Tag Archives: oldham evening chronicle

‘Fans just want the season to start’ as Ernie Cooksey Trophy is won by Rochdale following win over Oldham Athletic

After a long summer break lasting well over two months has now come to an end. It seemed no surprise to see both Oldham Athletic and Rochdale going all guns blazing, as pre-season got into full swing. 

The forward lines, in particular, were enjoying a welcome return to the football field as the Oldham ground staff offered out a surface perfect for playing free-flowing football. While the surface retained its brilliance throughout the 90 minutes, the standard of football did not. 

The first half no doubt had the home fans believing they’d made the right choice between going to a potentially laborious friendly, or a trip to the Trafford Centre. Although the second showed why friendlies are not for everyone. Both managers Laurent Binade and Brian Barry-Murphy looked unsure of which players will make the first team cut, ahead of the new season which starts in just two weeks time. 

Looking the more prepared after their 3-1 defeat against Huddersfield Town only a few days previous, Rochdale looked the dominant side, in particular, their forward line. Stephen Dooley, Callum Camps and leading man Calvin Andrew gave the Latics defence nightmares in the opening 20 minutes with their movement. While in the midfield M.J Williams ran the game, angling passes any top-class midfielder would have been proud of. 

Oldham manager Binade had a look of horror on the touchline as his team were time and time again cut apart. Sharing an expression similar to keeper Gary Woods, so often with his arms wide open gasping at his backline as Dale mirrored a knife cutting through butter. 

Oldham respond

Though motivated by the fear of a battering, Oldham responded with a look of determination. One thing is for sure, this friendly had the attacking coaches smiling and the defensive ones worried. Particularly Rochdale’s as they play a division higher against forwarding lines much stronger to that of last seasons mid-table League Two side. 

While BBM looked rather happy with his sides start, his hoody was raised over his eyes shortly after when the Latics hit back. If Dooley was Dale’s man of the match, Latic number 10 Mohammed Maouche was the home sides equivalent. Scorer of the first goal, he gave all of Boundary Park encouragement this game could go the distance with his inspiring and creative play.

Substituted in the second half, Oldham lacked the pace of Maouche plus the lift he gave to his teammates around him. Fatigue and a lack of rhythm also played a part, this due to the number of subs made. Both teams made 16 changes between them in the second half. 

Ian Henderson, ironically one the visitors second half additions, struck a late winner showing even before August why he is still the key man at Spotland.

With fans twiddling their thumbs for three months at the weekend, these early games are met with appreciation. Yet most will now just want the season to start. Then at least each team can only make three substitutes.

Photo Credit: Rochdale AFC

Peter Wild Again Steps Into An Uncertain Future At Boundary Park

It makes perfect sense to invite Peter Wild to take over as coach till the end of the season. His previous spell included the victory over Fulham and a couple of league victories, that had us temporarily believing that ‘one of our own’ was going to lead us to the playoffs.

Bringing in a new face now serves no purpose if the problems at the club aren’t ironed out soon. There needs to be a period of transparency because at present what passes for concrete information is based on rumour and conjecture. Also, anyone who doesn’t manage to secure nine straight victories, will be hounded out by those fans who don’t actually care who picks the team as long as they win every game.

The main bone of contention at present is that owner Abdallah Lemsagam is interfering in team selection and, has offered certain players extensions to their contracts for next season. If this is true (and the original story was from a dubious source) then it is obviously going to affect the appointment of a new manager.

That same story mentioned a missing team bus and a gas supply ‘ripped out by creditors’. This has been denied by the club but still, the rumours persist.

Peter Wild’s reintroduction to the hot seat has prompted some fans to suggest that he is merely the puppet of Lemsagam, and whatever side is put out will have nothing to do with Wild’s choice and everything to do with the Chairman’s wishes.

Should Wild work some magic into the side however, the doom merchants may have to change their current ideas. It is quickly becoming overlooked that Paul Scholes departure was very swift indeed. His apparent lack of desire to carry on cannot have been arrived at, after lengthy wrestling with his conscience because 31 days in a job doesn’t give you a full idea of what the job entails – whether you’re managing a football team or cleaning windows.

There are certain players at Boundary Park who have done very little to be awarded a place in the first team, however they continue to be picked. Many supporters feel that they know better than the manager where team selection is concerned (that is human nature and it will never change). Furthermore, if those players are in the side because the Chairman has insisted they are, then, Athletic are heading for a situation matching those at Blackpool and Leyton Orient and I doubt whether the fans have the stomach for such a battle after years of decline.

With a free weekend due to International call ups, the Supporters Trust has called a meeting on Saturday to try and gauge the mood of the fans. There may be only nine games remaining till the end of the season but, the plot for this mad season may take another unexpected twist yet again.

Bringing the Supporters (and Manager) Back Down to Earth – the Oldham Athletic Way

When Oldham cruised past Cambridge United on November 17th and followed that up with credible draws against Tranmere and Lincoln. Latics fans started to believe that the team had put the poor early season form behind them and, were intent on pushing for a place in the top seven.

Beating Bury at home cemented those beliefs and there have been plenty of people who believed that 6 points from the three Christmas and New Year fixtures, would be a decent springboard with which to approach the second half of the season.

With two of those fixtures still to be played, those six points are still up for grabs but there has been a huge spanner in the works in the shape of a 6-0 defeat at Carlisle. Having suggested previously that Latics need to bolster their options in defence during the January transfer window, that now appears to be advice which needs to be heeded.

All teams suffer the odd defeat of 3 or 4 goals in a season but conceding 6 after having let in only 26 in the previous 23 league games suggests something resembling a hiccup or a deeply troubled playing staff. With the three conceded against Exeter last weekend, however, it is little wonder that Oldham fans were questioning whether Frankie Bunn was the right man for the job.

Whatever their views were, the decision was taken to relieve Bunn of the manager’s position 24 hours after that 6-0 defeat. He becomes yet another managerial casualty, the 9th in League Two this season.

In the post-match interview, Bunn was unable to offer any reasons for the size of the defeat other than to indicate that there was a reluctance by some players to get back quickly enough into defensive positions. There was much shoulder shrugging from Bunn and those who study body language closely, perhaps noticed a man resigned to his fate.

There was no mention of an apology to the supporters, who made such a long trip on a Bank Holiday which would have gone a long way to placating them. However, it is perhaps now obvious that the Chairman had his mind on other matters.

Given that Oldham had conceded only 7 goals in the previous 11 away games, the ‘blip’ excuse looked feasible. The defence hasn’t been rejigged or tinkered with and goalkeeper Daniel Iversen hasn’t shown any signs of being unfit for the job. Indeed, on numerous occasions, he has shown himself to be more than capable of playing at League Two level and despite rumours to the contrary, he was definitely on the team bus that left for Carlisle.

Despite the angry howls on social media at the 6-0 defeat, the side picked for the game cannot have been much different had it been picked by the supporters.

A simple fix for players, staff and supporters alike would have been for the side to bounce back as quickly as possible. We now face Port Vale on Saturday and Notts County at home on New Years Day, not knowing if youth team coach Pete Wild will be picking the side or someone new.

The game of football has changed beyond all recognition over the past 20 years, with even the most accomplished of managers facing calls for their heads should they lose three games in a row and as someone quite rightly pointed out on the club’s forum “On Saturday leading 2-1 against Exeter , the team was in the play offs. Sacked on the following Thursday.”

There are plenty of Oldham fans who will be glad to see the back of Bunn but, I wonder if they will be as pleased to discover that the ‘experienced’ manager they desire might not want to have anything to do with the club that is fast becoming a laughing stock.

Oldham Have To Start These Three Players In Order To Blow Away Crewe

With the 2nd round of the FA Cup out of the way and a place in the 3rd round assured, Latics turn back to life in League Two this weekend with a visit to Crewe.

Manager Frankie Bunn has been forced to change his side recently due to injuries and a suspension. Unbeaten in six games, Latics will feel confident about their chances against Crewe who are just below them in the table.

Several players have been pivotal in keeping the team in sight of the promotion places but three of them really need to be in the starting line up for maximum effect.

Gevaro Nepomuceno

The lively midfielder has been key to much of the recent success. It is useful to have a player who can switch wings when needed. The Curaçaoan international has scored two goals and assisted three goals in his 16 appearances so far this season. 

Nepomuceno has already doubled his single goal tally from last season and, will be eager to justify his new contract.

Sam Surridge

The on-loan striker from Bournemouth has recently been rewarded for his fine Latics form with a new contract with the Cherries.

Surridge hit the ground running in League Two, and has found the back of the net on nine occasions in his 13 appearances so far this campaign. 

Oldham rued a lot of missed chances during an early season wobble, Bunn will be hoping his goal machine can turn them chances into goals…and more importantly points.

Christopher Missilou

The Congo international plied his trade in the French leagues before a summer trial with Oldham, in which he was snapped up by Frankie Bunn.

In his defensive midfield role, Missilou is there to provide a bit of balance to the team as well as protection to the defenders.

He’s played in 16 matches since his arrival in League Two and has largely impressed the Latics fans.

Bunn Has To Play This Striker Tonight To Start Hitting In The Onion Bag Consistently

With somewhat of a feel-good factor beginning to grow at Latics, tonight’s game could come at just the right time.

A sturdy performance away at Tranmere has lifted some of the gloom, with fans turning out in their numbers, to witness a keenly fought draw. A telling aspect for me was that everyone stayed to applaud the team after the final whistle. Not the norm for Latics fans after a draw, especially after letting a lead slip.

A tired looking Ishmael Miller must surely be given a rest this evening in favour of top scorer Sam Surridge. For two games in a row he has come on to have a positive impact, and tonight’s game could see him be the difference between the sides.

This evenings game is an opportunity to make a real statement in League Two. Oldham are currently languishing in mid-table, but a small run of victories would see them shoot up the league.

One dilemma for Frankie Bunn, is the emergence of Callum Lang as a threat up top. This could give Bunn a headache, as he does like to have a target man as one of his strikers.

Personally, I would start Surridge and O’Grady. Miller needs to find his drive and hunger again, as he seemed to coast on Saturday. I would drop Lang and have him as an impact sub for tonight. Hopefully firing him up and providing fresh legs, as Surridge is unlikely to be able to compete for 90 minutes.

This is in no way an attack on Lang in the slightest as he has shown a great deal, but we now have four front men, and they need to be rotated.

The form of Lincoln has been a tad ‘iffy’ lately and many will feel this could be a great time to play them. Tuesday night, at the coldest ground in the country, on an already bitterly cold day. Get out there Oldham, get in their faces and make yourselves known. This could be the turning point of the season, whichever team wants it the most will most likely edge this one.

Target: Bunn Should Be Aiming to Strengthen This One Area in January

Oldham Athletic are suffering an indifferent season in League Two so far. Bearing the brunt of fan’s frustration is manager Frankie Bunn, a former Oldham player and a man that is looking like it’s only a matter of time before his tenure at the club is over.

The Latics have lost four times across the eleven matches in all competitions throughout October and November, seeing them sit in mid-table in League Two, but through to the second round of the FA Cup and qualifying out of the group stages in the Checkatrade Trophy.

If Bunn is to keep his job nothing more than a good run is going to aid his cause, and some smart and shrewd transfer movement in the January transfer window is going to be a necessity – given the clubs current financial woes.

In recent games, it’s not the chances that are being hard to come by, it’s the conversion into hitting the back of the net, this is where they are crucially missing on-loan marksman Sam Surridge.

Therefore, should Bunn be looking for an out and out striker to hit that net on a more regular basis?

The Football Manc Cave Twitter recently ran a poll with 25% of the votes to bring a striker in, however, 50% of the votes were to bring in a midfielder.

In my opinion, if Bunn was to bring in just one transfer target – a striker should be topping that list, to play alongside Surridge and jump in if and when he does get injured.



Oldham Avoid FA Cup Embarrassment By The Skin of Their Teeth

The Football Association may well see the FA Cup Final as the zenith of their football calendar but for many thousands of fans, the early rounds of the competition are the most exciting ones.

If gives the chance for Non-League clubs to put themselves on the map, and perhaps write a fresh chapter in history as cup giant killers.

Even though it was nearly 50 years ago, Hereford’s victory over Newcastle and the competitions best ever goal scored by Ronnie Radford must still be referred to in pre match team talks.

87 minutes of the game had elapsed, with Hampton’s Chris Dickson no doubt relishing the post match limelight after he had put them ahead from the penalty spot on 15 minutes. They had survived an onslaught from Latics which saw them hit the post several times and had efforts on goal cleared off the line.

The game seemed to be heading for a famous minnows victory until Rob Hunt steered a shot into the net from an excellent run and cross from Gardner.

There is nothing so stamina sapping and a blow to morale as a late equalising goal, and the writing was on the wall for Hampton & Richmond.  A lengthy stoppage in play earlier after Baxter had been injured accounted for the eight minutes of extra time and in true party pooper style, Callum Lang hit the winner for Latics on 95 minutes.

Latics now move on to chapter two in the giant killing story with a visit to Maidstone United of the National League.

These Two Latics Players Hopefully Have Benefited From a Break

You don’t usually get a free weekend due to International call-ups if you’re playing in League Two.

However, Oldham had three players on International duty last weekend which meant that the league game at Notts County was postponed. The rest of the squad may have looked upon this break as an irritant or a welcome diversion depending on how they’ve been performing.

For two of Oldham’s players, the break needs to have been useful in recharging their batteries.

Ishmael Miller

Miller isn’t everybody’s favourite player but he is a useful addition to the side when playing against teams who tend to be nervous at set pieces. His physical presence should be enough to upset Port Vale on Saturday, who let four goals in from corners against Lincoln recently.

He was the only Oldham player to come out of the home defeat against Carlisle with any credit, but he needs to make sure he’s in the thick of the action to make an impact.

Dan Gardner

Dan Gardner has come in for a good deal of criticism mostly because of his poor distribution.  He really needs to boss midfield more and start doing the simple things correctly.

When the side is constantly giving the ball away, the effect on the team and the supporters is one of frustration. Gardner has a good midfield brain but he has spent far too long chasing his own misdirected passes.

Let’s hope he put the weekend break to good use.


Loanees Set Oldham on their way…

It’s true that the Latics haven’t been the fastest of starters in recent years. Although this year’s beginning is far from blistering, the average Latics fan is at least content so far.

Loan signings at opposite ends of the field seem to have given the side a more balanced look. If nothing else, it has fixed most of the problems from the second half of last season.

Around about Christmas time last year, the goals dried up for Latics. In -orm loanee Eoin Doyle was injured, and Craig Davies seemed to have his mind elsewhere.

Whilst at the other end, ‘Marmite’ goalie, Jonny Placide, had started to leak goals. Some of which were of his own creation, as yet another Cruyff turn proved one too many.

Enter Sam Surridge (Bournemouth) and Dan Iverson (Leicester) on loan for the season.

Sam Surridge’s form has been superb, scoring nine goals in nine appearances, with one assist too. He also picked up the League two player of the month award for September. In Surridge, the Latics have a player that wants to get stuck in, is passionate about his football, and gives it all every game. He is continually a thorn in the defender’s side, alongside some tidy finishing and an excellent turn of pace.

Without Surridge, it scares me as to where Oldham would be.

Dan Iverson’s performances are also well worthy of praise. It seems at least once a game (sometimes more), he pulls off an absolute ‘worldy’ to keep the opposition out. These saves are certainly key to keeping Latics in games and allowing them to pick up points.

Two great and very much needed signings by Frankie Bunn.

As always with Oldham, the season could go either way from here on in, but one thing is for certain, these two loanees will be absolutely key to any success that comes their way.

Sports Journalism’s Forgotten Hero

One of the highlights of the week, when I was much younger, was reading the Oldham Athletic match report in Monday night’s Oldham Evening Chronicle.

The reporter on the early 1970’s was called Jim Williams and he wasn’t popular because he was biased in favour of the team, on the contrary, he could be quite vicious when provoked. It was his writing style and skill with words that caught the eye.

For the uninitiated, however, Jim’s match reports could easily have been mistaken for something other than an account of a game of football. Here’s an example from the opening paragraph of his piece from September 1971.

“Boundaries snare all our lives. The borders of talent or the twin ties of apathy and indifference lie hidden, like the unseen trip wire in the fog of everyday life to hold us to our allotted course.

The frontiers of personal achievement are hard to find and even harder to conquer. Occasionally, the frontiers are crossed, the shackles removed and, for all too brief moments there is fresh territory to explore new horizons to gaze upon.

When one of these occasions graces professional football – at any level – the effect is totally magnetic, demanding the attention and holding it with an unseen yet almost tangible force”

We beat Bristol Rovers 3-2 in case anyone was wondering.

I did mention that he could be quite vicious as well. A defeat at Blackpool inspired him to write:

Spilling chances with the careless abandon of a drunk slopping beer over the bar room floor, Athletic were left wallowing in the relegation mire”

One of my all-time favourites, however, was saved for the rather less than skilful Jim Beardall who “went down the wing like a drunk falling down an escalator”. Classic.