Given the farcical nature of life at Oldham Athletic and the persistent meddling of the owner, it is remarkable Paul Scholes lasted 31 days as the club’s manager.
Team buses did not turn up, the gas supply at Boundary Park was ripped out by bailiffs and players had to wash their own kit, while Scholes became exasperated with owner Abdallah Lemsagam trying to influence team selection.
Earlier this month Scholes called his squad together and told them that leaking team news back to Lemsagam, a former agent, would not be tolerated.
“If I find out who it is, you will never play for me again,” said Scholes, who was fuming at the belief he had a mole in his squad.
Scholes had insisted on a ‘no interference’ clause being written into his contract but he quickly became concerned information on training sessions and selection was being funnelled back to Lemsagam.
Scholes also received emails from the owner and his brother Mohamed, Oldham’s sporting director, telling him who he should play. Spanish striker Urko Vera, an ex-Bilbao trainee, was a favourite of the owner but he made just two substitute appearances under Scholes.
Sportsmail understands one player was told to stay away from training without the manager’s knowledge. The Manchester United legend met Lemsagam this week to voice his concerns.
It is thought the final straw was when he found out promises had been made to give defender Alex Iacovitti, signed on loan before Scholes’s arrival, a two-year deal this summer. Iacovitti has not played a match this season.
The bill for the players’ GPS training vests has not been paid for two years. The squad arrived at Boundary Park for Oldham’s recent clash with Bury to find no team bus outside.
A row over non-payment led to a panicked call to Bury asking if they had parking spaces for several cars. They didn’t and a late replacement vehicle was found. Other times players have had to drive to games in their own vehicles.
Days before Scholes took charge, bailiffs arrived at the club and took out a gas supply from the main stand. As a result, staff were unable to dry the kit. Players took kit home to wash and the rest went to a launderette. The reality soon dawned on Scholes.
Before one of his early press conferences, he joked that he was just off to get a coffee from the club’s machine, before adding: ‘Unless it’s been repossessed.’
The size of his inflated squad was another point of humour but Scholes eventually found it no laughing matter.
Defender Sonhy Sefil was loaned to National League North club Ashton United eight days after he had joined Oldham. He played two games before heading back. Then there is the serious under-investment over a number of years that has left Oldham’s pitch a quagmire, rendering any attempt at playing a passing game pointless.
Scholes had said Oldham had no option other than to spend money on it in the summer.
But first they will look for a new manager, their fifth since January last year. Ex-Bolton boss Owen Coyle and former Rochdale manager Keith Hill are early contenders to take over.
Scholes felt he was left with no choice other than to quit on Thursday night. Friends had warned him what to expect, but the former England international thought he could make it work.
He lost three, drew three and won one of his seven matches in charge. Oldham lie 14th in League Two. Scholes is said to be ‘gutted’ that his dream job turned into a nightmare so quickly.
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