Sacked Kewell ‘up against it’ from the start at Oldham, say fans group

Oldham have sacked Australian coach Harry Kewell Source: Getty Images

The “writing was on the wall” the moment Harry Kewell stepped through the revolving coaching door at serial-sackers Oldham Athletic, according to a prominent Latics supporters group.

Kewell yesterday became the ninth coach to bite the dust during the mercurial 40-month tenure of machete-wielding Moroccan owner Abdallah Lemsagam - and the 15th in six turbulent years.

Push The Boundary fans collective - which boasts several thousand members and has the ear of CEO Karl Evans - were, like many of their brethren, hoping that after seven months in charge Kewell would at the very least trigger a contract option for next season.

However, with Oldham drifting in 16th place in League Two - 12 points off the playoffs and coming off just one win in six - Kewell carried the can.

His untimely exit fulfilled the prophecy of PTB spokesman Steve Shipman at his unveiling back in August, even if the 42-year-old did go on to become the club’s equal longest-serving coach since 2015.

“You don’t like to be right, but what’s happened to Harry Kewell is predictable in light of the owner’s track record,” declared Shipman.

“There’s a fair bit of sympathy for Harry from fans across the board because he was always up against it.

“The hope was he’d get another year, strengthen the squad during the pre-season, and then go again.

“There looked, at last, to be some sort of stability at the club. But here we are again - it’s fire and hire time and we’re back at square one.

“The writing was on the wall from day one, even though the owner made all sorts of noises about how he’d tracked Harry for two years and how he was the man to take the club forward.”

Shipman believes Kewell’s inability to steer the Lancashire club to within striking distance of the top-seven proved his undoing, whist underlining the futility of dispatching him with just 14 games left.

“The timing seems strange with so few games remaining unless Lemsagam and his brother (sporting director Mohamed) think a new coach (rumoured to be former Northampton Town boss Keith Curle) can somehow put a late-season run together,” he said.

And what of Kewell’s legacy after his brief reign at a club mired in serial failures since the heady days of being a Premier League foundation member back in 1992.

“We scored a lot of goals under him ... it was entertaining,” added Shipman.

“The away form was refreshing, but losing 11 out of 15 at home tells its own story.

“One of the biggest things was the freezing out of an ex-Premier League defender (David Wheater) because of a pay dispute with the club, while we were continuously shipping goals (56 in 32 games, the worst record in the division).

“That was mainly down to the ownership, but fans felt Harry should have done everything to play him. But it never happened.”

Shipman, though, feels while Kewell “underachieved” at Boundary Park, he has done enough to attract offers elsewhere, as he seeks to build on a patchy resume which includes previous stints at Crawley Town and Notts County.

“Based on what Harry did achieve - which was creating a team that scores a lot of goals - another club chairman might see the box office appeal of that,” he said.

“Has he done himself any harm? I reckon he can probably walk into another job.

“He might not have set the world alight. But it’s Harry Kewell, he has that reputation as a player.

“I’d be surprised if somebody doesn’t take a chance on him.

“Maybe Oldham were the right club - but it was the wrong time.

“We have got rid of a lot of coaches far too early - you’ve got to question the motives of the sporting director and the owner.

“It seems like they’re stumbling from manager to manager, hoping something will work, but with no method behind anything.

“There’s a real air of despondency around the club.”