‘Don’t talk about the owner’: John Sheridan reveals plan to save Oldham Athletic from relegation


John Sheridan calls on Oldham Athletic fans to support him and the beleaguered club in their 21-game bid to survive relegation to the league.

The Latics are left bottom of League Two by seven points, and are on course to become the first former Premier League club to leave the Football League.

The club has been mired in a number of scandals and controversies in the past year and beyond, with protests against controversial owner Abdallah Lemsagam’s handling of the club rising. Fans swarmed the court, throwing tennis balls onto the playing surface, flying a plane over Boundary Park and placing a coffin outside the club with the message ‘RIP OAFC’ on it.

Lemsagam recently attempted to ban three supporters for “promoting dislike” of the club, before reversing the decision after intense backlash. The owner announced this month that he is in talks to sell the club after admitting that it is in Oldham’s best interests for someone else to take over.

Back on the pitch, after a dismal 3-0 loss to Harrogate on Saturday, Oldham turned to club legend Sheridan to return for a sixth spell in charge, either permanently or as a caretaker – it’s the tenth change of manager in four years of ownership of Lemsagam. On his last two occasions, he was hired in January with the aim of staging a “great escape” from relegation and successfully turning fortunes around.

Yet even someone with a solid track record of keeping teams through thick and thin like Sheridan admits the current task is the most difficult he’s faced in his career.

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“It looks like a mammoth, it will be very difficult,” he said.

“I strongly believe that I would not have gone in if I had thought we would go down, I would have stayed at home.

“It’s going to be difficult, we have a small gap, but that can be reversed in four, five or six games. There is a small league of five or six teams and we are capable and we believe that we can finish at the top of that mini league. It will be an achievement if we stay up. That’s what we have to see, we have a big fight on our hands, but it’s achievable.”

Sheridan’s return has seen many fans decide to end personal boycotts or protests against owner Lemsagam and return to Boundary Park to support the new manager and back the fight for survival.

And the former Republic of Ireland international says he wants to build on that positivity as he made no reference to Lemsagam or the controversies that preceded it.

“I’d like to think there’s a buzz, I can feel it a little bit,” he said of his return to the club, with the biggest crowd of the season expected at Boundary Park on Saturday against Rochdale.

“It has been very difficult for them, for everyone involved in the club it has been very difficult, but the only thing I can focus on is not to think about it, me and Tommy.” [Wright, assistant] we are different, we enjoy a laugh in training and we work hard to understand where we are. We arrived and the response that the fans can feel has a long time for me. Hopefully the players can come out with a bit of confidence to turn around.

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“I came back on Monday and I felt like I’ve been here for four or five years. I’ve got a lot of time for the club. Some people I know work here. It’s different from what I’m used to.” I don’t want to talk about it, I’m here for a purpose, I don’t want to talk about it.

“I am here to keep the club and the fans in the Football League.

“There’s going to be a good atmosphere on Saturday regardless of the negativity or whatever has happened since I’ve been out, I’m just thinking about the next 21 games and if we can look forward the only thing that’s going to help is the team winning in the field that changes people’s mentality”.

Sheridan hinted at bringing in a new forward and another position before Monday’s transfer deadline, and suggested he will make some changes to the team’s form and personnel as it tries to survive. He called on his experienced players to lead that fight and stressed the importance of improving the Latics’ home form.

With a current gap of seven points, and a big trip to second-place Scunthorpe next week after Saturday’s local derby with Rochdale, Sheridan said keeping Oldham up will be one of the greatest achievements in a career. that saw him play at the highest level and in two World Cups.

“One of the biggest, if not the biggest,” he declared.

“A team last in the league and you’re talking about ‘I’ve won this league or that one.’ But the position they’re in right now, it’s a really tough question, but it’s something you can overcome. Whether it’s third, fourth, fifth from the bottom, just stay out of the bottom two if we can.

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“We know if we can hit the ground running, get a couple of early results, we’ve got a couple of games in hand, but they don’t count for anything. If you win them or get points, you’re closer.” the opposition We start with the [Rochdale game]. More than anything, put confidence in the players.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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