A victory he described as the greatest of his career might not be enough to save Paul Dickov from the sack today. The Oldham manager has been called in for talks with chairman Simon Corney, who claimed that staying in League One remains the priority despite the euphoria of a victory over Liverpool that earned the club a fifth-round FA Cup tie at home to Everton.
"It's awkward," Corney said. "We'll have to have a chat. Paul will have his own decisions to make. Days like this are great, but the biggest thing is to stay in this division.
"Yes, there will be fans who say 'how can you sack a manager after this?' just like there were fans last week who said, 'how can you keep him?'."
Dickov has presided over a run that has yielded just one point from 24. The gravity of relegation has pulled the club toward the divisional dead zone. As much as he would like to enjoy the moment, the manager suspected the worst last night. When asked if he would be in charge for the Everton game in three weeks' time, Dickov replied: "I would like to be but you are asking the wrong person. I've just seen Simon and nothing was mentioned but there are lots of things that I need to speak to Simon about."
Dickov described his side's momentous win as his best achievement in football. "I've scored at Wembley. I have a European medal and I have played for my country, but this tops the lot. I'm fantastically proud of the players and pleased for the fans. I know what this team is capable of. We have lost a lot of games by the odd goal. Today we won by the odd goal. But you need that bit of luck.
"When you are in this position you can either spit the dummy out or roll up your sleeves. As a player, that is what I had to do. I was never the most talented. I told the players all they had to do is be brave and show courage. They did that magnificently today."
His Liverpool counterpart, Brendan Rodgers, offered no excuses save for the lack of depth he claimed for a squad he tried to rotate. It was only when Steven Gerrard came off the bench with his side 3-1 down that they posed a consistent threat. "We started both halves poorly," Rodgers said. "We were too much on the back foot early on. You have to come to places like this and be strong and aggressive.
"There was no complacency. We just did not play with the intensity we expected. This is a different type of football to what the players are used to in the Premier League. You have to stand up and be counted. Today we were too slow. This was a trophy that had our focus. We wanted to go far. So we are very disappointed."
Rodgers was not too bereft to deny Oldham their due. "Congratulations to them," he said. "You can't take anything away from Oldham. Across the board we did not press them enough. A result like that against Liverpool will give them the impetus they need to press on from here."
The victory was built around the towering Matt Smith, an archetypal journeyman glorying in taking his talent as far as it will go. Hitherto his greatest claim to fame was playing in the same university team as comedian Jack Whitehall. No one is laughing now.
Smith, described as unplayable by Dickov, made way in the final 10 minutes with a shoulder injury. The good news is the damage is only superficial and he will be ready to go again against Everton. "I'm delighted. It is a career highlight for me. When they brought on Steven Gerrard I thought it was going to be a long second half. But we battled all the way to the 97th minute and that saw us home."Reuse content