The Peterborough Who are You?: ‘beat Sunderland, Liverpool next please’

Robert Graves

Sunderland’s involvement in the early stages of the FA Cup or Carling Cup far too often sees us massively underperform. We all hope this time for a nice little run to go with some upward movement in the Premier League table that the wonderful win over Man City signalled. Robert Graves*, not from the Dead Poets’ Society but manager of the Peterborough United Supporters Football team, boldly goes for 2-1 to Posh and “really big boys” – the cheek of it – in the next round …

Salut! Sunderland: As I write, Peterborough are seven points off the top six, seven above the relegation zone (it has changed in their favour since). How does this fit with your minimum and maximum expectations when the season began?

To be honest, given the experience we had the last time we were in the Championship, I think every fan has to be pretty happy with the way this season is panning out. We had a bit of a minor wobble recently, but we’re still just about looking up the table rather than down it. At the end of the day, our minimum and maximum expectations were probably the same before a ball had been kicked – to keep ourselves in the Championship and build the foundations for an extended stay at this level.

And what is your assessment of the current state of the club and Darren Ferguson’s return?

I think both the club, particularly our chairman, and Darren have learned some lessons from what went on when Darren originally left for his ill-fated spell at Preston. Both sides are now much more aware of the benefits they offer the other, and I can’t see us experiencing anything quite like that again for a very long time thankfully. It’s certainly made us a stronger outfit overall in my opinion – there is a very clear vision in terms of the way that Darren wants his teams to play football at all levels, and in terms of the way that both he and the chairman want to work to bring players into and through the club. It’s the youth setup more than anything that has me smiling again – after a long break it really does look like we’re on the brink of bringing some real quality through the system and into the first-team setup.

What were your gut feelings when Sunderland came out of the hat with Posh?

It was a bit mixed really – every lower league fan wants to draw a Premiership club at some point in the cup, but if you don’t get one of the really big boys – Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea – then the next best thing is either one that you think you can comfortably beat – Blackburn, Bolton – or somebody local like Norwich. Sunderland aren’t really one of the biggest names, but you don’t strike me as the kind of side that’s going to roll over and let us beat you easily either – especially now that you’ve got O’Neill in charge.

The FA Cup has lost a lot of its historic allure. Do you regret that or do you, too, care much more about the league these days?

I think it’s a real shame that the cup appears to have slipped down in terms of priority for some clubs – but it is just for some clubs. For folks like Posh I think the emotion is still there just the same as it always was. I’m certainly expecting this tie to have that ‘magic’ feeling about it so who cares what other clubs worry about.

I have written – at this link – about a boyhood fling with Posh. That boyhood was long ago, and the fling was quickly over, but do you sometimes come across others who recall that era of Midland League dominance and the banging of head against wall to gain admission to the Football League?

Terry Bly, Posh goal machine

Yeah, we have some fans who are old enough to remember that period – it must have been a pretty special time to be a Posh fan. It’s not quite so obvious now, but I still think traces of that kind of stuff goes on – just look at the way parachute payments are handled for clubs who drop down out of the Premiership for instance. Absolutely nobody could say that does anything other than create an unfair playing field for the rest of the teams in the Championship – it clearly gives them a huge advantage in terms of heading right back up again. Even worse, it can sometimes encourage those clubs to keep on spending money at an artificial level they just can’t sustain if the success doesn’t come.

What have been your highs – Old Trafford vs Huddersfield must be among them – and lows as a supporter?

The recent play-off success was certainly a great day, but for me our Wembley success in ’92 will always be the one I’ll remember most fondly. In terms of lows, in modern times our relegation from the Championship was a hard one to take as I genuinely felt like we had a squad that was better than that. Still, that was just a trial run and we’re making a much better job of it now having that experience behind us.

Who is the best player you’ve seen, or wish you’d seen, in Peterborough colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?

The best player I’ve seen in Posh colours is a tough one to call – one of the contenders is George Boyd from the current side. If he had a yard more pace I have absolutely no doubt he’d be playing at the very top level now. He can be sensational on the ball, and is one of those that just creates that buzz around the place when the ball goes to him. Looking a bit further back we had the likes of Simon Davies & Jimmy Bullard – both great players that went on to have top-level careers in the game. Of course, it’s also hard to forget a certain David Seaman. The list of players that should never have pulled on a Posh shirt is just so long – it feels like we’ve had way more than our fair share of duffers. Take a bow Dave Rogers, Scott Cooksey, Zeke Rowe, Liburd Henry, Peter Shearer, Ahmed Deen, Dennis Pearce and plenty of others that I’ve thankfully long since forgotten.

And which of your current squad could make it in the Premier?

Well I just mentioned George Boyd so he’s one that I think could do it if given the opportunity, but I also think Ryan Bennett is another who will go on to play there. Lots of clubs are already watching him, and he’s just broken into the U21 international setup. A dark horse might be Paul Taylor – he’s packed more than enough into is relatively short career already, but on his day the lad can be near unplayable.

And what are your thoughts on Sunderland: club, fans, area? Did you ever go to Roker Park and have you visited the Stadium of Light?

This is where I show my ignorance and say that I really don’t know a great deal about you other than that you have great support, are currently paying good money to Wes Brown each week and are too good to go down. I’ve never been to either stadium either – sorry, but you’re just too far North and I’m a soft southern lad.

Can anyone stop Southampton and West Ham in the Championship (yes, maybe Boro or Cardiff can! – ed)? If not, who else will go up and who is for the drop?

Southampton are certainly looking a solid bet for promotion right now – I’d not bet against them finishing top of the table. West Ham are flattering to deceive a little in my eyes – scraping games by the odd goal and not looking anywhere near as fluent as the Saints. Big Sam will undoubtedly throw some money around in January though so that could make all the difference one way or another for them. In terms of the drop, my money would be on Coventry, Forest, and Bristol City. Yes, I am expecting Doncaster to pull themselves out of it although I’m not sure if that’ll be a good or bad thing for the game given the approach they are taking.

If you didn’t mention Posh in your last answer, where will you finish up?

I think we’ll be comfortably mid-table this season – my money would be on something like a 10th placed finish. We’re certainly capable of putting a run together and challenging a little higher, but I don’t want to jinx it with any predictions here!

The Barton Question, which used to be the Eduardo Question and may soon have a spell as the Osman Question: that’s feigning injury and diving covered (plus, with Osman, falling-over-and-claiming) but what form of cheating most irks you and how would you deal with it?

Time wasting. It gets right on my nerves and I hate to see it. I remember one game a few seasons back against a De Matteo-led MK Dons and they were wasting time right from the very first whistle. Drove me mad as I really, really don’t like it and it’s not what I’ve paid my good money to see. In terms of stamping it out, I’d like to see referees get tougher – why do players only ever get booked for it in the second half of games, and why do keepers appear to be issued with final warnings about five times before the ref finally pulls a now useless card out in the 91st minute. Book them early and cut it out before it has chance to take hold.

What is your honest view of all the money sloshing around a few clubs in football? Ruining the game or you only wish Peterborough could get their hands on some?

A bit of both, I mean who wouldn’t want what’s going on at Man City to be going on at their club really? That said, I think it’s vitally important that clubs without that cash don’t get sucked into the same thing – cut your cloth according to your means and don’t expect anyone else to bail you out. I’m certainly not a fan of this current trend just to drop into administration leaving a lot of unhappy local businesses behind.

Will you be at our game? What will be the score? And if you’re predicting a Peterborough win, who would you like in the next round?

Absolutely I’ll be there, and I’d encourage anyone else who can make it along to be there to. There aren’t many grounds with standing areas left now, so come along and enjoy it while you can! As for the score, I’m going to go with my heart rather than my head and predict a 2-1 Posh win. Goals from Taylor and Sinclair. I’d have usually had McCann amongst the scorers, but I think he’s going to miss out through injury which is a big blow for us. In the next round – I’ll go with our chairman and say that it’s about time we played Liverpool at Anfield.

* Robert Graves on Robert Grave:

I’ve been a Posh fan for almost as long as I can remember – my granddad took me along to my first game and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’m a season ticket holder and also try to make it along to at least a handful of away games as well each season wife allowing! I’m also the manager of the Peterborough United Supporters (PUSFC) team that plays in the IFA national fans league. It’s a friendly league, made up of teams representing over 60 different club all the way up the footballing ladder, that’s designed to encourage fans of all ages, races, and backgrounds to come together on a match day and play against the team of supporters representing your opposition that afternoon. It’s all about building bridges and having some fun – and I’ve made some great friends through it that I otherwise would probably have never even had reason to meet. Sunderland aren’t currently represented, so if anyone out there reading this fancies putting a team together and getting something going you’d be more than welcome to join in!

Interview: Colin Randall

10 thoughts on “The Peterborough Who are You?: ‘beat Sunderland, Liverpool next please’”

  1. I hope Campbell’s speed returns too. Sometimes after an injury like this there is a psychological barrier where the player will be ‘extra careful’ and not push himself in case it happens again. This may be especially true for Campbell because for him, if he does his knee again, that could be the end of him sadly.
    As for Bendtner, he does contribute off the ball and at Wigan he got the Gardner free kick and set up Sess, but it’s a hard world for a striker because they are judged on goals, not off the ball play. If we were rating for off the ball play then everyone would be clamouring to sign Andrew Johnson from Fulham. Bendtner for me still doesn’t get himself into the box enough and is a bit inconsistent. He’s a good player, but if I were MON, I would play Wickham paired with Sess. Or, if Campbell regains his golden boots, then Wickham with Campbell and Sess left wing, roaming inside. Then I might change it late on with McClean on with Campbell off and Sess switching more up front.

  2. Ian_SAfc…let’s hope that Campbell still has his lightning speed. Often after the injuries he’s had this is the first thing to go.

  3. While I have to agree with you Birflatt that Bendtner is not ideal, and I too would hope that better options become available, the fact is that he is being selected. Options are limited and like he has done with Cattermole, MON is using the resources at his diposal effectively.
    The fact that Bentdner has also shown a lack of discipline off the field too must put his future at the club in serious doubt.

    If a decent striker is signed in the next few weeks, if Noble and Campbell show that they are able to contribute and when Wickham recovers, then the manager will have decisions to make and I have every confidence that he will make the right ones.

    But for now choices are limited and I believe NB has played his part in implementing O’Neills plan. In my opinion he is giving us more this season than Gy£n did in the earlier matches.

  4. I was so astounded by Malcolm’s defence of Bendtner that I forgot the reason for posting in the first place. This is the finest “Who are you?” for the current season. I agree with Mr Sixsmith. It’s great to hear an honest set of answers from somebody who is a real football fan. This is an absolutely belting article. By the time I reached the end, I was hoping that Posh win for Robert, and then remembered that they were playing us.

    Whatever happened to the Shefflield Wednesday shirts that Posh used to wear in the 1970s? Even now when I see them it seems they are wearing a “temporary” strip.

  5. It’s very difficult to be positive about Bendtner’s contribution off the ball Malcolm, becaise I personally feel his contribution when in possession is so dire. I think his contribution off the ball is appalling as well and he should be sent packing back to Arsenal. It’s strange that people start to look for positives (which don’t actually exist), when a striker scores once in 10 games. I’m less concerned about his PR disaster off the field than I am about his performances. He’s crap.

  6. Personally I think Bendtner has had a bit of unfair criticism for his contributions on the pitch though his off field antics leave me non plussed.

    I think one of the things we often fail to appreciate is what happens off the ball. Opposition maybe not tackled but put under pressure and consequently making poor passes, players running and creating space for others or dragging opps out of position (Quinny a master at that) etc. etc.

    In the Before MON days we seemed static – no-one moving to receive a pass or create space when we had the ball. A reactive team reflecting the manager’s thinking.

    In the last few games the ethos has changed and the whole team seems to be thinking whether they have the ball or not.

    I’d like to see Noble start and love to think Campbell maybe near a recall but first and foremost I want to see a win on Sunday and a cup run to follow.

  7. I just read that Nobel and Campbell are vying for starts v Peterborough. I expect to see a somewhat second-string team with MON wanting to rest his players after a tight schedule.
    I was also thinking of the January transfer window. And, while I’ve harped on that we are desperate for a striker, I also could see MON getting the best out of our existing guns. I might even see Bendtner on the bench with Wickham preferred. (Does anyone else prefer Wickham by the way?) If Campbell finds his golden touch immediately, then I can see his lightening speed being a good compliment to Wickham’s strengths. With Sess being drifted out left with a license to roam. You know, I’m not too fussed now if we don’t do anything in this window. Four weeks ago I would never have dreamed of saying that.

  8. Any ideas where our fans will be congregating for pre match drinks? My outlaws live in Peterboring so I’ll be there nice and early.

  9. Enjoyed reading this from an honest supporter – no glory hunters in Peterborough!!
    Looking forward to Sunday and to visiting London Road for only the second time (lost 5-2 the first). I do remember us thrashing Peterborough 7-1 in the Cup in 1967. I don’t expect a repeat this time.
    Boyd looks and sounds a good player; he may well be one that someone takes a gamble on in the window.

  10. He was rather cocky wasn’t he?

    Hopefully we continue on our fantastic form, get the job done without any fuss and ensure we progress to the next round of the FA cup.

    I can’t wait for the match, really looking forward to Sunday. The Sunderland end is going to be absolutely bouncing.

    Ha’way the lads!

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