Football articles

Who could or should be the next manager of Oldham Athletic?

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Wednesday 6th February 2013

After Paul Dickov’s ‘resignation’ from Oldham Athletic last Sunday, will there be many managers with proven track records in with a shout of the job? They’ll be in with a ‘shout’, but will they be willing to take it? I put inverted commas either side of the word ‘resignation’, because I, like many others, suspect that he may have been forced out by chairman, Simon Corney – a feeling that owes its origins to New Years Eve 2012, the day we heard that three of Dickov’s backroom staff, Paul Butler, Lee Duxbury and Gerry Taggart, were being put on ‘gardening leave’.

Former Latics boss, Iain Dowie, who led them to the League One play-offs in 2003 is a popular choice. There are those in football who say you should not go to a club a second time, but he’s still young and after some dodgy spells at Charlton Athletic, Coventry City, Queens Park Rangers and Hull City (although each of those stints were ridiculously short) he could resurrect his career with the Latics.

According to the bookmakers, Paul Scholes is favourite for the role, but is that a route the club really want to go down? It would probably be better if he got some coaching experience first. If he’s playing then brilliant, but he can still do a good job at the top level, so would he want to go anyway? His love for the club is well-known so you never know…one day.

There are a fair few unemployed bosses with decent records milling around this area of the footballing landscape. I’ll highlight a few in alphabetical order: there’s Nigel Adkins who got Scunthorpe United promoted to the second tier for the first in 40 years in 2007 finishing top of the table in the process. And then guided Southampton to two successive promotions from League One to the Premiership, where he was doing extremely well considering where the Saints had come from in such a short space of time.

As we know, he was fired a few weeks ago. He’s been in and around the division Oldham are currently in, not to mention two championship wins with Welsh side, Bangor City. But after tasting top-flight action with a side with generous resources in Southampton, would he be willing to drop down and take on the chaos at Boundary Park?

Simon Grayson, given the boot by HuddersfieldTown two weeks back, overcame Oldham in the 2007 play-off semi-final and then beat Yeovil Town in the final to claim a place in the Championship for Blackpool. He then finished runners-up with Leeds United three years later.

Next up, Phil Brown. He has recently had an unsuccessful spell with Preston North End, but was he really given a fair amount of time to work wonders at the club (less than a year)? I don’t think so. A club where you can employ the phrase, ‘‘worked wonders’’, however is at Hull City who he led into the big league for the first time in their history having been relegation candidates in the Championship when he took over

There’s Mark Hughes, a man who has achieved things at a higher level. I seem to associate the Welshman with the Latics. Maybe it’s because of his last minute extra time equaliser against them in the 1994 FA Cup semi-final, which was arguably the start of the downturn of fortunes that they are still going through. Or maybe it was because he was my best signing for Oldham when I managed them in the 1998/99 season on Championship Manager. He played a big part in us getting into the play-offs, but despite this I was sacked. I thought it was pretty good going particularly as the real-life team only survived relegation on the final day of that campaign. Maybe I could be the next boss. I’m open to offers, Mr. Corney. Give us a call or contact me at the web addresses below. I digress (or do I?). Hughes has only managed in the Premiership and at international level with Wales, so would he be willing to take a few steps down? I doubt it.

His former Manchester United team-mate, Roy Keane, could be a worthy candidate. He would have been impressed with Oldham’s fighting spirit in the cup game with Liverpool, but would be just as unimpressed that they do not seem to show the same amount of passion in the league.

He, like any other contender I suppose, would want them to approach every game the way they did against the Reds. That’s the making of winners. Some people have suggested that Keane has not got the patience with players he manages because he was such a great one himself, but with his period at Sunderland in mind (took the reins with them bottom of the Championship table then led them to promotion), he’s certainly worth considering.

Alex McLeish, has just left Nottingham Forest, so all the others that I have named will more than likely be after the vacancy there as the club are at a level where those managers would probably rather be, coupled with the fact that Forest are a bigger club than the Latics anyway. We all want job satisfaction and would probably take the one with the better prospects – which is what Forest have – but should these managers be so picky?

Brian Clough joined lower league clubs despite having already accomplished success at the top-level. And we’re talking about winning league titles and European Cup semi-finals here, not sixth place finishes, but this is what Clough achieved with Derby County, only to resign then join Brighton & Hove Albion soon after, a club who were in the wrong half of the old third division.

This was a period that would be a blot on the great man’s CV. Having inherited the mighty Leeds United side of the 1960s and early ‘70s from Don Revie albeit only for 44 days, he then took a major step down again in order to manage Nottingham Forest who were in the old second division at the time and in a very similar position to where Derby found themselves when he joined them – mid-table fodder.

If it was good enough for Clough then one could say it should be good enough for the young upstarts I have mentioned. Obviously, one should take everything into consideration when joining a new club – Oldham are not in great shape – but sometimes managers can be too picky. Mind you, with the threat of the sack coming quicker than ever nowadays, they know they will probably not get the time to bring stability to a club like the BoundaryPark outfit.

Having said that, being in the same division for 16 years like Oldham have would seem pretty stable! Dagenham & Redbridge boss, John Still, has done wonderfully well on a shoe-string budget and would likely see the Latics as a step up, so he’s someone who could also be considered. The club’s health will probably play a major role in determining whether any of the managers mentioned would take over, but what path should Oldham take? Be ambitious and go for ones such as Nigel Adkins and Mark Hughes? Or should they know and accept their role and go all out for a John Still type – a man with a decent record and for whom League One would be a glamorous proposition?

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