Category Archives: league 2

Ryan Lowe’s Two Huge Games in a Crunch Four Days for Bury

Ryan Lowe has taken to management this season like a duck to water but, will need to see steer his side over two giant hurdles. When his Bury side takes on local rivals, Oldham Athletic and then Portsmouth in The Checkatrade semi-final only a few days later.

Although Bury will be underdogs in next Tuesday’s crunch semi-final.  Opponents Portsmouth will come up against an attacking outfit that has outclassed virtually all of their League Two rivals, since the start of the season.

Having scored 85 goals in all competitions this season, the place for football entertainment has been no other than Gigg Lane. Lowe having played as a striker himself has made it no secret in wanting to promote an all-out attack style of play, and his tactics have been merited with Bury’s current league position.

A home win on Saturday could see the Shakers leapfrog Lincoln to the summit of League Two, something which looked unlikely after January’s end to end 3-3 draw. Having had his style of football backed by non-other than Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, this way of playing had every chance of proving to be successful.

And The German has been proved correct so far with the way that Bury have played this season, now in second place in League Two and four points clear of MK Dons who occupy the leading playoff spot (4th place).

Having also picked the brains of Brendan Rodgers and Rafa Benitez, lifelong reds fan Lowe has already had a vocal taste of what a successful life of a manager is like. Benitez having won the 2005 Champions League with Liverpool and, Rodgers dominating Scottish football to the point he’s won the ‘double treble’ in Scotland since moving North of the border in 2016.

Now Lowe has the chance to secure his own success as a manager. A win against either, or both Oldham and Portsmouth – would take his side closer to putting a trophy back in the Bury trophy cabinet, league or domestic cup.

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Win, Lose, Draw: Scholes’ First Three Games Analysed

Detailed analysis of a new manager is something that has existed for a considerable period of time and is unlikely to ever change. I cannot ever remember hearing anybody say “Let’s give him 10 games to find his feet and then review his performance before we pass judgement”. Unheard of.

Given that Paul Scholes was always going to attract more attention in the Oldham hot seat than lesser mortals, he will be well aware that every team selection he has made and tactic employed will have been poured over by Latics keyboard analysts around the globe.

Rather than stun everyone into disbelief with a trio of victories, Scholes has lived up to his rather safe and uncontroversial demeanour with a win, a draw and a defeat.

The win against Yeovil and Scholes’ first game was rightly hailed as one of the season’s best home performances. It was arguably Oldham’s best side that started the game and despite losing Tom Hamer to injury early on, the introduction of Rob Hunt who seemed to have lost favour with Frankie Bunn was seen as a sign that Scholes had as much faith in the full back as many Latics fans have.

Three home games in seven days, however, were always going to put a strain on a threadbare squad and a pitch that cuts up easily. Fellow play-off hopefuls Crewe were the next visitors, and Scholes had to do without Hamer for the game. Callum Lang put Latics in front but a late equaliser from Crewe earned them a point. It was a game Latics should have won but a draw and a win in Scholes first two games was seen to be good progress.

It certainly helped Latics keep in touch with the playoffs and, a win over lowly Morecambe would see us within 3 points of seventh place. Once again, however, changes had to be made to the starting line up but they were obviously too disruptive to the smooth running of the side. Mohammed Maouche was on the bench having had a lengthy run in the side, and young Jamie Stott introduced for only his third appearance of the season.

An early strike for the visitors put us on the back foot for most of the game and, another late goal was conceded to give Scholes his first taste of defeat at Boundary Park. Losing in such a manner brought back memories for Latics fans of past games, where we have gone behind early and had to chase the game and lost out in the dying seconds because of a lack of concentration. The Morecambe game had both these problems.

Of course, all will be forgotten if Scholes can rally the side to win against Bury and edge us nearer the top seven. However, he may well have his eye on next season and a squad he has built himself, rather than trying to work miracles with a ragtag assortment of players who know that their future at the club is short lived.

Bury v Oldham. The Latics extra home game.

Latics fans like a decent away outing, it’s in their blood. Some might say that they jump at the chance to get out of the town for a few hours, and that may be true but when the away trip is just down the road, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that you didn’t turn out.

As expected, the club have been given an extra allocation of tickets by Bury which makes sound financial sense given the Shakers apparently perilous financial position. Having 3354 Oldham fans in Gigg Lane might not do much for Bury’s hopes of having the home crowd lift their side, but at least they can pay a few bills when they count the takings after the game.

The fixture at Oldham didn’t capture the imagination of the Bury fans, for some reason with only 1262 making the trip back in December when a Chris O’Grady hat trick helped Latics to a 4-2 win. There’s a great deal of pride at Latics, especially this season in the numbers who turn out for away games. The 4000+ at Fulham earned respect from all quarters but it is local derbies that rally the troops. Rochdale, Blackburn and Bury have all been serenaded with “We’re taking over your town again” in the past, a popular ditty to the tune of “Love will tear us apart”.

Sadly there seems to be a concerted effort to keep Latics fans out of the pubs in Bury, which will only mean they’ll drink elsewhere and arrive en masse at about 2.55pm stretching the resources of the police and stewards no doubt. Having watched football for longer than I care to remember, I’m still of the opinion that if you treat people like animals they’ll behave that way and very few clubs and local police forces are keen to change that stance.

The game promises to be a classic, however, with Bury flying high in the top three and Paul Scholes getting his first taste of a local derby as the new Latics manager. Form goes out of the window for a fixture like this and although it might not compete for attention with City v United or Everton v Liverpool, it means a great deal to both sets of supporters.

Oldham may well be looking forward to playing on a different pitch, than the one at Boundary Park which cut up somewhat after 3 consecutive home games in seven days. Whatever the outcome, local derbies remain an important part of the enjoyment of watching football and, even if Bury do escape League Two this season, Latics fans and players alike will be keen to rekindle the fixture in the very near future.

Iverson, Surridge and Lang. Oldham Enjoying Their Best Ever Season For Loan Signings

Loan players are usually met with a mixture of apathy and frustration by supporters hoping for that ‘big’ signing but when you’re in the football league’s basement, even bargain buys are hard to come by.

The loan system has helped Oldham a great deal in the past and although the skills of some of the players we’ve had have been questionable to say the least, there are others who have worked their way into the hearts of the fans and were sorely missed when they departed.

It cannot be just a coincidence that Oldham’s position in the league has coincided with the inclusion of three of the best loan players the club has ever had, but it was their performances in the FA Cup at Premier League Fulham that we have to thank them for.

Daniel Iverson

It is not unusual to get a goalkeeper on loan from a club much higher in the league pyramid as they usually have several all hoping to make it into the first team. Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel seems to be enjoying an extended run in goal this season which left Daniel with little hope of inclusion. That was great news for Latics fans however who have really taken to Iverson.

His solid performances have led to the club having a positive goal difference for the first time in many years, and he will be remembered fondly for a long time to come.

Star moment: The penalty save at Craven Cottage.

Sam Surridge

There were a few Latics fans who had mixed feelings about Surridge at first but once he got the feel of football at this level he showed that he had skill in abundance. Gifted with excellent balance and an eye for even the slightest of goal opportunities, Sam made some useful contributions before returning to Bournemouth. His success at Boundary Park was rewarded by his inclusion on the bench for the South coast club’s trip to Anfield.

Star moment: His penalty at Craven Cottage

Callum Lang

Oldham have got much from Wigan over the years, much to the annoyance of our fans who maintain that we are the only club entitled to call ourselves the Latics! However, this season we’ve managed to secure the services of one of the best forward players to be seen at Boundary Park since Andy Ritchie strutted his stuff.

20-year-old Lang was on loan at Morecambe last season so knows what to expect from League Two. He has contributed nine goals this season with none more important than the winner against Fulham. An extremely likeable character who is always the last to leave the field after applauding the fans. He should have an excellent future in football. If it’s with Oldham for longer than the end of this season, Latics fans would be delighted.

Star moment: The winner at Fulham

The Future is Ginger? Winning Over the Oldham Supporters – Paul Scholes’ Greatest Challenge Yet

With the dust having now settled, after the whirlwind that surrounded the appointment of the new Oldham manager. There will be a very short period of calm for Paul Scholes before he has to face the reality of life at Boundary Park, in front of supporters who believe we should be playing at a much higher level.

He will be well aware of the views of a large section of the support having sat amongst them on numerous occasions and, may well share them of course. However, as he is now the person who is responsible for picking the team and must face the consequences of how they perform, he will no doubt see a side to the club that is hidden from the rest of us.

There are still pockets of resistance among Oldham supporters who would have liked to see someone with experience given the job. We should not be in the business, however, of giving second chances to people who have failed elsewhere. Neither should we be a springboard for those who have aspirations to be managers, but have few contacts in the game and fewer ideas about how a club is run.

I honestly believe that Scholes lies somewhere in the middle of those two options and as such, is ideal for the job. He has been variously described as dour and lacking in charisma, but he is here to win games and steer Oldham back on a course to promotion and not to perform stand up comedy. He was quite right in pointing out that the chance of getting into the playoffs might have eluded us this season, which rubbed a few people up the wrong way but the reality is that we are still six points short of the playoffs and running out of games. However, it will not have escaped the notice of Latics fans that if we win our game in hand, that reduces it to a very achievable three points.

Scholes’ appointment seemed to be ideally slotted in to maximise his chances of getting off to a good start, with a run of three consecutive home games against sides in the bottom four of the table. I’ve seen similar scenario’s go horribly wrong of course, but Scholes overcame the first and arguably most difficult of the three hurdles by beating Yeovil emphatically on his managerial debut.

Scholes arrival didn’t put an extra 1000 on the gate, it was a damp Tuesday night in February after all but there will be very few Latics fans not relishing the next two games.

I have no doubt that there was one particular fan kicking every ball and urging the players on against Yeovil, and that was Peter Wild who was given glowing praise by Abdallah Lemsagam as he returned to his duties with the Academy players. If we do sneak into the playoffs, it is good to see that the club recognises the part he has played this season.

AWAY FANS SERIES: How Fifa 07 Inspired Martin’s Bury Love Affair

As part of our Away Fans Series, we interviewed the head of Bury’s Norweigian supporters group Martin, on how Fifa 07 inspired his Bury journey…

Ian: How are you Martin?

Martin: I´m fine thank you! How are you Ian?

Ian: All good over here! What do you make of Bury’s season in League Two so far?

Martin: It has been a good season so far. We are in the top of the league and are in the semi-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy Cup. We play very entertaining football and there is lots of optimism around the club.

Ian: Especially after last season, the turnaround has been immense the way Ryan Lowe has the Shakers playing – is this one of the best times to be a Bury fan in the recent past?

Martin: Yes of course. Ryan Lowe has changed a lot. You can see what the team wants and as a supporter, you can see a game pattern. Bury plays good football, and more dynamically than before. The last couple of seasons have been tough to be a Bury supporter, but this season has been top notch. We turn matches from losing to win and score lots of goals. It creates enthusiasm

Ian: It really is a great time to be a Shaker, How long have you been a fan?

Martin: My interest in Bury dates back to 2006 when the video game FIFA 07 was released and I, together with my friends, used to play with Bury. Bury was one of the poorest rated teams in the game at the time. For us, Bury was the underdog, and we started to follow Bury in League Two gradually.

We did some research around the club; players, home-grown, history etc. Andy Bishop was the big star! If I recall correctly, David Flitcroft and Chris Brass were also in that team. Furthermore, we were really fascinated about the history of the club, especially the fact that Bury was one of the best teams in England a hundred years ago with two FA-Cup titles and some amazing records. At this initial time, we talked about visiting Gigg Lane one time in the future as well. Then, in February 2016, we founded the Bury FC official supporters club of Norway.

Ian: Wow, speaking to a few fans from different countries it seems a lot are influenced through Fifa

Martin: Hehe, yes. The funny part of my interest is that Bury was really poor.

Ian: Did you win anything with them haha?

Martin: Haha, I don’t think so. It was impossible

Ian: How many Bury recruits do you have in the Norway Supporters Club now?

Martin: Members of the Supporter club is 25 at the moment + we have several Norwegian followers on Twitter. In Norway, it is a lot of Norwegians supporters club for English teams. We are very football interest. 2 % of Norway is a member of a supporter group

Ian: What do you do as a supporter club?

Martin: We who sit on the board, are responsible for the Twitter account and pass on information to the world. We do our best to spread the message of Bury to as many people as possible. We publish goals from iFollow so that as many people as possible get the goals. We often receive emails from Norwegians who will watch football in England and provide information about tickets, transport and other useful information. Bury supporters are very friendly and helpful and we get much positive feedback from Norwegians who have been to Bury match.

Ian: Big operation then, how many times have you managed to get to Gigg lane?

Martin: Since we started the supporter club and we started to follow the Bury on a daily basis, I have been in five games. The first match was at Gigg Lane against MK Dons in February 2016. Last season I was in three games and again I was at Bury-Lincoln in January.

Unfortunately, Bury has never won when I have watched, and until the Lincoln match, I had never seen a Bury goal. Fortunately, there were three goals against Lincoln. Hope that it will be a win next time.

Ian: What a game it was too against Lincoln! If any Norweigians want to jump on the Bury train, where can they reach you?

Martin: We have a website called www.bury.no where there are some travel information and the opportunity to join the supporter club. Can also be reached at post@bury.no and followed on Twitter @BuryFcNorway

In the fall, I move almost six weeks to England to follow Bury up close and develop English skills. Encourage Norwegians and English people to make contact.

Ian: Amazing, Get in touch when you’re over and we can meet up, Thank you for time.

The Perils Of Choosing A New Manager. What Happened At Oldham When It All Went Wrong

Choosing a new manager at Oldham is something that happens on a pretty regular basis. In the last four years, we’ve had seven different faces at the club and, none of them have been given much time to build a side or lay down any long term plans.

Latics most successful period in their history was between 1970 and 1994 and coincided with having just two managers, Jimmy Frizzell and Joe Royle. Following Royle’s departure, the managerial revolving door was installed at Boundary Park and there has been a long list of visitors through it ever since.

The arrival of Paul Scholes must surely be the most high profile appointment of them all, as the spotlight has been firmly focused on the ex-Man United man and his desire to manage the club for some time. It may well herald a new era at Boundary Park if the fans give the new man the patience he surely deserves. Past appointments have either been hasty or poorly thought through with one or two spectacular failures on the part of the owners.

If you’re looking for an example of how not to go about appointing a manager, the day that Oldham appointed Darren Kelly on 5th May 2015 is a classic example. Kelly’s name wasn’t one that Oldham fans recognised and for good reason, as he arrived from Sunderland having had very little experience in coaching and a playing career that wasn’t much to shout about either.

Kelly had a coaching badge but his real skill was saved for how to conduct himself in an interview. Apparently, he impressed chairman Simon Corney so much that he was moved to say “From the moment we first met with him, Darren impressed the Board with his infectious enthusiasm, undoubted drive and energy and confidence in his ability to deliver success for our football club. 
Coupled with his extensive coaching experience, we believe he is the right person to oversee the rebuilding of the football side of our club
.”

Kelly was obviously delighted to be handed the job and said Is it a risk? Absolutely. From the supporters, the chairman and the board side of it, but do I think it is a risk? No, and I think I’ll prove that.” Sadly he didn’t, winning just one game against Fleetwood in the opening nine fixtures and departing the club after a 1-5 home defeat to Peterborough. His cause wasn’t exactly helped either by the bizarre news that he had hailed former IRA commander Martin McGuinness as a ‘legend’ in a tweet. He was quick to deny that he supported the IRA but as it had been reported by a source that peddles in fake outrage, the damage had obviously been done.

It is often the case that when a manager leaves a club and gets another job, he becomes instantly successful and can argue that he wasn’t given a proper crack of the whip. Not Kelly however who went on to manage National League side Halifax Town, lost his first game 7-1 and found himself out of work again after 10 games and only two wins. As if to demonstrate beyond doubt that management was perhaps not his best career choice, Halifax went on a twelve match unbeaten run following his departure.

Paul Scholes is no Darren Kelly obviously, and it is to be hoped that hasty and ill thought out appointments are now a thing of the past.

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