Matty Stevens, a man who has never really been given time to show off his goal-scoring ability at Posh – often pushed away from the first team mould to go out on loan to lower-league teams where his devastating goal scoring exploits come to the forefront. But, can a man who is used to scoring below the Football League pyramid be a worthwhile risk for Posh, or should Posh keep him under wraps for the time being?
Based on Stevens’ Twitter account alone, he is obviously desperate to succeed; coming across as almost too keen for his opportunity in the first team. But, with Grant McCann practically ignoring his presence and Steve Evans hyping the kid up with no game-time, it’s forgivable that he is trying his damned hardest to break into the starting eleven, especially considering the off-colour form of Matt Godden who has fired blanks after an initial purple patch earlier in the season. If Matty is ignored, and not given the game-time he so desires, we might stunt Stevens’ growth and ultimately leave ourselves with a player who doesn’t feel like they can express themselves in a Posh shirt due to little to no game time whilst being here (one substitute appearance at Fleetwood is my vivid recollection of Stevens’ game time, alongside one cameo here or there recently).
However, I can see why Stevens is not being heralded as a first team striker – after all, when Posh players – who have broken the mould at a youth level – come through to the first team the pressure is immense and can altogether crush their confidence, seen in examples such as Da-Silva Lopes, or they can altogether be forgotten and discarded, seen in the recently-released Andrea Borg. When the youth do not perform to the expectations of Posh supporters, they’re often treated with distaste instead of active encouragement.
With Stevens’ pure need for football, the harsh reality of underperforming might be altogether too much for young Matty. But, going back to Stevens’ social media presence, he has a band of followers who want to see him perform and play mainly due to his youthful hunger to succeed and score goals. Based on his record with Barnet, Slough and Kettering, Matty certainly knows where the goal is. He has also performed for the Posh reserve squads, netting a hat-trick recently in a reserve team match – but, it could be argued here, that there’s a gulf between performing in the odd reserve match or non-league clash and then being expected to score goals during a promotion push in the Football League.
I do think Matty should be given an opportunity to shine, especially considering Godden’s form falling by the wayside in recent memory. But, with Posh opting for a one striker formation more often than not, I don’t think Stevens is quite capable of replacing Ivan Toney in the side. I think his hunger and desire is admirable to see, but the danger would be that Matty – if he can’t play to his full capabilities and he struggles – would become a shell of his former self as he isn’t used to not scoring on a regular basis. Therefore, although he is clearly talented, it would be a big gamble to play him from the start as the expectation on his shoulders might be too heavy. For the future, however, Stevens could be Posh’ poster boy in injecting youth into Fergie’s side.