A Clean Slate, But Tidying Up Still To Do At Oldham Athletic

Forget the first club to fall from the Premier League to the National League. Back in February, Oldham Athletic feared the tumble was to be continued.

Sitting precariously close to the bottom four with the season’s climax fast approaching, they eventually found enough form to thrust themselves away from danger and into the top half.

Their supporters never want to see the Latics at such a low again.

Things never did get as bad as the year before. After all, their former owner did try to get three supporters banned from games for ‘promoting dislike’ of him.

Then there was that fitting end to Oldham’s 116-year Football League stay, confirmed in farcical circumstance when officials had to turn on the sprinklers to get furious protestors off the pitch.

Did it even happen if nobody saw it? Everyone out, their relegation was confirmed as fans watched from outside and by peering through main stand shutters. The game restarted at 6.28pm behind closed doors.

For a few periods last season, fans may have wished they’d never re-opened.

Frank Rothwell celebrated a year in charge last weekend, saving the club with the hope of restoring it in the years ahead.

Oldham begin their National League season this weekend against Southend United and with some eye-catching signings on board, there’s hope that fans will be on the pitch after the final home game for a very different reason.

Ahead of Saturday’s big kick off, he spoke to the Oldham Time about his 12 months in control and his hopes under David Unsworth this time around.

"The changes we've made are all positive changes and I've seen players improve and the squad has improved," said Rothwell.

"We still have the same budget as last year but last year we had a lot of players on loan and we had players from the previous owners so we had to continue with the contracts of those players.

"But now it's a clean slate with that and we've also got a belief.”

The key to the turn-around could have been a little less noise from the likable self made businessman, who left school age 14 with his only qualification being a 25-yards swimming certificate.

“When you're into October-November and things aren't going quite as you would have hoped and you're thinking 'what can we do to change things?'” he went on.

“But the family decided that we wouldn't get involved in the day-to-day running of the club and we wouldn't start speaking to the manager about things, we would leave him to it and see what happens. We made that pledge and made that decision ourselves.

"And things started to change and improve and we got out of the relegation zone and we were even wondering if we might make the play-offs at one stage.”

Where next?

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