Corrrrr are we still doing these? Well the good news for you readers is that we’re on the home straight of this televised catastrophe. The very bad news is that we’re only just reaching peak badness… 

 

 

Peterborough United’s half baked playoff push looks to be back on track after an uncharacteristic victory against Bury, a performance that incited the locals from up that way. Well, to be specific, manager Steve Bleasdale incited them, in a passionate outburst that gained national press coverage: The Football League Paper claimed ‘Bleasdale makes Stuart Pearce seem like a librarian’. The board at Posh aren’t particularly happy at this attention and set about writing an apology to the Shakers, whilst troubleshooter Ron is sent to sort out the in-house problems and get Steve to calm the fuck down. This task is actually within Ron’s capabilities, and in a long line of cases from this series of stating the bleeding obvious, gets Bleo to admit that he ‘might be a bit too angry’ on the touchline.

 

Steve Bleasdale confirming that water is indeed wet

The end of the football season is in sight, and there is serious pressure on Posh to resurrect their chances of promotion over the Easter period {*sigh*} with a match against Rochdale, but firstly, a showdown with Boston United. Steve Evans- The Pilgrims manger, having recently returned from an FA ban for tax fraud- has been bigging himself up in Peterborough’s Evening Telegraph, claiming the club he supports have not been good enough in 2005-06, and that if he had been given Posh’s budget he would have us top of the league  (as we all know he can’t function without signing players himself).  Under instructions from Barry Fry, Bleasdale pins the back page of the paper to the dressing room door to fire up his troops as they head out for the match. I think you’ve all been reading these articles for long enough to know that this motivational technique will definitely not work.

 

We’re going to be seeing near identical headlines in the coming months

Posh start poorly, with Richard Logan and Danny Crow both misfiring, although one man of a Peterborough persuasion appears to deserve credit in the opening stages: Steve Bleasdale, as Ron Atkinson’s pep talk appears to have calmed the angry Scouser down. It turns out that in reality, Atkinson’s pep talk did absolutely naff all as Steve Bleasdale is calling the linesman a ‘knobhead’ minutes into the second half.  And it is during this 45 that the inevitable happens; The Pilgrims’ only chance of the match fell to substitute Jamie Clark in the 69th minute, who volleyed the team from the most murderous place in Britain (look it up, it’s legit) into the lead. A lead they held on to all match. Posh 0, Boston 1.  The opinion that it’s a ‘terrible, terrible result’ is held by Ron and shared by Bleasdale, Fry and the majority of Posh fans.

 

If you’ve never been to Boston, count your lucky stars

Incredibly, Posh are still sitting in a play off place after this result, on account of all 24 teams in the division being very, very, very bad.  There’s no time for anyone to rest on their laurels though, as an unchanged Boro team (out of necessity rather than choice) travel back to Greater Manchester to tackle nineteenth place Rochdale. There’s mixed feelings from the Posh camp about this test: Bleasdale is relaxed, Atkinson is quietly confident and Fry is so nervous he tries to calm himself by smoking a cigar, looking like a Poundland Winston Churchill in the process.

 

“WE’LL FIGHT ‘EM ON THE FACKIN’ BEACHES! WAHEY”

For the second time in a matter of days, Posh have a horrendous first half, and are lucky to limp into the Spotland dressing room level. Despite a poor display, Bleasdale’s new Zen-Like persona is a tad over the top, and he lets his players off incredibly lightly during the interval with not a single raised voice. Steve concludes his address by asking Ron (obviously rhetorically) if there is anything he would like to add. Atkinson inexplicably puts his foot in it, and is critical of Posh’s midfield, David Farrell’s wing play and Posh’s overall performance in the opening 45…  Practically the opposite message the manager tried to send out. The confusion that this created really bites Posh on the arse: Rochdale’s young forward Rickie Lambert (never heard of him) pounces on a spilled shot to score the only goal of the match as Posh slump to another defeat. The dressing room is silent.  This is a team that’s lost its way, and a manager out of ideas.

Rickie Lambert: a nobody from a beetroot factory

 

 

But you can’t change the past. It’s a new week, and Posh are preparing for the visit of Macclesfield Town. Bleo is still unhappy at Atkinson’s intervention at Spotland, and claims the midfielders that Ron criticised got confused by the mixed messages they were receiving and had been negative when discussing the former Villa, West Brom and Manchester United manager.  Big Ron acts quickly to debunk these claims, asking the nearby Peter Gain and Paul Carden if they had complained about the advice that they’d received; the duo looked genuinely confused: they have not spoken out about Ron. Steve is visibly embarrassed by this contradiction.  Player relations are strained even further when Bleasdale announces his plan for the remainder of the season: a flat 4-4-2 with Sean St Ledger out of position at right back. This goes down with the youngster like a cup of cold sick. Bleasdale offers an ultimatum: “play there Sean, or fuck off”. As we all know/can guess,  he chose the latter.  Steve is incredulous, and is forced to drop the “fucking idiot”.

Sean St Ledger: A Phallus

 

 

An emergency board meeting is called with the caretaker boss present to explain the minor catastrophe unfolding at Castor.  Owner Fry incredibly fails to support Steve, reminding everyone in the meeting that scouts from big clubs like Preston, and small ones like Celtic, will be in attendance at the weekend with a view to signing St Ledger; playing him in the correct position is vital in an attempt to flog the bell end. Bleasdale reluctantly agrees,  but this tactical change wreaks havoc:  Phil Bolland is informed by Bleo that he has been dropped, minutes after being a confirmed starter. Nobody is entirely sure what the lineup is, and in truth I was expecting Derek and Margaret Poole to end up on the teamsheet, such was the confusion.  Fry can’t help himself, and grabs the problem by the scruff of the neck.  Despite telling the Sky cameras multiple times that “I don’t pick the team no more” and that we should “fuck off anyone with a bad attitude”,  Fry rings multiple players to inform them of the team he will be choosing, including the likes of St Ledger and Crow.

 

“Adam, you’re 22 and you’re spending your Saturday in bed with a girl. You’re wasting your life. It’s a beautiful day, take her out to a local fort or a Victorian folly”

Matchday:  Fry, Atkinson, Bleasdale, Tony Godden and Andy Legg are gathered in Baz’s office, clarifying what’s happening.  Fry reassures Bleasdale that his drastic actions are, well, not that drastic. “It’s fine Steve. If we lose, I go out and take the blame after the match.  If we win, you take the credit and the public will never fackin’ know!”  Fry tells Bleasdale and the national television audience watching at home. Bleasdale is furious with the decisions that have been taken out of his hands, and to rub salt into the wounds, his attitude and body language are being doubted by Atkinson and Fry.

 

 

If you look up crestfallen in a dictionary… There will be a clear definition, that’s how dictionaries work. They aren’t picture books.

 

The situation is explained to the players in the changing room. Fry tells the matchday squad how disappointed he is with their attitudes, before reintroducing the Posh squad to his tactics (or lack thereof) and motivational techniques: “Who’s facking confoosed? Are You? Are You? Are You? You? You?” Is bellowed into 11 faces, as Peter Gain asks which opponent he should be responsible for closing down. Bleasdale (remember him? Yeah, he’s here too) comes in: “Baz on that last point: sorry, I resign fellas, good luck”. The Scouser walks out of the London Road reception, driving his Peugeot 307 into the sunset.  This was a completly unprecedented move, and you could almost hear the production crew rubbing their hands with glee at the drama that was unfolding. The stunned players Bleasdale left behind had a range of reactions: some found it quite funny, others found it side-splittingly hilarious.  Barry Fry breaks the silence with a smirk: “none of you fucking supported him while he were here, don’t bother starting now”.  Never has truer a word been spoken, as Atkinson and Fry become impromptu caretaker managers for the day.

 

Most players thought Bleo quitting was hilarious; Peter Gain looked like he was watching his house burn down

Onto the match, watched by a shocked 3,000 Posh fans. The home side start well, having a few near misses in what Jeff Stelling in the voiceover booth claimed was the best Posh performance of the season. That statement is a bit like saying you’ve got the best strand of herpes, or the best series of Mrs Brown’s Boys on DVD, but we’ll roll with it.  Inevitably, despite the bright Posh start, Macclesfield take the lead.  But the home team come back strong, as Kasabian’s Club Foot (not sure if that’s deliberate humour there) blasts out, and a Danny Crow header restores parity.  Posh carry on pushing, and Dave Farrell’s header looks to have secured 3 crucial points.  But this is Peterborough United; Fry’s heart breaks as the side from Moss Rose score, and look to have grabbed a draw in the 90th minute.  But this is Peterborough United; with the last kick of the game, Norfolker Crow fires a low shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-2. This is a crucial three points for Posh-as coupled with positive results from their rival- keep them in touch of the play offs.

 

1996 or 2006?

 

After the post-match euphoria has evaporated, Fry finds his mobile phone. Bleasdale sent a text minutes before kick off, which is read (incredibly slowly and stiltedly) aloud by Fry. “Sorry Barry, I did my best, but you would have done the same. Too much interference. Steve”.

This is going to be fun to clear up next week. Join me then, as we embark on the final episode. In the meantime, why not head to the forum to discuss the series now?

James Bloodworth (jwb1997)

James can be found on twitter: @Jamesb17_