It has been all change in the Oldham manager’s office this week as Preston North End build up to their visit to Boundary Park.
ee Johnson left Latics on Wednesday to take the Barnsley job, with assistant Tommy Wright going with him to Oakwell. First-team coach Dean Holden has been left holding the fort as caretaker boss and will be in charge for their clash with North End.
Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes is the strong favourite for the job in the long term, Scholes a native of Oldham and a Latics fan.
But until Scholes can lured out of the television studio or they move on to a different candidate, Holden is the man in the hot seat.
“I’m caretaker manager for the foreseeable future,” said Holden, who returned to the club in a coaching capacity in November after previously serving them as a player.
“Every experience in life we go through is an opportunity to put your own spin on something.
“I’ll attack it like I’ve done with every experience I’ve had, which is with honesty, hard work and passion.
“I’ve got a sickening work ethic which I have always prided myself on.
“This is a great job to have at a brilliant club where I have been in two different spells.
“The lads are in a great position – if we win on Saturday we go back into the play-offs.
“We have been in and out of the play-offs all season and it is about being in the top six at the end.
“I’m absolutely buzzing about this opportunity.
“For now, the job is about making sure the lads train properly, ready for the game.”
Johnson chose to move on to Barnsley after 23 months at Oldham.
When appointed in March 2013 at the age of 31, he was the youngest manager in the Football League. The bigger crowds which Barnsley get and their bigger budget was the obvious attraction for Johnson, who seems to have a bright future in management.
After being appointed as Tykes boss, he said: “I feel as though I’m the perfect fit for this club.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me. I had two fantastic years at Oldham but the lure was too big.
“What we achieved at Oldham was fantastic but there are certain facts where we differ. The timing was not great but in football you have to make decisions.
“I gave everything to Oldham but in my new challenge now I will give everything to Barnsley.”
Johnson has left behind a decent platform for whoever his successor is to build on.
They are in ninth place ahead of Preston’s visit, two points behind Bradford who occupy the final play-off slot.
Their form has dipped in the last couple of weeks, with last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Leyton Orient preceded by a 1-0 home loss to Colchester.
Before that, they had beaten Swindon 2-1 and won 1-0 at Scunthorpe.
January had seen them steady the ship after a terrible December, which saw them lose all four games, including a 7-0 walloping at MK Dons.
Oldham’s stand-out performer this season has been Jonathan Forte who had a loan spell with PNE in 2011.
He has scored 14 league goals in 26 appearances since his arrival on a Bosman from Southampton in the summer.
Dominic Poleon, who netted in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash with PNE in November, is expected to lead the attack with Danny Philliskirk – son of ex-PNE striker Tony.