So this is it. The final article in the series analysing the midfield. We have covered the shortcomings in midfield and style of play so far this season…but what could the future hold for Peterborough United’s midfield?

Obviously Ferguson may decide to continue with a diamond formation. Both Brown and Taylor can play on the side of the diamond or point, with Taylor also capable of being moulded to play at the base much as Reed has been. Fergie has utilised this formation with great success in the past and may decide to continue with it.

However, performances and results in the diamond have started to turn. Posh now look like they have the personnel to control games in midfield and a diamond midfield will never be the best way of doing this. Assuming that Ferguson has primarily opted for the diamond formation as a way of getting the best out of his players given their limitations in ball progression and final third possession (which I suspect), as opposed to crowbarring players into his favoured shape, do not be surprised to see a switch to a 5 man midfield variation (with players split between deep, middle and advanced midfield zones).

The most obvious switch would be back to the 3-4-1-2 formation which Posh have (relatively successfully) experimented with this season. The shape makes sense for a number of reasons. First Posh have players in Frankie Kent, Niall Mason and Josh Knight (when fit), who look perfectly suited to a wide defensive role in a three-man defence. All three are good 1v1 defenders, are comfortable on the ball and capable of progressive passing. Mason, in particular, has looked much better in the right centre back role than right back. Moreover, Posh’s other full-back options, particularly Ward, Butler and Blake-Tracy, are far superior wing-backs to full-backs. The shape also allows Posh to get both Toney and Eisa on the pitch together, and with 28 league goals between them already that might be big in Fergie’s thinking.

The game against Bristol Rovers showcased the pros and cons of this shape with the players available at the time. Posh’s ball progression from deep was much better. The shape created a natural 3v2 overload against Rovers’ two forwards (at times 4v2 with Reed dropping deep) and Posh were able to work the ball to both Mason and Kent with time and space to play forwards, with their link up to Maddison particularly impressive.

With Reed dropping deep and Mason positioned in a RCB role off-screen Posh have created a 4v2 deep overload against the two Rovers forwards (circled). Reed dropping off has attracted both Rovers forwards and central midfielders to track across to the right of the pitch. Following a succession of passes between Reed, Kent and Bennett, Reed switches the ball across the defensive line to Mason.

By dragging the rovers block to one side of the pitch, when the ball is switched Mason has time and space to carry the ball forward and pick a pass.

He plays into Maddison, who plays a first time flicked pass into Woodyard. Quickly Posh have converted possession in their own half into secure, dangerous and central possession in the attacking third of the pitch. If Woodyard was more comfortable with the ball in attacking areas this could easily have led to a chance being created. 

Click onto the next page to see the flaws of this formation, as well as some other options Fergie might choose to deploy.