JONNY Smith is confident Dino Maamria is the right manager to take Oldham Athletic forward.

The Bristol City man flourished under the one-time Stevenage boss, ending the truncated League Two campaign with 11 goals in 32 appearances.

His loan spell at an end, a breakthrough with the Robins is now on his agenda, and Smith looks back fondly on his year at Boundary Park and believes the club is in the right hands on the field. “I think they’ve got the right manager in charge now,” the Liverpudlian told D3D4 Football.

“His enthusiasm is infectious. He does get everyone moving in the right direction.

“I think it is the right time for things to go in the right direction there with the right recruitment.

“In January we brought in players and I felt like we were heading in the right direction.

“We were getting results and we were playing in a great way as well. We were playing football and it was enjoyable to be part of.”

Latics finished 19th with the season cut nine games short by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Maamria arrived in

September, replacing Frenchman Laurent Banide who was sacked after 11 games in charge, of which he won two.

Smith started slowly with Latics under Banide, making just two substitute appearances for the former Monaco head coach, only kicking on when the change was made a few weeks into the campaign.

“I finished the season before at Tranmere and I was in and out of the team towards the end, it was little spells of the bench and things like that,” said the winger.

“I didn’t have many options at that point, only a few Conference teams, and then Oldham came out of the woodwork.

“It was a League Two opportunity and I wanted to stay in the Football League.

“I came in and I don’t think he (Banide) knew too much about me to be fair.

“It was more (director) Barry Owen who signed me, I think it was him who recommended me and I came in and Banide wanted to see me in a reserve match.

“I did that and then I started to get a bit more game time with him but Banide left and Dino came in.

“Dino was brilliant with me from day one.

“He came in and said ‘whoever works hard for me, I’ll put them in the team

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and if you play well you keep your place’.

“It was a complete restart for everyone at the club.”

As for the players, Smith was a homegrown recruit in an era where Latics have often looked overseas.

He enjoyed the diverse dressing room and singled out one player in particular who impressed him.

“The group was brilliant, every player gets on,” he said.

“The French lads were great with me. Some of them have been there a long time now, three or four years, so they know the club and know what it’s about.

“I really like Mohamed Maouche.

“He’s a very good trainer and very good on a match day. On his day he’s a great player.

“He can really open teams up but is also really competitive and wants to win. He is a top, top pro and I think his time will come.

“He’s very talented and it’s only a matter of time for him.”

Smith is contracted with the Robins for another season but admits he is unsure what comes next.

Lee Johnson was recently dismissed as manager at Ashton Gate meaning there is plenty to sort before he gets some clarity about whether he will get a crack at the Championship, the second tier season still to be completed.

“For me personally I just want to keep playing and keep learning,” Smith said.

“I feel like I’ve got a lot of growth in my game still to come.

“I’m nowhere near the finished article. I’ve got loads of things I need to work on and I just want to keep getting experience and wherever it takes me, it takes me.

“I’ve got no goals or targets set in mind, I just want to keep being a sponge and learn off every coach, manager, that I work for.

“Hopefully I get a chance (at Bristol City), it’s all up in the air at the minute. There’s not a lot to say until we go back training.”