I’ve never really had favourite footballers, I see them as grown men doing their job. I’m quite old fashioned in that sense. However Grant McCann changed that and became my favourite footballer. I remember watching him play at London Road for Scunthorpe when both teams were plying their trade in the championship. He looked a tidy player, quite slow but a fantastic reader of the game and passer of the ball.
We signed McCann when we were a League One club. The following season I had seen him play against us, Scunthorpe had managed to stay in the Championship, so he was dropping down a division to play for us – that already warmed me to him. Straight away you could see the quality he had installed into our squad. It was the year George Boyd had signed his new contract with us so although we had been relegated, we had just re-signed the white Pele to a new contract and also signed McCann added to that Gary Johnson was at the helm. He was highly rated at the time, having guided Bristol City to the Championship play off final, Barry Fry said at the unveiling of Johnson Posh had “Shook the footballing world”. I wouldn’t go as far as that but I hadn’t been so excited at a managerial appointment before (until McCann landed the job) so there was a very good feeling around Posh at the time.
McCann was installed as captain and he really did lead very well. He captained the side to promotion that year, scoring a trade mark free kick in the play off final at Old Trafford, albeit under Darren Ferguson and not the saviour Gary Johnson. McCann’s best season in a Posh shirt came the following season in my opinion, the man was unbelievable, literally picking the team off the floor at times. He was an old school captain, grab the players by the scruff type. I remember a game at home to Charlton, We lost 4-1. He was the only one trying. He scored a fantastic free kick then got sent off moments later, purely due to frustration. Highlights from that season include his free kick in the away win at Birmingham and his, which I think is his best ever free kick, at home to Cardiff. YouTube it!
Given the aggression he had on the field I was expecting it to toupee over to his managerial career. That doesn’t seem to be the case, the passion is there, in bucket loads and maybe he channelled the aggression in a different way, a more constructive way but I do feel the current squad need a rocket. Something McCann the player would have most certainly delivered. I was absolutely delighted when Grant got the Posh job, pleased that Darragh had given him the chance. He’s finding his feet in management, it takes time & although he’s been relieved of his duties I fully expect him to make a decent name for himself in the game. I think not knowing the players personally will be a good thing at his next club as the transition from team mate to boss can be a difficult one.
When the news broke I was shocked, as I know Darragh rates him extremely highly. Maybe if he wasn’t such a legend at the club he may have gone a few weeks earlier. The sacking was slightly premature for me – however I completely understand and respect MacAnthony’s decision. Darragh really put his money where his mouth is in January – mainly for the bids we rejected rather than players brought in, but not many League One clubs would have held onto Jack Marriott or Marcus Maddison if they were in the same position. He added George Cooper, a talented player from Crewe – Joe Ward an exciting prospect from Woking and Omar Bogle, an attacking Powerhouse from Cardiff. The Bogle signing had me covered in porridge, fantastic. However all three of these signings were benched in his last game against AFC Wimbledon which is a little bizarre and must of been disheartening for Darragh. He leaves us with a very average record. A 40% win rate, which makes him the 10th best manager we’ve had. I do think he’d have improved that given time, but Darragh needs Championship football for his football club so time is of the essence.
I’ve had a few dealings with Grant. When Liquid Football were on the radio Airways a few years ago, I reached out to Grant to see if he’d be interested in getting involved in some capacity. He sent us a signed Shirt from all of the playing squad for us to give away in a competition prize. He also sent us a soundbite of him giving us a shout out for us to add to our show. Sometime after he did actually agree to join us in the studio, which I was buzzing about. He ended up pulling out hours before which I’m convinced wasn’t his decision but that’s a different matter. He also did an interview for our website when he left us for Linfield. I knew doing that interview he’d be back before too long. He dealt with us for a final time when we approached Marcus Maddison to play for us in our annual 5 a side charity football tournament. We put a little tongue in cheek post out there stating we had signed Marcus Maddison on a 4 hour loan deal. The club saw it and gave Marcus a bollocking. The manager at the time, Dave Robertson wasn’t happy with the post or the fact Marcus had agreed to play. Grant, then assistant sent a text to me explaining the club have rules and regulations regarding players’ involvement in 5 a side or any other football activity in the close season, and that he wished us the best of luck with the upcoming tournament. Classy as always. Although I won’t forgive Robbo and Grant for denying us Maddison that day, I had to play a morbidly obese chap up front and we got dumped out of the tournament at the group stages.
Grant McCann has been an excellent servant to Peterborough United, a tremendous midfielder, captain & all round ambassador and I’m so happy he led out team out as manager. I really hope he goes onto great things in the game.