Lee Johnson: Oldham's Coach
When he was appointed as the manager of Oldham Athletic back in March 2013, many fans of the League One side were hopeful that the former Kilmarnock footballer could lead the club to a better standing than they had when Paul Dickov was leading the club, despite the Oldham role being his first in professional management.
At the age of 31, Lee Johnson became the youngest manager in the Football League and meant that he would manage in the same league as his father Gary who is the manager of Yeovil Town. His first game in charge was a 3–0 victory against Hartlepool United on 19 March, which lifted Oldham out of the relegation zone. He led the club to safety from relegation in the 2012–13, with notable vital wins in the run – in to the end of the season against Bury and automatic promotion chasing Yeovil Town who were then managed by his father.
In the pre-season of the 2013–14 season, Johnson vowed to make changes to the squad and thus changing the way in which his team went out to play football, fan favourite Robbie Simpson headed the list of players that were released. And fast, energetic players such as James Dayton and Sidney Schmeltz were amongst the players to be signed, including making Korey Smith loan into a permanent deal, with Johnson also making the former Norwich player Oldham's Captain.
Oldham started the season as the manager intended, playing fast, high tempo and expansive football, winning 4–3 away at Stevenage in a thriller of a game. This theme continued throughout the season, with Oldham playing high quality football, receiving many plaudits from opposition managers and pundits alike. However, the Latics acquired the knack of being admirable losers and not getting the results they felt that they sometimes deserved.
In January, various changes were made, notably losing the services of James Tarkowksi to Brentford for an undisclosed fee. But, signing players that would go on to make a large impact to Oldham's second-half of the season, most notably the loan deal of Gary Harkins from St. Mirren, who would go on to a catalyst for the form shown by the Latics in the second half of the season.
Lee Johnson became League One's youngest manager when he joined Oldham.
After various excellent performances throughout the first-half of the season, and with the vast majority of the fans on his side and supporting the way his side were playing, Johnson was rewarded with a new three – year contract, extending his contract till the Summer of 2018. Johnson stated that
"I love the club, the new contract extension makes me feel valued by the owner and the board. I know I will get it right and that I will be given time to do that, at what is a fantastic club".
In the second half of the season, the Latics not only produced the same excellent performances that had gone unrewarded at times in the first half of the season, but they were also getting the results to match, ending the season on a 10 match unbeaten run. Finishing 15th in League One, two points off the top – half of the table, the best finish for the side since the end of the 2008–09 season under John Sheridan.
Lee Johnson will now hope to better the position he left Oldham in last season, and although he has limited financial help available to him, many fans of the club believe that he has the capability to get the job done.