‘There are dragons to slay’: Oldham Athletic’s Lee Johnson ready to summon spirit of St George

By Matthew Lees

Oldham Athletic manager Lee Johnson is not fazed by predictions his side will struggle, as the Sky Bet League One season kicks off on Saturday.

After joining the club in March and successfully keeping Latics up, the Football League’s youngest boss now faces his first full season as a manager.

Despite Johnson’s belief that the league is at its most strongest for a number of years and bookmaker’s predictions that his side could face a relegation battle he is optimistic.

“There are a lot of big grounds to go to and dragons to slay,” he told the club’s website.

“I think the likes of Sheffield United, Wolves, Bristol City and MK Dons will be up there.

“I don’t think it is as clear cut as many think when you look at the odds for promotion and relegation, and I disagree with them.

“I hope we are under-estimated because that can only be beneficial to us.

“You can use things like that to your advantage. And anything you can use, either mentally or tactically, I will take with both hands.”

Oldham have had a busy summer, signing eight players – with Adam Rooney hoping to sign soon –and were unbeaten in pre-season after five games.

With Athletic gearing up for their 17th consecutive year in England’s third tier, Johnson hopes his team get as much out of pre-season as he did. 

“We have had some good games, which were competitive and contained some tasty tackles, and the bonus was that we didn’t pick up any serious injuries,” he added.

“I am pleased with the recruitment I have made over the summer and we go into the season reasonably strong. I am excited about our prospects, but also realistic.

“I believe that if you can get a team going with the right spirit and organisation, we have a really good chance to do well.

“Obviously we will also need luck in terms of not losing key players through injury.”

Summer signings have included Charlie MacDonald, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Dutchman Sidney Schmeltz but the departure of Jean-Yves M’voto has left Oldham light at the back.

With Cliff Byrne the only defender older than 25 in an inexperienced back-line and Rooney hoping to move to Boundary Park there could be more arrivals before Saturday’s season opener at Stevenage.

“We probably have that for 75-per-cent of the team and there is really strong competition in most areas,” said Johnson.

“We could do with adding one, may be two, more players and that would be in an ideal world which we don’t live in.”

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