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Next Peterborough Manager Odds: 9 reasons why Posh should bring back Grant McCann

Could Peterborough re-appoint Grant McCann?
Could Peterborough re-appoint Grant McCann?

After Darren Ferguson resigned as Peterborough United manager on Sunday, likely ending a successful association with the club spanning three different decades, the club are on the hunt for a new manager.

An up-and-coming local coach in Mark Bonner at Cambridge is on the betting list, likewise a Championship proven boss in Lee Johnson and a wily veteran in Neil Warnock, but it’s Grant McCann who is 4/6 favourite with BetVictor to return to his old stomping ground.

EFL pundit Gab Sutton reckons it would be the right move for Posh...

Scroll down for the full next Peterborough manager odds market

Football Tips

1. MacAnthony knows him

It might seem like a mistake to make familiarity at the top of the criteria for the next Posh boss. How many great managers who are currently obscure would be ruled out as a result of this?

The truth is, though, that the way Darragh MacAnthony runs Peterborough United is unique. Perfectly reasonable – and at times extremely effective – but unique.

All four promotions the club have won during his regime as chairman have been achieved under Darren Ferguson, which suggests two things.

Firstly, it may not take an enormous leap to infer that MacAnthony’s outspoken, proactive approach may not have clicked so well with some of Mark Cooper, Jim Gannon, Gary Johnson, Dave Robertson, Graham Westley and Steve Evans.

Secondly, that MacAnthony’s distinctive energy, drive and radical honesty allowed him to create a special relationship with Fergie Jr, when they took the time to get to know one another.

For that reason, it makes a lot of sense for the Irishman to recruit a manager who already knows the way in which he works, knows what to expect and will not have to adjust so much: that could make the day-to-day side of the job much easier.

2. He’s dealt with the pressure before

If a Championship team had collected just 21 points from 31 games in 2019-20, 2016-17 or 2012-13, they would be 13 points adrift of safety.

This season, though, Peterborough are only five points off with a game in hand, despite having accrued a paltry four points from 16 away games.

The chaos at Reading, the no-shows at Barnsley and the turmoil at Derby means the Posh can, incredibly, still stay up.

Grant McCann has experience of turning around tough situations this season, because Hull won just one of their first 16 games and were languishing in 23rd in early November.

The Tigers subsequently soured to 19th – 10 points clear of danger after a 1-0 victory at Bournemouth – by the time the Northern Irishman was dismissed in favour of incoming owner Acun Ilicali’s choice of head coach, Shota Arveladze.

Although McCann has come under lots of pressure at different times, and might have lost his job in different circumstances, he has had the assurance to keep a cool head and turn things around, making him tougher and stronger than the man who was dismissed four years ago.

3. He’s just won a League One title

Peterborough have to think about this next appointment from two perspectives.

One of them is from the point of view of staying up this season, and a McCann Posh side should gain six or more points between now and the end of the season on a Paul Ince Reading outfit - click here for the next permanent Reading manager odds.

The other is from the point of view of planning for the possibility of a 2022-23 League One campaign, and McCann ticks that box too.

Not only did the former midfielder lead Doncaster into the top six at that level against the odds in 2018-19, he has also just won a League One title with Hull.

It may be easy to say, retrospectively, that the Tigers had a significant financial advantage over their competitors, with plenty of quality and strength in depth, which would be true.

Equally, there had been a lot of toxicity around the club after the manner in which they had been relegated from the Championship, so for McCann to work through that and lead them to top spot was impressive in it’s own way.

4. The halfway house

McCann represents a compromise between talent and knowhow.

On the one hand, this is somebody who retired from playing as recently as 2015 and has reasonable insight into the dynamics of the modern dressing room, as well as being able to relate to the current generation.

On the other hand, McCann has had three different jobs so far as a number one, he’s experienced lots of highs and lows, challenges varying in nature and has been around the block a few times.

5. Developing youth

McCann’s final starting XI as Hull boss had an average age of 24, including three 21-year-olds and a 20-year-old in forward Keane Lewis-Potter.

The former Scunthorpe player has acquired an aptitude for developing young talent, as he did with the Tigers, as Lewis-Potter and defender Jacob Greaves gain Premier League attention.

McCann has also nurtured Leo da Silva Lopes at Peterborough as well as Herbie Kane and Mallik Wilks at Doncaster, which fits in with Posh’s long-term plans.

MacAnthony has invested a lot in the youth setup and wants to see the continued development of defender Ronnie Edwards and left-sider Harrison Burrows, as well as a new crop coming through on the conveyor belt: McCann can help oversee that process.

As well as promoting from the academy, MacAnthony wants young players who the club have signed from lower divisions to thrive, like Kwame Poku.

The Colchester recruit has not had things all his own way this season and stepping up to the intensity of Championship level has proved challenging with no League One experience to bridge the gap.

Despite this, we have still seen flashes of what he can do, like in January’s 2-2 draw at Birmingham, and when Poku is released in pockets of space between the lines, he can release a quick forward like Jack Marriott or Callum Morton with a neat pass in behind.

Poku might not be someone Peterborough can hang their hat on to save their season, but he can certainly contribute and could become one of the best players in League One next year under McCann’s guidance.

Although Poku is a more advanced player than Chris Forrester or Lopes, McCann appears to like diminutive, creative operators and he comes into that category.

6. He’ll get the best out of Brown

Talking of Forrester, the closest equivalent to him in the current Peterborough squad is Reece Brown.

The former Birmingham academy graduate is incredibly relaxed in possession which means, in League Two with Forest Green, he was able to run games with a level of assurance few are capable of.

It also means that in the Championship, Brown has been caught out by the tempo, physicality, pressure and all-round demands of that level.

The Dudley-born playmaker was by no means perfect for Posh in their League One promotion season in 2020-21, but he was far more of an asset than a liability at that level, and could flourish under McCann.

The Northern Irishman’s leadership style is such that he will know when Brown needs an arm round the shoulder, but he also has a steely side. 

7. He’s shown he can adapt

One of the criticisms of McCann in his first season at Hull, when a run of one win in 24 to end the season sent them down, was that he had “no Plan B”.

How much of McCann’s persistence with 4-3-3 in 2019-20 had to do with his own stubbornness, and how much, upstairs interference, is unclear.

In the Northern Irishman’s next shot at the Championship, though, he adjusted to injuries to full-backs Lewie Coyle and Callum Elder by switching to 3-5-2, with wide forwards Lewis-Potter and Ryan Longman deployed as wing-backs.

The 3-5-2 yielded a stark upturn in form and while cynics will say he was “forced” into that change, those same fans would probably have maintained the theory that he has “no Plan B” had he stuck with 4-3-3 with the wrong personnel if that had not worked.

There is clear evidence that McCann has grown to become more tactically flexible.

8. He’ll get Marriott firing

The best season of Jack Marriott’s career so far came when he scored 33 League One goals for Peterborough, primarily under McCann.

Off the back of that 2017-18 campaign, with 25 of the finishes coming prior to February’s change of manager, Marriott earnt a big-money move to Derby, where he made waves in the iconic Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd leg with Leeds.

The nippy striker has since had a tough time of things with injuries, scoring just six goals in the last three seasons in all competitions (including this one), but McCann could be the man to get his confidence back.

A fit and motivated Marriott could at best fire Peterborough to safety, and at worst pose a major threat to League One defences next term.

9. Loves aggressive, ball-playing defenders

Andrew Hughes. Tom Anderson. Alfie Jones. Jacob Greaves. All defenders whom McCann has worked with and improved.

Not clones of one another exactly, but aggressive and driven with enough ability in possession to fit into an attacking, high-tempo game.

If McCann were to return to London Road for a second stint, he would inherit Nathan Thompson and Frankie Kent, two defenders who love to commit to a challenge.

Thompson, schooled at Swindon, has a penchant for carrying the ball upfield, whether at right-back or on the right or centre of a defensive trio, while Kent is progressive in possession.

McCann’s style at it’s best necessitates a high defensive line that is quick to not only engage, but also get play moving in the other direction: Thompson and Kent are perfect for that – and, indeed, McCann could be perfect for Posh, this time around.

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