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Monday, February 01, 2010

Quick off the Mark

This is the year, it appears, where failing pays - and handsomely at that.

As British bankers get ready to enjoy bumper million pound bonuses they don't merit, Mark Cooper is counting the benefit of his 79 day spell as Peterborough boss.

That's because the 41-year-old served less than three months of the three-and-a-half-year contract he signed at London Road in November.

Brought in from the Non Leagues after success at Kettering, Cooper becomes the second boss Posh will have to pay hefty compensation for.

It follows the sacking of his predecessor, Darren Ferguson, who himself had been tied to the club until 2013.

Posh chairman, Darragh MacAnthony, will need to dig deep into his pockets to pay-off a manager he unequivocally publically backed less than a week ago.

In a senstional outburst against the current goings-on at the Cambridgeshire outfit he claimed that "nobody has given the bloke [Cooper] a chance," and that he was "not ready to throw the towel in as quick as others appear to be."

Rich words considering just two defeats later, including a bitter one to Ferguson's new team Preston, and United are seeking a third manager to try and arrest the club's slide back down into League One.

It appears a lost cause with Peterborough languishing bottom, a full 11 points off safety. Recent losses to fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday and Derby have illustrated that a team who won successive promotions are now out of their depth.

It is the same accusation thrown towards Cooper - a likeable guy who took a gamble on the move to Posh but was always fighting to prove he was a risk worth taking. In hindsight it was a mistake for both parties.

Cooper won just one of his 12 league games in charge of Peterborough

However, even with relegation looming, and another manager owed compensation, all is not lost for Peterborough and MacAnthony. Today's move need not to be the admission of the beginning of the end of the club's top flight dream.

United's owner must now accept that relegation is only a matter of time and bouncing back at the first attempt is now the priority. With Cooper at the helm it would have been an unlikely outcome, nor would it have been done with any style.

The new manager must be appointed with the idea of fighting for promotion from League One next season. He must have the necessary experience of the lower leagues and know what it takes to succeed at that level.

He must be able to re-invest the money the club are bound to receive for the likes of George Boyd and Aaron McLean wisely. Shorn of their star players of recent campaigns, this is a rebuilding job.

A manager who likes his side to play good, entertaining, attacking football is also another priority. After being spoiled under Ferguson, the Posh fans were always going to find it difficult to adjust to Cooper's more pragmatic and direct tactics.

It all begs the question why, when Peterborough had a boss in Ferguson who ticked all those boxes, they decided to oust the Scot so early on. It was a mistake, and today's sacking only further confirms it.

However, MacAnthony now has the power and opportunity to get it right. This must be a long-term appointment for the good of the club.

He must accept the bitter pill of relegation in hope that Peterborough return stronger and better equipped in the future. His actions will speak even louder than his words.


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