Oldham have announced the appointment of former Hearts and Kilmarnock player Lee Johnson as their new manager.
Johnson, just 31, fought off competition from 120 applicants to land the role at the relegation-threatened League One club after impressing chairman Simon Corney.
He takes over from Paul Dickov, who departed last month, and inherits a side who currently lie 21st in the table. Johnson will be in the dugout for tonight’s crucial game against fellow strugglers Hartlepool, managed by former Hibs boss John Hughes.
The son of Yeovil manager Gary Johnson, he has signed a two-year contract and becomes the youngest manager in the Football League, with the Boundary Park job his first managerial role.
He is nine months younger than MK Dons manager Karl Robinson. Accrington Stanley’s Leam Richardson is 33, while Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is 35, the same age as Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Johnson takes the reins from caretaker manager Tony Philliskirk, who leaves the League One side two points from safety, although they have two games in hand on the teams above them.
“I’m very excited,” Johnson told BBC Radio Manchester. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity and I’m willing to do everything I can to get Oldham out of their current predicament.
“I’m here, I’m happy and I’m going to give it my best. I’m going to make mistakes and I’m going to learn, but what I will have is a group of players that I promise will give their best to represent me, Oldham, the staff and the fans.” He added: “I acknowledge it is a baptism of fire, but who gets a job when you are top of the league and flying? That is why I have got the job and hopefully fans will give me time and take to me when they know I give 100 per cent at all times.
“There are some good players here because I have played against them and with them in my career. Can I get that ignition from their gut in a high-pressure situation? That is the challenge.” In his playing days, the Suffolk-born midfielder achieved a double promotion in a five-year spell at Yeovil under the management of his father before moving to Hearts in 2006 where he picked up a Scottish Cup medal, although he has been an outspoken critic of the Vladimir Romanov regime since leaving Tynecastle.
“Romanov once said he would put my tongue in a vice if I ever ended up in Lithuania,” he told reporters last year. Johnson then re-joined his father at Bristol City, where he celebrated promotion to League One before reaching the 2008 play-off final, losing out to Hull at Wembley.
He ended his playing career at Kilmarnock where he won the Scottish Communities League Cup with a famous 1-0 win over Celtic at Hampden last March, and now faces an immediate challenge to escape relegation as he follows his father’s footsteps into management.