The Seven Point Plan for Paul Scholes at Oldham

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 11 February 2019, 16:01

Paul Scholes has been appointed Oldham Athletic’s new boss.

Seeing as the Manchester United great is new to management, here at The Sack Race thought we’d devise an seven-point plan for him to achieve success at Boundary Park.

Here it is.

1. Compromise with Lemsagam

Scholes has previously said he’ll walk out on the job should Abdallah Lemsagam interfere with team selection, which is a clear message, if not exactly the greatest statement of confidence in his relationship with the chairman.

It is understandable that Scholes wants assurances over his authority but it is also important that he is willing to adapt to modern ways of working; while he might not have to compromise in terms of team selection, he may need to in the transfer market.

Lemsagam favours an international recruitment model, with 10 nations represented in the current squad and Scholes might not possess detailed knowledge of the leagues and countries from which some signings are made.

If he is happy to have full control over team selection but cede elements of responsibility over transfers to Lemsagam and others, that could work for all concerned.

2. Convince Edmundson to stay

James Tarkowski earned rave reviews at Oldham before moving on to Brentford and of course, making his name on the national stage in the Premier League with Burnley.

George Edmundson is equally highly rated at the same age, so there is no reason why he cannot blossom and have an excellent career in the game.

The 21-year-old reads the game well, is strong in the air and can also distribute effectively; he has benefited from playing alongside the experienced Peter Clarke, who has given him plenty of guidance.

Clarke, himself, had been linked with the managerial job but it is good that the club have not pursued that avenue, because he remains very valuable on the field and, if he were to take on the role as boss, he would need to either retire from playing or dilute his duties, neither of which would have helped Oldham’s cause.

Jamie Stott did well on loan at Stockport and could be capable of stepping into Edmundson’s shoes, but it might suit him better to be eased into the first-team fold over more of a prolonged period.

 

3. Use Nepomuceno further up

Despite having played to a reasonable standard in League One with Walsall, then having been part of Blackpool’s promotion from League Two in 2016-17, Andy Taylor has not quite hit it off in a Latics shirt.

The dearth of natural alternatives has made left-back something of a problematic position, with Pete Wild asking Gevaro Nepomuceno to fill in briefly.

The Curaçaoan did so admirably and, from that position, produced the cross for Callum Lang’s goal in that memorable 2-1 FA Cup win at Fulham.

If anything though, that showed that Nepomuceno is almost too good to be confined to a defensive role and perhaps he is needed in the final third as often as possible; when moved further forward for Saturday’s 3-0 win at Crewley, he bagged the third in injury-time.

Rob Hunt appears to have returned to training for Scholes’ first day so one solution would be to use him as a right-footed, inverted left-back and keep ‘Nepo’ in areas where he can do damage.

4. Don’t miss out Missilou

Christopher Missilou is one of the most complete central midfielders in League Two, because there are not too many attributes that he does not possess.

Missilou offers energy, tenacity, he can be strong in the challenge, yet equally, he is often positive with his passes and masters the simple 15-yard forward balls which up the team’s tempo.

If there was one minor criticism, it would be that he is yet to score in 31 appearances for the Latics, but the discipline he shows to keep the team’s control of the central areas means he cannot always get into those goalscoring positions in any case.

Mohammed Maouche, meanwhile, looks like Scholes best bet for a more technical midfield partner for Missilou.

5. Get Vera or O’Grady firing

Sam Surridge might no longer be at Boundary Park, but Oldham still have two high-pedigree centre-forwards on their books.

Urko Vera helped CFR Cluj to the Romanian double last term and is a very well-travelled front-man, as is Chris O’Grady.

After the 33-year-old left Chesterfield, relegated from League Two last season, there were implicit question marks over his application and motivation.

That though would seem out-of-keeping with how he has conducted himself in his career to date.

O’Grady has always been a very hardworking, industrious centre-forward who will impose himself on centre-backs through his physical prowess.

Perhaps, while with the Spireites, the game was about survival and, with the midfield so far adrift of the strikers, he found it hard to make his presence felt and he is always unlikely to have much joy chasing things when not backed up by his teammates.

Clearly, at Oldham, he has more support in more ways than one.

It remains to be seen whether Vera and O’Grady could work as a pair, due to their similarity in style and difficulties lasting 90 minutes, but getting one of them on-song will be key to producing good attacking performances.

6. Young Lang shines

Callum Lang was one of just five players in the top four leagues of English football last season who hit double-figures for goals in all competitions, without starting more than 15 games.

The Wigan loanee achieved that while at Morecambe last season and, having swapped Latics for Latics this term, he has shown the potential that should see him base his career well above League Two level.

Lang is bright, inventive, has clever movement and plenty of pace, making him one of the most exciting young forwards in the fourth tier.

The 20-year-old is unlikely to absorb himself in his defensive responsibilities, so Scholes might see his best role as being either as a wide forward in a 4-3-3 or as the number 10 in a 4-4-1-1; the latter role being his position last time out.

 

Although the impact that the enigmatic Jose Baxter and Manchester United loanee Zak Dearnley made from the bench at Crawley, as well as the 90-minute performance from Johan Branger on the right, shows there is competition in those kind of areas.

7. Take a walk on the Wild side

Pete Wild has done an outstanding job as caretaker manager, with his first defeat at the helm, 2-1 at Macclesfield, coming five games into his tenure.

 

Of course, Wild does not have Scholes’ CV in the game, having been coaching at Under-12s to Under-16s level only a month ago.

And yet, he is also just as valuable as the former Manchester United man, because he can relate to players who must worry about their bills every month and he can understand footballers who are not of an elite standard.

For that reason, it is important that Scholes leans on Wild who, perversely, is more experienced than he is.

Although Scholes, a boyhood Latics fan, arrives with an outstanding history in the game, he also needs to show an element of humility to endear himself to the natives.

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