Worth the wait

Monday 23rd August 2010 15:20

Dickov: breath of fresh air

Dickov: breath of fresh air

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A year is a long time in football... Oldham FanZoner Paul Prendergast explains why.

New management team ringing the changes at Boundary Park

Rewind a year, and it was about this time that the early season optimism began to evaporate from Dave Penney's fledgling tenure. What followed was a season of watching the most insipid, uninspiring football I have seen in 25 years as a Latics fan - and that's including two relegations!

Of course, Penney had horrendous luck with injuries and had to work within the constraints of a reduced budget (who doesn't in League One?).

Penney's problem was he failed to get the fans onside, his team showed little ambition and it is no exaggeration that the widely agreed highlights of last season for most Oldham fans were the goalless draws at St. Mary's and The Valley.

Catastrophic

Fans voted with their feet and a catastrophic reduction in income saw Penney relieved of his duties and the summer has seen two of the clubs owners step down and the club is now facing an uncertain future beyond the end of this season.

Players were released, last season's top-scorer Pawel Abbott was allowed to move to Charlton, promising youngster Tom Eaves was cashed in to ease the financial burden.

Dark days at Boundary Park you may think? And that's where you are wrong! Paul Dickov and Gerry Taggart were appointed in early June and have been like a breath of fresh air.

Their new-look squad is young and hungry and wants to play football at a great tempo and believes they can win anywhere. An early season example was on Saturday, just over 10 months since Penney's team arrived at The Valley looking to take home the point they arrived with and whilst it was a sterling defensive effort in October 2009, Dickov's men rolled into town this year and left with another point - however, it was like chalk and cheese.

Difference

Dickov's young team took the game to their highly fancied opposition and were only denied by an outstanding goalkeeping display, a clearance off the line and the woodwork (twice). What a difference a year makes!

Of course Dickov has made a few additions, but he had to, given the players we lost such as Danny Whitaker, Joe Colbeck, Pawel Abbott and Tom Eaves as well as a procession of loanees that helped secure our third-tier status.

Many of Penney's signings have been made available for transfer and the lack of interest speaks volumes for the quality of player Penney brought to the club.

Dickov has already tried to forge a positive relationship with the fanbase, players carry out compulsory work with the community, a fans forum and open training session have already been held with great success and there is a real positivity surrounding the footballing side of the club.

The team are currently sitting pretty in second, but most Latics fans would settle for a bit of excitement and a top-half finish this year, but with the pressure on big-spending Southampton, Charlton, Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday who knows?

Winning breeds confidence and Dickov's young charges will give anyone a game at the moment and with three out of the next four at home the team really could be sitting pretty by mid-September.

Bring on Yeovil...

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