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Ex-Waterford manager Marc Bircham bursts into contention for Oldham job

Marc Bircham was previously an assistant to Ian Holloway at QPR
Marc Bircham was previously an assistant to Ian Holloway at QPR

Oldham staff and fans haven’t had much to go on in terms of the managerial situation since Keith Curle’s departure last week.

Curle exited Boundary Park following a 2-1 defeat to his former club Northampton which left the Latics 22nd in League Two, just two points above the drop zone.

Academy coach Selim Benachour was then placed in interim charge but endured a losing start in a 2-0 defeat to Salford.

Asked if he wanted the job on a permanent basis, Benachour told The Oldham Times:

"Of course. I am ambitious and I would like to be a coach and I'm here until I am told (otherwise)."

Benachour, who hasn’t been told how long he’ll be in temporary charge for, now has the chance to stun League One side Sunderland on Wednesday night in the Papa John's Trophy.

The 40-year-old previously had a brief stint in charge of Polish side Olimpia Grudziądz, a spell at Romanian outfit Foresta Suceava, and worked with the youth teams at French club Martigues FC.

After Curle’s departure he was instantly installed as the early favourite for the full-time job, and remains at the summit of the betting a week later in what has been a very static and uneventful market, until now.

On Tuesday a new name moved into contention in the betting: Marc Bircham.

The QPR fan favourite had been available at 16/1 but can be found as the second favourite at 5/2, behind frontrunner Benachour.

Since retiring at Yeovil in 2009, Bircham has held multiple coaching and assistant roles at QPR (youth team and caretaker), Millwall (assistant), Chicago Fire (assistant) and Arizona United (assistant), before returning to QPR as an assistant to Ian Holloway, while he was also a technical director at the Bahamas.

Back in May, he entered into the world of management at League of Ireland Premier Division side Waterford - their fifth manager in a year - who at the time were rock-bottom. Bircham inspired a turnaround in fortunes, lifting his side off the foot of the table and into the relegation play-offs.

However, last Tuesday - just three days before the play-off decider that would determine the club’s fate - he was sacked, something he discovered via the club’s Twitter page.

Bircham has since told talkSPORT that he believed the reason he was axed was because he was reluctant to play George Forrest, the son of Waterford owner Richard Forrest.

"I'm not part of the future because I won't play his son..

“I'm a man of principle and it has cost me managing the play-off final, but I'd do the same again."

Waterford would go on to suffer a defeat in the play-off and thus relegation.

It will now be interesting to keep an eye on Bircham - who is very active on Twitter - in regards to his next movement in management, and whether there’s anything behind his sudden odds cut in the Oldham market.

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