August’s Loan Watch: Ryan Tunnicliffe and Scott Wootton


By John Fernandez

Peterborough’s start to the Championship season has been surprisingly good by all accounts. Okay, so we haven’t trounced one of our biggest rivals 8-2, but by God we won 7-1 last weekend and were on TV. Being a Posh fan is just the best!

Onto the pressing matters though. These being the performances of our two borrowed Manchester United boys.

Scott Wootton

Scott Wootton has arguably had the biggest impact of both loanees so far, having been called in as a replacement for the injured Gabriel Zakuani.

Being partnered with young Ryan Bennett in the centre of a back four where the oldest member is 23 year old Craig Alcock. Yes United have done it, but Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra cost a shade more than the £500k our back line cost us.

Wootton therefore had to step up and fast. With no experienced head to guide him he either needed to find his feet quick or prepare for a lot of stick from the London Road faithful.

Regrettably what I have seen of the lad has been poor. Wootton appears to have a weakness in standing off his opponent, which has led to Peterborough conceding goals via long range efforts. This may suggest why his partner Bennett looks increasingly frustrated with the United defender. His poor communication with Mark Little led to Kevin Philips’s opener against Blackpool and continued for his second.

On the plus side, as all United players do, he looks comfortable on the ball and in our rout of Ipswich could not be faulted. Mainly since we were in their half of the pitch for 90% of the game but that is by the by!

Wootton is also a danger from corners and while he may not have scored yet he appears capable of being a goal scoring threat.

Ryan Tunnicliffe

Ryan Tunnicliffe’s fate has regrettably been a number of cameo appearances from the bench. What we have seen of ‘the next Roy Keane’ though has been very promising.

Tunnicliffe is tough, not afraid of a tackle and has bags of energy (He is only 18 minds). In our game against Brighton he replaced our skipper Grant McCann who plays at the base of a midfield diamond, dictating the play and shielding the back four. He was displacing arguably one of our star players, however we looked more assured at the back. It may be an option that for future tough away games? We shall see anyway.

What the lad really needs is an extended run of games, but I cannot see this happening without an injury to our midfield. He looks a talent though!

Verdict so far: Wootton 5/10 Tunnicliffe 7/10


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  1. Really don’t agree with the Wooton evaluation, I think he has been good in the 2 games I have seen him play and although he could be faulted for a few decisions against Middlesbrough I actually like him more than I do Bennett, and would not have been disappointed had he played against Brighton. Tunnicliffe has been superb in every game I have seen him and he needs to be given a chance from the start. Unfortunately this may mean Fergie Jnr changing his formation! His touch is outstanding but his tenaciousness and confidence on the ball and in his own ability is what stands out a mile! My marks out of 10? Wooton – 6.5/10, Tunnicliffe – 8/10. As for the future, I would think Wooton’s is away from Old Trafford but Tunnicliffe, given a coupla years could well become a stalwart in the middle of the park. On the whole, I am really pleased Sir Alex is our gaffer’s dad!!

  2. Wootton has started 4 of our 7 games so far, sub in another, so he’s featured the most and looks a good player. We have a settled centre back pairing in Bennett and Zakuani (2 years together) and have loaned Celtic CB Josh Thompson on a season loan so he has a tough fight when all fit. With Zakuani back and only 5 subs in Championship sadly I can see him struggling to make bench in future. Jury still out but he hasn’t down anything too wrong so far, but again on other side not done anything special.

    Tinnicliffe perversely with just 1 start and 6 sub apps in our first 7 games has more future playing time potential. He has shown real class at times, most notably when coming on as sub away at Millwall when we were 0-2 down and looking dead and buried, he proved an instipational substitution and was a key player in our our 2-2 comeback with an assist and battling display in middle. Again he faces strong competition with our team built around captain Grant McCann in the centre of midfield, he could be the ideal partner to McCann in a conventional 4-4-2 winning the ball and being the legs for his older partner, but Ferguson Junior seems to have settled on a midfield diamond to fit in all our attacking talent. We’ve signed Danny Kearns on transfer deadline day so since our last game we’ve strengthened our central midfield options so again Tunnicliffe could struggle to make the bench in September. Personally I think he’s shown enough to be a fixture in our match squad but if so why the need to sign another ballwinning battler in midfield?

    IMO I think Tunnicliffe will grow into a great player for us and hopefully we’ll be able to extend his loan all season. Wootton I think will have to hope our injury prone centre back Zakuani continues to get niggling injuries because when fit he and Bennett will not be moved in centre back positions.

    The idotic ruling by the Football League to move back to 5 sub spots on bench after 7 substitutes last season means 2 young players will miss out each game from being in our match squad. Those 2 could be both Tunnicliffe and Wootton.

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