D3D4 Oldham Athletic Correspondent Chris Stringer assess the appointment of Richie Wellens, who has won 4 out of his 5 games in charge of the Latics thus far…
Wellens Takes the Latics Hot Seat
It had been a torrid start to the season for Oldham. Talks of a takeover and foreign players arriving at the club without the manager’s say had translated into poor performances on the pitch and, even when the football improved, the results did not come. After just 1 league win, the club parted ways with beloved manager and club legend John Sheridan. Fans of the club felt truly lost and there really was a feeling that the club could find itself in serious trouble. It was ex-Oldham player Richie Wellens who took the interim role; whilst Pablo Correa, Paul Scholes and even Clarence Seedorf were all linked to the coveted position. Wellens was told by the chairman he had “slim chance” of getting the job full time – Sky Bet offered odds of 16/1.
Despite battling against the odds, the former midfielder got stuck into his role and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. In his first 5 games in charge, the man from Moston has recorded 4 wins and 1 draw. Indeed, he has had the most successful start to the role since the club joined the football league in 1907; becoming the only manager to win his first 4 games in charge. His only draw came in an away tie against Bradford City. Wellens soon became the fans favourite and his name rang around Boundary Park in the derby day victory against Blackburn. Even manager contender and former Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes told the club chairman that he would be “crazy” to look past Richie Wellens.
At 2:30pm on the 18th of October, Richie Wellens was officially announced as first team manager. Oldham have notoriously appointed rookie managers over recent years, often to criticism from the fans. Not this time. This rookie manager has near unanimous support from the stands and it really is refreshing to feel such excitement around the club about a new manager. It’s early days, but Wellens has all the credentials to find himself with Sheridan-esque status at the club in coming years.
Looking to the Future
As seen with many investment deals, a club’s essence is so often traded for money that may or may not prove successful for the club. When John Sheridan left the club, it felt as if another part of Oldham’s identity had been lost. It was said that investor Abdallah Lemsagam wasn’t fond of Sheridan and he wanted to bring in his own man from abroad. The Premier League has become desensitised to foreign millionaires treating clubs like play-things.
To the likes of Oldham Athletic, nothing but simple English football has ever been known. The idea of letting any investor use the club as a play thing simply does not sit comfortably with the fans, who want to see a successful club that feels like their own. Wellens was popular in his time as player and has proved a popular manager thus far. It shouldn’t be long before the investment is completed and, undoubtedly, there will continue to be change at Boundary Park. Richie Wellens provides some stability for now and, most importantly, carries the club’s identity with him. He has the backing of the fans and he now has the backing of the board – now his real test begins: can he make Oldham a successful team?