The ups and downs for ex-Clarets at Oldham
The Oldham Athletic manager’s office has seemed to have had a revolving door over the last month or so with two former players exiting through it and two moving in, although involving just three who had played for Burnley.
The season started with David Unsworth in charge. Unsworth, who spent the 2007/08 season at Burnley, making 31 appearances in total, moved into the Oldham hot seat for almost a year having signed a three-year contract and hopes were high for a much improved season after a strong end to the 2022/23 season had seen them finish in the top half of the National League, their first season in that league following relegation with Scunthorpe from League Two.
Things didn’t work out quite as well as hoped. Unsworth, who will celebrate his fiftieth birthday tomorrow, was anything but popular with the Oldham fans, and on 17th September, following a 3-0 defeat at Bromley, he was relieved of his duties (or sacked in layman’s terms). At the time, Oldham had won just once in nine league games; they won 5-1 against Aldershot in their opening home game. To add to that, they’d drawn four and lour and a season of struggle looked on the cards.
The club turned to another ex-Claret Steve Thompson, who was working at Oldham as their director of football, to steady the ship, and steady it he did. Thompson was a Jimmy Mullen signing for Burnley in 1995, making his debut alongside another new boy Kurt Nogan in a 4-1 defeat at Tranmere. He was released at the end of the 1996/97 after falling out with manager Adrian Heath and signed for Rotherham.
He’s since been involved at a number of clubs as a coach, including Blackpool where he was Ian Holloway’s number two during their Premier League season. He’s also been caretaker manager at Blackpool in three occasions.
What a change in fortunes for the Oldham born Thompson who made it very clear that he wanted the job on a permanent basis. He won his first three games in charge and then added three draws to that. From floundering near the bottom, suddenly they had moved into the top half. Thompson was loving it; the fans were loving him being in charge.
What could possibly go wrong? Nothing it seemed until last Thursday when Oldham confirmed that Thompson, and his assistant Neil Redfearn, were no more. They just announced that they had left their positions ahead of the club making its next appointment with academy manager Paul Murray overseeing the training ahead of the FA Cup tie at Altrincham two days later.
One day later, in came ex-Claret number three, Micky Mellon who was signed by Stan Ternent from Tranmere in 1999 and sold back to Tranmere in 2001, and probably best remembered by Burnley fans for his goal celebration having netted the winner on the Turf against Blackpool and more so for his goal at Scunthorpe on the day we won promotion.
He returned to Burnley as a coach within the youth system before taking the manager’s role at Fleetwood in 2008, bring them into the Football League. He then had four games in charge at Barnsley as a caretaker boss before going on to manage Shrewsbury, Tranmere twice and Dundee United.
I think he might need to get the door fixed at Oldham to ensure he stays there for any length of time but he did get off to a good start yesterday with a 1-0 FA Cup win at Altrincham, a team who are currently eight places ahead of them in the league table.
Oldham Athletic – they were a club I didn’t really have too much interest in, nothing for me to like or dislike, until one day when parking for work in Manchester just as another car was parking. We both had those small football kits hanging in the back of our cars, mine obviously Burnley, and his, when I checked was Oldham.
At the time they were in the top flight and, to put it mildly, we weren’t. When he saw me looking, having spotted my kit, he said to me: “Oldham and you won’t be playing us again, we’re a big club.”
I wonder what he’s made of the turmoil at this non-league club.Follow UpTheClarets:
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