Author Archives: Pete Mason

Are Oldham Athletic Fans Prepared For The French Invasion?

There isn’t much news that could be described as unbelievable when you’re talking about Oldham Athletic. However, that doesn’t stop the rumour mongers casting their lines and waiting for a bite.

The latest one apparently backed up by someone who claims they are scouting for the club, is that ex-Arsenal and Crystal Palace striker Marouane Chamakh has been coaxed out of retirement at 35 to turn out for Latics in League Two next season. As rumours go, it had a degree of believability given that the player has both Moroccan and French citizenship, but a player who hasn’t kicked a ball since February 2016 is pushing the imagination a little too far.

It is not beyond belief however to expect an influx of French players. Given the imminent arrival of new coach Laurent Banide or, ones who are connected with Abdallah Lemsagam’s Sport2jlt company based in Dubai.

There are more French players than you can shake a baguette at who find themselves without a club, having failed to get a contract extension and many ends their playing careers out in Dubai or Saudi Arabia. It is therefore fairly obvious that any incoming players from that area aren’t going to be fresh-faced youngsters.

Right midfielder Billy Ketkeophomphone is a free agent having been released by Auxerre, presumably because they didn’t have a shirt wide enough for his name. However, at 29 he may still have a season left in him, despite his previous problems with injury.

On the books of Sport2jlt is Brazilian forward Wanderley or Wanderley Santos Monteiro Júnior to his mates. The 30-year-old striker had an impressive record in the UAE Gulf League, scoring 36 goals in 58 appearances. There is little knowledge of what the standard is like out in the UAE, and how it compares with League Two.

There has been one rumour surrounding a player who isn’t based in Angers or Abu Dhabi, and that is the very un-French sounding Billy Clarke who has been released by Bradford City. He spent a large part of last season out with a cruciate ligament rupture, but the 31-year-old attacking midfielder might be tempted to stay in the region despite the interest shown from Exeter City.

Without a doubt, there will be further rumours concerning new signings as the start of the season approaches. Nevertheless, as with the new coach, whether they are well known or not cannot be guaranteed. Plans for next season certainly need to be stepped up a gear for as the French say: ‘Qui n’avance pas, recule’.

There’s a nervousness around Oldham Athletic with the fans divided ahead of the new season

Every football supporter secretly starts off a season believing that their club can win the league, but Oldham fans appear to have decided that more misery is to be inflicted on them in the coming campaign.

There has been little enthusiasm shown for next season, probably because of the absence of news from the club regarding new signings and the appointment of a new coach.

Even with one of those issues solved with the arrival of new coach Laurent Banide, the outlook is cautious, to say the least.

It is true to say that supporters get very nervous if a full squad isn’t in place by the first week in June. This close season seems to be worse than usual, probably because of the circus that surrounded the club last season.

At present, it is difficult to see how a side could be put together from the 18 players whose faces appear in the first team list on the club website. For a start, we only have one goalkeeper in Zeus de la Paz. He had little opportunity to prove himself last season, given the heroics of on-loan Daniel Iversen.

Defensively we look threadbare as well. With the George Edmondson transfer still unresolved, and Jamie Stott rumoured to be attracting interest from Stockport it doesn’t bode well for Oldham.

It is the forward line which is giving Latics fans the most amount of sleepless nights, with only Chris O’Grady, Jonathan Benteke and Johan Branger currently listed as being with the club. Replacing Callum Lang was always going to be a major task. However, unless there are plans to bring in one or two more forward players soon, the prospect of a struggle next season seems very real.

With Banide not due to take up his appointment till July 1st, the signing of players might not materialize till then prompting further nervousness. On ‘OWTB’ one of the Oldham message boards, ‘Chaddy14’ adopted a hopeful approach:

Personally, I would like to welcome Laurent to Latics and wish him every success. I dread to think what he must think about the club and this group of “fans” he is joining if most of these posts were passed on to him (an translated if need be before anyone else has yet another pop).
I’ll judge him by what he does and the impact he has on the coaching at the club and remembers that he was not part of the “past” and to be honest he can’t be worse than the quitter Scholes!
God help him at a meet the coach pre-season with some of the contributors on here! At least he’s a fully qualified/badged coach unlike some of our historic crop of “managers”
Good luck!

However, there are some people who just won’t give the new man or next season a chance.

Examining Oldham Athletic’s 19/20 League 2 Opponents: Crewe, Forest Green Rovers and Exeter

Continuing the definitive guide to the 19/20 League Two season for Oldham supporters.

Crewe Alexandra

Trainspotters flock to Crewe railway station as it’s one of the most historically significant railway stations in the world but they wouldn’t want to suffer the embarrassment of being seen at Gresty Road.

Nickname: The Railwaymen (eye roll)

Sponsor: Hornby

Star Supporter: Thomas the Tank Engine

Club Mascot: Derek the Delayed Diesel

Half Time Entertainment: The Buffet Car Sandwich Challenge

Will Oldham Take Over The Town?: Pretty good chance if we’re doing well

Mad Chairman Score Out Of 10: John Bowler 82 years old and associated with the club since 1980. Very quiet on the scandal that hit the club last year. 10/10

One to Watch: Perry Ng the player with an aversion to vowels.

Style Of Play: Containment with delays and cancellations.

Speciality Pie Flavour: Mysterious and deep filled lucky dip

Away End Capacity and Condition: 1680 seats with a few obstructive pillars.

Likely Pre Match Songs: Paddy works on the railroad

End of Season Prediction: 13th

Exeter City

The only two games Exeter supporters are bothered about next season are the ones against Plymouth who share the same bare patch of football wasteland which is the South West of the country. Nobody else cares about either of them.

Nickname: ‘The Grecians’ which the origin of is apparently the subject of speculation and debate. Or not.

Sponsor: The Clotted Cream Company

Star Supporter: Coldplay’s Chris Martin

Club Mascot: Winnie the Witch
(The city is infamous for being the last place where a woman was trialled and executed for witchcraft.)

Half Time Entertainment: The ducking stool challenge

Will Oldham Take Over The Town?: There were plans to last season with a win needed to keep up with the playoff places but distance is always going to be a problem.

Mad Chairman Score Out Of 10: Julian Tagg. As the club is owned by the supporters they don’t appear to have any problems with their Chairman. Funny that! 1/10

One to Watch: Jonathan Forte because ex Latics players always get one over on us.

Style Of Play: Hopeful

Speciality Pie Flavour: Some sort of meat but don’t ask for gravy this far South.

Away End Capacity and Condition: 950 but the ground is looking a bit tired.

Likely Pre Match Songs: Something unintelligible about drinking cider

End of Season Prediction: 16th

Forest Green Rovers

The first thing people say when you mention FGR is their switch to being 100% vegan so I won’t mention it. Only kidding…

Nickname: Rovers (double eye roll)

Sponsor: Nigirizushi Steaks

Star Supporter: Bear No Grills

Club Mascot: Tommy Tofu

Half Time Entertainment: Hunt the Hot Dog

Will Oldham Take Over The Town?: Doubtful given the red meat eating habits of your average Oldhamer.

Mad Chairman Score Out Of 10: Dale Vince the architect of the ‘vegan revolution’ at the club. Our highest scorer so far 11/10

One to Watch: Reuben Reid. Having played for most of the clubs in the Football League (including Oldham) the only reason he hasn’t left FGR is probably because he’s too weak to move due to the vegan diet.

Style Of Play: Pass (the stinky tofu) and move.

Speciality Pie Flavour: Raw Vegan Cantaloupe and Watermelon Nigiri-Sushi

Away End Capacity and Condition: 1000 and nothing special

Likely Pre Match Songs: Green Onions – Booker T and the MG’s

End of Season Prediction: 10th *(10 points deducted for selling an inedible pastie)

Next week: Grimsby Town, Leyton Orient and Macclesfield

‘Laurent Banide’s Blue & White Army’ ‘This Will Go Badly’ Oldham Athletic Announce New Manager Which Leaves Fans Divided

The news that former Monaco manager Laurent Banide has stepped into the hot seat at Boundary Park has surprised a number of people, probably because he was nowhere in the betting for the job.

The Frenchman has been tempted to Boundary Park by owner Abdallah Lemsagam, despite the post being billed as something of a poisoned chalice in the last few years.

Given Banide’s recent appointments in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait it is not difficult to see where Moroccan Lemsagam has been looking to find the new coach.

When the news broke, people were quick to point out the number of jobs he’s had.

The club was obviously delighted to get their man as the press release stated:

‘Oldham Athletic are delighted to announce that the club have appointed Laurent Banide as Head Coach on a one-year deal.

The 51-year-old has managerial experience abroad which includes stints at AS Monaco, Al Nasr and Al-Orobah FC.

Most recently, Banide was in charge at Umm Salal SC in Qatar, before leaving in 2018.

Laurent Banide enjoyed a playing career at AS Monaco, Marseille and Strasbourg before moving into a coaching role with Monaco in 1993 where he spent 12 years before being made First Team manager.

Banide will officially start his reign in charge on July 1st, 2019 when the players report back for pre-season training.

Chairman Abdallah Lemsagam said; “I’m delighted to welcome Laurent to Oldham Athletic.

“He brings a lot of experience to this club and I’m looking forward to working alongside him the 2019/20 campaign.

“I believe Laurent is a fantastic coach and is the right man to take this club forward going into the new season.”

An official interview with the new Head Coach will be released in due course.

Welcome to the club Laurent!

Banide becomes Oldham’s first foreign coach and has already divided opinion:

It is obvious that Banide will need to win over the supporters pretty quickly, and part of that process will involve bringing players in to bolster what is at present a very threadbare squad. However, until then, the best Oldham fans can hope for is a period of stability at the club. Bien accueillir Laurent!

Are Oldham Athletic Looking To The Continent For Their Next Coach

A decision on who might be installed in the managerial hot seat for the coming season took a new twist recently, with reports that owner Abdallah Lemsagam might be looking at candidates outside of the UK.

Three of the names mentioned are:

Pablo Correa

It is no secret that AL has contacts in Europe but whether they extend to being close to former Auxerre manager Pablo Correa remains to be seen. Correa was in the frame for the Latics post at the same time as Paul Scholes but it is unknown if he was interviewed at the time.

The 52-year-old Uruguayan is a former forward who spent most of his playing career in his home country, before moving to France where he managed 2nd tier teams Nancy and Auxerre before finding himself out of work in March this year. He is not currently favourite for the post but he does have the managerial experience that many Latics fans believe is vital.

Andries Jonker

The former Wolfsburg coach is high on the list of current favourites. He is currently without a post and, has a great deal of experience having been an assistant manager at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and head of the soccer school at Arsenal.

The 56-year-old Dutchman would represent something of a coup for Athletic if he did arrive here, however, there has been no indication that he has shown an interest or been approached.

Paco Herrera

The current favourite for the job is Spaniard Paco Herrera who has held a number of posts in Spanish football and, was also ‘Chief Analyst’ with Rafael Benitez at Liverpool.

He hasn’t lasted more than half a season at any of his last three posts at Sporting Gijon and Las Palmas in Spain and Aris Salonika in Greece, so why he is favourite to arrive at Boundary Park is something of a mystery.

There was no surprise surrounding the appointment of Paul Scholes as it was football’s worst kept secret, but it looks like speculation as to who will step into the Oldham hot seat may remain up in the air for the time being despite the calls for an appointment to be made soon.

Oldham Athletic Fans Yearly Panic About A Lack Of Signings Starts A Month Early

There’s something that happens every year when the football season ends – the players tend to go on holiday.

This is obviously a situation that many fans find difficult to accept but they may have a point. After all, who has ever seen Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane taking advantage of happy hour in the bar of the Rosamar Beach and Spa Hotel in Tenerife, or struggling to inflate a lilo on the beach in Benidorm? Exactly.

If a club hasn’t made significant numbers of signings by the time the fixtures are out then the season can be pretty much written off according to some. Oldham have secured the services of Alex Iacovitti and Gevaro Nepomuceno and, signed 10 youngsters up for the Academy but for some that aren’t good enough with the 19/20 season just 59 days away.

There was an uproar from certain quarters when Jose Baxter and Peter Clarke were released at the end of the season. It was argued that they would be snapped up immediately by our rivals, and return to Boundary Park to wreak havoc on the club for our short-sightedness in releasing them.

Of course, they might well do but at present, neither have a new club or look like getting one…or they could be on holiday.

It is true that some clubs like Northampton have made a number of signings, but with the transfer of George Edmundson still up in the air. Waiting to see how much money we might have to spend, before diving in for the likes of ex Macclesfield forward (Harry Smith) with a staggering 8 goals last season seems perfectly sensible.

There is also a myth that all the decent players will get ‘snapped up’ and we’ll be left with the bottom of the barrel. However, it is a fact that given the size of some Premier League and Championship squads, loan signings often do not surface until the season has started. Both Sam Surridge and Callum Lang didn’t join the club till late July last year.

It would improve the atmosphere that exists at present if the club could decide who their new coach will be, but until then, the more impatient of Oldham’s supporters are doing their blood pressure no favours as the day’s tick by.

Oldham Athletic’s Edmundson Transfer Saga Continues With Rangers FC

Transfer fees received for players who have come up from the Academy ranks are the lifeblood of many smaller clubs. One sale can keep a club afloat for a very long time and, although such deals are generally unliked by supporters it is the harsh reality of lower league football.

Bearing in mind that almost anything Abdallah Lemsagam does at the moment is viewed as wrong. His doubling of the supposed value of George Edmundson to £1 million has raised a few eyebrows, and possibly increased what we might have got for him from Rangers if we had accepted their first offer.

If that works then it must be regarded as good business, whatever your view is of the Oldham owner.

There are a good number of players who would gladly jump at the chance to join the Ibrox club, but those sort of opportunities don’t come along every day and no one can blame George for wanting to further his career. Putting in a transfer request is often the best way to get talks moving but, Latics are right to dig in their heels.

A club with a huge fan base however and income to match, must pay the right price if they want to poach players from the lower divisions and Lemsagam is playing the right game by insisting on a reasonable figure for the highly rated defender.

It would not be the first time that a club has had to dig deep to get their man. Swansea City paid Exeter £2.2m for the services of Matt Grimes in 2015 when he was a League Two player.

It is unlikely that Rangers boss Steven Gerrard will be persuaded to part with the full asking price for Edmundson. However, a figure nearer £600,000 with add-ons would represent a decent bit of business for Latics and perhaps give out a signal to any potential future coach at Boundary Park, that we might have funds available to build a decent side for next season.

Bolton Wanderers Fan’s Still Unsure About Points Deduction & Playing Squad As Friday’s Buyer Deadline Looms

According to reports, the administrators of Bolton Wanderers say the Friday deadline for buyers is on track and there are no expected complications. Apparently, there has been a decent level of interest shown from parties who have had to pay a non-refundable £25,000 to see the books, show proof of funds for around £25million and pass the relevant EFL tests for owners and directors.

Bolton fans are worried that the possible further points deduction for the unplayed game against Brentford might be putting off future buyers, however. The EFL are not set to make a decision about the disrepute charge until late June.

Meanwhile, Bolton fans are contemplating how big their squad might be if they do start next season. Some players have already departed.

Bolton fans are rightfully worried about losing their playing staff but it is the delay in finding out what further points deductions they may face which is causing them sleepless nights.

Examining Oldham Athletic’s 19/20 League 2 Opponents: Cheltenham Town, Colchester City & Crawley Town

Cheltenham Town

Cheltenham has something the rest of the league don’t have, a cool sounding ground, The Jonny Rocks Stadium. Unfortunately, it is named after a luxury chauffeuring service and not anybody involved in rock and roll and is, therefore, a bit of a letdown.

Club Name: Cheltenham Town

Nickname: The Robins

Sponsor: Chuck Berry Drainage Services

Star Supporters: Michael Burston/Würzel Motorhead Guitarist

Club Mascot: Würzel Gummidge

Half Time Entertainment: Air Guitar

Will Oldham Take Over The Town?: Miles away so probably not

Mad Chairman Score Out Of 10: Andy Wilcox. Actually plays football for England seniors so respect is due. Gets a poor mad Chairman score consequently 1/10

One to Watch: Pie stall staff dressed as Elvis

Style Of Play: Mass confusion

Speciality Pie Flavour: ‘Cheval’ Something to do with the race course I understand.

Away End Capacity and Condition: 1100 with decent legroom in case you want to try on an Elvis suit. Acceptable.

Likely Pre Match Songs:  God Gave Rock and Roll to you – Argent

End of Season Prediction: 19th 

Colchester United

A historic town in Essex which is proclaimed to be one of the safest in the country and is the most boring as a consequence. Beat League leaders Lincoln on the last day of last season until Newport pipped them to 7th spot with a late goal which was hilarious.

Club Name: Colchester United

Nickname: The U’s (which indicates a similar lack of inspiration as Cambridge United. See last week)

Sponsor: Non-Ferrous Metals Monthly Magazine

Star Supporter: Dermot O’Leary (That took a lot of barrel scraping)

Club Mascot: Sid the Sloth

Half Time Entertainment: Watching Paint Dry

Will Oldham Take Over The Town?: Not a Chance

Mad Chairman Score Out Of 10: Robbie Cowling who is also the owner of Jobserve. Yes, that interesting. 2/10

One to Watch: Sammie Szmodics who sounds like a superhero from Albania

Style Of Play: Running around in ever decreasing circles

Speciality Pie Flavour: Fresh Air

Away End Capacity and Condition: Roughly 1000.  The Ground is set away from the town on an industrial estate surrounded by wasteland. Enjoy.

Likely Pre Match Songs: Boredom – Buzzcocks

End of Season Prediction: 14th

Crawley Town

Beaten twice by Latics last season which gives you some idea of how poor they are. Described as the Armpit of the South among other unprintable descriptions.

Club Name: Crawley Town FC

Nickname: The Red Devils (Somebody should explain copyright to them)

Sponsor: Boots Underarm Deodorant

Star Supporter: The Cure

Club Mascot: Albert the Aerosol

Half Time Entertainment: Chain Smoking

Will Oldham Take Over The Town?: Again, doubtful given the distance involved.

Mad Chairman Score Out Of 10: Ziya Eren who has given the club an interest-free loan but has attracted some criticism. 6/10

One to Watch: Mason Bloomfield. Spent most of last season not getting picked for Hamilton Academicals which makes Crawley’s excitement about signing him a little puzzling.

Style Of Play: 89 minutes of build-up followed by disappointment.

Speciality Pie Flavour: Chips

Away End Capacity and Condition: 1600 standing. Worst Named Stadium in the League (The People’s Pension Stadium!)

Likely Pre Match Songs: Friday I’m in Love – The Cure

End of Season Prediction: 20th

Next Week: Crewe, Forest Green and Exeter

28 Years Without Any Major Honours. Is Next Season The End Of The Wait For Oldham Athletic

When Neil Redfearn scored from the penalty spot in the final seconds of the last game of the 1990/91 season, winning the club the old league two title – he set the clock ticking on what has become an unwelcome statistic.

Absolutely nobody who was associated with the club that day could have been persuaded that 28 years would elapse, without any further honours. It would have been described as unthinkable.

Oldham Athletic were on the cusp of joining football’s elite, having endured life in lower league football for what seemed like an eternity. Joe Royle, the magician who built a side who had proved they could take on anyone, acknowledged the adoration of the fans and surely believed as we all did, that the future was bright and the only way was up.

Latics had won something far more precious than silverware in the previous two seasons. They had won over a sceptical Oldham public who now flocked to Boundary Park at every opportunity. If we were now to be playing the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, surely a stab at European competition was only round the corner?

At first, everything seemed to be going to plan. Record season ticket sales, a new stand, membership of the breakaway Premier League and signings that we could not have hoped for or afforded in the past.

Fate is a cruel mistress however and before long, with a relegation near miss in 92/93, the season tickets were being swapped for fishing tackle in the newspaper classifieds. The new stand had empty seats and the signings were nowhere near as good as the players they’d replaced.

Oldham’s fall from grace was rapid and swift with many believing we’d had our allotted 15 minutes of fame. They were absolutely correct.

A toxic mix of poor leadership from the boardroom, 29 changes of manager, poor signings and an exodus of fans led to where the club find themselves today.

It can be argued that Oldham are hardly in a position at present to break that 28-year record, but if the likes of Tranmere Rovers can exit this division with a bunch of average to poor players, then anybody can.

The key is consistency, something we lacked both on and off the pitch last season. If the club can make a decent choice when appointing the new coach, and ignore those whose patience doesn’t stretch past three poor results. We can perhaps begin to believe that promotion and the end of a very long wait is a possibility.

Thirty years of hurt‘ is certainly not something Latics fans want to hear sung from the stands.

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