Tag Archives: featured

Oldham’s Pete Wild Is Three Games Away From Achieving The Impossible

There has been much discussion as to how Pete Wild has managed to steer Oldham to within three games of the playoffs with exactly the same squad as Paul Scholes. According to Scholes the problems stemmed from unhappiness in the dressing room concerning team selection interference from Abdallah Lemsagan, and arguments between players but such a malaise doesn’t get fixed overnight. I’m not entirely sure what Scholes expected to find at Oldham but whatever it was, his protestations have been roundly ignored by Latics fans, who now find themselves checking that they are free on the date of the League Two playoff final – just in case.

The simple explanation for the situation Athletic find themselves in, is that Scholes was completely unsuited for the job and Wild very definitely is. Scholes can use his appearances on TV to winge about showers not working at the club, but simple facts will show that he has been upstaged by someone who was coaching kids on a bumpy pitch not that long ago.

Six games ago following defeat at Lincoln, Latics faced an uncertain future with the departure of Scholes and the chances of making the playoffs disappearing swiftly. Wild might well have been forgiven for turning down the opportunity to manage the team again given the supposed behind the scenes issues but he is obviously made of sterner stuff.

Thankfully, he once more took up the reins and results haven’t just improved, they have exceeded all expectations. Draws against Swindon and Cheltenham who were in the hunt for points as well, coupled with a string of three consecutive wins and the latest result against Mansfield, have hoisted Latics into a commanding position despite being in twelfth place in the table.

The key ingredient in Oldham’s end of season plan is their game in hand at Newport on April 30th. There is no longer a need for calculators and spreadsheets as the simple equation is that if Latics win their last three games they will make 7th place. It will require an Herculean effort of course which will give the club their best second half of season finish for over 20 years, however, if Peter Wild can do it, the town better think about an end of season party to match the one Joe Royle got after steering Latics to Wembley nearly 30 years ago.

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Bradshaw’s Rollercoaster Season Has Set The Building Blocks, However, Strengthening in One Key Area Could Be The Key For Next Season

It’s been a rollercoaster season to support Curzon. From staring down the barrel of relegation to looking at one stage like they might have a chance of reaching the playoffs and landing the Frank Hannah Manchester Premier Cup.

Mark Bradshaw has made great strides with this team despite a slightly rocky start over Christmas. He hasn’t been afraid to make changes, getting rid of players, and making some clever signings, making the squad a bit less dependent on young players on loans from league team academies. Curzon’s dream run did come to an end, but the building blocks have been built for a really good season.

If I was in the boardroom at Curzon, and there is probably a good reason that I am not, I would be looking to improve the back line. Curzon seemed to be holding on for draws until late defensive errors saw them come away with nothing, it also saw them come away with draws in games they should have won.

They never seem to have an issue finding the back of the net but keeping more clean sheets should be a real priority, having only kept 3 in 17 games in 2019. If this can be tightened up it would make an enormous difference to their season, as I truly believe they should be aiming for the playoffs this season, but they really need to stop dropping points.

The other point I would make, is probably out of Bradshaw’s hands, but I would really be encouraging more people to go to the ground! Getting FC United crowds week in week out is unrealistic, but Tameside stadium is a really smart set up for this level of football, with a bar and seats and toilets that aren’t in a shed, oh Curzon how you spoil us.

While Curzon aim for the playoffs next season it would be great to see the club find a way to pull big crowds, a lift for the lads on the pitch and makes it a more intimidating place to go for away teams, and who doesn’t like atmosphere at a game.

I’m feeling very optimistic about next season and hopefully tightening up defences could see The Nash as a real force to be reckoned with.

If Solskjaer Wants To Bring Back The Fergie Years, Then He Has To Do What Fergie Did With Pogba

After Tuesday night, if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t know already – United need one hell of a rebuilding job.

The levels between the Red Devils and Barcelona was clearer than the sea in the Maldives. United have been carrying plenty of passengers within the squad for many a year, going back to the Fergie years.

This current squad needs ripping apart to its core. United have plenty of squad players but no stand out first teamers, Paul Pogba on his day is a stand out first team player – however, them days don’t come around to often or consistently enough.

Again, in recent weeks there are murmurings of Pogba’s unrest. It seems very much like, from an outsider looking in, that Pogba has a big say in what goes on.

If his match performances were of a high quality, even 80% of the time, you would give him a little movement to be demanding. Because on his day, Pogba is as good as anyone, he can control a game and turn a game around.

The inconsistency of the French international lets him down massively.

He tends to go missing in a lot of big games, especially when United need him the most. This couldn’t have been more evidential than the match this week against Barca.

No player is bigger than the club, however in an age of social media and followers – Pogba’s huge online presence serves what United need in the marketing department well. I feel it’s one of the reasons he is allowed a little more leeway than others.

Pogba’s been called a virus within the dressing room, sometimes there’s no smoke without fire. He clearly has ambitions of moving on, as he had indicted in a recent interview when openly courting Real Madrid.

There’s is plenty of internet chat about a Hazard/Pogba double swoop by Los Blancos this summer happening, and while Hazard has continued to be Chelsea’s top performer, Pogba again seems to have faded away in recent weeks.

In my personal opinion, if United sell Pogba this summer, on the bigger scale of things – I don’t think he’ll be missed.

They could then add to their transfer warchest and really go all out and get the seven or eight players they need to turn around this club and become a consistent title challenger once again.

VAR In Review: Three Dreaded Words Man City Fans Don’t Want To See Again

For many years football has asked for technology. UEFA decided to bring VAR into the Champions League in January in order to sort out ‘clear and obvious decisions’.

‘Can somebody please tell me what clear and obvious is?’ said BT Sport Host Gary Lineker to ex ref turned pundit Peter Walton, as TV discussed Danny Rose’s handball from a Raheem Sterling shot in The Champions League first leg quarter final between Tottenham and Manchester City last week.

Lineker’s view echoes what many football fans think. As delirium turned to heartbreak at the Etihad Stadium last night, Man City fans probably wanted the use of VAR to be shelved right back in the wardrobe and never be brought out again. Twelve months ago though, when Guardiola’s side played Liverpool when VAR was inactive, City fans sung loudly from the rooftops for UEFA to be included in European games.

Technology in football is a rather funny thing. If it works in your favour you become a fan, if works against your team fans seem to want nothing to do with the system.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has always had is reservations where VAR is concerned, on Wednesday night he may just have found a new ally. On the other side of the touchline, Pep Guardiola, leading advocate for video assistance in football, his reaction as referee Cuneyt Cakir disallowed Sterling’s near but not so near winner was one of heartbreak.

Whatever the answer, VAR’s way of clearing up problems is throwing up more heartbreak than anyone may have thought. On another note, the time taken for the whole thing to work needs much looking at in the close season.

The atmosphere inside the Etihad become a church graveyard. All starting when the stadium announcer calls ‘VAR in review’. Then there is silence, pure silence. 54,000 fans cramped in one building and you can hear a pin drop.

Anticipation or dread may well be the answer. But staring at an empty blue screen stating, ‘Goal in review’ can only kill an atmosphere. Twice in one half is quite simply no good for fans, especially when they have no clue what the match day official is being told  or why he has his hand to an earpiece.

This happened when PSG played United last month. Before Marcus Rashford tucked away an injury time penalty winner, The crowd inside Le Parc des Princes found no words to describe their emotions as somehow a trio of pitch side officials plus a man by a computer could send the French Champions out of Europe.

Again at Tottenham’s new ground last week in the run-up to Aguero’s penalty miss,  VAR made thousands of excited home fans go silent. Did the eventual decision clear up or answer the question of whether a penalty should or should not have been given. Not really.

Slowing the action down does not mean a decision is correctly awarded. Handball shouts and appeals like Danny Rose, VAR’s use is welcomed, all be it with a pince of salt and a cheesy smile.

Wild Should Be Looking to Strengthen in These Two Key Areas After Oldham’s Chaotic Season

If Peter Wild is given the Oldham managers job at the end of the season, and if he wants it of course, he will no doubt be looking to improve the current squad by getting rid of some of the players who haven’t figured this season and strengthening certain areas where we are in need.

Some would argue that there isn’t a great deal wrong with the squad, it is the person in charge of the club who needs attention but like it or not, Latics will once again be starting a season in the bottom tier and several of the players who have served us well this season are not going to be around.

Top of the shopping list has to be a ‘keeper who is as good as or better than Daniel Iverson. That is going to be no mean feat, given that Daniel has had a terrific season and looked at one stage to be challenging for the record of most clean sheets in a season. Getting a ‘keeper in on loan from a club in a higher division seems to be the most likely option but to do that may mean waiting until the 2019/20 season is almost upon us given that club managers leave it late to decide which is their best team.

The other key area is in attack mainly because of the loss of Callum Lang who returns to Wigan at the end of the season. It could be that Wigan, currently courting with relegation from the Championship might see Lang as a player who could do a decent job in League One should they go down. Whatever happens, Lang deserves to play at a higher level and like Iverson, will not be persuaded to sign for Latics given the perilous state of Oldham’s finances.

Once again, Wild may have to look for a season long loan signing or two as I cannot really believe that Chris O’Grady will still be with the club. Finding attacking players who can weigh in with 20+ goals a season has to be the most difficult of tasks but it will have to be addressed if Latics hold any hopes of getting out of League Two.

There are some who would welcome a period of stability after what has been a crazy season and I’m sure Peter Wild would agree with that.

Should Solskjaer add David Neres To His Shopping List This Summer?

Manchester United are plotting a £45 million move for Ajax striker David Neres claims The Sun. The Red Devils were the latest to join the transfer race with some of Europe’s elite clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton.

David Neres is a star in the making, a youth product of Brazilian outfit, Sao Paulo, Neres signed for the Amsterdam club in 2017. After making an immediate impact with the reserve side Jong Ajax, the 22-year-old soon was promoted to the main team.

The following season, the Brazilian forward was more effective scoring 14 goals and providing 13 assists in just 32 league appearances. Furthermore, he has been in red hot form this season so far, bagging 12 goals and eight assists across all competitions.

His notable performance came at the Champions League when he scored a goal against the defending champions Real Madrid. Later the Dutch giants were able to eliminate Los Blancos out of the competition in a 4-1 win.

Furthermore, Neres scored a stunning equalizer against Juventus last week in the quarter-finals thus keeping alive his side’s semi-final hopes, who completed the job last night.

Man United were off to an underwhelming start in Premier League this season under Jose Mourinho but dragged themselves back to top-4 four race lately under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The key aspect that went missing with the Red Devils is the lack of attacking prowess up in front, despite Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial’s decent run, United struggled to find a consistent striker.

With Romelu Lukaku’s fluctuating form and Alexis Sanchez becoming injury-prone, the Old Trafford side ran out of options on several occasions. Neres possesses tremendous dribbling skills, agility and attributes which pertain to a typical Brazilian striker.

Moreover, he is much more effective with the counter attacks and precisive passing inside the boxes that makes him a perfect fit for all the top clubs.

Ed Woodward should seriously consider Neres as their next striker to succeed Belgian ace, Lukaku.

FC United Travel to Alfreton, Reynolds WIll Be Looking to Go Out With a Bang

At the start of their football packed Easter weekend, FC United travel to North Street to face Alfreton Town in their penultimate away game of the 2018/19 season in the National League North. United currently sit 21st, 7 points from safety, meaning if Guiseley match FC’s result this weekend it will confirm the relegation that has been on the cards for several weeks, if not months. This will create unwanted history for FC as they will face their first ever relegation in their 14-year history.

With relegation on everyone’s mind at Broadhurst Park, Reynold’s will be hoping to go out with a bang and claim all three points. When the two teams met in late October at Broadhurst Park in what would be Neil Reynold’s second match as manager of the Moston outfit, FC looked to be in control of the match after leading one goal to nil for the majority of the match, only to be cancelled out by a late equaliser by James Clifton in the 88th minute meaning the two teams would share the points.

This will be the fourth time the Manchester team has traveled to Alfreton, winning only once and losing the other two. Last season this fixture was United’s final away match, which finished 1-0 to Alfreton after a goal by Tom Platt on the 24th minute.

With both teams looking to end their season on a high regardless of their poor form, it looks as if Reynold’s men will be aiming for nothing but a win in an attempt to kick off their great escape and survive another season playing at this level. However, many fans will also be keeping an eye on Guiseley and Ashton United’s results as these remaining matches are all to play for in the hope of staying up for another season.


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