|The End of the Dickov Era|
|Written by Mark W|
|Monday, 04 February 2013 16:54|
My views on sacking managers were well documented in the blog I did at the end of September. I strongly believe that a manager has to be given time to complete the job he has been asked to do. Despite this, even I had come to the conclusion that Paul Dickov could not remain as manager.
The league run of one point in nine games that preceeded Dickov’s resignation included a number of games where we could honestly claim to have been unlucky. Unfortunately that excuse eventually runs out. It is fair to say that you have to make your own luck at times.
When a manager leaves his post, it is common to hear the phrase “He lost the dressing room”. On this occasion, couldn’t seem to be further from the truth. Everything suggests that the players loved Dickov yet still they didn’t play for him. Was he too ‘matey’ with them? I don’t know. All I do know is he wasn’t getting the best out of them.
A lot has been made about the strength of the squad this season. Indeed, Dickov himself described it as the strongest during his time at the club. Personally, I don’t buy that. We had a decent first eleven but the squad was worryingly thin. That said, Corney did back him when he needed to. A number of loanees were brought in and the signing of Jose Baxter more than any showed that some money could be found when it really mattered.
By the time we lost to Notts County it was clear that Dickov had no future at Oldham. If it had been me I would have made the decision at that point. The Liverpool game was always going to muddy the waters. When we won, it made Paul unsackable in the immediate term and had we lost, the press would have had a field day with “Oldham sack manager because they lose to Liverpool”. For whatever reason, Corney chose to give him that Liverpool game and in many ways it was an inspired decision. I wouldn’t swap that victory for anything right now and you have to imagine that had Dickov gone, we probably wouldn’t have won it. For once his tactics were spot on.
In the aftermath of the game, we became a big story in the media. It was inevitable that questions would be asked regarding the manager’s position and I’m not sure I know what Simon’s response should have been. I honestly believe he was in turmoil. It is clear that he and Paul are good friends and that he didn’t want to lose him. Friendships shouldn’t cloud a business judgement but it’s hardly surprising that they do.
The way the manager was backed on deadline day shows to me that he really was being given a final opportunity to turn it round. If he could have done it, the Liverpool game could have been the biggest turning point in our history.
Sadly it was not to be. For twenty minutes against Walsall it looked like things might be on the up. Even after that there were signs that all might not be lost but the way we capitulated in the final twenty minutes meant that Dickov was a dead man walking. He’d shown that despite all that had gone on, he just couldn’t motivate them in the way required.
The players have a lot to answer for. There are a number who simply have not performed at a level that they are capable of with any consistency. They claimed to like him but when he was relying on them to save his bacon they went missing.
I didn’t like the way that his eventual dismissal was played out in the press but again, that was largely down to the furore following the famous cup victory. It struck me that the news he’d gone made the national news while Keith Curle’s dismissal from Notts County the same day didn’t warrant a mention.
What has happened has happened and I wish Paul well for the future. I believe that he can make it and at times we saw some superb football while he was here. As well as the big wins such as Liverpool and Sheff Utd there were games like Charlton away when we battered them with ten men without finding the goal to win the game. Crewe away and Preston at home this season saw some of the best football I’ve seen from an Oldham side in quite some time.
It’s important now that we bring in the right man to take the club forward. I am not going to put specific names forward but it needs to be the right choice, not an emotional choice. I would not like to see us step backwards by appointing someone who’s been here before. We need a clean break. I will support whoever gets it whether it is who I want or not. The only way we will be successful is if everyone is pushing in the same direction.
My one plea to Simon Corney would be to appoint who he believes will keep this club up and then play good football next season. Don’t pick who the fans want, pick the best man for the job. Just remember, though, that this man is not Mark Hughes.