Blogpost, posh

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

Uninspired POSH Need Last Piece of Ferguson Puzzle

For almost two decades, I’ve been supporting Peterborough United from afar. Despite the inconvenience of supporting a team that I rarely get to watch, I’m comforted by the fact that I know what to expect from POSH. Our chairman (or el presidente) will be on Twitter or his podcast speaking his mind about POSH or anything else. Barry Fry will be working the deals, although much quieter than in the past. Finally whenever Darren Ferguson is our manager, we’ll be close to promotion.

With the disappointment of last season fresh in POSH fans minds, the recognition that we need to amass as many points as soon as possible is plain for all to see. With the backing of the owners and other fortunate circumstances, most of the pieces are in place for us to withstand this marathon of a season near the automatic promotion places. The squad is made up of players who can replace one another with minimal dips in ability. Therefore the tight schedule will affect us less than other squads. The lack of crowds at the moment works slightly to our favor because our away form is usually a factor in keeping us from promotion. By the time that crowds are allowed back, our position in the league and the novelty of being at games bring great support to home matches rather than a fickle POSH crowd. Ferguson’s calculated approach will continue to produce consistent results that will have us in the playoff or automatic places as the season comes to a close. Despite the unique circumstances, this sounds like a pretty typical season under Darren Ferguson. Selfishly though, I’m looking for more.

As I’ve stated prior, I am a huge Ferguson supporter. He has been the manager for a good portion of my time as a POSH fan and enjoy watching his teams play and the way that he conducts himself. However it seems that he is missing one piece from his managerial arsenal. Based on my observation, POSH teams tend to start games slow and only “turn it on” in the second half. There could be many reasons for this but as a person who believes heavily in the emotional side of the game, I think it is due to a lack of emotional priming.

Most of my coaching career has been spent at the high school and college where the tactics and techniques are important but usually in close matches, the emotional side of the game wins. The professional level definitely requires a more steady approach to the management of players’ emotions. However that does not mean that it is not important. As the son of Sir Alex, I’m sure that the halftime resurgence of POSH teams is partially due to a few “hairdryer” treatments. While this has its place, training players on how to manage themselves and especially to “prime” themselves for a peak emotional state at game time is crucial.

This is the last piece to Ferguson’s puzzle. His tactical awareness and man management on a longitudinal basis seem to be spot on. The place where POSH fizzle at times is their ability to start the game on the emotional front foot. A combination of confidence and desire to do what it necessary. The difference between last season’s team that looked like a juggernaut going into the late part of the season and this season is the lack of an emotional focal point. Ivan Toney (the only thing I’ll give Steve Evans credit for getting right) allowed the players around him to play with confidence and joy because he was going to give them a chance to win regardless of how they played. None of the players at the moment has that power. So it needs to be taught to all of them. The POSH team of this year will only dominate this league if each and every player comes to the field with his best mindset available. Expecting 25+ goals out of Clarke-Harris, Dembele or Eisa seems unlikely. So the squad must do it and cannot continually take the first half at half capacity.

Developing a system of emotional priming is not outside of Ferguson’s skillset, he did it beautifully leading into the promotion push from years ago using the video with the Adele song. However this work needs to be done a much more individualized basis. This work cannot be done to the players, it must be done with the players. Dan Abrahams, who has worked with several teams and individual athletes, has players create a persona to bring out their best attributes at the crucial moments. His work is not the only possibility for priming athletes but having heard him speak a few times, I’m a fan of his work.

So the question is not whether or not POSH have it in them to win this league, they do. The question is whether or not they can consistently demand more from themselves physically, mentally and emotionally than their opponents. The difference between this and any other POSH year may come down to the players being trained on how to turn on their own fire without the “hairdryer”.

Up the POSH!

Pete