Everton are aiming to succeed where their Merseyside rivals Liverpool failed when David Moyes takes his team to Boundary Park for an FA Cup fifth round tie against Oldham Athletic this weekend.
To help preview the last-16 clash, evertonfc.com spoke to Matt Chambers, reporter for the Oldham Chronicle.
Chambers has covered the Latics and their fluctuating fortunes all season, from the highs of their fine 3-2 win over Liverpool to a miserable 4-1 thumping at Yeovil.
He picks out the players he feels will cause the Blues problems on Saturday evening and tells us who is in the frame to fill the managerial hot-seat recently vacated by Paul Dickov…
Through to the FA Cup fifth round but languishing in the League One drop zone. Tell us a bit about Oldham’s season…
Obviously there has been a bit of disruption since the Liverpool tie. Paul Dickov lost his job, which was a result of the poor league form that has seen the club drop down into the bottom four. The win against MK Dons last weekend will have instilled quite a lot of confidence back into the side and now they will be aiming to put up a good fight against another Premier League team. The players will definitely be up for the game on Saturday and, after beating Liverpool in the last round, they want to complete the Merseyside double. I’m sure Everton will arrive knowing exactly what Oldham are all about. David Moyes was at the MK Dons game last Saturday so he will have seen how the team go about their business.
Do the Oldham fans believe their team can repeat their fourth round heroics?
The club are looking at getting another sell-out crowd and they have sold a lot more executive places than they normally would do. The town has been buzzing with the FA Cup run this season and we as a newspaper have got right behind it. We have produced special supplements to try to get the cup fever going. As a club, Oldham have had a tradition of some cracking cup runs in the past, going back to the days of Joe Royle. He took the team to Wembley for the first time in 1990 for the League Cup final against Nottingham Forest, and there were also the Manchester United semi-finals in 1990 and 1994. There is a history of cup football at Oldham and that has been reignited this year, which has been a massive help to a club which haven’t got much money at the moment. Against the backdrop of falling crowds, it has been really positive.
Matt Smith got two goals in the win over Liverpool. Is he the player Everton need to keep a close eye on?
Matt suffered a shoulder injury at the end of that tie and has been out since then with the problem. It is planned that he will start training again on Thursday, so I’m not sure if he will start the game. It’s more likely that he will aim to make an impact off the bench. The same is true of Robbie Simpson, who has been the other cup hero for Oldham this season. He scored two goals in the 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest in the third round. So you have to look at Jose Baxter really. He has got that spark and everyone was delighted when he committed himself to a two-and-a-half year contract. Having left the club in the summer, there will be no-one wanting to do better against Everton more than Jose, and he will be going all out to complete a Merseyside double of his own.
Why have Oldham struggled in the league this season?
It’s quite hard to say why the cup form has been different to that in the league. The team has struggled to score goals all season but, if you look at the squad of players, they should definitely be doing better than they are. There are individuals in the team who perhaps haven’t achieved what they should have this year, players who have got the potential to play at the higher level. However, when it has come to the cup, they have managed to lift themselves to those levels. Hopefully they can do it on Saturday and then carry it into the remainder of the league programme.
Which names have been mentioned as potential successors to Paul Dickov?
The one that is being talked about the most is Iain Dowie. He has been at Oldham before so he knows the club and how it works. It’s felt that he would crack the whip fitness-wise and be someone who wouldn’t necessarily be a friend of the players like Paul Dickov might have been. He has been spoken about and I know contact has been made with him. Another person who is up in the betting at the minute is Sammy Lee. I’m not sure if there is anything in that but he has been mentioned as well. For the moment, Tony Philliskirk is in charge. He has been at the club for 15 years now, so he knows the ins and outs of managing a group of players. He is just concentrating on preparing the team as best he can to try to spring a surprise.
Finally, if you were to offer a prediction, how would you expect Saturday’s tie to go?
It could be a tight game. Oldham will approach it similarly to the way they did against Liverpool and try to start off really quickly and ruffle a few feathers. Everton, with the way they set up, will probably be better equipped to deal with that though. It’s going to be tough against such a high quality Premier League team, but I have got to go for an Oldham win! I’m predicting 2-1, with Matt Smith coming off the bench to head into the top corner in the last minute!