Paul Dickov’s managerial debut not disastrous but Oldham Athletic now fear relegation despite cup success

Comment by Matthew Lees

After resigning as Oldham Athletic manager, Paul Dickov had praise heaped on him by TV pundits and media personalities for the great job he had done.

From the terraces this seems unjustified as, despite reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup, Oldham’s league form has been inconsistent at best and steadily declined during Dickov’s tenure.

The Scot was a breath of fresh air when he came to Boundary Park in June 2010 to replace Dave Penney, who had a knack of signing full backs.

Gone was the dour and defensive football, which made way for a free flowing, attacking style that prompted Notts County manager Craig Short to christen Latics the ‘Galacdickovs’ after a defeat.

‘The Wasp’ showed similar grit and determination on the touchline to that shown in his playing days at Arsenal, Manchester City, Leicester, Leeds and Blackburn Rovers.

Things started well enough as Oldham sat high in the table and remained unbeaten at home until the 2011 New Year when Premier League-bound Southampton knocked the stuffing out of them with a 6-0 demolition.

Since then Latics have looked lost and devoid of ideas as they edge closer to the League One trapdoor.

Dickov took Oldham to within one game of Wembley last season, but after a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Northern Final defeat to Chesterfield in January their season petered out – it was almost as if they were on their summer holidays.

With post-Christmas slumps becoming commonplace, Oldham’s season never boded well, after winning only one of their first eight league games.  

The same mistakes were being made from week to week and it seemed Dickov was failing to learn from them. 

Naively, he adhered to the same formation most weeks and key players were run into the ground due to a lack of rotation.

Some were quite shocked at the resignation but the 40-year-old had become a cat that had finally run out of lives.

The victories in the cups papered over the cracks as Oldham’s league form has become a poorer relation.

This season, chairman Simon Corney stuck by him despite many wondering when Oldham would next win at various points this season.

Latics have just three league wins in three months and, bar October, have looked consistently weak.

Dickov used his reputation to attract stellar names to Boundary Park – including Greek Cup winner Matt Derbyshire, Shefki Kuqi and Manchester City loanees Luca Scapuzzi and Reece Wabara.

These signings looked good on paper, but Oldham have continually been looking over their shoulders rather than up the table.

Dickov may feel like a badly bruised boxer after his resignation but he leaves Boundary Park with the accolade of being the only manager of the club to defeat Liverpool in the FA Cup.

He will be remembered fondly after the Cup runs and two crazy games at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United.

Nevertheless, he was walking a tightrope for months and had an overall win percentage of just 30.5% after 141 games.

With average crowds of roughly 3,500, relegation was something the club would struggle to recover from, similar to the likes of Luton Town and Grimsby Town, meaning Oldham had to act quickly.

Image courtesy of ITV, via YouTube, with thanks.

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