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Building a Latic Empire - Oldham Athletic

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After going from an obscure manager in Slovakia to taking St. Etienne into the Champions League, I wanted a real challenge.  :lol:

So, I'm taking on the first club to go from Premier League to Non-League football, Oldham Athletic.



English manager Scot Dennell takes over the club.  Usually I play as myself but since Oldham has had only two managers from outside the British Isles, I wanted to keep in with the hiring traditions of the club.  So Scot Dennell, welcome to Oldham.


For a club that has been around since 1895, they only have three major trophies in their cabinet.  A Football League Second Division (current Championship) champions trophy from 1991, a Football League Third Division (current League One) champions trophy from 1974 and a Football League Third Division North champions trophy from 1954.  They still their home matches in Boundary Park which was built in 1904 and holds 13,612 people.  The loan is chairperson and repayable in 28k monthly installments through the summer of 2031.


I understand the wanting to promote players from the youth academy into the first team.  That gives them exposure at a low salary to the club.  If they are successful, the club can sell them for a profit and maintain a positive cash flow.  Not sure why a club battling relegation would want to play attacking and entertaining football.  I guess they would rather go down swinging and lose matches 4-3 than button up shop and lose 1-0.


The finances at the moment are in good shape.  But I'm sure once we get to the middle of the season, we will be in a negative balance.


We are a full on relegation candidate if the results don't go our away.  And we also have this to contend with:


Good news: I can't make rash decisions and try to patch holes in the short-term.  I have to think long-term

Bad news: I can't patch holes in the short-term.  I have to let the boat leak if it leaks.

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August and September 2021


It was a choppy start for the Latics and we opened with back-to-back scoreless games on offense against Newport County and Salford.  We hit a decent run of form in the next few matches as we went unbeaten including a nice penalty shootout win in the Papa John's Trophy over the Leeds U23s to close August.  The defense started to leak on the road before I switched formations from the 4-2-3-1 DM that had been using to more conventional 4-3-3 DM to try to stabilize the defense.  The result: three wins in three games with just one goal allowed.  Sweet!


A relegation candidate but sitting in the playoffs.  Doubt we can stay there over the course of 46 games but who knows!

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October-November 2021 Update


A very busy two months for Oldham.  Only two losses in the only two games where the offense was held scoreless.  I made another switch in tactics from the 4-3-3 I used while Mountain Climbing to a 4-3-3 with 2 DMs and it seems to be working well for us.  We've kept the defense tight, outside of the Salford match, and the offensive production hasn't dropped off.  I think I'll stick with this one for awhile or until it stops working.


Sitting just outside the playoffs with a game in hand due to international callups and rescheduled fixtures because of those callups.  Still like where we are at which is nowhere near the relegation battle.


The finances are as I expected....going into the red.  Good thing that a lot of our players have contracts which expire at the end of the season.  Cut the deadweight contracts and reshape the squad starting next season.

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December 2021 and January 2022


We are getting tired.  Playing two matches per week is starting to take a toll on us.  We can't keep a consistent lineup and as a result can't keep a consistent run of form or offense.  We aren't built to fight on three fronts (League Two, FA Cup and Papa John's Trophy).  Sheffield Wednesday finally knocked us out of the Papa John's Trophy so that's one less competition to deal with and open up our fixture calendar somewhat.


Still in the playoff hunt but the gap to top half obscurity is that far.  Good new is relegation is completely off the table this season.


Ugh.  Hopefully the intake is better than the preview. 

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Looks like a solid start to year 1 for you with Oldham! Seeing this thread start got me to start a save with them myself, as last year I had done one with Bradford City (another club fallen from the Premier League to League 2). Currently in Season 4, I didn't end up promoted until Season 3, though I had made the playoffs each of the first two seasons. Hope you get some better luck there than I had!

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17 minutes ago, Emerion said:

Looks like a solid start to year 1 for you with Oldham! Seeing this thread start got me to start a save with them myself, as last year I had done one with Bradford City (another club fallen from the Premier League to League 2). Currently in Season 4, I didn't end up promoted until Season 3, though I had made the playoffs each of the first two seasons. Hope you get some better luck there than I had!

I'm doing my best.  The squad is just gassed at this point with all the matches.

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With two games to go, it's a tight race for positions 3-8.


One team will enjoy automatic promotion and one team will watch the playoffs on TV.

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12 hours ago, keeper#1 said:

With two games to go, it's a tight race for positions 3-8.


One team will enjoy automatic promotion and one team will watch the playoffs on TV.

Wow it’s mega tight. Even goal differences, except Salford. 

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2022 Youth Intake



Potential for a deep intake.  A tough mix of personalities but the good personalities are at the top of the intake with the poorer ones down at the bottom among the players who are less likely to make the first team.


I'll never turn down a goalkeeper at the top of the class.  Howarth has the ability to step in the back-up role starting next season.





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Well....how did we do it?


Well....I got to play a mostly rested squad after Leicester finally knocked us out of the FA Cup.  Our fixture congestion easied and we started string together some wins and slowly move up the table and into the promotion/playoff fight.  Back-to-back wins to close the season combined with Salford drawing with Mansfield, Stevenage losing to both Carlisle and Salford, and Bristol Rovers losing to Rochdale was enough to squeak us over the line in 3rd place and in the last automatic promotion place.  We did what we needed to do....win both of our matches.  Then, we watched as the teams above us fall apart and with the gap so small and the margins so tight, we were able to pass a lot of teams in the last two weeks of the season.


We could have even jumped over Crawley but they stayed above us by one point while Leyton Orient won the league.   Scunthorpe and Hartlepool were both relegated by April.  We put out the 2nd best defense in the league with only 38 goals allowed behind Mansfield's 34 goals allowed.

Playoff matchups: Salford vs Stevenage and Bristol Rovers vs Mansfield


We lost Bahamboulda during the winter transfer window and had to fill the right forward spot by committee.  The offense was led by Hope, who split time at center forward and right forward positions and Kellor-Dunn who lived in the left forward position.  The defense was solid with six of the back seven averaging 7+ for the season.


Looking forward to next season:



A decent wage budget and a very small transfer budget.  On to the next season!

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I'd take Declan Finn for a Premier League club! He looks great, even if he's only ranked 5th for PA.

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July-August 2022 Review




You'll notice a trend with these signings.  Almost all of them are defenders.  After I get promoted, I like to focus on defense because clean sheets and grinding out points are what I like to do with a promoted squad.  These signings are reflection of that philosophy.  I filled in the offensive gaps with loan signings who can poach us some much needed goals.


A good friendly season allowed us to carry some momentum into the season with zero losses in league play and the only loss coming against Premier League side, Everton.  Lots of good early returns to allow some positive vibes into the long fall schedule full of cup games and league fixtures.


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September-October 2022



An early October swoon has seen us fall out of the playoff places and into a more mid-table position.  I'll still take it.  The team is ready for back-to-back promotions.  We just don't have depth or the quality yet.

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November-December 2022 Update


We had a great run of form in early November which was then stunted by our starting goalkeeper, Jason Leutwiler, getting called up by Canada for the 2022 World Cup where he played exactly zero minutes.  This meant Ray Howarth 22A got to start all the matches starting with Shrewsbury and through the match against Bolton on December 10.  He kept us in the FA Cup and was a serviceable goalkeeper at home but struggled on the road.  


We are clearly the best team that won't be in the playoffs this season.  A gap has opened up between ourselves and Portsmouth who reside in 6th place.  The nice thing is not worrying about relegation.  We have a match against 20th place Fleetwood in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.  We should be good to go to make another good cup run and put some money in the bank account.


The loaned players of Morgensten, Jarvis, and Scrimshaw are doing a great job of providing offense for the club this season.  29 goals between the three players and they are our top three goalscorers on the season.


We should get some offensive help in the youth intake but not much else.

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January-February 2023 Update


Patchy form.  Not what we need in the winter months if we are to push for a playoff place.


Slowly sliding down the table into the mid-table places.  Fairly safe from relegation.

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18 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Fantastic stuff in the championship :applause:how are your attendances looking now you have climbed the ladder? 

Well, we are still in League One.  :lol:

Season tickets were about 300 more than last season.  Average attendance was 1,000 per game higher than last year.

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2023 Youth Intake



A very top heavy class with three "elite talents" and three more "top talents."  Almost all of them are good personalities too.  So, I'm highly encouraged by the Class of 2023.


Derek Langton 23A is a much needed center back.  We lack depth at the position and the towering 6'6" Langton will be a welcome addition to the backline.  Not the fastest but is very strong in the air.  Great addition.


Christopher Williams 23B is another welcome addition to the squad.  He fills another weak spot in the roster which is the attacking line.  Can play a number of positions but he looks best suited for the wing.


More numbers on the backline come in Lewis Cruickshank 23C.  Not a fast wingback but could have enough skills to move into the defensive midfield to help the numbers there too.


A midfielder who wants to make the spectacular play but not much else.  Could be a very good super sub when we need to unlock a defense that is sitting back and not letting us in.


Another more all-around midfielder joins the team in Steve Liddle 23E.  Can play both offense and defense.  Could fit into one of the defensive midfield roles in the future.


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2022-23 Season Review


A team that just ran out of gas.  Not very deep at a lot of positions.  We hit a goal drought and things spiraled from there.


We slid down the table and finished 12th with a goal difference of -9.  Not great.  We hung with the playoff teams early in the season but they maintained their form while we did not.  Still very safe from relegation.


The Premier League, however, was very tight with goal difference needed to separate the top three teams.  City took the title at +49, Arsenal were runners-up at +40 and Liverpool in 3rd at +39.  Five teams go to the Champions League after Manchester United win the Europa League.  Villa earn a spot in the Europa League as the Europa Conference Champions.


You can see our offensive woes in the final stats.  The top three goalscorers all had 12 goals and then it was a drop off to seven goals for the next highest goal scorer.  The focus will be on getting players under contract to bolster the offense and then continue to shore up the depth along the back line.  We need depth everywhere but I want to focus on clean sheets still because they are worth a lot.  Defense wins.  Offense gets the glory.



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Summer 2023 Update


Lots of new faces coming into the club all on frees on loans.  A few deadwood players who I could squeeze a small fee out of departed.


These three players will breathe some new life into the club.  They are all 24 years old or younger and will help the depth issues that the club faced last season.  Ashby is a right-back who will support first team choice Travis Johnson by being able to come off the bench or give him a complete rest by starting some mid-week games.  The same can be said for Medford-Smith who plays right back.  The fans are unsure about him since he is joining us from rivals Wigan.  Stephen Walker comes in to liven the stale attack.  Fast.  Can play both the center and left forward positions.  An upgrade and a depth option.  I have high hopes for him.


Alex Cairns replaces Jason Leutwiler in goal.  He's four years younger and better than Leutwiler, who was inconsistent after returning from the World Cup in December.  Cairns should be able to provide us with some clean sheets and steals some points that we didn't get last season.  Joe Gubbins gives us depth at center back.   Keyendrah Simmons is someone who can play all three forward positions.  Very helpful to have on the front line.  He can rotate into a variety of roles and give lots of players a game off.  Skilled enough to start for a prolonged stretch of games if needed as well.

One last July 1st signing.  Oliver is an experienced striker who can be a great passing outlet and playing others into the attack while still skilled enough to bag some goals on his own.


Balmer is our big signing of the summer.  A U21 international for Northern Ireland joins us from Larne.  Will step into the starting lineup right away.


A decent friendly season in Scotland.  A couple of big results at the end of the friendly season gave us a good platform to start the season but that momentum was quickly halted by Salford who beat us on penalties in the League Cup.  Struggled to regain form after that game.


If anyone wants screenshots on the new signings, just let me know and I'll post them.

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Just came across your thread @keeper#1 - it is great to see another manager playing as Oldham! Usually it is just me taking on the challenge most seasons :lol:

Great to see the Latics back in League One, effectively their spiritual home after 21 years spent there out of the last 25 years! 

I have just started writing about my latest save managing them. Mine will be a slightly different challenge to yours as I will be starting in the National League rather than League Two. 

Now I have found your career I will be certainly following along with interest and I hope you follow along with mine as well! 

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Quick update: I have been playing.  I was chosen by my boss to experience Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady cruise ship and report back to the agency I work for about my experience.  

Good news: I have internet

Bad news: The internet won't load pictures so no updates until I return tomorrow.

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September-December 2023


A lot of choppy form.  Just can't put together a winning streak to get us out of the mid-table.  The FA Cup has been a bright spot but we drew Arsenal, at home, in the 3rd round.  I'd rather have Arsenal on the road for the payday than at home.


Yep.  Middle of the table.  Really not going to push for promotion.  Really not until threat of relegation unless things really go south.  Just playing out the string already....in January.


Another very top heavy intake and I'm dealing with a board who doesn't want to invest in improving the youth setup.  I really won't be disappointed when the owner finally sells the club instead of teasing me with sales every three months.


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33 minutes ago, keeper#1 said:

I really won't be disappointed when the owner finally sells the club instead of teasing me with sales every three months.

This is very true to real life! The owner has given the fans false hope that he’s selling up but sadly nothing seems to actually be happening. Fingers crossed that he goes for you. I’m certainly hoping he’ll clear off in my save! 

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2024 Youth Intake


Another very top heavy intake.  We need to develop the top end of these classes.  They just continue to lack depth.  I don't want to dredge the free transfer market every summer.  I want to build some level of continuity with the roster.


Leonard is someone who can step into the center of the defense rather quickly.  He's a strong tackler.  Quick.  A little on the small size but he could add some weight to his frame and become a solid defender at this level.


Not sure what to make of Jackson.  He's not a smooth finisher so he's not a natural striker.  He's a good passer but doesn't see the whole field so he's not a natural playmaking forward or player who can drop into the midfield.  A player without a natural positional fit.


Miklya is a slow plodding left back who doesn't fit into what I'm looking for full backs to do tactically.  I expect them to act like defensive wingers who can contribute both offensively and defensively.  Miklya contributes defensively but not offensively.


If Sam Downey had more speed, I would be excited.  He's everything I'm looking for in a defensive midfielder.  However, he is slower than me.  Just can't cover the field.  If he could be more mobile, he would be a starter in short order.  Until he gets faster, I don't expect much from him.


Poulton has all the speed and technical ability but needs to develop some field awareness to become a better players.  These are players I like, let me develop your mental side of the game.  You've already got the skill.  You just need to understand the game.  Hopefully, Poulton gains that game understand and can contribute.


Finally, the board agrees to upgrade something involving the youth setup after 2+ seasons of asking.

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2023-24 Season Review


Another solid season of mid-table mediocrity.  This season, however, the metrics look a little bit better than last season.  Last season, we finished with a goal difference of -9.  This season, we finished with a goal difference of +7.  Almost all of this was down to our improved defensive play.  Our goals allowed dropped from 62 to 50 while our goal scored only increased from 54 to 57.  Not a lot of offense but a lot better defense than last season.  That's always my strategy.  Fix the defense first.  Then rebuild the offense.  It's easier to get points through 0-0 draws than to outscore your opponent every week. 


January and February were great months.  Flying high.  Had a nine match unbeaten streak in league play/  Then March came and would no longer get a win.  The defense started to fall apart and the offense stopped scoring and if they did score, the defense had a bad night.  Only five points from our last eight matches saw us fall from a potential playoff contender down to 12th place.


When your third leading scorer is a 32-year old super sub from the bench, you've got an offensive problem.  Outside of Stephen Walker and Jovan Malcolm, we lacked players who could put the ball into the net.  I think a large part of the problem is we lack players in the middle of the field who are willing to provide them proper service to put the forwards into scoring positions.  Continuing to build this from back to front.  The offseason will prioritize getting playmakers in the midfielders to help the forwards.


Eight assists from our best three central midfield players for the entire season just isn't going to cut it.  Need an upgrade there.1625867273_June12024AcademyAppearances.png.14ecdb88595dfd9104bbb5340a9615d0.png


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Summer 2024 Signings


The summer signing window started with two transfers to bolster the midfield.  The first is a young kid, Jack McDaid who joins from Glenavon for a small fee and the other is Iain Wilson who ended his career at Greenock Morton to join us in England.


McDaid is an attack first/defense second central midfield.  He's perfect the tip of the midfield trip that I like to employ in the midfield.  Still a little raw around the edges but those will be smoothed out with playing time which he should get plenty of for us this season.


Wilson is a defense first defensive midfielder who likes to get into the offense when needed.  A definite upgrade at the position.  The defensive midfielders are the key to the formation.  I need all-around midfielders in those roles.  Wilson is a good stepping stone in that regard.


Three more players joined us on free signing day.  Two more midfielders and another center forward to help the attack.


Evans is a good midfielder who will be needed to drop into the defensive midfield with us at Oldham.  Smart on the ball and can pick out a pass from the back.  Something that we desperately need so we are not playing predictable "Pass A to Pass B to Pass C" football.


Daniel Gore washed out at the Manchester United Academy but I think he can play a future role for us so I scooped him.  A tweener who can play both in the central midfield and on the wing.  Really not interested in playing defense so he may get trotted out as a center forward if need be too.


Sean Maguire is a center forward who can play all across the formation.  Good with the pass and smart with the ball.  Something we are in need of at the top of the formation.  Too often, last season, the center forward would play a pass directly to the defense or try to dribble through three players.  Maguire won't do that.  He wants to bring others into the play.


One more signing to add some defensive depth to the roster.


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July-August 2024


A slow start to the season but we quickly rebounded with three straight clean sheets to right the ship.


Early days but we are staking out a place as a playoff contender this season.

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January 1, 2025 Update


A great October and November has really helped us this season.  Defense has been solid and the offense is starting to click.  We are started to look more and more like a complete team in our 3rd season in League One.  


Not only are we in the playoff mix, we are in the mix for automatic promotion.  This is a great sign for the club.  We need this to help bring better players into the club.  The board still does not want to invest heavily in the youth academy and that is really hurting our intakes which in turn hurts our bottom line because we do not have young talented players to sell on to other clubs.


Another blah intake.



One new signing to upgrade our goalkeeping position.  My scouts continue to find quality low cost players in the Northern Ireland Premiership.

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2024-25 Season Review


Two completely unbeaten months in January and March put us in a really good position.  However, our form slipped in April.  Would it be enough to win the league, secure automatic promotion or just make the playoffs?


A draw against second place Charlton was enough to secure Oldham's first piece of silverware since winning the Championship back in 1991.  


It was a tight three-team race between Oldham, Charlton and Sunderland.  Charlton joined us in automatic promotion.  Sunderland won a tough playoff battle when they beat Portsmouth in the semifinal and then Forest Green in the final.  Three quality teams join the Championship for next season.


We are very deserving champions.  3rd in the league with 78 goals.  4th in xG at 73.33.  Top ranked defense in the league allowing just 43 goals and led the league in xG allowed at 41.98.  We did this with the 20th highest payroll in the league at just 2.64 million pounds outlaid for the season.


Sean Maguire led the club with 20 goals.  Super-sub Davis Kellor-Dunn led the team with nine assists.  Player of the Season goes to the rapidly improving Jack McDaid who scored eight goals and chipped in seven assists.  My coaches rate McDaid as a Premier League talent.  Hopefully, we can keep him at the club for a couple more seasons until we get our Championship legs underneath us.



The less we say about the 2025 Youth Intake the better.  I don't expect much from this class.  No elite or top talents.  Just awful.  I need the board to understand that the academy needs to improve to help us grow as a club.


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Gonna try to do the same thing that I did when I moved from L2 to L1 which is rebuild the defense and try to grind out results with the hopes of finishing safe from relegation.  Defenders are cheaper to buy and, usually, have lower wage demands than midfielders and attackers.  Also, in my opinion, it's easier to win 1-0 than 4-3 so focus on the defense before rebuilding the midfield and attack.  I'll have the smallest stadium in the Championship so I need to spend wisely until I've got some money to spend and butts in the seats week in and week out.

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