Another One Bites The Dust PDF Print E-mail
Oldham Athletic
Written by Mark W   
Saturday, 12 September 2015 21:07

We’ve all done it… you hear it on the radio or see it on Twitter and then have a right good snigger to yourself at the team who have just sacked their manager after a handful of games. “How ridiculous” you say, you can’t possibly judge him off ten or fifteen matches. You do this safe in the knowledge that your football club would never do anything like that.

Based on this, I should now be writing an article about how Oldham Athletic should have stuck with Darren Kelly for a least a season as you have to back your manager and give him time to build a team that can do him justice. I am not writing that article, though.

When Lee Johnson departed for Barnsley in February, we were sat 9th in the league with our best chance of a promotion push in many a year. The disappointment of losing the boss could have been partially offset by the appointment of someone who the fans believed could push us into a play-off place. Instead, the Board opted to give the reigns to Dean Holden and in doing so, accept that it was all about staying up. Many people slated Corney for this but to me, I thought it was sensible. The tide had already started turning and I don’t think anyone in our price-range could have led us to a top 6 finish.

The key was getting the right man in place for the start of the 2015/16 season. We all know that fans have been dwindling away for the last 20 years but this season had the potential to be different. As season tickets went on sale for the new stand, I couldn’t recall such a feelgood factor about the club during our time in League One. There was real excitement about the long awaited stand and I felt that a big appointment could have gone a long way towards securing an increase in attendances. I was in shock, therefore, when we announced the unknown Kelly would lead us into the new season.

It didn’t surprise me that we had opted for someone with little managerial experience as this tactic had proved relatively successful in our last couple of appointments. I was expecting someone I had heard of, though, and someone with real pedigree.

The early signs were not good. I listened to snippets of his interview on local radio and heard what sounded like someone who’d been fairly successful on a football manager computer game and thought he could transfer this skill into real life management.

The early summer brought a lack of transfer activity barring the signing of Lee Croft who presumably, given his previous ties with the club, was not chosen by the manager. The key players were retained though and as the season approached there were some decent signings. The worrying thing was that there were strong rumours that none of these were being identified by the manager and there was also talk from people who usually get these things right that Kelly was already on borrowed time. A week before the season, word was that he might not make it to the opening match.

Before a ball had been kicked in a competitive game Kelly’s position was already becoming untenable as these rumours would not go away and the club opted not to comment and dismiss them.

Seven league games in and he has gone. It should be pointed out that he only actually lost 2 of those 7 games. It is clear that whilst the team looked clueless today against Peterborough, it was not this defeat that ultimately cost him his job.

If it is true that the Board realized that they had made a mistake in pre-season, why did they not act then? Sacking Kelly before the Walsall game would not have appeared any more ridiculous than doing so now but it would have given us more time to move forward with the right man and would also have been fairer to him.

Simon Corney and his Board have significant experience of running a football club now, with him being in his second decade in charge. He also has a decent track record of appointing managers, although some may disagree. I do not understand how an error of this magnitude has been allowed to occur. I struggle to believe that when presented with over a hundred CVs earlier on in the year a decision was made that Darren Kelly’s stood out. I also don’t follow the common belief that it was simply a case of choosing the cheapest option. Risking relegation is certainly not a cheap option.

It feels as if those charged with running this club have taken their eye off the ball, especially when the manager situation is paired with the North Stand fiasco, which I am purposefully steering clear of. You could probably chuck Ched Evans into the mix if you really wanted to. We cannot afford to lose any more fans but everything I am witnessing can only lead to just that.

I am not naive enough to think that we should ‘sack the board’ as it doesn’t work like that. There is not a big queue snaking up Sheepfoot Lane of rich investors desperate to pour their wealth into the bottomless pit that is Oldham Athletic Football Club. I am also savvy enough to realize that Simon Corney is already on the lookout for someone who he may be able to offload the club to. I do think, however, that if he cares about the club (and I genuinely believe he does) he needs to re-engage with it or find someone who can.

When the fans of other clubs look at us and snigger this weekend they will make that usual accusation that the Board have acted fair too hastily. They will almost be right and they will certainly be pointing their fingers in the right direction.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 12 September 2015 21:13