Football fans are a fickle lot prone to short term memory, inconsistency and desertion and Oldham supporters certainly don’t buck the trend. Less than 7 days after beating Premier league Fulham, social media was awash with negativity about team selection, inertia in the transfer market and dismay that we were unable to beat Forest Green Rovers. Despite the fact that we kept a clean sheet against the club with the best away record in the league, and had managed to score at least one goal in all their previous away games.
Faced with this level of ‘support’ there is little wonder that previous Oldham teams have struggled with consistency. However, Oldham are currently enjoying a run of four unbeaten games and Saturday’s draw was achieved without top scorer Sam Surridge who has returned to Bournemouth and midfielder Jordan Lyden who has returned to Aston Villa.
New signing Mohamed Sylla had a decent debut in midfield but, one game is hardly enough for the player to slot into the pace of League Two football or the fans to have an opinion of him.
With less than half the season remaining, it is clear that there is a need to replace the players who have left and perhaps add a couple to bolster the squad. A striker has to be top of the shopping list and if there is another Premier League player unable to catch his first-team squad as Surridge was, he would be more than welcome at Boundary Park.
Oldham seems to be stretched in all departments and while I am not suggesting that we should increase the squad at any cost, if we are serious about finishing in the playoff places we cannot do so with such a threadbare first team.
I think we have to accept that Latics are not going to catch any of the top three but sixth or seventh place is definitely achievable. To get there though we need to pick up maximum points against Stevenage and Tranmere on March 2nd and 16th respectively. Given that they currently occupy the two places immediately above us and make sure that we don’t slip up against Cambridge, Yeovil, Morecambe and a resurgent Macclesfield along the way, each of whom have the very real threat of dropping out of league football at the end of the season.
Beating Fulham in the FA Cup was a fantastic achievement but we don’t want that to be our only memory of this season. 75 points were good enough for Lincoln City to get into the playoffs last season but presently that would require an average of two points per game for Latics, and currently, we are just short of that. A late surge usually puts a side in a confident position when entering the playoffs, and if Latics can continue in their current vein which has seen them unbeaten under stand-in manager Pete Wild, maybe the doubters will take a long overdue day off.