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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.

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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.

Managerless Oldham Will Look To Get Back To Winning Ways With Win Over Crawley

With Oldham involved in the FA Cup two weeks ago then having no game last Saturday because of a frozen pitch, the need to get back into the groove of league football is vital this weekend. Happily, the game is away from the frozen North and although there are warnings of high winds, Latics will be hoping to breeze their way to their first league away win since the end of December.

They will be attempting to beat Crawley in only the ninth meeting between the clubs and will be encouraged to know that manager Peter Wild has a fully fit squad to choose from including the two young strikers signed on deadline day, Zak Dearnley and Oladapo Afolayan. For Wild, the uncertainty of whether he will be in charge for the next game rumbles on but there are indications that the managerial appointment farce may be close to an end.

Both teams sit in mid-table and although Latics have a two-point advantage and two games in hand over Gabrielle Cioffi’s side recent poor results by Latics, especially the defeat at Macclesfield need to be put behind them if they are serious about mounting a late surge for the playoffs. It would be wise for several players to put themselves in the frame for future inclusion in the first team given that this may well be Wild’s last game in charge.

The effect a new manager can have on a squad is often a positive one and if it is going to be Paul Scholes we have some young players who will certainly be aware, that one of the countries most successful midfielders with 700+ games at the top level, can only be beneficial to their career should they grasp the chance.

There have had to be some changes in team selection in recent games due to injury, suspensions and on-loan players departing, but we need to regain the form which brought us 6 league points and a win over Premier League Fulham in the FA Cup.

The spotlight will no doubt fall on the club if Scholes steps in to take up the manager’s post and, I doubt whether he will be content to sit out the rest of the season in safe mid-table and plan for a realistic assault on promotion next season. Players like Scholes do not reach the pinnacle of the game by being less than 100% determined in every game they play and given the chance to display that resolve as a manager, there is no reason why Latics can’t put past nightmares behind them and look to a brighter future.

7 Weeks: Oldham Still On The Lookout For A Manager

When Peter Wild was thrust into the limelight after the sacking of Frankie Bunn on Boxing Day, I’m sure he didn’t think that he would be still in charge of the first team seven games later.

That in no way suggests that Wild doesn’t have any ambition, I’m sure he has that in abundance but it was made pretty clear that the appointment was temporary and that a new man would be along soon to take over.

Of course, nobody expected Latics to pick themselves up from the 6-0 deficit at Carlisle, win the next two league games and dump Premier League Fulham out of the FA Cup making the choice of the new manager a little difficult, to say the least.

Bunn had barely left the building before the bookies had made the ‘local boy who done good’ favourite for the job. It was not Peter Wild however but Paul Scholes, one of Oldham’s ‘celebrity’ fans alongside Eric Sykes, Graham Lambert, Nicola Stephenson and several others you’ll never have heard of.

Scholes has been linked to the manager’s job previously, not because he has any valuable managerial experience but simply because of his love for the club and undoubted success at Old Trafford.

Given that appointing managers at Boundary Park with no track record seems to be considered acceptable, one would have thought that Scholes would now be into his sixth week into the job and facing calls for him to be sacked.

However, there appears to be a fly in the ointment in the shape of his involvement with Salford City. Most of what has been written about Scholes involvement with the National League side being a stumbling block to him joining Oldham is conjecture at the very least. However, it has been rightly pointed out that if what is stopping the club naming Scholes as the manager is the issue of his shares in Salford, then his future intentions must be brought into question.

Given that Scholes attended Boundary Park on a regular basis in the past and has not disguised his love of the club, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect him to jump at the chance to get on the managerial ladder and sever his ties with Salford. If we have waited seven weeks just to be told that Scholes won’t be taking the job as he’d rather play at being a club owner with his class of ’92 mates, then we have once again been taken for mugs and another chapter can be added to the volume of embarrassment that Oldham Athletic has become.

It is a long shot to suggest that Oldham can make any impact on the table, given that they are currently 11 points off the playoffs – so appointing a new manager at this stage may seem futile. I’ve been unable to find odds on who might be the next manager and I suspect the bookies like many of the fans, have lost interest as well.

What Can Oldham’s New Signings Bring To Boundary Park?

Transfer deadline day doesn’t really excite the average Oldham fan in the same way it does other club’s supporters. This season was predicted as going to be another non-event mainly because we haven’t appointed a permanent manager since the sacking of Frankie Bunn a month ago. I would have thought that having the person who picks the team involved in the signing of any new players, would be seen as key to any business done during the transfer window but perhaps that is wishful thinking.

However, we have signed five players so far and whether stand-in manager Peter Wild had any say in their signings will probably never be known, as the continued rumour that owner Abdallah Lemsagam is signing players and picking the team remains neither proven or denied. Deadline Day for Oldham fans was summed up nicely by one wag on Twitter who said: One in, one out with a twist. It’s the same player.

Urko Vera

Of the five players joining us this month, Spanish striker Urko Vera caused most of the raised eyebrows mainly because of his past experience with Athletic Madrid. As is normal with some of the fans at Boundary Park, he has not been given any time at all to adjust to his new surroundings and after 152 minutes of football, they’ve decided he is no good. Apparently, he is only with us until the end of the season and will need to get involved in the play a lot more if he’s not going to spend his time here warming the bench.

Alex Iacovitti

Also here till the end of the season from Nottingham Forest is Iacovitti who is a 6′ 2″ full back. He has had a good deal of experience in this division having been on loan at both Mansfield and Forest Green Rovers. On joining he said “The club isn’t that far from the playoff places, so hopefully as a team we can go on a run that gets us into the top seven” which is what people want to hear of course but in order to do that we certainly needed the two strikers who arrived at the 11th hour.

Mohamad Sylla

Yet another French player joined the club earlier this month, 25-year-old midfielder Sylla signed an 18-month contract and looked to have had a decent game in the defeat at Doncaster in the FA Cup. Tall and a decent tackler, he slotted in well given that regular midfield favourite Maouche was suspended.

Zak Dearnley

Anyone who can get into Man United’s U-23 set up must be able to play a bit and Dearnley can play on either wing or at centre forward. “The best player we’ve had off United since Martin Buchan” was one comment. Much discussion about how much input Paul Scholes had in this loan signing.

Oladapo Afolayan

Another Premier League youngster who can play in several positions up front. Several options now exist for having a decent strike force.

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