OLDHAM manager Steve Robinson feels Latics are already proving their doubters wrong after claiming a 1-0 derby win at BURY on Saturday.
Oldham were pre-season favourites for relegation from League One as new boss Robinson has had to sign over a dozen players to rebuild the squad – and he said on Saturday that more signings will follow.
After an underwhelming pre-season and a predictably poor start at Millwall, Latics have gradually improved, knocking Wigan out of the EFL Cup and earning two 0-0 draws in the league. And Leon Barnett’s early own goal at Bury was enough for Oldham to overcome their local rivals and register their first league win of the season.
“It was terrific, not just the win but the manner of it,” said Robinson. “We dominated for long periods and created the clearest chances. I said to the players ‘we’ve got nearly 2,000 fans here today and what they want to see is energy, drive, desire and passion’. They gave it to them in abundance so I think we sent away a lot of happy people.
“It was par for the course,” added the Latics’ boss. “If you throw so many players together that don’t know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, that understanding takes time.
“My goal is to stay in this division and I’ll keep saying that. We needed to steady the ship – we had five players and no staff – and we’re doing that, slowly but surely.”
Oldham might have extended their lead as striker Lee Erwin went close on several occasions, Bury keeper Ben Williams turning one effort onto the post. Williams also denied Ryan Flynn on the break as Bury pushed for an equaliser.
But substitute Nicky Clark missed the Shakers’ best chances, having a close-range effort blocked by Connor Ripley just after coming on and then with just five minutes left the Scottish striker somehow managed to sidefoot wide from six yards after great work by wingers Danny Mayor and Zeli Ismail.
“Finishing it off was probably the only bit that was missing,” Robinson added. “We made it hard for ourselves late on with some of our decisions on the ball. But we’re getting into the right areas and making lots of chances, and when they fall for us we could be a decent team.
“We were favourites to go down and it was well documented we were a couple of weeks behind with our fitness but I don’t think we’re behind anymore. The work-rate and energy they’ve put into the last four games speaks volumes for their character and the people we’ve brought to the club.”
Oldham have the chance to cause an another upset on Tuesday night as they visit Preston in the second round of the EFL Cup. Preston are second-bottom in the Championship but won 2-0 away to QPR on Saturday to claim their first league points of the season.
Robinson added: “I’ve said to the players ‘are we happy just winning the odd game or can we really believe in where we can go to?’ Preston are a good side and we’re the underdogs, we’re expected to go there and lose. But within our group we’ve got our own expectations and we hope to give them a decent game.
“We’re unbeaten in four now, including two wins, and we’ve played against Northampton, who were unbeaten in 27 games, Walsall and Millwall reached the play-offs, Wigan romped the league last season, and Bury are a good, solid team who have a lot bigger budget than us, so there’s a lot of positivity. We’re by no means the finished article but we’ll keep getting better.”