It is that time in the season when owners, fans and indeed managers start to take stock of how they have started the new campaign. Chris Stringer, our Oldham Athletic Correspondent, gives you his take on the start the Latics have made in League One…
Oldham 10 Game Review
Ten games in to the 2017/18 season and, to be honest, all has not been well for the Latics, 2 wins, 1 draw and a remarkable 7 losses have left us languishing in 23rd place. One word to describe Oldham’s season would be ‘frustrating’. Last season Latics finished with the most clean-sheets in league 1, but with a real lack of quality up top leading scorer Lee Erwin picked up just 8 goals all season. This season has seen a complete reverse of that. The departure of on-loan goalkeeper Connor Ripley led to a pre-season courting to try and see the Middlesbrough goalkeeper return. Alas, it wasn’t to be and the blues entered the season with just one underwhelming goalkeeper: Ben Wilson. There are now three on the books and only one seems to have some real quality – Johnny Placide – who has only played only 1 first-team match to date. Oldham have therefore conceded a remarkable 25 goals, which is already over half what we conceded in the entirety of last season. Craig Davies has already notched 6 goals up top with his partner Eoin Doyle on 4.
It has been really quite difficult to fault the players in many of the games – hence the description’ frustrating’. There has been some superb football, especially going forward. The signings of Jack Byrne and Kean Bryan in midfield have really brought some much-needed class to the side. Up front it has been a breath of fresh air to feel like the team can threaten the oppositions’ goal. The frustration lies in that every game, without fail, there are a couple of sloppy defensive errors that invariably cost a goal – Anthony Gerrard is overweight, Peter Clarke looks a shadow of his former self and George Edmundson is lacking in experience.
By all accounts it has been an eventful season thus far for Latics. After a poor first few games, chairman Simon Corney announced that Dubai-based businessman Adballah Lemsagam was interested in investing in the club and this appears to have created a great amount unrest at the club. Rumours of players being forced out and that Lemsagam didn’t like popular manager John Sheridan caused unrest and seemed to contribute to the poor performances on the pitch. It’s fair to think that without these talks of investment, Oldham could have had a very different season. There could have been the stability so desperately needed with capable manager John Sheridan playing exciting football. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. Having said that, you won’t find many Oldham fans that are against new money – just simply wary after previous failed takeovers and poor owners.
Oldham started very poorly. No wins in August and indeed no points until matchday 6 saw them rock bottom of the league. After a long wait Oldham finally got a win on matchday 7, when a dramatic second half saw Oldham come out 3-2 winners away at Bristol Rovers. This was following a narrow but spirited defeat to Charlton (3-4) and a 2-2 draw at Fleetwood following a heart-breaking last-minute penalty (due to one the previously mentioned sloppy errors from youngster George Edmundson). This victory, unfortunately, was not enough to kick start the season. Despite a strong performance, sloppy errors saw a 2-1 defeat to high-flying Shrewsbury at Boundary Park. Oldham fans could have been forgiven for feeling that things could be turning, though, when they found themselves drawing 1-1 at half-time in Rotherham after a solid first half. But a dreadful final 20 minutes at the New York Stadium saw the Millers smash in 4 goals and come out 5-1 victors. This proved to be the final-nail in Sheridan’s coffin as 2 days later he left the club by mutual consent. A moment that left the Oldham fans heartbroken. Matchday 10 clearly showed a reaction to the sacking of a popular manager though. Caretaker manager lead his team to a miraculous victory over second placed Peterborough, despite having only 10 men.
After 10 games, Oldham find themselves in 23rd position. Without John Sheridan in charge it’s hard to see where the Latics go from here. The right manager and seeing the team cut out some calamitous defending could see the team fire up the table. There really is no reason that the team can’t avoid relegation. But desperately the fans want a season where there isn’t a worry of relegation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this season will see a promotion challenge from Oldham, however that wouldn’t have been said of Barnsley a few seasons back. With investment on the cards, a popular manager gone and lots of goals at both ends of the pitch it really has been an eventful season; and who knows what the future will bring?
Who has been the best player in your team?
There have been a few good performers but I have to go with Jack Byrne, on loan from Wigan. I’m amazed he isn’t in their team – he really is a superb midfielder and already has already showed he’s got an eye for goal.
Who has been the most surprising player in your team?
For me I think it’s Craig Davies – after an underwhelming preseason I thought he’d be a very average striker. His record, however, speaks for itself – he’s been magnificent.
How have you performed against expectations?
I really thought that with John Sheridan at the helm and with what looked to be a pretty strong squad we’d be looking towards the top 10, so it’s bitterly disappointing to see us in 23rd.