TEAM PREVIEW: Oldham Athletic – Earl Barrett says unity and patience is key

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Darren Kelly now has the tough task of taking over where his new assistant Dean Holden finished at the end of last season. Holden did enough to guide Oldham to mid-table and new a rebuilding process has started to try and get Oldham back up the top end of the table, but it’s going to be no easy task for the pair.

Last Season: League One (15th)

Manager: Darren Kelly

 

Squad

GKs: Joel Coleman, David Cornell
DFs: Connor Brown, Joseph Mills, Timothee Dieng, James Wilson, Brian Wilson, Jack Truelove, George Edmundson
MFs: Liam Kelly, Mike Jones, Carl Winchester, Jack Tuohy, Lee Croft, George Green, Danny Byrnes
FWs: Dominic Poleon, Danny Philliskirk, Jonathan Forte, Rhys Turner, Jordan Bove, Devante Jacobs, Rhys Murphy, Jake Cassidy

 

Transfers

In: Lee Croft (St. Johnstone), George Green (Everton), Jake Cassidy (Wolves), David Cornell (Swansea City)

Out: James Dayton (Released), George Elokobi (Colchester United), Adam Lockwood (Guiseley), David Mellor (Barrow), Amari Morgan-Smith (Cheltenham Town)

 

First Six: Walsall (A), Fleetwood Town (H), Colchester United (A), Shrewsbury Town (H), Bury (A), Bradford City (H)

Likely Lineup: (4-3-3) Coleman – Wilson, Brown, Wilson, Mills – Winchester, Kelly, Jones – Poleon, Philliskirk, Murphy

 

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A word from…Earl Barrett

On Premier League football It was very exciting. I’d joined the club back in 1987 and it was clear from the outset that our manager, Joe Royle, had a master plan to progress up the leagues. I joined after leaving my first club, Manchester City and that was how Joe operated.

He basically ‘nicked’ players from other clubs in the area and ‘cherry-picked’ the talent he was looking for; talent that was either going to waste elsewhere or hungry young players like myself. It was all done gradually and we were promoted back to back in 1991 and 1992. Gaining promotion to what was going to be the new Premier League was exciting but we had talented players like Dennis Irwin and Mike Milligan. Of course, I started the Premier League season at Villa after moving but I’ve got great memories of my time at Oldham.

On being aware of changes to the league We were aware that changes were coming though we had no idea that those changes would be so big, with the live Monday night games and everything. As you said, under the old TV deal, we didn’t get covered live that often.

To be honest, as players, we were so focused on what we were doing that we didn’t appreciate what it would mean; how coverage would be revolutionised by Sky with people like Andy Gray. It didn’t sink in just how much the game was about to change and how much Sky would dominate football coverage. It was great for the players to get the adulation and the extra exposure but as players then we took all of that in our stride. Ultimately, for me it was always about the football, doing my job on the pitch and improving my game. Whatever came with that would follow anyway. After all, I had no control over what was going on behind the scenes

On showing patience in the modern day It took four years to execute the plan that Joe and the club had put in place and, obviously, it did require patience from everyone to see that through. Joe’s recruitment was spot on and we won the old Division 3 (League 1 today) and the reason we kicked on was because the club was stable from top to bottom.

Everyone was pulling in the same direction and it shows what can be achieved when clubs are stable and happy places. Yes, you can buy success but it was much more satisfying building something from the bottom up and having that winning mentality.

On the current side From what I’ve seen Boundary Park was starting to look a little desolate, before the ground redevelopment started, but already the place is looking better and that will translate through to the players and supporters.

It will take time for Oldham to start moving forward again but, hopefully, the new manager will be given the time to show what he can do. He’s obviously a big character to put his head about the parapet to move from working at Sunderland’s academy to becoming a manager of a club. I’ve heard good things about him and he has obviously earned this opportunity so good luck to him. Having Dean Holden as his assistant can only be a good thing.

On the manager What he needs to do now is show he can assemble the right blend of players with the budget he has and that might take a few months or even longer but anything is possible if he is given the time to do the job. There’s a good, loyal fan base at Oldham and I hope they can improve on last season’s finish and maybe have a good cup run. My experience was that it can take a few years to achieve success.

That’s what’s happened where I work now (at Stoke City) we’ve built year on year and; whilst there are never any guarantees in football; we’ve become an established Premier League team. There’s plenty of local derbies this season for the fans to get excited about and, hopefully, they can play attractive football with the right attitude. Stability, like I said, is key and they’ve maybe not had that in recent times. Sometimes off-field issues can affect what happens on the pitch. You mentioned Paul Dickov and the rather public differences between chairman and manager and things like that have to be guarded against.

 

The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Whilst fans want to be looking up and not down this season, it could be another tough year down at Boundary Park. Darren Kelly is an unknown quantity and he still needs one or two new faces, but the positive side is fans shouldn’t have to fear the drop too much.

Key Player: Carl Winchester – The midfielder is a constant at the heart of the Oldham side and at 22 has already made himself a key part of the midfield. He can only get better and signed a new deal in March 2015.

One to Watch: Rhys Murphy – After showing plenty of potential at Dagenham, the Irishman settled into life at Oldham during a difficult period at the club, it may only be this season that we see the best of him.

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