Tuesday Team Talk: Oldham’s 19-year League One existence hinges on January transfers

Another year brings another crisis to Boundary Park, where fans would like nothing more than to stay out of the national headlines for a while.

January 2013 and 2014 saw Latics lauded for brilliant performances against Liverpool in the FA Cup but this time last year, under Lee Johnson’s stewardship, the club was embroiled in the infamous Ched Evans saga.

And now, perhaps worse than any off-the-field speculation, Oldham find themselves in real danger of losing their League One place this season.

The club sit 22nd in the third tier, one point off the bottom and five from safety, having won just one of their last seven league games and amassing just 16 points in 15 games under current boss David Dunn.

To make matters worse, the opening of this month’s transfer window has seen the departure of Danny Philliskirk and Mark Yeates to Blackpool with only the former commanding a relatively small fee.

This, coupled with the short-term arrivals of a number of loan players, leaves the club in limbo once again and seemingly slipping towards relegation.

So what is the solution?

It is no secret by now that Oldham are struggling for funds, which the cynics could see as the reason for not parting ways with David Dunn on the back of poor recent results.

The reality of modern football is that the board cannot afford to bring in both the new experienced boss that fans are crying out for and new players that will help keep the club afloat.

Dunn, a fairly high-profile appointment cutting his teeth in management after initially signing as a player in the summer, has the almost impossible task of balancing the books while bringing in competitive players who will fight for survival.

He has made no secret of his displeasure with recent performances both in terms of ability and desire, and has openly said that he is as interested in getting rid of those he perceives as deadwood as bringing in fresh faces – particularly at centre-half.

While he saw top scorer Philliskirk as a model professional, losing him may turn out to be a necessary evil as it frees up funds to strengthen in other areas.

With “irons in the fire”, this could well turn out to be the case but failure during this transfer window would almost certainly spell the end for the club’s 19-year stint in the third tier.

Richie Wellens has opted to sign for fellow League One strugglers Shrewsbury over Latics, Liam Kelly is rumoured to be on Wigan’s radar and – eerily reminiscent of Darren Kelly’s departure – Dean Holden performed recent post-match media duties instead of Dunn.

As with any modern transfer window, business often goes down to the wire. But with three January fixtures still to play, questions remain over Dunn’s future at the club and whether the club have the funds or feel the need to replace him.

Image courtesy of OAFC via YouTube, with thanks.

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