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.