You have what it takes to do whatever you set your mind to. For now, you need to decide what you want. Then break it down into smaller pieces and give yourself enough reasons to go after it. VCR Most of the prisons that people are living in are self-made and invisible. The bars are nothing more than a lack of vision.

“Grab your things I’m going to take you home!”

Pete

Blogpost, posh, SoccerLifeBalance

The Half Frozen Pond (and POSH)

The fully frozen pond is a slick but relatively safe walking space. It can be used for all manner of frivolity including ice skating, hockey, ice fishing or even Curling. The completely unfrozen pond offers an equal measure of possibility with swimming, boating, fishing, diving or just floating. The dangerous pond is the half frozen pond. It offers nothing but uncertainty. At any moment, the surface can crack and leave you in a scramble for survival with hypothermia and drowning both being real possibilities. It is the one to fear and avoid.

The same can be said for commitment to a team. Fully committed players make a good team into a great one because they are not just in it for themselves. The completely uncommitted players are often put on the bench or removed from the team. Just like the ice, the half-committed players are the ones that are dangerous because it’s hard to tell when they’ll crack under the pressure. While players are the easiest to identify with this metaphor, it works equally for fans, management, ownership, etc. Commitment is not just for one group of people to rectify. It is something for all of the different groups who are attached to the club to consider and contribute their part.

This season has been a disappointment to say the least. The POSH looked promising at times early in the season, even without a recognized striker. As time wore on, the pond began to melt and became unstable. The manager was the one who fell through as he was given the cold shoulder by several of the players. Now Grant McCann has been given the task of mending the cracks. With twelve matches remaining and the POSH eight points (plus goal difference) adrift; the team, fans, management, and ownership need to be solid for that time. This is not a task for one or even a handful to complete. At best that is more of the half frozen status quo that has brought us to this point. Everyone who steps onto the pitch, all of the fans in the stands and the ones at home need to solidify in their commitment to the one and only objective: staying in the Championship! The opportunity is not gone. It is only difficult.

My hope is that Peterborough has a cold spring, not literally, you get the metaphor! Rock solid!

Pete

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POSH, We Have a Problem And…

It’s the end of an era and I am extremely sad. Each fan is allowed their opinion and this is just mine. This is not just a manager leaving. It is a crossroads for the club that so many of us adore. Although Darren Ferguson was one of many managers over the past two decades, he personifies what the ethos of the club has become. His brand of attacking football that regularly had the POSH near the top of the list for goals scored has become an expectation at the club. Therefore this is truly a monumental problem that the club must face. Bringing in any manager to “right the ship” will not maintain that ethos set during Ferguson’s tenure. Survival, no doubt is the aim but the long term health of the club will depend largely upon the way that things are done moving forward. I have an answer and almost no one is going to like it.

In order to keep the club from getting relegated and maintain a semblance of the club’s forward thinking style with the players that we have will take a particular type of person. Someone with a pedigree that will gain instant respect from the players but a willingness to take on a challenge of these proportions. In addition to these attributes comes the need for someone who recognizes the importance of giving opportunities to young players. Although I’m sure this will be written off as pure Americanism, my belief is that Jesse Marsch would be the best candidate that we could hope to get.

While I’m sure that most POSH fans have not studied Jesse’s career, I’ve gotten to see it develop over the past decade. His progression from my standpoint started at New York Red Bull. At that club, he helped to do a top to bottom overhaul of the club’s persona. The messaging that was used inside and outside of the locker room was consistent with the play on the field. His style of play was a combination of pressing with insurgent attacking that would be akin to what POSH fans would expect. He regularly brought players from the youth academy through to the first team. Several players, including Tyler Adams, were given their big break under Jesse Marsch. Although he could have continued to seek success in MLS, he chose to progress his career by moving to Germany as second in command at RB Leipzig. That opportunity was merely a waiting room for him to move to Red Bull Salzburg where he was very successful developing young talent while winning games along the way. This halftime speech may be mostly in German but the results that he was able to get from his players against Liverpool in the Champion’s League is exactly what we need. Based upon his success in Salzburg, he was given the reins at RB Leipzig. He was unable to find the same winning ways but that is probably the only thing that could give our club a chance at getting him. His last position could be viewed as a failure but having listened to Jesse speak many times, he will have used it as a learning experience. With something to prove and his Red Bull connection possibly severed, the opportunity to build up a small club in the Championship might be the exact type of challenge he wants.

My desire would have been that Darren Ferguson would have stayed. This season is not representative of what he is nor what he has meant to the club. His fate was possibly sealed when we did not sell JCH in the summer. His stock was at its highest and will not go that high again. Selling him for a few million to someone else would have funded many of the pieces that we needed to survive. Unfortunately the past is gone and Darren Ferguson is no longer the POSH manager. A fourth time around is not coming, so it is farewell and I wish nothing but the best for the “gaffer”!

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7/11 Cannot Work in Peterborough!

It’s always tough to say whether or not things will translate from the States over to the UK. 7 Eleven is an almost ubiquitous convenience store that was bordered on a cultural phenomena at one point. The local bodegas tended to get overrun by the chain store that had all of your immediate needs on the shelves. It was relatively cheap and predictable but not fulfilling or meaningful. Although there is a time and a place for a 7 Eleven, there are places where they just cannot survive.

The reason that I bring up the historical king of quick stop shops is the number combination. Although it has nothing in particular to do with soccer/football, it represents one of the issues of the mighty POSH at the moment. Seven out of the eleven players on the field seem to be completely committed to the cause of the club. Today Dembele departed for AFC Bournemouth which takes one player who was indifferent away from London Road. This mathematical representation of the player commitment is not 100% accurate. It can change game to game but it identifies something that most POSH fans should recognize. Teams with high priced players can afford to have a 7 eleven type of commitment and still get results. Unfortunately for the moment, we cannot! Our present situation requires an 11 out of 11 or possibly 15 out of 11 type of endeavor from the group. It’s not going to be easy and especially not convenient! No one is going to hand over any points to us for free. The price is first going to need to be paid in the minds of every single player that steps onto the field. Belief is the currency and without it we’re bankrupt. Everyone needs to believe and then put forth an effort and compete. Not work hard, compete! Here’s a video about it. It’s not due to a lack of talent.

Peterborough may eventually have the resources to field a 7 Eleven team but for now, it takes everyone, even the fans. Every player that makes the squad needs to believe that they can help the cause even if it is for two minutes. No ask is too small or too large. I’m sure that the new signings can help but unless they are part of a squad that is at least 11/11, nothing is going to change.

Blogpost, posh, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

My Own Shame in the Beautiful Game

Over the years, I’ve claimed that I’m not “obsessed” with Peterborough United. Like so many _____aholics, I’m in at least partial denial about my addiction. Since our form has been poor for much of the season and goals have been lacking, I find myself desiring a bit of help from the football gods. When one of our players streaks forward, I find myself shouting “get in the box” to people on a computer screen who can’t hear me from across the ocean. Perhaps someone out there can relate. It’s not that I want my team to dive in order to get the penalty. I just know that the opportunity is there for an “easy road” to a goal. Torn by the desire for a score but not wanting the dive either.

The easy road mentality is one that we all adopt in different amounts. Lottery ticket buyers, crash diet enthusiasts and overnight success seekers are just the extreme versions of a person that we’ve all been in small or large quantities. We’ve all wanted the big reward for the least amount of effort before. There is nothing particularly wrong with it. It’s a natural inclination but it just cannot become an overarching strategy. The person or team that is relying on something for almost nothing will find that cash cow dead sooner rather than later.

Since I know that this type of thinking is not a long term strategy, my belief is that my team will start finding the net from open play regularly. When those lucky breaks come, I won’t lament them but I know that we cannot rely on them. The plan needs to be more than hope in this world. Hope is not a strategy! Even as a feeling, it seems a little flimsy to me. Hope feels almost desperate and passive. Belief is much more positive and proactive. Despite the positive connotations though, belief is not enough.

Once you believe, you need to act. Take the feedback that the world gives you and adjust. There is not one way to break down an opposing team or get to a personal goal. Literally thousands or even millions are possible but you need to find one. Once you find success, you can build upon it. Here in lies the problem of relying on the penalty. It requires other people’s input that is less than reliable. So believe in yourself enough to create your own results. The “easy road” is there but it doesn’t make you better. It makes you dependent.

Go for the goal with intention!

Pete

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Raise Your Hand and Be POSH

Being a long time POSH fan under the Ferguson/MacAnthony regime, one tends to expect certain things. Recruitment will largely be done from the lower leagues, picking up the “young and hungry” players that are ready to jump up a league or two. The players will be on affordable wages. So there is always the threat of bigger clubs in higher leagues swooping in for our stars and putting them on big money. Our players will be given the freedom to play attacking football that leads to goals. The statistics for this season do not support the idea that the last is happening. However, there is a difference between being given freedom and using that freedom.

I have seen enough of the matches this season to see the fact that our poor form is a slim margin from being respectable placement in the table. The missing component is the final touch. The Dembele shot off the post from yesterday’s match exemplifies what our season has looked like. It is not a lack of talent. Our players have proven in long enough spurts that they can do the tasks required to break down their opponents. It seems to be a reluctance to accept the responsibility of the freedom. It is a phrase that probably sticks in the mind of many POSH fans’ minds. The commentator from the Old Trafford game saying that POSH “only know one way to play and that’s to go forward!” That is not true at the moment. Several times yesterday, I found myself yelling at cellphone as I watched the match. POSH players with the talent to be exciting attacking players turning and going away from goal when they had both time and space. It’s not very POSH.

In the past, I wrote a post on a very different topic that was titled “Freedom Is Responsibility” but I believe it to be true. Freedom comes with responsibility. In this instance, the players need to be responsible for their duty as POSH players to go forward with the intent to score goals (not flop easily). The process of discovery has begun. The question is being asked regularly, “who is willing to take the responsibility?” Surprisingly, it is mainly our young players who are throwing up their hands in earnest asking for the opportunity. The captain who is playing regularly also seems to relish the challenge. Whether it is money, comfort, fear, laziness, entitlement or any other number of possible factors that is keeping others from putting themselves “on the spot”, the club’s survival at this level hangs in the balance of their willingness to accept their responsibility. If only a select few take it, then we are sunk! My faith lies in Fergie’s ability to find enough players to join the fight.

Up the POSH!

Pete

PS – Congratulations to Charlie Lee on great career! Still one of my favorite POSH players of all time.

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POSH: The Man Who Is Bigger Than The Role

Darren Ferguson signed a new contract as manager of Peterborough United. It is a role that he has held for over 500 matches and on three different occasions. A contract is a necessary part of the business of football. People need to be paid for their performance. Often success is rewarded with contract extensions and bonuses. These are all part of the “nuts and bolts” of being a professional. Managers get hired and fired by a club regularly because they are either getting results or not. At a certain point, some managers transcend their role and become one inextricably linked with the club. By saying that manager’s name, the club comes with it and vice versa. Even if the manager does move on to another club, their mark lingers on after they are gone. All too often, their departure leaves a gaping hole that others struggle to fill it. Or their thumb print can be seen on every aspect of the club moving forward. Sometimes it is both!

Wenger, Guardiola, Clough, Mourinho and of course Ferguson are all managers who have had this type of effect. In the modern age of football, it is difficult or often undesirable to have a tenure at a club that lasts a decade. So Pep and Jose’s mention is not completely out of place here. Although you could make arguments on which club they left the greatest imprint, there is no denying their transformational impact.

It is not a huge surprise that Darren Ferguson has had that type of effect at Peterborough. Having a father whose shoes are still waiting to be filled at Manchester United, there were more than likely lessons learned through that direct contact. While his lineage is important, he has also carved his name into the crest of the POSH because of the seeds that he has continually planted with Darragh MacAnthony during his three stints at the club. Finally neither man is walking away from the project because they both seem to realize that Darren Ferguson and POSH are one in the same. His presence is bigger than the role as manager.

As a POSH fan, this is an exciting time! Although there was a younger version of me that enjoyed the drama (and promised hope) of manager changes, I’ve seen enough at this point to know that the grass is not greener. The club are in the right place at the moment. Largely during my time as a PUFC fan, when things have gone right, it’s because Ferguson was at the helm. Now we have him on another contract and he can continue to be the talisman of the club. The man is bigger than the role! The only question is “how high can we go together?”

Congratulations Darren!

Pete

Blogpost, posh, self-reliance, SoccerLifeBalance

POSH Woes Away From Home Continue

I place the blame squarely on my own shoulders. So far this season, I’ve only been able to watch four matches and two have been POSH wins. My lack of commitment is a leading factor in the poor form. While I say this all in jest, people link results to a variety of factors which represent correlation and not causation. The away form is troubling and so are the goals in quick succession. Both are a symptom of an underlying problem that is easy to spot but more difficult to correct. Fergie put it very plainly in his post match interview. There is a lack of belief within the team that gets exacerbated away from home and when the team concede.

While it is simple enough to identify a lack of belief, it’s more difficult to correct considering all contributing factors. In order to have a squad that can withstand the workload, injuries and the level of the Championship; there needs to be competition at every single position. It is an absolute necessity but it creates circumstances where a player’s position within the team is always in question. As professional athletes, this is part of the job but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy.

If it were just the uncertainty of the position, there probably would not be such a grand issue at the moment. However each player must also internally wrestle with the question of whether or not, they are “Championship standard.” Obviously all of the members of the squad are eligible to play in the Championship because it is the league where the POSH are now. However there is a difference between being a Championship player and feeling like you belong at that level. Hopefully the players are smart enough to avoid looking at social media or player rating. That level of scrutiny is difficult to bear. Fans, pundits and journalists have the right to rate or not rate a player. It doesn’t mean that it’s helpful. Keeping one’s mentality straight with daggers being pulled for any play that is not up to snuff.

Finally the pressure of survival. This is one of the reasons that I’ve been a firm proponent of aiming higher than survival. Having taught for many years, I know that the individual who is just looking to pass will never get an A. The one who is willing to put in the work with high expectations will do far better than the bare minimum. Survival is not riding on every kick of the ball or even every match. It just feels that way and that feeling doesn’t help. The increased pressure produces anxiety that does not improve performance.

It’s simple enough to just say “get on with it.” These players are professional athletes who signed up for this pressure. True! However, any fan, pundit or journalist can tell you that a striker in the Championship needs to be more clinical because the number of chances are fewer and more difficult. So a player will train to improve their finishing skills. It’s necessary to perform at this level. How much training have players gotten on their mindset? Belief? Self-talk? Visualization?

I’m sure there has been some but if this truly is the missing component to success then it needs to be a core component to the training. A striker who is not putting shots on frame would not be told to just figure it out. There’s too much at stake. Each player would be different. Depending on their personality types, learning styles and modality preferences; they would need to develop skills to help them put legs under the “table” of their belief. For now they seem to be able to believe at home. That’s something! Unfortunately that does not scratch the true potential of this squad. They can make a real dent in this league but they need to believe it to their core. For now, they are waiting for the results to give them belief. That’s actually reverse of what needs to happen. Belief is a skill that they need to hone.

Up the POSH! I’ll do my part. I’m positive the players can do theirs.

Pete

Blogpost, posh, SoccerLifeBalance

Persistent POSH Procure Points

It’s amazing how quickly things can change. The original title for this blogpost was going to be “Poor POSH Produced No Points”. Harrison Burrows and Siriki Dembele changed that after their introduction into Saturday’s game. Although their goals are bound to be the focus, it is actually their mentality that truly caused the shift. Both players came in with a desire to compete that has been lacking in a few POSH squad members for the first two weekends. Luckily, all of our new recruits seem ready and willing to compete. Norburn and Randall are the two that standout most in my mind from the POSH new boys but they are not the only ones. While others within the squad seem to hope that their past contributions will buy them a starting position and wins in the results column. Luckily Burrows and Dembele have a bit more to fight for and it showed.

Photo by Joe Dent.

Today the echoing chant on social media seems to be that we need to hang onto Dembele or we’re sunk. While there is no denying Dembele’s talent with the ball at his feet, his true value is in his mentality. Perhaps his motivation is solely based on getting a move away from Peterborough and that’s ok! Stars have come and gone through the years at POSH but thriving in the Championship will not come down to the names on the team sheet but rather their inclination toward proving their value at this level. Players who are willing to do what it takes to compete to earn a position, then contribute toward a win are invaluable. Ones who are looking to protect their standing could be our undoing regardless of how popular or productive they were in the past.

Two league games are hardly enough to render judgment on anyone’s mentality but there are some worrying signs. The general feeling from the Luton game seemed to be one of fear from returning players. Several players seemed to be afraid that they weren’t able to play at this level. They seemed to get rattled by instances that I’ve watched them cope with handily before. Most likely that will pass. The far more concerning situations are where a player is looking for someone to bail him out. Whether the manager, the referee or other teammates, I’ve seen a few moments where a player is looking outside of himself for answers to problems that exist within. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a starter but earning it is key. Looking for a foul call is alright as well, provided that’s not the only thing in your arsenal. Teammates are there to be relied upon, not used as scapegoats for your shortcomings.

The substitutes in the Derby match were able to shift the mentality within the team. Even players who had been in for the entire match found a new sense of belief and an energy that carried them to the win. Dembele is not the answer. He’s an answer with the characteristics that we need. The POSH way is to “go forward”. Most of the time that means toward goal but it is also the mentality of progress, both personally and collectively. Not settling for being in the Championship or expecting that who we were last season is good enough. It means proving that we are a Championship club. That will not be given to anyone. It’s earned with each tackle, every run, pass and shot. Players will need to burn that into their brains because it’s the only way we’ll thrive in this league. It can be done and we have players that can do it. They just need to decide to.

Up the POSH!

Pete

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Player Value: Creating POSH Out of Potential

As the Euros are on at the moment, there is plenty of buzz around different players. The value of a player can go up or down massively during a tournament like this. Some stars are born out of these circumstances and others that have shown bright in the past fade. Gareth Bale used to be worth nearly 100 million pounds. Now his market value is around 19 million. Is he one fifth the player that he used to be? Probably not, his chipping has definitely improved! Haha! But seriously, a player’s value is not a fixed thing, nor is it ever completely accurate. It is based on many perceived factors including consistency and potential. No one can see what tomorrow will bring but those who guess right consistently enough, create value for their clubs.

Aaron Mclean (jumping) congratulates Craig Mackail-Smith after he scored the winning goal for Peterborough during the FA Cup First Round game between AFC Hornchurch and Peterborough United at Bridge Avenue on Sun Nov 9, 2008

Luckily for the past decade and a half, the POSH have had a relatively consistent combination of a gambler and a teacher who have maximized player value. This season that value is no longer going to help finance the club’s future young starlets. It is going to pay the rent for a year in the Championship. While the POSH haven’t done any transfer business yet this summer, the core of their promotion winning side is intact. This side’s fate will depend largely on the “dynamic duo” of DMac and Fergie to do what they have for so many years, see value where others don’t and improve it.

Although it’s easy say after the fact, that Boyd, Gayle, and Toney were “destined” to be great, no one can ever truly say. The order of the moment is to believe. Consistently through the years, the DMac/Fergie combination have delivered results. Although the Championship is a different level, lessons have been learned and the course is clear. There is nothing magical about the Championship. No one has a divine right to play there but there are teams that it’s almost a given that they are going to stay up. The bookies know who they are, that’s how they set the odds. However they have made a slight error in setting the POSH at 15/8 to get relegated. They are discounting the gambler and the teacher. The track record of turning potential into POSH should not be overlooked. Perhaps it’s for the best though. Long odds can create strong mentality of belief in teams and individuals. Us against the world is an idea that can be sold because people who are undervalued have something to prove. This season is all about the things that POSH does well. Finding diamonds in the rough and getting them to shine for all to see. Patience.

Up the POSH!

Pete