Paul Scholes leaves Oldham: "Sadness for what could have been"

Paul Scholes stops playing as Oldham's coach after 31 days at the League Two club

When it was discovered in late January that Paul Scholes was negotiating to become Oldham's new manager, the general reaction was a combination of obvious surprise and acceptance that this would be a sensible date.

Less than eight weeks later, the news of Scholes' resignation is digested.

In the middle there was a victory, followed by three draws and three defeats.

There were also arguments, broken and disenchanted promises so profound that a source close to the former England and Manchester United midfielder said that his position had become "unsustainable".

And, like all those who have witnessed Scholes' harsh sentence against Manchester United and their managers over the last few years on TV, when he feels that something is wrong, the 44-year-old does not hold back.

Return to Saturday, February 16th.

Scholes sat in what passes for a press room at Boundary Park. Space was tight. Four hours earlier, the same room had been used for a team meeting to discuss Oldham's tactics for the second-day match against Crewe.

The instructions had been delivered. To a certain extent they had been executed. On a terrible shot, Oldham had taken an advantage 23 minutes through Callum Lang. But they had clung when George Ray scored a draw goal.

Scholes, as he had done for most of the game, put his chin on top and accepted his fate with a shrug.

He asked later if he had wondered at any time what the hell he was doing there; because he was undergoing such stress when he clearly didn't need money, Scholes responded in a typically discreet way. "Yes," he said. "All week."

At the time he didn't know, but life didn't have to be better.

Paul Scholes took over with the Latics 14 in League Two and started with them in the same position

That same Saturday, the owner of Oldham Abdallah Lemsagam walked around Boundary Park in an electric blue suit.

He was kind, courteous, happy to chat. But this does not seem to be a man who likes to take a seat in the background. There had been many rumors before Scholes was appointed that Lemsagam was not afraid of being heavily involved in team affairs.

It is not difficult to understand, in his overwhelming assertion that he was going to quit, what Scholes meant when he said: "Unfortunately it became clear that I would not be able to operate as expected and they led me to believe before taking on the role ".

It is said that Lemsagam was wounded and upset by the statement. Scholes had told his boss about his intention to leave Wednesday night. After that, he refused to accept calls.

The crux of the matter, it was told at BBC Sport, was Lemsagam's interaction with Oldham's first team.

Scholes felt strongly that this was his domain.

Owning a lower level professional club is not a lucrative experience. Understandably, the owner manages the micro-management. He also likes to chat. Talk to the office staff. Call the cleaners. Call everyone. This includes players, coaches, physiotherapists. Without really knowing, Lemsagam regularly crossed a line.

His previous managers – notably Richie Wellens and Frankie Bunn – didn't like him, but for the most part they kept their thoughts to themselves.

Scholes, outspoken, experienced and financially secure, did not need to adopt the same position.

It was understood that the harsh words were exchanged in more than one occasion. A relationship that had to be strong gradually deteriorated.

The players received contracts that Scholes knew nothing about. The field was in such a state that there was no chance of playing the kind of kick that he would instinctively want to implement.

For Scholes, what seemed like the dream of managing his hometown club had turned into a nightmare.

Abdallah Lemsagam said that Scholes "will have my 100% support" when the former England midfielder was named

On Tuesday, Scholes, feeling distinctly under the weather, took his place on the sideline for a game away to Lincoln.

The temperature was freezing. Someone said that Scholes looked like an Eskimo on the sideline. As it had happened against Crewe's first five games, he made just one gesture while his team slipped towards the defeat expected for the league leaders.

For Scholes, in many ways, it was a dark night.

Fans of both sides went to social media to suggest that Scholes was unable to adapt to the management of players to a level much lower than he was used to.

This assessment is unfair. Scholes stopped long before a useful judgment could be expressed about his abilities.

During his illustrious career in the club, Scholes played with only one man, Sir Alex Ferguson, whose control in the dressing room was undisputed. In Oldham, this turned out to be an illusion.

When the positions took root and the arguments with the owner got worse, Scholes concluded that the hassle is not worth it.

Wednesday, after reflecting on the futility of all this, Scholes offered his resignation and interrupted the communication.

Lemsagam stirred. He knew that such a sudden end to an appointment so recently made, among so many fanfare, would have reflected badly about him and his club. He wanted the chance to talk to Scholes.

Every hour passed, his hope diminished. Shortly before Thursday at 17:00 GMT, it ended with a burning sentence when Scholes explained that it was "with great regret" that he had not been able to "at least" see all the 18 months of his contract as manager of " the club that I supported all my life ".

All that is left now is the sadness and thoughts of what could have been.


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