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Dickov puts the buzz back in Oldham

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Paul Fletcher | 11:27 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

Paul Dickov had several nicknames during his lengthy playing career. The Wasp and The Pest were two of them.

I think they accurately convey the image many of us had of the feisty Scottish striker whenever we watched him in action.

Dickov was never afraid to throw himself into a challenge or let an official know if he disagreed with a decision. He might not have been to everybody's taste but nobody could accuse him of lacking energy, commitment and desire.

Perhaps best known for scoring Manchester City's vital equaliser in the last minute of their then Division Two play-off final against Gillingham in 1999, the 37-year-old is now attempting to impose the template of hard work and effort that shaped his career upon Oldham Athletic, where he is in his first season as player-manager.

"I told the players on my first day that it does not cost anything to work hard," Dickov told me. "They are lucky to be doing the job they have, training four days a week before playing for 90 minutes on Saturday. If their starting point is not working as hard as they can, then I do not want them here."

Oldham Athletic manager Paul Dickov

Dickov has brought a vibrancy and energy to his role as Oldham manager

It is obvious that there is a lot more to the softly-spoken Dickov than the snarling figure that was prepared to tear around the pitch chasing down lost causes.

His desire to see his team play with spirit and determination is not only because he believes it can make the difference between his young squad falling short or challenging at the right end of what looks like being a fiercely competitive division.

It also shows his understanding of the club he manages, the area it is in and the impact on the town of the recent economic downturn.

"Oldham is a working class place and I am wary that not everyone can afford to pay £20 every Saturday," said Dickov. "I have said to the fans that I want to give them a team that they can relate to. We might not win every week but we will have given them everything we have got. "I constantly tell the players it is up to them to get the fans going."

Oldham supporters have had precious little to excite them since the heyday of the first Joe Royle era, which ended with his departure months after the club's relegation from the Premier League in 1994.

The Latics have been rattling around the third tier of English football since 1997, with two failed play-off campaigns to their name but plenty of skirmishes with relegation, and now play at a ground that has only three sides.

The only direction the fans were going towards the end of last season was out of Boundary Park - and with very little intention of returning. The relationship between former manager Dave Penney and supporters had become non-existent and it was widely reported that the club had sold only 14 season tickets by the start of June.

Dickov realised immediately upon taking over that morale was an issue and decided to hold fans forums and open training sessions to bring back disenfranchised supporters.

Season ticket sales had reached 1,800 by the start of the campaign and there is no question that supporters have responded to the infectious Dickov.

"This season bears no comparison with the last," said bafanabafanaboundary on the 606 messageboard. "Dickov has been absolutely brilliant at bringing the best out of these players, the team are together, try to play football, are always looking to win and never give up - it's fantastic. He deserves a huge amount of praise."

Oldham currently sit seventh in League One, two points behind leaders Huddersfield. It is a very tight division, with only four points separating the top 13 sides, and Dickov is realistic enough to acknowledge that his team could easily slip down the table.

Having said that, the Latics boss took great encouragement from last Saturday's 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, which came seven days after his team were thrashed 5-2 at Peterborough in their only league defeat so far this season.

"It was a great result for loads of reasons," said Dickov of the victory over the Cherries. "It was a good reaction to defeat and it showed the players that we can win even if we are not playing that well as long as the attitude and desire is fantastic.

"I have also been told that Oldham went behind 17 times last season and did not win any of those games. To win from behind against the Cherries indicates that the management team does know what it is talking about."

Paul Dickov playing for Manchester City against Manchester United

Dickov was a feisty and combative striker, always keen to speak his mind

Dickov, who started his career at Arsenal, brought former Leicester team-mate Gerry Taggart in as his assistant, Paul Butler as fitness coach and, confusingly, another Paul Butler - the former Sunderland, Wolves and Leeds defender- as chief scout, while coach Lee Duxbury remains at the club.

Like most managers, Dickov tailors the bulk of training towards a forthcoming match. He often coaches from the touchline but also finds it advantageous to join in a session so he can get his point across from the thick of the action.

"I want the players to see the benefits on a Saturday afternoon of all the work that we do during the week," said Dickov, who has made only one substitute appearance so far.
"People talk about expectations but ours have got to be that we apply everything we have learnt during the week during the next match."

Dickov spent the final years of his career observing different types of training sessions and watching how managers prised the maximum effort possible from their staff. He applied for the vacancy at Oldham with the intention of gaining some much-needed interview experience and was both surprised and delighted when he was offered the job.

It is early days but he seems to be thriving on the all-round role of management, from coaching the side to board meetings and budgets.

Dickov is carrying a bloated squad of more than 30 professionals and described telling several players during the summer that they are surplus to requirements as the hardest part of his job so far, while he joked that part of the learning process has been working out when to ignore phone calls from agents.

I thought his appointment was one of the few that really caught the eye during the summer. It was a bold gamble by chairman Simon Corney, who has a business unconnected with his role at the club and is often asked by Manchester City-supporting colleagues about Dickov's famous goal at Wembley.

Corney is growing weary of discussing it but, as the season rolls on, it is increasingly clear he made an excellent choice in giving Dickov his first taste of football management. And you never know, Oldham fans may soon have something to shout about.

You can follow me throughout the season at


  • Comment number 1.

    After the last two seasons of ups and downs where at points we seemed to have a team that could get promoted and then a team that could easily be relegated it is nice to have a manager who realistic but also hungry and wants success as this seems to permeate into the squad. Not wanting to get carried away but your pic does look a bit like Michael Sheen as "Cloughie" in "The Damned United". If only we could have half the success, We can but dream!!


  • Comment number 2.

    His nicknames suited him well as a player. Reminds me a lot in terms of his work rate of Kenny Miller: always a very hard working honest professional and one not lacking in ability either. Watched him with various clubs over the years and I hope he is a great success at Oldham

  • Comment number 3.

    This article is as refreshing as Paul Dickov himself. At Latics we have badly needed a shot in the arm after the grim saga of last season. In fact we've needed a shot in the arm at regular intervals since 5pm on the afternoon of April 10 1994 when Mark Hughes volley hit the net to equalise for Man U in the FAC semi with 55 seconds remaining, we didn't win another match, were relegated from the Premiership, relegated again 3 seasons later and as you rightly say have avoided another relegation by the skin of our teeth several times - though to be fair we have made the play offs more than once.
    It was March 27 1954 when I first saw a match at Latics so there isn't much I haven't endured and - occasionally enjoyed - like the winter of 1962-3 and the whole of seasons 1989-93.
    It's so sad the way the fan base has gradually eroded away but if anybody can revive things then its PD.
    Elsewhere in the North West there has been great success achieved by positive minded managers with a positive mind and forward thinking despite a low budget. Look at Blackpool for a start. Then next door at Rochdale. Up and down the coast at Barrow Morecambe Fleetwood and Southport.
    It's very refreshing to hear the directors talk about the way PD got the job. 'We knew at the end of the interview that he was our man' sums it all up.
    And I've said more than once on local radio that PD will prove the most successful appointment since Joe Royle in 1982.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great Article. It is refreshing to see the BBC provide some much needed coverage of the Latics. At the start of the season there were a few disgruntled postings about Dickov's appointment, however, Corney's decison now seems to be vindicated. I like Paul's attitude in taking each game as it comes and reminding his young team to remain grounded. That said, if we continue the way we are at the moment, it will be essential that we tie him down to an extended contract, as at present there is only a 12 month rolling contract in place. Fingers crossed we can also reduce the playing squad to a more manageable size, its important we run the club as efficently as least until we reach the FA CUp 5th Round to face United! ;-)

    Keep the Faith.

  • Comment number 5.

    Great article Paul! Nice to see us getting a mention guessing this is why you posted on our page earlier in the week.
    Dickov has been a breathe of fresh air and I for one can not speak highly enough about him and its nice to see the rest of the team like Tagaart getting their fair mention.
    Hopefully a few will read this and start to come back to the ground. I knew the figures were low early on for season tickets but didn't realise they were that low.
    Maybe you should come down and take a game in with us if you are ever around and we will treat you well with a few drinks and a pie in the greatest 3 sided staduim in the world.
    Dave Penny are you watching?

  • Comment number 6.

    Now then,

    Thanks for the comments so far. I must admit, I was expecting a few people to explain how they could not stand Dickov as a player because of his aggressive, no-nonsense attitude.

    If my Dad knew what a computer was I suspect that he would do so. Having said that, if I showed you the text he once sent (failing somewhat to grasp the impact and effect of prescriptive texting), then it might persuade you that it is better the world is a better place if he never masters the world wide web.

    pablatic - thanks for that. Everyone I have asked about Dickov has been nothing but positive about him. He was intelligent, throughful and considered in conversation - but I imagine that he could still make his point in a clear and efficient manner at half-time if he needed.

  • Comment number 7.

    LATICDICKOVARMY - trying to entice me with pies and beer. Have we met before? I know a man who would be straight up the M6 (though not that fast because he nevers break the speed limit) if you tried to lure him north with the offer of a pie.

  • Comment number 8.

    Dickov's yet another fine example of upcoming 'British' managers being given a chance in the football league. Great to hear he wants to mold his Oldham side around the town's strong working class ethic. I really believe at that level having superior strength and fitness to the opposition is worth at least one goal advantage. Dickov also reflects my view that as long as supporters appreciate the team is giving 100% effort at all times they'll continue providing the backing.

    It's early days ofcourse and that problem of trimming a 'bloated squad' whilst maintaining the level of quality on the pitch may prove difficult.

  • Comment number 9.

    People forget that Oldham was Joe Royle's first club, too.
    It's a different era now though; let's hope if there's any success to come, he isn't whisked away to a bigger club before he can build something here.

  • Comment number 10.

    JoC - I completely agree with you. Superior strength and fitness is key at this level. It can be the difference between getting that last minute equaliser and going home empty handed at the final whistle, this is only achieved through hard work and dedication, a trait demonstrated by the Latics manager throughout his career.

    Though Paul briefly mentioned in his article about Dickov's staff, I believe these have had just as much of a key role in the recent resurgence as the manager himself. The players look fitter, more determined and most importantly are playing without fear.

    It's also nice to see the younger lads being given a chance. Dale Stephens has been a breath of fresh air and alongside Dean Furman, we now have a young, energetic central midfield bursting with talent. Throw into the mix the Kieron Lee who looks like he really did get an education from Manchester United, the resurgent Lewis Allesandra on the left and young striker Djeny Bembo and it clearly show that Dickov is not afraid in throwing in the kids.

    You can't win anything with kids? I wouldn't let Paul Dickov hear you say that!

  • Comment number 11.

    Tenuous Paul Dickov fact: I live on the same street as his brother, Stevie Dickov.

    I wish Paul all the best, and I'm glad that he's taken to management like a duck to hoi sin sauce.

  • Comment number 12.

    3 things done at oldham which will improve things no end is to say goodby to mike newton and bring in dickov as manager and gerry taggart in as his assistant,hope promotion is just around the corner, same as at the vale, at last a season of hope after years of mediocrity flirting with relegation,a league apart but parallel problems, good luck for the season

  • Comment number 13.

    Dickov will always be a City legend, glad to see he's still doing well - great blog Fletch!

  • Comment number 14.

    Great Blog Paul, Dickov will be the first one to refer to a "management team" and everyone of the team under Paul's guidance have brought a passion & an energy, that is flowing around the ground, All 3 sides of it).

    Coupled with the attacking football on show it make a positive impact regardless of where Oldham finish the fans will appreicate everything the team is doing.

    Paul Dickov also wrote a very good articule on the Oldham website last week (Watch out Fletch). Surrounding players demands & hte recent recession & how it is affecting wages & how oldham operate.

    Overall a very bright, shrew, young manager, learning his trade with the help of some old hand coaches.

    PS. I was one of those who was never a Dickov Fan. Both when he was a player & his appointment as Oldham maanger. I am happy to say I have been converted.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Paul

    I would agree with most people about Dickov as a player, hated him when he played against you, love him in your team, all due to the work ethic and the shift he puts in when he's playing.

    The one thing i do like about him as a manager is that he is giving youth a chance, and the loans that he has brought in are on a season long loan. When Sheza & penney were in charge too may times they went for the experienced lower league player on a quick fix of a months loan, which more often than not failed.

    This year the 'galacdickovs' are playing football again, back to the good times under shezza, a million miles from the dark days of Penney.

    Keep up the good blogs Paul, always more interesting to read about football in the real world.

  • Comment number 16.

    Morning all.

    nico - have you ever spoken to Stevie (very Scottish name that)? Or seen him chasing down a lost cause in the local park?

    MCFC_TID - Dickov obviously has loads of affection for City. He reckons that virtually all the games he checks out these days are League One, reserve fixtures or somehow related to his job at Oldham. However, he was at the first European night at Eastlands earlier this season.

    goodwill_the_blue - galacdickovs. Genius.

  • Comment number 17.

    16. At 09:18am on 24 Sep 2010, Paul Fletcher wrote:
    Morning all.

    nico - have you ever spoken to Stevie (very Scottish name that)? Or seen him chasing down a lost cause in the local park?

    He borrowed my ladders once to fix his guttering and returned them promptly upon completion of this task. Nice guy.

    He also used to be player/coach of the local amateur team, Pumpherston Juniors.

  • Comment number 18.

    Forget Kinkladze, Sumerbee and even the Goat- Dicov is THE City Legend of the last 20 years, Oldham are my 2nd team for the duration of Dicov's tenure. I'm sure there is a fair few City fans who would agree.

    Up the Latics!

  • Comment number 19.

    First saw Dickov as a 15 year old playing for Scotland in the U16's World Cup, played in Scotland in front of excellent crowds. Scotland had a really talented squad of players but he was the stand out. They made the final due to a combination of a solid squad and home advantage.

    I loved his attitude as a player, a bit like Billy Bremner, never say die and couldn't care less about what the opposition thought, his only priority is his team. Unlike Billy he looks as though he is going to transfer his drive and commitment into the management field.

    I wish him and Oldham all the best.

  • Comment number 20.

    formerly of this parish Chris Charles has an excellent new blog about life in the football league.,,10794%7E2164032,00.html

  • Comment number 21.

    Great blog, as ever.
    Used to love watching the bigger teams suffer on the old 'plastic' pitch at Boundary Park, on Granada Soccer Night etc.
    I hope both Dickov and Oldham do well, the fans will back a team that leaves it all on the field. As a BWFC fan, I can see shades of Owen Coyle in his attitude and approach...

  • Comment number 22.

    pablatic ... i enjoyed reading your comment,all the best to oldham for this season. i think you have a great motivational manager,i am a southport fc fan and appreciate you mentioning our club . hope its a good season for oldham and southport and thanks paul fletcher for another great article

  • Comment number 23.

    Yeh Paul Dickov is a good man. I've followed his career for 20 odd years. Did you know he scored a goal in a World Cup Final for Scotland? Good luck to him with Oldham.

  • Comment number 24.

    1989 FIFA Under-16 World Championship.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well, it looks like I'm by myself on this one.
    Someone above described Dickov as "always a very hard working honest professional". Hard working, yes. Honest? Never! One of the most blatently dishonest players I've ever seen on a football pitch. Constantly diving to win free-kicks & penalties and get fellow players booked and sent off. Arguing with the ref to get opposition players punished. I couldn't stand the guy as a player.
    Maybe he's finally grown up. Maybe he encourages his players to be more honest than he was, I don't know, I've not seen Oldham play this season.
    I hope Oldham do well, I loved seeing them showing the "big boys" a thing or 2 a few years back. And I hope that the current Oldham team show more integrity than their manager did as a player.

  • Comment number 26.

    Loved Dickov as a player for or against us always did whatever he could to help the side win .All clubs love players like that including exileddevonred or will he speak out against Scoles,Giggs or Rooney who also foul ,dive and argue.Anyway good luck to Paul he deserves whatever comes his way .

  • Comment number 27.

    "All clubs love players like that including exileddevonred or will he speak out against Scoles,Giggs or Rooney who also foul ,dive and argue"

    Sorry, you've got the wrong "Red"!
    Yes, I'll speak out against Scoles,Giggs or Rooney when they cheat. And yes, they do do it, but not to the same extent as Dickov. Or try to get players sent off in the same way that Dikov did.
    Not all football fans are as one-eyed as you insinuate - I won't defend my players when they do it. I'll be embarassed & ashamed. Cheating is cheating whoever they play for.

  • Comment number 28.

    Inspiring piece: well done. In this era of globalisation, obsession with commercialism and tendency grossly to underestimate the human element in coaching and management, those neutrals of us hope that Dickov and his like prosper and that he is able to do his best to bring good times back to towns like Oldham.

    Players play for people who inspire them, who make them look forward to playing for them and with ten other blokes whose mental outlook has been enhanced in a similar way; you don't need million-pound training facilities to create that atmosphere; a source of inspiration such as Dickov is something that can't be measured in pound notes.

    Apologies for stating the obvious, but £20 is a lot to pay for a ticket to a football match for many people: if the ground is only one-tenth full, would reducing the prices not encourage the people of Oldham to return and support their club ?

    'Success' at Oldham will be measured by filling some of those empty seats and winning promotion; hopefully Dickov will stick around at Boundary Park and take the club as far as he can.

    Contrast this with a club at the opposite end of the financial spectrum, Arsenal, and how they approach the issue of six trophy-less seasons on

  • Comment number 29.

    ExiledDevonRed , What were your thoughts on Ronaldo when he played for the rags? Diving, trying to get players sent off? What are your thoughts on Roy Keane that odious, foul mouthed,animal who finished another players career and bragged about it in his book. Tell me? Which of these three players is the most honest, I will give you a clue, Its not those two who played for a team that has been exiled from Manchester for over a hundred years. Pot Kettle ?
    Good Luck Paul.

  • Comment number 30.

    "ExiledDevonRed , What were your thoughts on Ronaldo when he played for the rags? Diving, trying to get players sent off? What are your thoughts on Roy Keane that odious, foul mouthed,animal who finished another players career and bragged about it in his book. Tell me? Which of these three players is the most honest, I will give you a clue, Its not those two who played for a team that has been exiled from Manchester for over a hundred years. Pot Kettle ?
    Good Luck Paul. "

    Why do you assume that I support Man Utd? I may be red, but it's not their red! There are teams outside of the premiership you know....Oldham for example....
    I totally agree, Ronaldo is despicable, and Roy Keane, well.....
    But while Dickov might not have been as bad as those 2, he was still a far worse cheat than most players. And the fact that he gave 100% to the clubs that he played for, shouldn't close our eyes to his "antics".

  • Comment number 31.

    My heartfelt appologies. Seeing the words Devon and red, your obvious dislike of Paul Dickov I wrongly assumed you were a gloryhunting plastic rag. After watching the man week in week out for years I can honestly say that you are totally wrong.He always gave as good as he got, not the greatest player ever, but I bet you couldn't count on one finger the number of managers who thought he was a cheat.
    Ps.......Oldham play in blue (except for some away games)

  • Comment number 32.

    MaineRoad, OK, we'll agree to disagree on this one.

  • Comment number 33.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 34.

    Quoting ExiledDevonRed :
    "Hard working, yes. Honest? Never! One of the most blatently dishonest players I've ever seen on a football pitch. Constantly diving to win free-kicks & penalties and get fellow players booked and sent off. Arguing with the ref to get opposition players punished. I couldn't stand the guy as a player.
    Maybe he's finally grown up. Maybe he encourages his players to be more honest than he was, I don't know, I've not seen Oldham play this season."

    Hmmmm, having seen them at Hillsborough the other night Dickov has clearly moulded his team in his own image judging by the number of times Oldham players collapsed in apparent agony at the slightest of tackles, before bounding up again and carrying on as if nothing had happened after the ref had taken action (or seen through their dirty tricks and not taken action, in some cases).

    Not a sour grapes comment at Wednesday's frustrating ineptitude by the way, I've always quite liked Oldham for some reason, probably because my first ever Owls game was against them some 30 years ago, but Dickov was always a horrible, sly little player who's probably going to be the same as a manager.


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