Oldham’s retained list was the talk of social media long before it was released, with various opinions on who should be kept and who should be discarded fiercely argued over.
The only real surprise was the exit of club captain Peter Clarke, who had managed 49 appearances this season including some match-winning performances. Clarke was well liked by the fans as demonstrated by his choice as the supporters player of the year. The big question had to be whether at 37 he was able to perform for another season in League Two, and the answer to that is a definite yes.
It seems incredible that the central hub of the side has been jettisoned at a time when Athletic need leadership and experience. The job of deciding who is to stay with the club would presumably be made by the coach/manager. However, given that Peter Wild had left the club a couple of days earlier, the decision to release Clarke must have been taken by owner Abdallah Lemsagam and that is not proving to be a popular decision.
Whoever comes in to manage the side this summer would surely have appreciated a player like Clarke to build his team around. Instead, Clarke will no doubt be snapped up by one of our rivals and we’ll discover our errors the hard way.
Jose Baxter’s 34 appearances this season were mainly from the bench. He only managed two full 90-minute games in succession, which perhaps displays why his release is not viewed as unsurprising as that of Clarke. Baxter has had his share of problems, but on the right day he could demonstrate why he was regarded as Athletic’s most skilful player and with slightly more luck and dedication to the job in hand, Baxter might well have proved to be the player who dictated Latics fortunes in League Two.
He has declared his desire to go into the coaching side of the game with Everton and although he still has a couple of years left in him, it is unlikely that an extra season would have seen him make any more progress than he did this season.