So on to this weeks villain. You may not have heard of him but take my word for it Oldham manager Dave Penney is extremely experienced. He's only been at Boundary Park since June joining from Darlington, where he's spent the last three years and his influence at Darlington should not be ignored as since he's left they have slumped big time and are currently rock bottom of League Two with just two points.
And if you've got a minute of two there's an in-depth look at Penney's career in an article by Hugo Steckelmacher which, although written in 2008, is still very interesting and will well give you cause to doubt the three points and it also includes a paragraph comparing the skills of Penney with our young upstart Parky.
The Latics are currently 8th with 16 points. As for their away games, they've played five, 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats.
They won 2-1 at Orient, lost at Millwall 0-2, drew with Brentford 1-1, lost to Bristol 0-1, won at Southend 1-0. Not a bad record but only three teams ( the spanners among them with a single away goal) have scored less goals away from home.
But they are on a bit of a run and since that last minute 1-0 defeat away to Bristol Rovers on 12th Sept they haven't lost for 4 games, only conceding one goal in the process, in a run that has seen them inflict on Southend their first home defeat, something that even Leeds couldn't do.
We've had very little contacts with the northern Athletic and somehow it therefore seems appropriate that the only connection that turns up between us is the name of Iain Dowie. Monica managed them for just one year back in 2002/03 and somehow got them into the Division Two Play-Offs before heading south for the Palarse. Perhaps he should have stayed where he was for everyones sake.
Twenty-seven miles is all that separates Oldham from Leeds and perhaps last weekends fixture was good preparation for the game ahead. A settled back four, two of whom played previously with Leeds, with Lomax, Hazell, captain Gregan and Sheehan all having played the last four games. Now an aging 35 - the same as Christian Daily - Gregan is ex West Brom for whom he played in the Premiership in 2002/03 (he played at the Valley where he lost 1-0) and Sheehan is on loan from Leeds.
In fact, Parky won't have his work cut out figuring out their team as its been the same for the last 4 games with the exception of Lomax's migraine at half-time last week. He was replaced and if it was the first time he's had it I can sympathize. The first attack I had made me dash off to the docs straight away thinking I was having a brain hemorrhage, at which point the doctor coolly reached into his desk drawer, drew out a piece of paper and asked me "Is it like this ?" Yes, it was a jagged question mark.
Anyway, Penney's love is a classic 4-4-2 with Abbott and Parker up front with Shelvey look-alike Whitaker, 21 year old Furman who thinks he's going to the World Cup, 19 year old Alex Marrow, on loan from Blackburn, and, 10 goals last season, winger Chris Taylor in midfield.
Clearly a favorite with manager Penney, who paid Swansea 100k for him while he was manager at Darlington, is Pawel Abbott. Current top scorer, number nine Abbott is a Polish U-21 international thanks to his mum, and is on 4 goals, although it must be said, Pav, that two were from the penalty spot. Penney said after signing Abbott for the second time in June, "I'm delighted to get this deal done as we have ourselves a proven goalscorer - Pawel's goal ratio is excellent."
Whats Their Secret?
Ignoring Southampton, as we all can this season, only the bottom two point scorers, Wycombe and Tranmere, have scored fewer goals and as befits the third lowest scorers with 10, Oldham's away games are always tight with few goals, with only nine goals scored by both teams in the 5 games ( one goal every 50 minutes), only Leeds with a mean 8 and Millwall with seven are lower. So while Norwich home fans can experience a host of goals - 29 in 5 games - Oldham are the opposition nobody wants because only two teams have a better defence than them with their five away goals let in. But they do appear to have a weak spot too. Four of their 11 League goals conceded have come in the last 5 minutes including injury time and they also lost in the League Cup at Carlisle in the 89th minute.
Doing A Leicester?
Its neck and neck with 11 games played and Leicester had exactly the same points as the Addicks from exactly the same record, 7 wins, 3 draws, 1 defeat and had scored exactly the same number of goals.
What are They Saying?
Bristol Rovers manager Trollope was clearly impressed by the opposition after his 1-0 last minute win and said of Oldham, "The way they pressed the ball, their organisation and the work ethic was exceptional."
I know we shouldn't be doing it, but needs must. Pardew, after signing the exotic Papa Waigo from Florentina, still wants more and is after another loan striker. And he's suddenly become upset that about money, "It's disappointing that my phone hasn't been ringing. Maybe their efforts in the reserves or on the training ground need to improve. There are four or five who need to go out, either on loan or permanently. I don't want to see players sitting around earning money but not contributing."
As we learned last season searching among the other tables apart from the points gained one helps at times, and if I were Pardew I'd be more concerned about my defence because it must have passed his notice that looking at a points-lost table for League One Southampton are also rock bottom, having given away 4 victories while leading.
Twenty years spent together and we lead the Latics by an impressive 17-8 with 15 draws. But being Addicks it must be pointed out that there is a potiential banana skin as Oldham are one of 5 teams in League One that have never win at the Valley ( or Sainsburys for that matter). The record at home is 13 wins and 7 draws with a 1-0 win in Sept 1996 in our last game together when David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte scored with just 4 minutes left.
A couple of weeks ago we were the Divisions top scorers but after two goalless games both Norwich (on 23) and Colchester (21) have overtaken us and somehow I can't see the resolute Oldham allowing us a goalfest to catch up.
Injuries are also starting to appear amongst our ever-presents with Richardson and Burton joining Sam Lloyd and Jose Semedo on the treatment table. Scott Wagstaff was one of the stars on Tuesday and would appear to have pressed his claim for a place on the right wing if Sam remains unfit while behind him Chris Solly could also deputise for Frazier R at right-back.
One definitely missing is Sam Sodje away in Nigeria for their vital World Cup game against Mozambique, so Miguel Llera will return to defence alongside Dailly, as long as he's recovered from his virus, with Kelly Youga at left-back. It remains to be seem if the added pressure of Sodje behind him will improve Miguels game or not.
Semedo's continued absence with his pelvic injury is starting to look a bit ominous so expect Matt Spring to continue in midfield with Racon and Bailey.
Another issue concerns the attack. With Deon recovering from his broken nose and two strikers used on Tuesday will Parky be tempted to line up with 4-4-2 to counter Penney? Can't see it really and with Burton rested and Jonjo only getting 30 minutes on Tuesday we should see our usual 4-5-1.