Who Should Be The Next Oldham Athletic Manager?

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 02 January 2019, 13:30

Frankie Bunn was controversially dismissed as Oldham Athletic boss just after Christmas, meaning the Latics are now looking for a new manager.

We assess the five main candidates.

Peter Clarke

Why he should get the job:

He knows the club.

Clarke has been a senior figure at Oldham for three years, undertaking the role of captain for a large chunk of that period.

He clearly has strong leadership skills as well as an understanding of the talent that lies within the club’s academy.

Clarke will have observed what the likes of John Sheridan and Bunn have done during their tenures in charge and noticed which tactics and motivational techniques have worked well – and which things he would do differently.

Why he shouldn’t:

Firstly, it’s very rare for a managerial candidate to be a player who scored the winner for that team in the previous game.

Clarke has been an influential player for the Latics on the field; his experience has helped the development of 21-year-old George Edmondson, with the duo keeping seven away clean sheets, more than anyone in the division.

If the 36-year-old were to be given managerial responsibilities, he would either need to stop playing or be burdened by a very heavy workload.

It’s possible that Clarke might have completed his UEFA coaching badges alongside his playing career, but one imagines that some time coaching professionally might be required before he completes the transition from playing to management.

The Sack Race’s Verdict

A useful figure to have around the club and an asset on the pitch, but he should not be handed the manager’s job just yet.

Darren Ferguson

Why he should get the job:

His record at this level.

In Ferguson’s only two full seasons as a manager in League Two, he has overseen two automatic promotions with Peterborough and Doncaster in 2007-08 and 2016-17 respectively.

Those two sides won a combined 53 games from 92, scoring 169 goals.

Ferguson builds precise, possession-based sides and his methods could help the Latics exert more control in their games.

He can be very strict too.

While managing Donny at MK Dons last season, he oversaw a very poor first 25 minutes, then was not afraid to haul off a senior figure like Matty Blair, then make another substitution at half-time; his changes led to a 2-1 victory.

That type of ruthlessness is a trait that was, perhaps, lacking in Frankie Bunn, who was a very pleasant and honourable man but did not necessarily show that ability to affect games, with just five points accrued from nine games in which Oldham have conceded first.

Why he shouldn’t:

Ferguson follows the Rinus Michels philosophy: he wants his players to be comfortable in as many different positions as possible to create unpredictability. The problem is that sometimes that unpredictability can transcend onto his own players, rather than the opposition.

When one of the wider-positioned players moves inside, that requires a central player to move on the outside meaning spatial awareness is key. If the runs are not well-timed and there are no runners on the outside, there are fewer viable options for the man in possession and thus the football can at times become slow and pedestrian.

For a side that possesses quick runners like Callum Lang and Gevaro Nepomuceno as well as a target man in Chris O’Grady, would they be better off playing more direct?

The Sack Race’s Verdict

Ferguson possesses the best record at this level of the candidates available.

John Askey

Why he should get the job:

Askey is used to thriving despite off-field problems.

Last season, Macclesfield Town were in debt and at times had difficulties paying their players, yet Askey did superbly to create a Dunkirk spirit that enabled them to beat wealthier competitors.

The Silkmen secured the National League title in arguably one of the greatest achievements of the English football season.

Off the back of that success, the 54-year-old landed a job at League One Shrewsbury, where his side competed reasonably well in most games, even if results did not go to plan.

Askey tends to build close-knit, hardworking sides that play forward with purpose, which could suit the attacking players at Oldham’s disposal.

Why he shouldn’t:

Askey has represented Macclesfield in playing, coaching and managerial capacities across four different decades; his connection to the club was crucial to the work he did there.

When the 54-year-old went to Shrewsbury, he perhaps came under the microscope more due to increased expectation.

Without the prior credit in the bank, as well as perhaps, the charisma to make a strong first impression, he found it harder to enthuse the natives and there were a significant number of fans who were not opposed to his departure, despite reasonable performances.

Plus, Askey is used to working with players who have spent their whole careers in England, whereas eight of Oldham’s last 13 permanent signings have come from abroad, meaning there could be disagreements over transfer policy.

The Sack Race’s Verdict

Askey might need to return to the National League to continue his managerial career.

Jacques Santini

Why he should get the job:

It’s not every day that the one-time World’s Best National Coach of the Year could get a job in League Two.

Jacques Santini was given that honour in 2003 for his unprecedented success with Lyon – before leading France in the 2004 European Championships.

The 66-year-old has plenty of contacts within the game – for example, he will know Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, which could be helpful for organizing loan deals.

Additionally, Oldham’s squad spans eight different nationalities and clearly, there is a desire from within the club to utilize the international market – Santini could have both the clout and the inclination to do that.

Midfielders Mohammed Maouche and Osmane Fane, now 25, will have grown up following Santini’s work and might relish the opportunity to play under him when the latter is back fit.

Chairman Abdallah Lemsagam owns an International Football and Sports Marketing agency called Sport JLT, which represent 51 players; 11 of them have played in France while four have played for at least one ex-Santini club.

It is possible, therefore, that Lemsagam might have the contacts to do this deal.

Why he shouldn’t:

Can Santini relate to the players?

Baring two years as player-manager at CA Lisieux, a stint which ended in 1985, Santini has never taken charge of a club outside the top division.

His last managerial stint, meanwhile, came 13 years ago at Auxerre.

There is a danger, therefore, that he will struggle to understand the skillset of lower league footballers.

While Santini has reportedly been to a few Oldham matches this season, his knowledge of League Two might not be particularly sharp.

The Sack Race’s Verdict:

A very left-field appointment – and a risky one at that – but if Oldham are to stick with their international recruitment model, then Santini is arguably the most suited candidate.

Darrell Clarke

Why he should get the job:

He has won promotion from this level at the first attempt in 2015-16 with Bristol Rovers, who had only won the National League Play-Offs the previous campaign.

It should not be forgotten, too, that Clarke then led the Gasheads to successive midtable finishes in League One.

Having been dismissed in December following a bad first half of the campaign, the Mansfield-born boss could benefit from dropping down a division.

Clarke’s candid methods of motivation appear to hold more sway with players keen to hold onto a career in the EFL, than it does with those who believe they belong at a higher level.

Why he shouldn’t:

Although the results Clarke delivered over four and a half years at the Mem are mightily impressive, his recruitment – and ability to motivate new players - could be questioned.

The back-to-back promotions were secured with the same group of players and, in League One, his more prominent performers were those he had worked with before and knew he could trust.

At Boundary Park, Clarke would need time to identify that reliable core around which to build.

Plus, he had made his qualms with owner Wael Al-Qadi and the lack of investment very public – Al-Qadi supported him in the transfer market more than Lemsagam is likely to.

If he was ultimately burdened by the issues at Bristol Rovers, how would he cope as Oldham boss?

The Sack Race’s Verdict

A good option, but only if he wanted the job. That’s a big if.

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