Hot and cold. That’s very much been the nature of Peterborough United’s story in the last few seasons with a 9th, 13th and 11th placed finish in the past three campaigns. Posh supporters are usually treated to goals however just as much as The Posh can be potent in front of goal they are equally guilty of shipping a few in the other end which means life supporting this type of club is certainly not dull but can make for frustrating viewing causing bipolar attitudes and opinions throughout the season. Not only this but Peterborough fans are told they are aiming for nothing short of promotion on a yearly basis by passionate owner Darragh MacAnthony and that is just the start of the Irishman’s ambitions, he wants an abundance of goals, an all out attacking style of play and exciting talents throughout his side. An awfully big pressure to deliver and not something you can hide from. What stands out with Peterborough is that Darragh is a regular user of social media and does not shirk away from offering his opinions online for all to see but is this healthy for a football club?
The current nature of football and social media means that every result is scrutinised to the extreme, often leading to overreactions and impulsive conclusions that could be made to look stupid just a few days later in the case of an EFL Club. While that is now the norm in the modern game it’s particularly interesting as a neutral to witness an owner share his views and give an insight particularly from the point of view of someone who has pumped millions of pounds into his club. However due to the sheer optimism and belief in his own work, MacAnthony sets a dangerous precedent by making some bold statements online and by reacting to fans both positively and negatively with particularly as mentioned before, Peterborough are a roller-coaster of a club. For example two seasons ago, MacAnthony brought in Joe ”The Goal” Gormley to London Road who had fired the goals home in the Irish league. Giving a player such a nickname who would never score for the club and then went onto retire from professional football months later illustrates problems with ownership and is not a one off in MacAnthony’s reign.
This charismatic, bordering on sometimes delusional approach can lead to a confused and disinterested fanbase which I believe has happened at times to Peterborough who are poorly supported and have suffered from inconsistent form in the last three seasons. I get the impression they feel they are almost being sold a dream which has grown tiresome. It is one thing experiencing fans with strong opinions on social media but an owner plays a dangerous game if a new signing is not what they are hyped up to be nor if the results are poor for a prolonged period. The owner and fan relationship could be very hit or miss and that was highlighted when Darragh threatened to sell the club should the club not achieve promotion to the Championship in 18 months (14th February 2016). Clearly a successful businessman like MacAnthony will have a ruthless nature and thick skin but after years of abuse and criticism from some it must affect him to some degree. While in the same breath it must constantly be too much to stomach for supporters who are sometimes mislead, deflated by disappointing results and surprised when the club who’s playing squad has realistically been no where near good enough, ends up falling well short.
I don’t agree with Darragh on a few things he tweets, likewise I am a fan of when he shares an insight into a professional club, a connection often left to the imagination of fans of many clubs. Personally I always believe an owner should be well hidden in the background, making the talking happen on the pitch however at the same time there is also not much significance to whether an owner is on social media. It doesn’t effect results or make a difference on a matchday but alternatively as passionate fans know, the feel good factor of a club is important and it can be affected. While I believe while the loyal fans will always remain no matter how much they grumble, attendances could be affected as a result and I feel Peterborough need a promotion season to return this back to the City. It is refreshing to see someone like Darragh be a fan type figure with his own opinions and interact with fans of all clubs so freely. There is no doubt football could do with those figures in charge of football clubs more.
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featured image credit HITC