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BJT

From The Basement…To How High?

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Managerial Career - Season 1 / FM Touch 19

 

Starting Club – Oldham Athletic

Division - EFL League Two

Board Expectations – Top-Half

Media Prediction – 7th

Transfer Budget – Nil

Finances - Insecure

 

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From The Basement…To How High?

 

Following the disappointing decision of one Paul Scholes who barely lasted one month in charge of the Latics, following on from a remaining season of mediocrity Moss has been given the task to bring stability to the club whom currently have major financial difficulties.

 

Unthinkable as Oldham was once a club that graced the Premiership with giants such as Manchester United, now having fallen so rapidly. With a stadium capacity of 13,560 the club still has potential to bring itself out of these difficulties, but much is dependant on increasing the fan base and those fans then turning up to games.

 

Despite finishing 14th last season, the media predicts Oldham to finish seventh. More realistic expectations for the year have the board wanting a top-half finish. However with no budget available to invest and a number of players on loan from other clubs, it would seem the Oldham faithful will have to expect Football League status as the short-term club aims.

 

“I’m delighted to have been given the chance to work at a club well known in the English game. It’s well documented the club’s financial predicament is a worry. But for however long my tenure will be at this great club, bringing financial stability and maintaining our Football League status is a challenge I can’t wait to get started on”.

Edited by BJT

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Bolstering the Numbers

After reviewing the initial squad we had no back-up players on both full-back and winger positions. This immediately had me worried.

Searching through the available freebies and with the board willing to adjust the budget to a maximum of just under 100k, a mixture of loans, youth, and one purchase resulted in 7 additions to the squad I inherited from the start.

 

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Key Players

Centre back and leader Peter Clarke has by far the best leadership qualities in the squad and so he has to play. However at the age of 36 and having pace and acceleration of five. Yes five!…it’s definitely going to be a backs to the walls job this year.

Fortunately we have a few target men in the squad and a number of centre midfielders. Although we had a star poacher available in Callum Lang that has pace finishing and composure – I decided to ignore him this year given if he gets injured no-one can replace him adequately.

Urko Vera at 31 years old has great height, jumping reach and strength. Although he’s slow with pace and acceleration of 11 and 8 respectively, in this league I still think he can do a job playing alone up top and be an offensive target man with good anticipation and determination qualities to his game.

Our conductor in the midfield will be Jose Baxter. Coming in from Everton on a free, he’s got good first touch, passing, technique and vision. Perfect to be a playmaker for us in the middle.

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Formation

So I’ve decided to play the Big Sam way this year, a Cautious Mentality 4141, Low Loe and Low Def Line, launching the ball to our target man from deep and playing counter-attacking football down the flanks, with a Kevin Nolan providing regular attacking support deep from centre-midfield.

I know I know, it’s not going to be pretty nor be a formula for winning any league but I hope it will enable me to at least achieve the top half finish, or maybe squeeze into the playoffs if we remain clear of any major injuries to our spine.

 

And Oh Yes – we will be launching long throws into the box! 

 

Here is the Main System I’ll be employing for the year

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Edited by BJT

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Well Positioned @ Midway point

We’ve reached the half-way stage and we’re in a good position to push on. During the earlier part we were regularly in the top three. But it’s always the best indicator to judge where you’re at after playing half of the games and 5th we currently are.

It is though all so very tight at the moment.  Lincoln whom were favourites to win the division, and Mansfield have created a nice buffer in the top two spots, but third still remains at clutching distance.

But with only 1 point separating us and eighth place playoffs will not be a certainty until the very last game is played. But if we continue to perform as our squad is capable of it looks like we'll be in that  playoff chase going from 3rd all the way down to 8th – which misses out on the playoffs.

Jose Baxter is already showing signs that he is central to our success. Also our designated penalty taker, he’s scoring and assisting in a number of goals for us.

Our two wingers Andrew Driver and on loan Theo Archibald are also contributing very well especially on the goal front, and their threat from wide is where we are most dangerous.

Urko Vera is doing a decent job up top, but at times his finishing is quite erratic. We aren’t going to be scoring the most goals this year, but hopefully we’ll have enough to grind out enough results to at least maintain where we currently lay.

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Oldham AFC 3 - 2 Bury

One result that stood out and caused a fist punch was the last gasp injury time winner at home against Bury...in the 95th minute.

Winning that game 3-2, it took a long-launched throw right at the death to breach the Bury back-line for that winning goal giving us another 3 crucial points in the bag.

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Here are the goals from this ding-dong battle, in which we came back from 2 goals to 1 down to win.

 

Edited by BJT

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The Latics Make the Playoffs!

There was real tension going into the last few weeks of the season. Our side suffered a real slump in form after around the 30 game mark. Goals were hard to come by, and when we were scoring we just weren’t solid enough at the back to keep our lead.

It all lead to us falling outside of the playoffs where we hovered around the seventh and eight positions – it looked like we had ran out of steam.

But a resurgence coming into the home straight led us to going 8 games unbeaten securing 20 points from a possible 24. And as you know at this level, it can shoot a team up out from nowhere near playoff contenders to snatching that very spot to get a shot to play at Wembley.

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But Automatic Promotion Thrown Away…

It was not without disappointment though. In the match before the penultimate game, it saw us play Mansfield whom were third were playing us in fourth. A win would have taken us above them into the last automatic promotion spot, to then be met with an away tie then against Exeter who were also heavily in the play off mix .

A home tie against Northampton, a side with nothing left to play for was then due as the last game of the season. This happened to be our performance of the season giving them a 4-1 hiding at our Boundary Park home.

But after taking the lead in the game vs Mansfield, our defensive midfielder Ousmane Fane got himself a straight red – and immediately they made the advantage count equalising within just two single minutes…

With a whole half left to play, we huffed and puffed and probably should have nicked a winner that no one could argue we didn’t deserve – but it just wasn’t to be. The dropped points cost us and we had to settle for fifth spot in the end….meanwhile it was Exeter who took advantage of this drawn game to snatch third spot away from Mansfield.

We took a very important point away to Exeter following the well earned draw, and so if only we had won that game against Mansfield we would have finished in 3rd spot,

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“I’m really proud of the way our lads dug in this backend of the season, especially after our run of form that took us out of the playoff spots. We kept our heads together, realising we’d need to raise our game as individuals and as a team.

We proved we could perform with no pressure on at the start of the season…and we’ve now proved we can be mentally strong and perform when the pressure is on. I’m confident if we play like we have done the last couple of months, then with a bit of luck there’s no reason why we can’t go all the way”.

--

The playoffs draw sees MK Dons due to play us Oldham AFC at home in the first leg. Mansfield were given Cambridge in the other tie, whom weren’t in the top eight at the half-way stage proving its never over till its over in League Two.

Here is a linegraph showing our position throughout the season & positions in the playoff race

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Edited by BJT

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Oldham AFC vs MK Dons – Semi-Final Playoffs

Leg 1 - Even Stevens

From goal less, to a goal fest. The first leg in this one saw the MK Dons put us under pressure for prolonged periods of the game. Dominating possession and almost doubling our shot count, they were the side looking most likely to break the deadlock.

After many nervous moments on the touchline, then came the 77th minute where the ball did hit the back of the net…the MK Dons net!

What was a bullet of a strike powered past their keeper from just inside the 18 yard box, the assistant referee signalled for offside – and the goal was clearly onside!!

With the game ending nil nil, the tie was still finely in the balance. Would our home advantage see us through?

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Leg 2 - A Dreadful Start

Come the second leg, the game pattern with MK Dons controlling the game and taking more shots at goal was exactly the same. However this time unfortunately for us they took a 2-0 away lead going into the half-time break….

I’ll be honest I really didn’t see much hope of us coming back into this one at this stage. We desperately needed a goal to give us hope, but if we could pinch one early enough there would be no reason why we couldn’t get a second. And with no away goals in the playoffs, all was not lost.

Hope

Then came the early second half goal we craved. Theo Archibald arrived at the far post from our on loan left back Myles Kenlock to divert the ball passed the MK Dons keeper. 2-1…

And then cometh the hour, cometh the man… Just after the hour Jose Baxter scored one of his trademark free kicks from 20 yards out that bent away from the outstretched keeper. 2-2!

Fatigue Creeping in

Worryingly coming into the later part of the game, our team were extremely tired after chasing the ball for a lot of the game and the effort of bringing ourselves back into this tie. This included taking off our star man Baxter so our midfield had more energy as the game went into Extra Time.

The decisions to re-energise our team proved crucial.

The Final Nail?

After coming back from two goals down, surely we wouldn't throw it away?? Well the MK Dons weren't done yet. 7 Minutes into Extra-Time saw them re-establish their lead. A near post header from within the 6 yard box proved unstoppable - and I thought, this time we're done and that was our final nail.

But with MK Dons now also suffering with tiredness, it gave us the opportunity to play a little more with the ball... but it was a simple route one ball from our 36 year old centre-back and captain Peter Clarke found our slow target man Urko Vera break the offside trap. Holding off the challenge from behind with his strength, he kept his composure superbly in front of goal to slot it home. The tie again all square.

The Come-back, The Finale

And yes! Were we able to seal our place in the Playoff Final? We did, with our fourth goal coming in after 114 minutes...and it was the one and only time we've been ahead in over 200 minutes of football.

Lacking the energy to close down, there was time to hit a curling precise right wing cross by Archibald to the back post, met by a superbly controlled volley firing it into the back of the net. The goal scorer Gevaro Nepomuceno – a winger who has contributed excellently from the bench all season long.

MK Dons to their credit piled on the pressure for the remaining five minutes of the game. But they weren't able to create that clear cut chance to force the game into penalties....we held on and off to Wembley we come.

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Here are the Oldham goals in the 4-3 Playoff Victory over MK Dons

Not ever being a LLM, these two ties definitely gave the heart all sorts of anguish but joy in the end! I do pity those real football managers going through such a rollercoaster. :)

The other semi-final saw Mansfield lose to Cambridge City, the considered outsiders for the playoffs. It will feel a little strange going to Wembley as favourites in this one.

Edited by BJT

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Oldham AFC vs Cambridge (League Two Playoff-Final)

The date 25th May 2019, saw Oldham fight Cambridge for promotion to League One. A big game for Moss and The Latics, especially with additional money earnt at higher levels of the game.

We were marked down as favourites for this one – but in a game full of controversy where would the tie swing?

Referees oh Referees….

It didn’t take long for me to start complaining. After an incorrect offside decision only a couple of games ago almost costing us our Wembley spot, things did not seem to be changing on this front with a penalty being awarded in the 18th minute to Cambridge.

But to be fair, Peter Clarke was showing his 36 years of age where he lost his man to then put in a clumsy challenge catching the back of Alex Jones’ right boot who went down with no hesitation…then himself converting well from the spot, 1-0 down we went which stayed the scoreline to half-time.

Clarke at the centre again

Our leader can’t stay out of the headlines of late…and this was the controversial decision, one which finally went our way.

What appeared to be a shove, led to Clarke going down in the box just after a corner had been taken. Perhaps not enough of these are given, but the referee on this day called it in our favour to give us a spot kick.

Up came Jose Baxter, to smash the ball into the top corner a superbly taken penalty. Their keeper had no chance keeping this one out, and the tie was now all square with just under 30 minutes left to play.

Anyone’s Game

With the game tied at 1-1, the possession count was very even it really could go either way. Perhaps we were having a few more pots at goal, but in a game perhaps less draining physically for us, I felt more confident in gaining the edge in this one.

And with just over five minutes to go the normal goals started to flow. Gevaro Nepomuceno again starring off the bench gave us the lead…or rather their keeper!

Horror Show

After clearing one of our long throws barely, Cambridge certainly looked like they were going to buckle. Patiently working the ball back into their half, a bit of magic on the left gave our winger time to get a shot away…but rather being a strike of beauty, it was a horror show for the Cambridge keeper. Mis-timing his dive, the ball went underneath his body and into the net.

Could we hold on? That must have knocked the wind out of their sails…and in the 89th minute victory looked all secured. Another Baxter free-kick special was beautifully curled into the top corner from around 20 yards out. Dimitar Mitov was beaten again, and 3-1 was now the score.

Late Goal to No Avail

Cambridge refused to give up though despite only injury time left to spare. Reggie Lambe their Bermudan international came on after 82 minutes and looked a real threat off the bench.

Running from inside of his own half he made great strides into our third of the pitch. Switching the play to the left, he continued his run into the box…and after being found unmarked, he met the well placed cross and struck the ball cleanly into the bottom right corner. 3-2.

But with only one minute left of injury time, there was no time to create havoc to our defence and we played out these remaining seconds quite comfortably to secure victory and march into League One as Playoff Victors!

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The three goals that lead us to Playoff Success with Baxter @ the double:

 

“Two very draining ties over the course of 3 football matches and then some. I’m really proud of the lads making into League One. It’s another step up for us and it will not be easy…but let’s celebrate our achievement first!

I’m hoping that the board will be able to set aside some funds. We will need to replace our outgoing striker Urko Vera who unfortunately decided to not renew his stay with us, so we’ll be looking at targets this Summer.

Peter Clarke will also be leaving us at the end of this season. He’s been a fantastic leader at the heart of our defence, and no doubt his experience and leadership qualities got us through some of those tough games this year. That will be sorely missed next season.”

Edited by BJT

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Season 1 Review - League Two

League Two – Playoff Winners

Really happy of our achievement in that we made the playoffs and won those two very difficult ties to gain promotion. With the effort the players put in over the course of the year and defying expectations, I think we got what we deserved.

FA Cup – KO 3rd Round

We exceeded expectations and made the 3rd round here. Losing against Reading a Championship side 3-2 at home is not a bad exit, and the receipts from this game and prize money will only benefit the club.

Carabao Cup – KO 1st Round

Lost to fellow League Two  Port Vale in this one on penalties. Not a priority in the slightest, and probably won’t ever be if I’m brutally honest as first and foremost successes in the League and finance from the FA Cup is what this club needs at this moment in time.

Board Review

Our board were delighted overall with how we performed this season. Exceeding League and FA Cup expectations along with seeing an improvement to the finances have all been major factors. However the club still remains at an insecure financial status, and getting the balance between investment and wage control whilst looking to increase our chances of avoiding relegation next year will be a very tricky one.

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Key Players

Jose Baxter - was named as League Two player of the year, and rightly so. He was integral to our success this year. Scoring 18 goals and assisting 19 times is an excellent return, and at 27 years of age he’s now entering his prime. He’ll be an important player again for us next season.

Peter Clarke – Despite his aging years, his leadership and experience was golden in our quest for a good year. I’ve decided not to renew his contract as we do need to build for the future, but what he has helped us achieve won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Theo Archibald – On loan, I wasn’t expecting a youngster to play such an important part of our year. But his contributions and general performance have exceeded my expectations. I’m hoping I can renew his loan for next season. 14 goals and 13 assists in the league was an excellent return, and he can only improve being only 21 years of age.

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On Being Awarded Manager of the Year

“It’s good to see that as a club overachieving this has been recognised and so it is nice to receive this award. Our players have stuck to our game-plan very well this season and hopefully we can continue in the same fashion going into next year.”

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Hopes for Next Year

There’s likely going to be a number of changes to our squad . I highly doubt I’m going to have funds to change our style of play to a more offensive 442 which is my long-term ambition.

With our first team target man leaving on a free and our loan players returning to their clubs it will prove to be a tricky Summer of recruitment. I’m hoping we can try to re-loan some of the players we had this year, which include the Keeper, Left Back, Right Back, and Right Wing positions.

Spineless…

And with a new top quality striker being needed to fill Urko Vera’s boots and Peter Clarke at centre-back also leaving, that means six first team spots need to be filled.

Following our promotion although officially our transfer budget is again nil, it looks like the board are flexible to investing around 600k on players.

With the spine of the team bar Jose Baxtor not even yet known, my own realistic assessment would be to try and avoid relegation next season and build on from there – hoping a good FA cup run can again be achieved to ease the financial pressure of now paying out greater wages each week.

Edited by BJT

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Season 2 – League One (Oldham Athletic)

Let’s get Busy!

Four out, Twelve in. They were the numbers of our Summer wheeling and dealings. I was able to re-loan our right side of the team with full-back Cameron Coxe and winger Theo Archibald coming back for a second season under me.

Overall it was a productive window that leaves me confident we will have a good attempt at staying up this year. We have been able to fill in the Spine positions that we lost over the Summer.

Spaniard Marcelo Djalo comes in from Fulham for 200k. After being listed and a few clubs after him, he decided to join us at Boundary Park. He will also be paired with another purchase costing 130k Frederik Nielsen who comes from Sheffield Wednesday.

Only 21 years of age with his main attribute being “King of the Air”, his height will prove useful with our opponents expected to have most of the play and launch balls into our box.

Summer Bargain

In goal we found a real bargain in Jamie Jones. Decent attributes in most goalkeeper area, at only 2.7k this was a steal and allowed us to utilise our budget in the defensive and striker areas.

The other main signing comes right up top. Vera’s replacement is Ollie Palmer arriving from Crawley costing 170k.

My biggest concern is his pace and acceleration at only 8 and 9 respectively. But his work-rate, determination and aerial ability I hope will prove more than a handful for the opposition centre-backs.

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Squad Review

After our transfers, I believe we do have enough to stay in this Division. We may not have adequately replaced the departed on loan left back of last year, but with our central defensive area improving and our goalkeeper, it should bring us enough solidity at the back. Kgosi Ntlhe has been brought in on a free to play in the left-back position and he is an RSA international - so hopefully we won't lose too much here.

My concern is going forward. Our left winger Andrew Driver is now close to 32 and it’ll probably be his last decent year for the club. Our new striker although very good in the air, lacks pace, very one footed and does need adapting to our style of offense.

Will we score enough goals and win enough games?

Here’s our ideal First XI and Bench for the year

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Board Expectations

In a strange twist, the Media predict us to finish in 19th position indicating we may just avoid the drop. Meanwhile our board expect a mid-table position. So it looks like its going to be tougher to please the board this time around...

I've always been a realist. I'd be happy with 19th position, but if we did hit mid-table I would consider this a very successful season.

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Theme Change – “I am a Giant”

The solution I’m hoping will be of the height of our team. I’ve made a request to the team announcer to change our theme tune to Calvin Harris’ “GIANT”.

I’ve ensured our signings have been beasts in height to maintain our 4141 system that looks to exploit set piece situations as much as possible.

Here’s Why:

Jamie Jones (GK) – 191cm

Marcelo Djalo (CB) – 193cm

Frederik Nielsen (CB) – 199cm

Ousmane Fane (DM) – 193cm

Ollie Palmer (TM) – 196cm

Fortunately being able to bring back Cameron Coxe on loan gives us the long-throw option. With a 14 rating, I’m hoping we’ll be able to take advantage of the height we possess in all set-piece plays.

Edited by BJT

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Season 2 @ Midpoint

Appeasing the Board

As defined, so far after half the year gone we’re safely sitting in 10th place. Effectively five points out of the playoffs, and 9 points clear of the relegation zone. Winning ten, and losing ten.

It’s been that sort of year. Patches of good form, and then patches of poor form. We can’t get that consistency going – the problems of playing a more negative game I guess.

One really disappointing game was after being 3-0 up at home, we ended up losing the game 5-3! A combination of poor defending and excellent finishing turned that game around. That happened to be against the league leaders Scunthorpe.

Contrast

In contrast, our most pleasing display was a 1-0 home victory against Coventry. Missing a few players, we remained solid throughout despite only having 23% possession all game.

And pleasingly our winner came from a corner. These are the type of performances and results that brings me huge satisfaction.

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A Mid-Table Finish Remains the Aim

So what can we expect next half of the season? We’ve been injury free for the most part. We’re out the Carabao but have a tough 2nd round away tie at fellow League One side Oxfordin the FA Cup. They’re currently 2nd just behind Scunthorpe and already are as good as promoted.

Realistically it’s going to be hard getting through this tie. So maintaining a mid-table finish to adhere to our board will be the best we can hope for this season which I’ll be very satisfied with.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 2 Review

So Close, So far…

With three games to go pinching a playoff spot was in our own destiny. But with a 3 month injury to Jose Baxter and dropped points against two sides in the bottom half of the table, this proved to be our undoing.

Irrespective of Baxter’s absence, our league form had actually improved. Languishing around 10th spot for the majority of the second half the season, it was a late push that give us that glimmer of hope.

Although slightly disappointing, taking things into perspective it was a tremendous season to finish in 7th spot. We exceed our board’s expectation and blew away the 19th position predicted by the media. Our board overall are very pleased with how things went this season.

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Attendances on the up

Another positive was our attendance figures. From last year’s 5,190 average figure, this year 6,755 was the average. Over a 1,500 increase, and as a result although we were over our wage budget slightly last year, a substantial increase has resulted for the forthcoming year..and our finances are now at a secure status. Aim achieved.

This will undoubtedly give me a chance to review whether to start our progression to a 442, or continue our work with the 4141.

Our FA Cup run as expected, did end at the hands of Oxford. Our board did recognise this draw as a tough one and were forgiving of not reaching the third round.

Oxford however slid to 4th spot in the league, with Scunthorpe the side that won the division by five clear points from Bristol Rovers.

Key Players

Theo Archibald – Our loan returnee really did star for us this season. Providing 13 goals and 13 assists he took home the fans player of the year ahead of Jose Baxter – he also notched up the League One player of the year award, an amazing achievement.

Ollie Palmer – The big target man did a good job this year, and despite his lack of pace he was classed as our signing of the season and contributed 20 league goals along with 7 assists.

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Plans for Next Year

Although it was an excellent year, I can’t help but feel we lacked that true leader in our squad. That brought us home last season but our current captain Baxter only has 10 for leadership. And its perhaps here where we weren’t able to grind out as many results or comeback when going behind.

So trying to find that leader with that dressing room presence has to be a priority. Additionally Andrew Driver is getting on a bit on the left wing and our backup isn’t quite of his standard to replace him.

A lot of things for me to decide on. Should I change our formation and our philosophy, or tinker and make the necessary squad improvements to see if that helps us get closer to the top spots.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 3 – League One (Oldham Athletic)

This proved to be a real tough pre-season, more on the decision side. I wanted to change my philosophy. But the problem was with a lack of available strikers on the market it made sense to play around Ollie again for a second year.

Less movement compared to our previous season, but it was great to be able to bring in Theo on a permanent basis. I’m hoping he can produce the form that made him League One player of the year last season.

Additionally I’ve tried to find a left back, a position I never truly replaced. In comes Ben Purrington from Rotherham. He isn’t much better than the other guys I have in all honesty, but he does exceed in the natural fitness and determination areas which to me will be a slight improvement.

It’s going to be hard to replace Andrew Driver at his peak. But Jordan Roberts has been given the task to do just that this year. Coming in from my local home the Gills, he works hard, is determined and has decent pace with crossing ability. I hope he’ll do a good job.

Gazumped

I went in for Richie Smallwood…the leader on the pitch I was after. He really would have provided that defensive midfield platform being a Championship level player. But unfortunately Reading came in with a bid after me and he chose them.

Desperately trying to find someone, the next best thing was experienced Irish international David Meyler. Available on a free I decided to offer him a contract which he accepted gladly.

His physical and defensive attributes aren’t as good as my current DM Ousmane Fane, but his leadership and teamwork qualities is what I am after, even if just to be apart of the squad.

Another freebie brought in was Matt Butcher. A box to box midfielder but has the potential to get forward too in our CMA role. Given he cost nothing he’ll bring competition for that particular spot in the team.

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Hopes for the Year

This time around the Media predict us to finish in 15th. The board want us to achieve mid-table the same as last year.

Although I have brought players in, unfortunately it isn’t of the additional quality that I was after. And I think that’s reflected in the slight increase in the media prediction.

A squad with greater depth we have, but nothing much else has really changed. We’ll do well to ensure we take a top-half finish without the worry of a relegation scrap.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 3 Review – An Unexpected Triumph

After analysing our past seasons in our current system, although scoring more than we conceded we were still letting too many in for my liking. The number of games we lost last year were too many and leads being thrown away.

With Matt Butcher a natural B2B midfielder and Ollie Palmer more a supporting target man instead of an attacking one, I implemented these changes into the system. This in the hope that we’d be better in our midfield defensive structure, whilst a greater retention of the ball will occur to relieve any pressure being built in our low block. Our B2B Midfielder was also playing very similar to how our Attacking Centre Midfielder played by supporting our striker at every given opportunity.

Automatic Promotion Gained on Final Day

As a result of the changes, we had the second best defence in the league and that really counted for something. Although we won around the same number of game as last year, many of our previous defeats turned into draws. And this means less points given to rivals, and more points on the board for us.

The first half of the season was a good indication here. Difficult to dislodge with a significant number of draws was enough to bring us into contention to automatic promotion.

I was happy to escape yet another playoffs. It was too tense for my liking last time around. And with six games to go, the gap was 3 points between 2nd place and 6th place.

Fortunately with Bolton dropping points at lowly Peterborough on the last day, our away win at Shrewsbury was enough to see us through – typified by a clean sheet for our back-line.

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Key Players

Jose Baxter – A full season from the former Evertonian meant he was back to his best this year. Winning the fans player of the year and both scoring and assisting in crucial goals meant he was pivotal to our season.

Matt Butcher – Proved he was an absolute bargain coming in on a free. A player only 23 and improved over the course of the year, his long shots from range were a constant threat with a few belters flying into the net this season. If he can continue to improve he’ll play a big role in our quest to avoid relegation next year.

Ollie Palmer – It’s never easy playing alone up top. But his contribution was critical, and it is true you do defend from the front. Scoring 18 goals was a good return, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll play a role for The Latics next season.

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Hope for Next Year

We most certainly don’t have a good enough squad to stay up next season. We just don’t have the quality in all areas of the football pitch.

I’m hoping that there will be some players on the market. By playing in the Championship there should be a greater pull to join us, and it is my intention to change our philosophy. Parking the bus against more capable teams with a lack of fire power will be a recipe for disaster.

This unfortunately for Ollie Palmer will mean he won’t have a role to play for us. He’s been a great servant the past couple of years, but attacking football is going to be the way to go.

Board Expectations

Unsurprisingly delighted with our effort of our success on the pitch, more pleasing was our financial predicament still continuing to improve.

We made it to the 3rd round of the FA Cup, but lost away to Championship side Millwall.

A nice home draw against Liverpool was made in the Carabao Cup – but no surprises with the result there, yep we took a 5-0 hammering.

It’s going to take a lot of planning to get a squad that will have a chance of staying up. I highly doubt though we’ll have sufficient funds for a complete overhaul. So I’ll have to look for players that are a good deal on the transfer list, and focus on key areas to suit the system I will choose to employ.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 4 – Championship (Oldham Athletic)

A New Offense

Well this has been a good pre-season. By far from perfect, but we’ve addressed many areas that will enable me to play a more offensive game.

We now have two Northern Ireland internationals amongst our ranks. Kyle Vassell joins us from Rotherham in a deal worth 190k.

Fellow Irish forward Shay Mccartan came in from Lincoln in a deal right on the 200k mark. His durability in both the AM and SC positions is like two signings in one.

Pace

Two new full-backs that have pace were brought in too. TJ Eyoma at 21 years of age has great durability being able to play at both full-back or centre-back. He is however only 180cm so he’ll be our right back for the year.

On the left comes in Brandon Haunstrup. Also with good pace he’ll fit well into our higher defensive line system.

Finally a Real Leader

Our final signing is our Roy Keane, going by the name Ryan Leonard. The hard man in the centre of the park, a leader, good teamwork and experienced at 29 years old. He’ll be important in holding the team together in those tight knit games, and only cost us 85k from Barnsley.

Problems

Only one area I missed out on in my aim. I don’t have a natural Keeper Sweeper although I believe Jamie Jones can still adapt okay to the role.

It’s my centre-backs. The pace of all four in my squad is poor. Perhaps Marcelo Djalo will suffice in this area with pace 13 and acceleration 9, but the remainder are slow and lack the anticipation to cover this up.

So I do foresee problems against those sides that have pace up front to punish us there.

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New System – 4411

And it’s for that very reason rather than playing a very offensive 442, having the extra man helping out the centre of our midfield was the option I’ve gone for. We're playing higher, pressing high but no counter-press, and also re-grouping when we need to. It's very flexible.

The game focuses on regular counter-attacks, exploiting the flanks utilising our wingers to cause our opponents problems, and an Attacking Midfielder that aims to support the man up top at every opportunity. Our Advanced Forward is also playing in a creative nature so both players in these roles can feed off of each other.

A Xabi Alonso in the middle of the park will dictate the play when in possession, and be the guy to feed when looking to launch defence splitting passes on the break.

And a Javi Mascherano our destroyer in the centre of the park to bring the solidity in our midfield.

Although it will play very much like an offensive 442, with that extra man in the middle we should at least have a little more element of control that will enable us to grind out a few results instead of going blindly gung-ho.

Here is our First 18 with the new System and Roles in Play:

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Expectations

The media predict us to finish rock-bottom of the division. That sounds realistic enough. Our board also want us to fight off relegation bravely. They don’t sound too optimistic either.

I’m probably the only one that has a degree of optimism. I think our recruitment has been good and geared towards playing in an offensive way, but also with the ability to be combative and win in tight situations.

The key for me this year was bringing in Ryan Leonard as our defensive centre midfielder. His ability and leadership is what the club has needed, and I believe he’ll be able to lead us to safety, irrespective of our defensive frailties of the lack of pace.

Not all teams will have quick strikers. We’ll need to make sure that in games where the opponents won’t cause us as many problems, we make the most of these opportunities to take points.

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Moss Knows Best – A Cause for Optimism

My predictions on how well my squad would fare this year is so far on track. After half a season gone, we’ve put ourselves in a good position to fight off relegation @ the Midwaypoint.

Our season started off with a real bang, dispatching the Black Cats 4-1 on our home turf….we were quite literally in dreamland.

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Good performances continued, and although as suspected we would get exposed with our slow back-line at times, we’ve been good enough in offence to put those teams to the sword we would need to.

And then there is Vassell up front. Although he can be inconsistent at times, he can also put in some real match winning performances….most recently winning 4-3 away at QPR, with him scoring a hatrick. One goal was Mo Salah like - dribbling from the before half way line to showing the necessary composure to score past the keeper.

Here was his Hatrick:

Current Concerns

My greatest worry is that we do have a number of players out of contract at the end of the year. We are behind our wage budget and there is no room for transfer or contract manoeuvrability.

This means we’ll likely lose these players at the end of the year. Hopefully our attendances will continue to increase and perhaps we’ll have an increased wage budget that will allow us to snap up some decent freebies.

So rather than sell these players now and not be able to replace them, I’ll have to make do and hope that wherever this season takes us, we’ll then be able to bring in reinforcements to replace them.

But as things stand, currently in 14th and 11 points clear off the relegation zone things are looking very promising to achieve our objective of staying up.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 4 Review – Safe as Houses

We continued our excellent performances into the second half of the season, and we got our just rewards…and were able to secure a top half finish ending up in 11th position. A fantastic achievement with not one player in our squad worth 1 million pounds.

Defying the odds, West Brom approached me to take over…they actually had some good players in their team and it was a tempting offer. Players such as Ryan Fraser were amongst their ranks, but the expectancy levels at that club generally seem to be unrealistic – so if I was to move, it would likely only be to a struggling Premiership outfit.

We didn’t fare the best in either the FA Cup or the Carabao. Disappointingly we lost at home vs Hull on penalties in the Carabao 2nd round, and in the FA Cup 3rd round we lost away to Chelsea, though that can be forgiven..

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Key Players

Theo Archibald – Came as second best in the average player ratings in the Championship. Surpassing what his attributes appear to be capable of, he had an outstanding season.

Marcus Harness – Was subject to several bids across the course of the year. A very good winger who was our assist king for the year setting up 14 goals. Also scoring 10 it was a great contribution to our total goal tally.

Kyle Vassell – Had a really good year for us coming joint second top scorer in the division. Using his pace to torment defences, he scored some spectacular goals over the course of the season and ended up grabbing 22 goals. However now hitting 30, his pace is diminishing already, so I’ll have to consider this when choosing my investments in the Summer.

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Board

They were very pleased with our league performance by far exceeding expectations of fighting against relegation bravely. Predicted to finish 24th but coming 11th.

With maintaining our Championship status, the board although again a tiny budget being shown as available, flexibility is allowing us to go to a maximum of 1.9 million.

Next Year

Given players now appearing to be demanding much higher wages to stay on with us along with those on frees expecting a Championship wage, it’s going to have to be careful spending on positions where I can’t identify a free transfer.

The key areas are my goalkeeper, centre backs, and potentially a striker. We could do with a generally stronger squad in depth overall too. However with the Summer looming, my intention is to finally make a branch into a solid 442 formation.

Part the reason is with both Vassell and Jose Baxter now passing their prime years, they’ll be less key to the squad and not be able to offer much in the way of improving our league position.

One real difficulty is with BREXIT. All attempts to sign foreign players or even contract renewals are being met with a rejection of work-permit application. This makes things a lot trickier and a smaller pool of players we can target for improving our squad.

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Season 5 – Championship (Oldham Athletic)

Perceived The Same

The board again are expecting us to try our best to fight off relegation. And the media have predicted us to finish 23rd. So yet again we’re considered as a side doomed for relegation.

I do believe things may be a little trickier, in the sense that following our recruiting this Summer we probably are going to be weaker going forward. And with the 442 system I am now going to employ, we will have a weaker midfield presence too.

With that said, I’ve been able to invest in a couple of centre-backs that do have relatively decent pace to suit the system. And with only playing with 4 midfielders this was an area crucial to try and improve upon.

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Our new Defence

Remie Street our backup comes in from the Gills for 230k. Harrison Mcgahey we brought in from Scunthorpe for almost double this fee. He’ll be a starter and although not the tallest of centre-backs, he’s capable of playing quite well from the back and doesn’t have a weakness as such.

And like a brand new signing, after a year of trying to get him to extend his contract, Marcel Djalo finally was approved a work-permit and stays at the club. He’s not the quickest still, but he is dominant in the air. I believe playing alongside some one with a little more pace will hopefully compensate.

We’ve also got a Sweeper Keeper in Brad Collins. Costing 100k from Forest Green although not the best at launching attacks from deep, he has the attributes to do a solid job on the defensive side of things.

Freebies

Our remaining players brought in all came in on free transfers. Three of these will be backup players, but the one of note whom I have decided to pair with the ageing Vassell is Tyrese Campbell.

Coming in from Stoke, our scout indicates he has great potential to improve. At the moment I’d say he definitely has to be played as a poacher given he’ll never be able to create goals for his team mates.

But I’m hoping if he does improve in the areas he’s at the moment fairly decent at, he could become a competent finisher. He will be the man playing our poacher role in my 442.

Good Quality

Don’t be disillusioned with our free backup players. The other three that have been brought in are of good quality, whom should be able to do a good job for when our first team is missing.

Jayson Molumby comes from Brighton. Good tackling and work-rate, along with determination, naturally fit and a team player will mean he’ll slot in well for our Leader and Captain Ryan Leonard.

Another former Stoke man Tom Edwards comes in at right back. He’s on par already with our current one TJ Eyoma and could even steal his spot. Both players are extremely young and hopefully hungry to continue to improve themselves.

And Kyle Mcallister will make our bench ahead of purchase Jordan Roberts last year. His durability to play on both the left and right side of the pitch and the potential for him to improve, at 23 years of age I believe he can provide a positive impact off the bench.

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Expectations

I feel if our team can settle quickly into the new system, then I’m confident we can again avoid relegation without getting involved in a heavy scrap.

It will however require my attacking centre-mids who I had trained to get forward often, to now play in the complete opposite way by holding their position under the advanced playmaker position.

My only concern is if we do happen to have a poor start, it’s never easy to get yourselves out of a rut and it could lead to a real downward spiral in confidence and performances.

The other is by not playing Baxter in my First XI, we now don’t have a set-piece nor penalty specialist. Given how important set-pieces are, I feel this area is now the missing piece in the puzzle in having a good allround side.

But there still remains the time to splash some cash before the deadline ends. I’ll be watching the available players very carefully to see if someone fits the bill.

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Cheers, yeah it's going well so far...I'm pretty confident in a lot of the players I have at Oldham so I think I'm definitely going to try and stay with them for a while. Perhaps long-term aim would be to just make a Euro competition with them and see what happens from there I guess.

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Super Ty!

Super Super Ty, Super Tyrese Campbell. Yes, the free signing of the Summer didn’t take long to make his mark amongst the Oldham faithful with the chant here to stay.

Making an instant impact, a superb hatrick away at Bolton saw The Latics win the game 4-3. The winner a true poacher’s finish from inside the box, dramatically right at the death gave us all 3 points helping us achieve an excellent start to the season.

As with last year, it looks like we’re not going to be in danger going down. If anything, I am quietly confident we can make a real promotion push. Twenty three games in, only 13 points separate the top twelve.

Our team performances have been consistently good this year, even in the games we’re losing or dropping points in.

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Here's his first hatrick for the club, hoping for many more!

The Missing Piece of our Jigsaw

I firmly believe this squad is two players from being a really good outfit. Our Keeper Sweeper currently does a good job between the sticks, but he really lacks the distribution and vision to get the most out of how I want us to play.

More importantly, we lack a Paul Scholes and a Set Piece specialist. Our team needs a playmaker with vision and the ability to play a pass. Since Jose Baxter is not in our First XI anymore, we now struggle to make the most of set plays.

In those tight games we are drawing or losing, we’re getting punished by not having this X-factor…but I’m really looking forward to January because I have purchased a player that was listed on the cheap and I know he’ll be the perfect fit for the areas we are lacking.

Sean Goss – NI International

Transfer listed by Scunthorpe, he has great vision, first touch, technique, passing, composure, and can take free kicks, corners and penalties. An absolute gem and I’m clueless as to why he was listed.

We are a solid and really competitive football side despite having players considered League One quality. I’m confident with this player in our team we’ll be a top five side in this division.

I believe that without serious injuries, we are fully capable of pinching a playoff place, or if the top sides lose form considerably be placed in a top five position. Twelve points off after 23 games in this division can turn quickly… time will tell if my hunch is right.

Edited by BJT

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Season 5 Review – Two the Lucky Number

Going into the second half of fixtures, we were twelve points behind the leader in eighth position. The arrival of Sean Goss proved to be the perfect tonic for our squad as I had hoped – with marvellous results.

We had our two wingers in 1st and 3rd place for highest average ratings in the Championship. Marcus Harness took the top spot at 7.39 with Theo Archibald in third at 7.29.

Meanwhile Goss topped both of them! Averaging 7.42 and contributing both with goals and assists he effectively was the player of the year for the time he has been with us.

We ended up finishing in second spot for the 2nd half of the season, only behind Derby who walked away with the league finishing on 104 points.

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Snatching 2nd

This run in the second half of the season gave us the chance to pinch the second automatic promotion spot – which we did on the very last day of the season. Both Leeds and The Eagles of Palace were right in the mix and were both better positioned going into the final day.

But with both teams dropping points and us comfortably winning against lowly Portsmouth meant we came second via goal difference of plus 2, the margin we beat Portsmouth by.

Leeds who were the unlucky team in 3rd have a +20 goal difference after the first twenty three games and we only had +4, meaning a 16 goal difference was made up plus.

Our side had played excellent attacking football all year – but that extra vision, playmaker controlling the middle of the park and now being a threat from set pieces made such a big difference.

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Key Players

It’s quite clear who the three difference makers were. Harness winning the Championship Player of the Year Award and Archibald with the pace and trickery down the flanks, with Sean Goss for the impact made in the second half of the season.

But there’s no way I can get Super Tyrese Campbell. A reliable poacher grabbing goals all year round, he scored 22 in the league only one behind the top scorer with 23.

My only criticism of our side would be on the defensive side of things. With that said, it was a new team that needed time to gel. And our defence second half of the season was much better, conceding only 20 in the last 23 compared to 34 at the start.

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Next Season

We will need to improve again. And the main area will definitely need to be at the back. We were top scorers in the Championship. We had defenders that could fit the system last year, but they were not of the best quality. This goes for the Keeper too.

My hope is I can get some good deals with players listed or on a free. The decision then is to decide whether I should splash some heavy cash on players…or think abour the club’s infrastructure.

Our attendance fell just about short of the maximum capacity at Boundary Park at just over 13,000. I may choose to request a stadium expansion and improvement in training facilities – and see if we can escape relegation after our first year returning to the very top flight of English football.

Edited by BJT

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Season 6 – Premier League (Oldham Athletic)

Moss Stays On

After job offers coming in during the course of last season and the Summer, West Brom, Norwich, Everton and West Ham have all offered the managerial position to no avail.

So the sixth season it is at Oldham, and perhaps the most difficult challenge of keeping the club in the top flight soon awaits.

Dealings

An overall budget of just under 34 million was made available to try and give us a chance of survival. I’ve kept under budget and spent a little over 24 million in total.

With Brexit, it has been difficult getting players from abroad and it was even more frustrating this time around. The player pool is very limited, and attracting good players was still a real struggle despite our promotion.

So I had to try and get what best I could. I’ve attempted to improve the squad all over in the central positions. Players that aren’t too old and have good potential to improve over the course of the season.

A number also have international experience which is always a good thing. The main men to look out for this year are Adam Idah as our poacher upfront. An Irish international coming in very cheap from Burnley for 1.5 million. It looks like he can finish.

Joachim Anderson comes in from Fulham costing 9.5 million. Sevilla were after him, but with a release clause in his contract I purchased him fully on cash. He’s 27, a Danish international and just entering him prime. He’ll be vital to keeping our defence organised and I'm hoping he'll be that rock for us.

The new Sean Goss is Andree Dozell. Bought from Ipswich costing a mere 425k, he has all the same qualities minus international experience, but on the plus a much harder working player. In this division this will be critical as we’ll still be playing a 4 man midfield this year.

Other signings include Liam Miller to pair Idah up front, Joe Roden our ball-playing defender coming in from The Villa on the cheap and Mads Bech another Danish international coming in at left back.

Our new Keeper Peacock-Farrell cost just 245k from Bolton. A natural Attacking Keeper Sweeper, but an eccentric one. I’ll have to wait and see how dependable he is. I did want to spend a lot more on a goalie, but no-one decent was interested and available.

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So here’s my main Squad for the year:

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Expectations

This division is a different level to the Championship. Our board want us to fight bravely against relegation, with the media giving us no hope of staying up predicting us to finish 20th.

I’m not sure how we’ll fare either. I wouldn’t say I brought in my ideal players. I’d like a quicker back-line, but for the ones available at a reasonable price and within our wage budget I invested as well as I could have done.

It’s going to be a struggle, and I can only hope there will be a few teams that find collecting points hard to come by. We are short of quality, and definitely do lack depth so I can’t see us getting near the 40 points mark.

With a bit of luck a number of teams will all be languishing down there with us, in the hope we can sneak ourselves above the drop-zone at the end of the year.

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The Positives

A capacity of just over 13,000 and over 11,000 season tickets were sold – so there is demand to watch the Oldham!

There were talks of a takeover, but unfortunately these broke down so we are still in a tough financial situation, although I’m hoping with low wages being expended and TV money coming in we’ll be able to better that situation by the end of the year.

At which this time I will attempt to expand our stadium, as at this point iwe don’t have the funds to. I was though able to improve our training facilities, to try and get the most of what personnel I currently have at my disposal.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 6 Mid-Point – Uh Oh, We’re In Trouble…

It’s been an almighty tough task to watch first half of the season. We didn’t have the best of starts, and have always been a few points off being outside the drop zone.

You get to learn a bit about your players. With a number of new recruits I guess it’s always going to take time to gel. But in such a punishing league I hope our morale isn’t completely shot going into the second half of the season.

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Let’s Blame the Keeper

Peacock-Bradley is most definitely a keeper that will get your heart beating faster – unfortunately for more negative rather than positive reasons.

Already throwing away points, he’s very error prone and looks unstable between the sticks. Eccentric and poor decision making are his weak attributes.

A number of times he’s been playing out from the back at the wrong times, and has been caught in no man-s land more often than not.

There doesn’t appear to be any goalkeepers available that I can go in for, and with only a little over 4 million available I’m not going to be able to invest in sufficient quality here.

The Unlucky Number

However after nineteen games gone, a couple of more promising results recently catapulted us to 18th from bottom with 13 points. Still in the relegation zone, but a win would take us up to 16th.

104 point Championship Winners Derby are also struggling. Only eleven points they are bottom of the table. But surprisingly Leicester are 19th – I’m hoping they won’t improve much any time soon!

We’re scoring just over a goal a game and conceding just under two a game. Not very pretty reading.

Our best win did come against Leicester City away. A 4-1 victory with Idah at the double secured what could end up being a priceless win at the end of the season.

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Inevitable?

Thirteen points is a really low total. But other clubs are also struggling and not faring much better. It is what I had hoped for before the season began

I’m not going to be able to invest in January as there isn’t really anyone that’s going to improve my squad at a reasonable cost.

I just have to hope that after playing half a season together, we will naturally have a bit more cohesion to our game and will improve our performance levels. One man that has been showing promise and continuing to improve is Adam Idah. He has an eye for putting the ball into the back of the net, and his goals will be vital in giving us a chance of staying up.

Our recent 2-1 home win against high flying Aston Villa shows that there is hope. Perhaps a good run in the FA Cup will help give confidence rather than be a distraction to us.

Edited by BJT

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Season 6 Review – Final Day

Yeps, the season went down to the final day. The battle laid between us and Derby County. We had the advantage very slightly with the goal difference and two points extra in the bag.

We had Villa away who were battling for the last European spot with Southampton, whereas Derby had an away trip to already relegated Brighton.

Keeper Woes & a Slice of Luck

Peacock-Bradley consistently inconsistent gifted Villa a way back into the match after we went 2-0 up. Not wasting their opportunity Villa then went on and won the game 3-2, scoring a late winner in the 84 minute.

But luckily for us Derby weren’t able to produce a last day saving performance where they went down 1-0.

It summed up our year really, in the sense we could score enough to keep us up, but defensively especially with a weak man between the sticks we were so vulnerable where we’d throw away good positions in games.

Derby Brighton and surprisingly West Ham all went down with only 32 points needed for survival – thank my lucky stars.

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Special Moment

One moment I won’t forget in the second half of the season was our 3-2 away win vs Southampton. A game we were expected to lose, Adam Idah scored a brilliant solo goal. Running from our own half his pace took out three of their players, bursting passed to get one on one with the keeper.

On his worse left foot he calmly slotted it low past the outstretched keeper. It proved to be the difference and gave us those three points – season defining for us, and it was his goals this year that kept us up.

Here’s the goal:

Key Players

Adam Idah – Only behind Mbappe for goals scored all year long. Banging in 20 he was our saviour. Improving as a player, obtaining more caps for his country, his career is on the way up and I’m hoping he’ll perform well again for us next year.

Marcus Harness – Fans player of the year, surprising given Idah for me would have been worth every vote. But he did have a decent season for us.

Theo Archibald – For me takes the crown of second best place for us. Joint 3rd in the league for assists, scored second most number of goals and had our second highest average rating.

His position I’m comfortable with leaving in the window, because of all these years I’ve had him, not one single time has he under-performed. He’s a true professional.

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Next Season

We had a takeover during the second half of the season. With a new owner in place and my job not under threat from this, our club has now gone to “Rich” status!

At one point having nearly 60 million in the bank, I immediately requested for a Stadium Expansion which was approved. It will take us up to near 16,500 capacity, and I’m sure it won’t take long to fill up those additional seats. Works will however take a while and only be ready for December coming.

We also had a large amount of money given to invest this Summer. A little under 70 million, it’s definitely the off-season to increase our depth and bring in some key players.

Overhaul Planned

We had the worst defence last year and recruitment will be really important. But if I can find the right players to improve our first XI and find a new keeper then I’ll be a lot more confident of reaching the 40 points mark next season which would ultimately mean safety.

Our-full backs seemed to struggle in ratings this year, so I’ll be looking at hopefully investing there. I need greater depth on the flanks and up front too. Our centre-midfield isn’t our strongest area either.

A lot of wheeling and dealing will need to be done, but with funds and a good budget given although it won’t be easy to attract players still, we’re in a better position to invest than we were last year, with more quality being available to us.

Edited by BJT

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Season 7 – Premier League (Oldham Athletic)

Everton approached me for the job over the Summer. It was tempting looking at their underachieving squad, but I think if I’m going to move now it’s only going to be to a top club that can compete for trophies. Things are looking up for Oldham especially since the takeover.

Summer Dealings

Just over a 60 million nett spend this time around. A mixture of cheaper players who will improve our squad depth, and the more expensive ones that will take a first team position.

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Keeper Position - Sorted

My biggest worries are now over. We found a superb 19 year old Argentinian in Juan Pablo Piris. Some great attributes to fill in our keeper role, and an International for their under 20s.

I was worried about getting a work permit, but on appeal we snapped him up for only 5 million. This is a real bargain for someone who I hope can potentially improve a lot in the future.

We also invested really well in a back-up keeper. At only 750k David Bentley from Cardiff will be a safe back-up keeper. Good all-round attributes he’ll be very dependable if we need him this year.

Better Full-backs

Our full-back positions on both left and right sides have improved. Pace mainly on the left, with Borthwich-Jackson coming from relegated Derby.

And a big signing in Max Aarons from West Ham costing 23.5 million was our biggest signing of the Summer.

Able to play on both left and right sides, to me that was two signings. Given the real pace he possesses and the quality that he brings, his presence in the back-line will only be a positive one.

Centre Midfield Also improved

Herbie Kane and Jacob Davenport come in to fill in our defensive central midfield slot. Kane is considered a leader which is something we’ve needed in this team so he’ll be our first teamer. Davenport has good attributes to be a real solid backup.

Both players aren’t naturally centre midfielders, but I believe with their attributes both can adapt well to the position.

And highly experienced Irish International Liam Kelly comes in from Burley. He’s not as creative as Dozzell, but he still is good technically and poses a greater threat from set-pieces. He’s a slight improvement and hopefully his dead-ball abilities will give us the edge in some tight affairs,

Offence More Potent

Our two major signings here will present better threat from our right flank for a really good 2.5 mil deal for Ademola Lookman and a more suited deep-lying forward in Oliver McBurnie.

McBurnie is a 28 year old Scottish International making many appearances and came from Celtic where he had two good years.

He may not be a heavy goalscorer, but he also brings an aerial presence to him which I’m hoping will be useful in our set plays.

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Expectations

I would say I’ve definitely had a more productive Summer than last. We’ve spent almost three times as much, but I believe these are players that are very capable of hitting the 40 points safety target.

Both the board expectations and media prediction remain exactly the same as last year, to finish 20th and to fight bravely against relegation.

We’re in a much better position this year. I’d be really disappointed if we’re struggling to stay up with a few games left to spare.

A squad that now has 8 Internationals in total amongst us, I think we are in for a good year - with a healthy bank balance too.

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Edited by BJT

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Season 7 Midpoint – A perfect first Nineteen

I couldn’t ask for anymore of the lads after our first nineteen games. There’s been both excellent effort, and at times a great deal of quality to our play too.

Here’s a glance of what our side can do, with our continuing pressure resulting in us scoring an equaliser against the reigning Champions Man United in front of our fans:

We’ve spent some more money in the January window. I’ve decided to spend a large 26 mil on Josh Tymon. He’s a good left-back that will improve our backline. Very suited to the supporting full-back role, I think it will be a great long-term investment. At 25 years old, he’s got several good years in him.

Safety Assured

Thirty two points after 19 games, there’s definitely no threat of relegation this year. Keeping our feet on the ground, yes it looks like we’re not far off the European places but realistically a top half finish is what I’ll be looking for.

It looks like there was a delay to our stadium expansion, so we have been playing at The John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield. This Summer is when our building work now will be completed.

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No to the Toon

The Toon Army have now made an approach for me. Languishing near the relegation zone and with finances at Oldham in a good state, there’s no incentive to move away anytime soon.

So onwards and upwards for the Latics.

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