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Wheel turns full circle for Latics

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date online: 21 March 2014

IT IS a little over a year since Lee Johnson’s reign as manager began with a Boundary Park thumping of Hartlepool.

Packed into the 12 months that precede tomorrow’s equally-important contest with Crawley have been a host of challenges — players sacked amid corruption allegations, star players sold to rivals — which lead the 32 year old to think he will never again experience anything as difficult in the game.

But for all that, Athletic and Johnson find themselves back almost where they started. After Pools were seen off 3-0 last March, Athletic sat on 39 points from 37 matches - exactly the same as the team has managed in 2013-14.

While below par by most estimations, Johnson says the challenges he has faced would have tested the managerial limits of even Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho.

“I don’t think I will have a tougher year in football, I really don’t,” Johnson said. “That isn’t just me. I think if you had Jose Mourinho come in to manage this club it would have been the same.

“Some of the sequences of events have been unbelievable, often not through anyone’s fault. And also some of the events in players’ private lives. It happens everywhere, but not normally to key players at key times.

“It makes you try to use it as a force, to say ‘let’s dig in and stay up’.”

The first of nine matches remaining isn’t going to be a cakewalk, Johnson warned.

Though some point to high-flyers Leyton and Brentford as being particularly tough, Johnson watched Crawley on Tuesday to get a better idea why John Gregory’s men have lost only one of their last 11 games.

“I watched them against Wolves and they were convincing winners,” Johnson said. “They have a small squad, have had few injuries and have players who know the division. We will have to be at our best. It is up to us to exploit their weaknesses.”


Athletic are favourites with the bookies to beat Crawley. The visitors might have been expected to be the more fancied of the teams following a midweek win over league leaders Wolves, but Latics are 13-10 favourites to win; Crawley 23-10, and the draw 12-5.

Comments

The same challenges have been around for years which begs the question why have 3 of the last 4 managers been novices when appointed? Our club is suffering while a succession of trainee gaffers learn their trade the hard way. Experience was needed 12 months ago, it still is.

March 2013 Played 37 Goal Difference -12 Points 39:
March 2014 Played 37 GD -13 Points 39.
No improvement then

Austerity never works. We've had cost-cutting for twenty years and had almost constant decline. There needs to be some stimulus. The cheapest managers, the cheapest players, no ground maintenance, etc. is not going to reverse the trend.

"Austerity never works. We've had cost-cutting for twenty years and had almost constant decline. There needs to be some stimulus. The cheapest managers, the cheapest players, no ground maintenance, etc. is not going to reverse the trend."

You seem very vague as to where the stimulus will come from, ammy. A few million pound investment from a capitalist may provide some stimulus. Not forgetting some luck with a manager.
That's the real stumbling block - no matter how much you pay them.

 

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