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  • Writer's pictureSha Nen

"I lost all respect for him" - Former Oldham defender slams Harry Kewell

It's been a rough few weeks for former Socceroos legend Harry Kewell.

After being sacked from his most recent job with Barnet FC, details have emerged around his unsuccessful stint at his previous club Oldham Athletic.

Oldham was in disarray throughout Kewell's tenure at the club, with a host of financial issues off the pitch plaguing their performances on it.

Kewell during his time at Oldham.

English defender David Wheater, who was at the club throughout Kewell's time there, recently revealed his disappointment at how the manager handled the problems within the club.

Wheater has had a storied and successful playing career, starting at his hometown club Middlesbrough, rising through the youth ranks and to the first team.

He enjoyed seven seasons at the club, including two England national team call-ups without appearing.

Wheater then moved to Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, where he would stay for several seasons.

During his time at Bolton, Wheater would play across England's top three divisions.

The club went through a tumultuous time during his stint there, particularly towards the end.

His next adventure would come shortly after leaving Bolton, joining League Two side Oldham Athletic in 2019.

However, it wasn't long until similar troubles to his time at Bolton would start to plague his life at Oldham.

Wheater would play a vital role for the club in his first season, featuring for the League Two side 35 times, triggering a contract extension for a second season.

But it wasn't long into his second season that his relationship with Oldham would fall apart.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Oldham players were asked over a Zoom call to take a 70 per cent pay cut.

Wheater, among several others, refused to take the pay cut.

It started a lengthy battle between Wheater and the club, with the experienced defender turning to the PFA for help.

The situation would only worsen for Wheater, with the club refusing to play him and the club chairman making public claims about Wheater's poor fitness and work ethic.

The defender came to training one day and was told he was not allowed to participate and must train for the youth team by then manager Harry Kewell.

"Before that, he told me, he's not allowed to pick me, said it's come from the top, so I lost all respect for him anyway," Wheater said recently.

"I just thought of Alex Ferguson, I'm not putting them two together, but would he let someone do that?

"I just had no support at Oldham from the manager; he just told me he's not allowed to pick me and told me they want you with the youth team.

"He said you can go home today, but we are putting you with the youth team from tomorrow."

David Wheater in action for Oldham.

While Wheater was being exiled from the Oldham squad, the club was struggling on the pitch.

Poor results continued, with the team having the worst defensive record in the league.

Oldham was in turmoil, with fans publicly slamming the board and the management of Kewell whilst calling for Wheater to return to the squad.

During his time training with the youth team, Wheater mentioned the severe effect it had on his mental health, stating that he could not sleep and got prescribed sleeping pills by his doctor.

In November 2020, the club issued a lengthy statement on the situation surrounding Wheater, stating numerous reasons as to why he was unable to play.

"I was a foot taller than them [the youth players], doing stuff I did 20 years ago. It felt a bit embarrassing doing the lines for the warm-up, and I'm up here, and they're all down there," he said.

Oldham flirted with relegation throughout the 2020/21 season.

Still, they eventually secure their status as a League Two side, with an 18th place finish.

However, on March 7 2021, Kewell was shown the door after only seven months in charge.

Keith Curle replaced him, and Wheater was released five days later, a little over a year after his last appearance for the club.

"I love the lads, but all I could think about was the manager and owners. If they won a game, I would be fuming because I would be thinking about them celebrating," Wheater added.


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