Fan’s View 2020/21 – No.9 – Peterborough away

Article by Paul Beasley Saturday, October 17th, 2020  

SEASON 2020/21 – FAN’S VIEW No.9 – PETERBOROUGH AWAY

THE WEEK GONE BY

Other than a pre-season effort I only pop out a FV after a game – or scheduled fixture that doesn’t take place if Crewe are our opponents. That means much of what I may write about off the field stuff is outdated almost immediately.

Project Big Picture (PBP). This fell into that category. It was reported that The Premier League “unanimously” rejected it on Wednesday. That makes no sense given that the proposal was put together by Liverpool and Manchester United. Why would they vote against it? It could all be part of a political game where they’ll come back with less outrageous suggestions which will eventually be accepted obviously benefiting themselves to a greater degree than rivals. They don’t want anything close to resembling a level playing field for all.

The more I hear about what was in the detail of PBP the more outraged I get about the control the few were trying to exert. It even included setting a salary cap in the Championship.

Instead at that meeting there was an agreement to work together on a new strategic plan for financing English football and they also came up with a £50m rescue package in the form of grants and interest free loans for League One and League Two, but not Championship, clubs. That was rejected by the EFL because it didn’t include all three divisions.

Whilst this was happening Texas Pacific Group (TPG) offered £375m for a 20% stake in the EFL. As part of that proposed deal TPG would have put a management team in place to deal with the EFL’s commercial and broadcasting rights. I don’t think I’d be comfortable with that but Premiership rugby has such an arrangement with CVC Capital Partners having a 27% stake.

This was turned down, seemingly by Rick Parry and the league’s commercial people without even putting it to the 72 clubs. Parry of course was pushing PBP so very much had a conflict of interest. Personally I think Parry should be removed from his role as Chairman.

So there we are, or possibly were if we’ve moved on again. Football, like the rest of the country, remains in a crisis.

Transfer Window. Is now closed and we brought in just one additional player, Olamide Shodipo, on loan from QPR. From what I’ve seen so far I think we are currently weaker than we were throughout most of last season. It was never the intention to bring in another centre-half but I have significant concerns about our defence and cannot envisage us keeping many clean sheets. We do have lots of midfield talent and options but physicality is lacking and I fear we could be out fought. Another weakness is lack of genuine pace but perhaps that will be provided by Shodipo who fills that left spot that’s been talked about for a while. I’d never heard of him. He turned 23 in July and I’d expect him to be doing something by now if he was going to make it big (or a level down whatever that is). He got very little game time in the League last year for Rangers, starting just twice when he was taken off but mostly just coming on for a few minutes at the end. Open mind and all that.

Where we do look blessed is in the goal-scoring department. Matty Taylor, Sam Winnall (if he can stay fit) and James Henry. Finishing is one thing but the chances have to be created first. On the bright side we got four at Accrington and had 31 shots at Gillingham last week.

Crewe. Arranging a new date for their visit to Oxfordshire has become an almost weekly task. It is unclear whether that visit is to play a game of football or to bring a carrier of Covid into the county.  Take three is set for Tuesday Nov 17. David Artell has been caught up into the fake news bullshit spin world that currently rules and is dragging the UK down. He’s somehow twisted facts and opinion in his own head to blame Karl Robinson. Conveniently there’s an ignoring of turning up first time with Omar Beckles and his Covid. No hint of an apology.  Beckles played in Crewe’s 3-0 win over Wigan last Saturday with Artell saying that the EFL gave them written permission allowing this. It was Crewe who said they couldn’t play at the Kassam last Tuesday but I can’t find a reason for that anywhere nor the slightest hint our gaffer was involved in underhand tactics. Artell has claimed Robinson rang his players. No idea if he did or didn’t but given how the game nearly went ahead first time around when it appeared that they were going to keep quiet about Beckles I wouldn’t blame him one bit.

There’s now bad blood between the two clubs and next time fans are allowed into a game between us it is bound to have a certain edge.

Our opponents. Peterborough are always fancied and are expected to at least be around the play-off slots. Like us they were one of the bookies favourites at the start of the season and like us started quite poorly. Unlike us though they appear to have now got it together rather better. They may no longer have Ivan Toney but still provide a genuine attacking threat.

Having seen our team sheet, logic flipped me into pessimistic mode. No Cameron Brannagan and Alex Gorrin only on the bench. I envisaged our midfield getting over run and the back line caving in. Looking at the starting XI sadly I was of the opinion that about half of them were not good enough.  

No beers here this season. Last visit was in February. Seems like a lifetime ago.

PETERBOROUGH UNITED 2 OXFORD UNITED 0

Three hours later that opinion has not changed. In fact I’d go so far as saying that if we started every league game with that line up we would, without question, be relegated long before the final day of the season.

Yes we again had many efforts on goal and another day one or two may have gone in. Possibly luck wasn’t with us but we either missed the target or Posh defended well enough to keep a clean sheet. That absolutely looks like something we are not capable of and so it proved here. Hence the home side were thoroughly deserving of taking the three points and in Siriki Dembele had the trickiest player on the field. That said I was nowhere near as impressed with this Peterborough side as some I have seen in the recent past which makes it even more worrying that we got beaten.

I’d like to believe that with Mous and Rob Atkinson close to a return we will get shored up at the back but I think we look weak defensively at full-back too now which doesn’t bode well at all. That though may be because Josh Ruffels, who had a torrid time and Sean Clare don’t get the help from those further forward they are entitled to.

Within the first ten minutes the hosts had cut through us a couple of times and in another attack Joe Ward hit the post.

In the next ten minutes we came back into it but never during the contest did I get as excited as the Radio Oxford lads in thinking that we were doing well. For all this improvement from the opening and even as we edged towards half time with the carrot of getting into the dressing room, or wherever they’re put in these days of severe restrictions, I had much greater expectation that if a goal was to come it wouldn’t be for us.

Sure enough on 43 minutes a simple ball was played over the top and I would say our defence parted, except it wasn’t really there to part, leaving Ward with a lob over the advancing Simon Eastwood. Ruffels was the defender closest to the scorer and he’d come across to a central position getting in the way of and clipping Long. That just shows how disorganised we are in the rear guard. There’s no-one exuding cool control or reading the game.

I need to add here that I thought Sam Long had a pretty decent game. Man of the match though I would give to James Henry but other than that I look around and think come on ffs guys someone step up. Most of the rest were at best bang average and that goes for the subs too except what Gorrin brings to the party was evident. More than one player needs to get back on it then the team might click but the way things stand at the moment our recruitment is open to question.

At 1-0 however badly a team is playing, and this wasn’t the direst performance I’ve ever seen from Oxford, there is always a possibility that something will happen. A bit of luck or unexpected magic to get them back in it. We had no luck and no magician in our ranks. Instead we were more capable of cocking up. Certainly no luck when we went a second goal down but if you give the ball away, which we did, you deserve to be punished. If our game is all about keeping possession then we should be better at keeping hold of the bloody thing than we are. Having lost it, Long made a decent effort at winning the ball back but was unfortunate in the way it spun up and away from him. Tellingly when it mattered it was a blue shirt quicker onto the ball which emphasised how often we weren’t quite as switched on as them. In the blink of an eye Dembele had it at his feet and finished clinically through Eastwood’s legs. Elliot Moore didn’t know whether to come or stay and Clare was beaten with utmost ease. All teams make mistakes at the back from time to time but if you’re any good they’re one off situations. With us now they’re almost expected.

I can’t remember the last time I felt such little faith in our squad. That’s not to say I have chucked the towel in and if I was allowed to go to games I’d be doing my best to get behind the boys but I can only call it as I see it.

The strength of beer I prefer is something around 4-4.5% ABV but tonight having looked in the cupboard found one that was 7.3%. Sounded about right to match my OUFC mood, could bring on a headache and feeling of depression. So that’s what I opened. The bottle stood there taking the piss out of me: McEwan’s Champion. Yes, CHAMPION. We couldn’t be further from being champions as tonight we languish bottom of the table with a miserly three points from five games.

I can’t stand MK Dons who visit on Tuesday and next Saturday it’s Swindon at the Kassam. Fingers need to be pulled out all round or else I’ll have to order a crate of Brewdog’s super strong Sink the Bismark beer which is actually the strength of whisky.

 

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