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.