League One focus
As part of skysports.com's build-up to the 2010/11 season, Chris Burton met Chris Whelpdale.
Last Updated: 06/08/10 1:31pm
The 2009/10 campaign turned out to be one to forget for Peterborough United, as they slumped out of the Championship after just one season back in the second tier.
The Posh were always going to find the going tough, though, as events conspired against them almost from the off.
Star striker Aaron McLean sustained a long-term injury, denying them the services of one of their most potent attacking threats, while highly-rated young boss Darren Ferguson parted company with the club following a difficult start to the season.
Mark Cooper lasted just two months at the helm after being brought in to try and steady a sinking ship, and by the time Jim Gannon took the reins the writing was already on the wall.
There is, however, a renewed belief around London Road heading into the new season, with the club having got their house in order and enjoyed a productive pre-season.
The experienced Gary Johnson has been placed in charge, a man who has been bossing in the Championship in recent years, while a few welcome additions have been made to a squad which has remained relatively intact.
Peterborough will now be looking to repeat their heroics of the 2008/09 campaign, when they secured automatic promotion out of League One in style.
Expectations are high, but so is morale in the camp, as skysports.com found out recently when Chris Burton caught up with tricky winger Chris Whelpdale.
He said: "The gaffer has got in a few new players and we have all been out to Portugal and got to know each other. I think the team morale, which last year wasn't there because we were losing, is back.
"I think everyone has bonded together and it's bringing back memories of what happened the last time we were in League One. We have got that togetherness and I think we should be looking to push for promotion."
Whelpdale also believes that the Posh will have benefited from their short time in the Championship, with experience of life at a higher level never going to have done them any harm.
"The players who got to play in the Championship last year have got that experience and I think that will help us this year. It should help us to mount a promotion push and try and get out of this division," he added.
The 23-year-old admits that success came too soon for Peterborough over recent years, with the club having clambered into the second tier on the back of consecutive promotions.
"Maybe the club did go up a bit too quickly," he said.
"But I think we can also learn from that and make sure that we improve. If we can get promoted again, we will be better prepared for it this time around."
Everything certainly seems to be in place for Peterborough to make the step up and consolidate themselves as a Championship side.
Chairman Darragh MacAnthony has made it clear that he expects the club to take positive strides forward in the not too distant future, and the players and coaching staff have bought into that positive mentality.
"It is an ambitious club," said Whelpdale.
"We get that passed through the manager, what he wants. We are working hard in training to achieve that, because the players want it as much as the chairman. If we can get some consistency, I think we have got a very good chance of competing with the top teams in this league."
One of the key factors which could work in Peterborough's favour this season, as they attempt to secure promotion at the first attempt, is the impressive array of firepower they have at their disposal.
McLean will be raring to go again in 2010/11, while George Boyd is a winger with a keen eye for goal and Craig Mackail-Smith can boast an enviable strike rate in the third tier.
"It's great that we have been able to keep those three players," Whelpdale said of the Posh's attacking arsenal.
"Boydy has signed a new contract, which shows his commitment to the club, and we have got Aaron and Craig who have been working hard in pre-season and will be looking to do what they did last time. I think they got 50-60 goals between them last time in League One, so hopefully, if they can do that again, we can definitely go on and do well."
Peterborough are widely tipped to be among the frontrunners this year, but League One remains as competitive as ever and they will face stiff competition for a top-six finish.
Of those who could be challengers, Whelpdale said: "I think it's a lot tougher than the last time we were in this division, to be honest.
"You have got Southampton, Huddersfield, Charlton, I think all those teams will do well. Then you've got Sheffield Wednesday, they will be looking to be in the top two, or top six for the play-offs.
"It's going to be a tough, tough league this year but our pre-season has gone well, we have played some good stuff, so we just need to take that into the season."
Turning out against sides who have graced the Premier League in the past will give Peterborough an indication of where they stand heading forward, and Whelpdale admits competing against illustrious names week-in, week-out can only be beneficial to the Posh.
He said: "It is good for us. Last season we were playing against the likes of Newcastle, who are massive clubs, so it is great experience for us to play against teams like that.
"Sometimes it helps to raise your game, if they have got a big profile, and that can only help Peterborough."
Johnson's men are due to get their 2010/11 endeavours up and running at home to Bristol Rovers on Saturday and while Whelpdale is set to sit out the season opener, he cannot wait to get back into the swing of things and put the disappointments of the recent past behind him.
"I have got a slight thigh strain at the moment, so my pre-season has been a bit disrupted, but all the lads are buzzing and can't wait for the season to get underway," he smiled.