With thanks to Chris Stringer, Oldham correspondent for D3D4football.com
First of all, how did you get into supporting Oldham?
I went to my first game when I was 5 – back in January 2003, away at Tranmere but I really started following the Latics in December 2006 when the sponsors put an offer – £2 for adults and £1 for kids for 2 matches. I still remember the buzz around the ground as I walked in for a game against Brighton – the club had been high flying in the league and Chris Porter was scoring for fun. A 1-1 draw in the first and a 3-0 win against Northampton got me hooked. I fell in love with the club and my dad got us half season tickets – Latics made the playoffs that season and we’ve had a seasons ticket ever since.
What do you make of your season so far?
When I compare the season to my expectations pre-season, I guess I should be disappointed. I thought that under the reigns of fan-favourite John Sheridan we’d be comfortably in the top half of the league. However, rumours of a takeover and difficulties off the field made the job difficult for Sheridan who appeared to be facing different circumstances to those proposed to him when he took the job.
Following Sheridan’s departure, Wellens has taken to the job incredibly well and guided the club to 14th in the table – this is the first time the club have been above 15th in the league since April 2015 (according to @League1Podcast on twitter). The season is on the up and the football being played is entertaining. I’m happy with the season so far – it feels like the good times are on their way back to Boundary Park. I should be disappointed, but I’m really not – it’s great fun watching the team at the moment.
How has Richie Wellens done since first taking over in late September this year?
Wellens has been simply magnificent. Following the departure of John Sheridan in September, it felt as if the club was losing its identity. Rumours were the prospective owner wanted to bring in a foreign manager. With poor performances on the pitch and large-scale changes close, Oldham fans (including myself) were worried. Following 4 wins out of 5 as interim manager, Wellens was given the full-time job. Since taking over, we’ve lost only 2 games in the league. The quality of football is the best that has been seen in many years and fans go to the game expecting lots of goals and feel that any game is very winnable.
John Sheridan was largely unpopular with Argyle fans, but would it be right to say that the attitude was rather different for Oldham?
Sheridan is a club legend. Not only has he saved the club from relegation in the last 2 seasons, he’s been manager 5 times (twice as an interim player-manager). He was the manager that last got us to the playoffs, in 2007. He is the manager that helped me fall in love with the club. He was popular player at the club and, interestingly, even gave away the penalty that secured Oldham’s promotion to the top division in 1991 (during his time as a Sheffield Wednesday player). Sheridan and Oldham have a long history together and he means a lot to the fans.
How is Oldham’s league form looking right now?
When looking at the 6-game form table, Oldham lie 7th in the table, with 9 points in that time – our form is very similar to that of Plymouth’s over the same time. Since Wellens was appointed, we’ve lost just 2 games in the league. It’s fair to say that the team is playing with confidence and feel they can beat any side.
How would you describe your team’s style of play and tactical approach to matches?
Fast flowing, slick attacking football. Wellens isn’t afraid to change the formation and makes substitutions. The football we play has, on the whole, been very easy on the eye.
Who should Argyle fans keep an eye out for on Saturday at Home Park from the Oldham ranks?
Eoin Doyle, Kean Bryan and Jack Byrne. On loan from Preston, Manchester City and Wigan respectfully, these 3 players provide the spine of the team. Doyle has 14 goals in 21 games, Bryan has been a superb ball playing centre half whilst Byrne has the ability to change a game with a flick of the switch with some superb skill. Byrne’s long-shots are one to keep an eye out for.
Johny Placide in goal is also worth looking out for – he’s an unorthodox goalkeeper who is arguably the best passer in the side.
What do you view as your side’s strong spots and weak spots?
We’re a superb attacking side and can, on our day, pass around any side. This does, however leave us vulnerable at the back and defensive errors are a regular occurrence.
If you could sign one Argyle player to improve your side, who would it be?
Graham Carey has looked an exciting player in the few clips I’ve seen and I think any side in this league would enjoy having a player with his flair in their side.
What do you make of Argyle’s season and our chances of avoiding relegation?
Argyle have made life very difficult for themselves, leaving it quite late to find form. But as we see so often in this league, like Oldham in the past 2 seasons, all it takes is a few wins and a side can be comfortably safe. When I look at the teams in the league, I’d still tip Argyle to go down, but it’s so difficult to predict and there’s every chance I’ll be proven wrong.
Finally, a score prediction for the game?
Argyle 1-2 Latics