What now for Dickov and Oldham Athletic?
With the imminent conclusion of yet another installment of footballing drama across all four English leagues, the Oldham Athletic hierarchy are looking to next season. Whether or not manager Paul Dickov is leading the way is debatable.
The club announced yesterday that Zander Diamond, who arrived from Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen less than a year previous, had had his contract terminated by mutual consent. The cynical angle screams that it was not completely mutual, more Simon Corney, Athletic’s owner and Chairman, calling a meeting and politely asking (telling) Diamond to sign on the dotted line.
However, one question arises from this sudden announcement: was Dickov in the room at the time? On the club’s official website appeared the article breaking the news about Diamond’s exit. Within the body of the text was the following sentence, a sentence that asks a further question: “It is no secret that had Diamond made another start it would have earned a new contract 2012/13”.
Now there is common agreement amongst the Athletic fans that Diamond, having arrived from a fair-sized Scottish club and with a favourable reputation (perhaps heightened because of his eccentric naming), was on a sizeable wage. It is probably true that he was one of the highest earners at the club, along with Shefki Kuqi and Dean Furman. However, was Dickov having his hand forced by Corney?
Throughout a season of defensive blunders, Dickov’s faith in two young centre-backs, James Tarkowski and Jean-Yves M’voto, both very promising but error-prone, remained unwavering. Reece Brown’s deployment in the heart of defence worked well, but cheap goals were still conceded.
Diamond never held down a first-choice spot but a wealth of experience and steadiness would have been a source of comfort – if he had been allowed to play. In fairness, he was injured for a while, but not long enough to keep out of the side in an appalling run of form.
The 27-year old’s exit is no major concern to the fans. His reputation never transformed into an indispensable character, and the money now available to Dickov can be used to tempt the likes of Kieran Lee, Robbie Simpson and James Wesolowski to renew their expiring contracts. If the club was able to secure the signatures of those three – who are the indispensable characters – it would be a trick worthy of David Copperfield’s routine. Should even two renew their contracts then it would be a job well done.
Not a single supporter would begrudge Lee a move. The Manchester United-trained right back is a class above the rest at Boundary Park. He possesses a composed and intelligent mind, certainly enhanced during his time with the world’s best coaches at Carrington, but also technical ability. Those three assets combined do not belong in the bottom-eight of League One.
With the cases of Simpson and Wesolowski, their traits of loyalty and appreciation will be severely tested. Both midfielders are good enough for any side in League One, but both were thrown onto the scrapheap by their respective clubs. At Huddersfield, Simpson was not given a chance by Lee Clark, who made it clear he was free to hunt a new club. Dickov gave him his chance, and has played about as many games this season as he had combined since his move to the Galpharm in 2009.
James Wesolowski, too, has found a manager that rates him and wants him playing in his side. He has suffered with a reoccurring shoulder injury all season, and so should repay the faith. Will they? Time will tell.
Local lad Chris Taylor has announced that he wants to test himself at a higher level. Like Lee, few berate him for such ambition. Afterall, he has made around 300 appearances for the club he supports and has in the past rebuffed rumours linking him with Blackpool and Leeds United. That level of loyalty is a rare trait in the modern game, and so the time has come for Taylor to forge a career in the Championship.
A potential summer of frustration awaits Paul Dickov. The fans have demanded a vast improvement to the current playing squad, but first he needs to keep together the one he holds now.
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