Oldham Athletic meeting the opposition.
In an attempt to turn wrongs to rights following a 4-0 defeat at Leyton Orient, Micky Mellon’s Tranmere travel to Oldham Athletic once again on Tuesday night. The Latics sit in 23rd and have recently parted ways with their manager Keith Curle. However, after beating Sunderland away from home in Carabao Cup action they will believe that they can extend their form against The Whites.
Ahead of the game I spoke to supporter ‘@PaddyNoWheels’ about the hosts, the visitors and the game in general before he left me with his score prediction.
I have spoken to Paddy in the past thus I didn’t ask him to describe his relationship with the Latics this time round. He’s been a supporter of the club since birth, his first real memories being of the Premier League relegation in 1994.
Random fact about Oldham? (The club/The area)
Latics have gone the longest of all 92 League clubs without a trophy or promotion. It’s over 30 years since the club’s last promotion. The closest challengers to that are Everton, who last won a cup in 1995.
How would you describe the Latic’s campaign so far and what are your hopes/expectations for the months ahead?
It has been a disaster of epic proportions. The club are under a transfer embargo after taking a loan off the EFL, which means that they can only sign players on one year deals and can only pay them X amount of pounds a week…. Unfortunately, someone at the club hadn’t realised that and signed a keeper and centre half on two year deals and they missed the first part of the season because the EFL wouldn’t let the club register them until it was resolved. Off the pitch, the club is an absolute shambles, on the pitch it is even worse and the fanbase is fractured. Most people have now come round to the idea that the owner and his brother are the worst thing to happen to this football club, but they do (somehow!) seem to have a few fans still fighting their corner and digging out fans who are trying to raise awareness of the crazy goings-on at the club. My expectation will always be to get promoted from the 4th division and I will never make any apologies for it. That’s looking very unlikely now and we might have to just settle for the playoffs instead(!). In all seriousness, I think we will stay up with relative ease mainly due to the standard of the other teams. The one nagging doubt I have in the back of my mind is that other sides near the bottom have appointed decent managers recently (Scunthorpe with Keith Hill and Stevenage with Tisdale) so a lot will depend on who Oldham bring in as manager. I certainly don’t think surviving relegation in this division should be seen as any kind of achievement.
Taking a look at Tuesday night’s game, who would you say are the key players for either side and how do you believe the fixture will be approached by Oldham’s interim manager after Rovers’ 4-0 defeat at Leyton Orient?
Our best player at the moment is probably Harry Vaughan but I would be very surprised if he starts the game. It probably says a lot about Oldham’s season so far when I say this, but Carl Piergianni has been Oldham’s player of the season so far by a long way. He is as basic as they come, but he is probably the only one who can hold his head up with some of his performances this season. That said, he’s always likely to give a goal a game away! Dylan Bahamboula can be good when he fancies it, but I don’t think I’ve noticed him on a football pitch since the sun stopped shining in September. The rest of the side are powder puff and I would imagine Jay Spearing will be rubbing his hands at the thought of a midfield battle against Callum Whelan and Jamie Bowden. As for Tranmere’s key players, the spine of Clarke/Spearing/Vaughan impressed me in the game at Boundary Park last season. I know Vaughan has now retired, but I recently clocked that Nicky Maynard is up front for you so he is likely to play well. I’m hoping the new interim manager tries to take the game to Tranmere and abandons the crazy 3 at the back system we were playing under the previous manager.
Who is the interim following the dismissal of Keith Curle and do you think it was the correct time to part ways with the 58-year-old?
Selim Benachaour is the interim manager at the moment. He was brought in as the youth team manager last year and most fans were pretty quick to suggest he was being groomed to eventually take the reins of the first team. He played in a World Cup for Tunisia and has also played for PSG and Rubin Kazan so not entirely sure how he rocked up at Oldham, but nothing surprises us under this ownership. The general consensus with Oldham fans is that he will get the job permanently, but there’s doubt in my mind about that because I’d have thought the Lemsagam brothers would have permanently appointed him as soon as Curle left if that was what they were going to do – the last 3 times they sacked a manager, they had named a permanent replacement within hours. I’m not sure it was the right time to part ways with Curle…. It should have been done 6 weeks earlier. One of the worst managers I have ever had the displeasure to see at Boundary Park.
How would you describe the current relationship between the fans and the owners? Are the on-pitch protests still happening?
The relationship between the owners and 90% of the fans is non-existent. As I alluded to earlier, there are still a few that somehow defend him, but the vast majority can see that the club is a shambles under him. It’s been a shambles from the day he started getting involved, it’s been a shambles for the 4 years he has been here and it will continue to be a shambles until the day he sells the club or the club gets put into administration…. Both of which are a better option than another minute under his reign! The on-pitch protests are not happening as much as they were earlier on in the season, but there was a brief stoppage in play at Salford last week as tensions rose and missiles were thrown onto the pitch to vent anger at the way the club is heading. I obviously won’t come on here and condone missiles being thrown on the pitch or pitch invasions taking place, but I genuinely think disrupting the games is the best way to go about protests. There is a campaign for the game on Saturday at home to Forest Green to “empty the park”, where all Season Ticket holders are asked to not attend the game to show what the owners are doing to the club.
Finishing our conversation off, your score prediction?
Oldham are the masters of papering over cracks, so I fully expect a win. 2-1 Oldham.