With news that Naismith and Woodyard will be actively looking for moves away, the question that comes to mind is; are any of Big Steve’s signings proving it for Posh anymore? Aaron Chapman is now backup goalkeeper, Godden no longer at the club and players such as O’Hara and Buckley-Ricketts stand out as shocking buys. With Woodyard and Naismith two more potential outgoings, it’s not a gleaming assessment on Big Steve’s buys.
When you look at Saturday’s line-up versus Ipswich, only two of Steve Evans’ signings make the starting line-up with Louis Reed and Ivan Toney starting. Siriki Dembele is also present, making it three from the substitute’s bench. Fergie has ensured that most of the new faces brought into the building are improvements on the fodder Steve Evans acquired, Blake-Tracy – in his couple of appearances – already looks a better purchase than Colin Daniel ever did. Moreover, two-time Leicester loanee Josh Knight is head and shoulders above Mark O’Hara in that CDM position and much more foreboding than Lincoln buy Alex Woodyard. In Woodyard’s defence, I always saw him as a scapegoat for whenever we played badly last season – when a defeat became normal, so too did lambasting Woodyard for not crunching players with tackles nor leading as a captain figure. I do think Alex was talented, if a little mis-sold to Posh fans as a no-nonsense player as opposed to the tireless, if a little quiet player we saw in a Posh shirt. Wherever Woodyard does go next, I hope he’s appreciated by that new fan-base.
Jason Naismith is also a confusing one, not really a Fergie style full-back but he didn’t perform poorly last season and was one of the more consistent defenders throughout last season. However, with Nathan Thompson’s arrival alongside Niall Mason joining, it seems Naismith’s days are numbered purely because he doesn’t fulfil Fergie’s attacking philosophy. This has angered some Posh fans, with many praising Naismith’s workhorse attributes. But, if Naismith wants to move on as does Woodyard, they should be allowed that opportunity as was gifted to Godden when he moved onto Coventry in spite of a good first season with Posh. Other names that were consistent under Steve Evans are the likes of Aaron Chapman and Rhys Bennett, both falling out of favour this season with a whole host of purchases improving the goalkeeper position alongside the centre backs. Both – however – will provide adequate backup especially Chapman if Pym continues looking nervy in-between the sticks.
Luckily for Steve Evans, he can look back on his Posh career as Gills boss with some fondness for a handful of good buys – namely the three featuring for Posh against Ipswich. Louis Reed does have somewhat of a jury out against him, he hasn’t exactly set the world alight at Posh so far but has managed to maintain a spot in the side when others have fallen out of favour. Moreover, in glimpses, Louis has shown why he has been kept in the side by Fergie with his range of passing and an excellent volley goal in pre-season against Deeping.
“You cannot doubt how exciting of a player Siriki can be if a little frustrating to watch when he tries too much in a short burst of pace”
The two signings that show, in my opinion, that Steve Evans did prove his worth comes in the form of Ivan Toney and Siriki Dembele – the latter has been dropped in recent weeks after failing to impress early on this season, but you cannot doubt how exciting of a player Siriki can be if a little frustrating to watch when he tries too much in a short burst of pace. When he executes it, however, Siriki is near unstoppable and an exciting talent to watch – the sort of player you’d pay the admission price to watch when he’s at his best. Ivan is also another that gets people in their seats, an out-and-out goal scorer with 20 plus for Posh last season. Some fans have criticised Ivan’s inability to stay on his feet in a physical battle, and also some of his dry patches last season, but he’s most certainly our best striker at the club and – alongside Mo Eisa – that should be a deadly partnership as both of them netted against Ipswich and Southend a matter of days apart.
Therefore, with the three players still present from the onslaught of Steve Evans buys, it’s hard to say that all of his purchases were colossal failures. Ivan Toney is undoubtedly his best, a man – however – that Evans himself didn’t even truly want as he favoured Kayden Jackson. Dembele and Reed both show signs of promise, even if they’re scattered alongside poor displays but both are worthy of more time before writing them completely off. However, Steve Evans’ legacy in regard to signings will be a lot of wasted potential – Woodyard was known for being a crucial part of Lincoln’s FA Cup run and was a damp squib in comparison, Naismith rejected Sunderland to join Posh and will be remembered for being hard-working as opposed to an excellent player. Aaron Chapman too was signed after winning a golden glove, and is now known for being flappy and a substitute option. Therefore, many of Big Steve’s signings were not worthwhile. Time will only tell if Fergie’s recruits are worthy, Eisa is now impressing thankfully as is non-league signing Blake-Tracy. Long may it continue!