PAUL Murray has marked his one-year anniversary as Oldham Athletic’s academy manager and is delighted with the progression of the set-up.

The 43-year-old, who played 95 times for Latics between 2001 and 2004, returned to the club last July when he took over from Tony Philliskirk.

In the last 12 months he has seen several academy players graduate to the first team, most notably Zak Emmerson who has since moved on to Premier League side Brighton.

Now he looking to unearth more gems at the club who can progress up through the ranks.

“Obviously, we want players to stay and play in the first team but if we have to sell, they’ll get to showcase their talents in a different way,” Murray told the club website. “Zak is a perfect example of what can be done in football if you work hard and continue to improve and he’s got his rewards for it."

Murray praised the staff around him who’ve helped take the academy forward over the past year.

“When I first took the job, I knew the great work that Tony (Philliskirk) had done before over the years because I was here, but you always want to do better than the previous person in any walk of life, so that was my aim straight away as it has always been in my football career.

“Our aim now is to continue producing and try and give more players a chance each season whenever we can.”

Despite putting his mark on the academy set-up, Murray says there is still plenty of room for improvement.

“We’ve totally changed the culture of the academy since I’ve arrived, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes that the attitude of the players has changed,” he added. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s been very tough and difficult, but I’ve managed to mould it the way I’ve wanted to with the help of the coaches as well as the people I’ve brought in and recruited.

“We have around five staff members with the same mindset and we’ve inherited Conor (Marlin) and Craig (Large) who are doing fantastic jobs. To add to all of that, I’ve got a really good relationship with the managing director (Natalie Atkinson) and she helps to make sure that things run smoothly as possible in the academy.

“There are still things that I want to change this coming season but we’re getting there. My experiences in football are why I’m really enjoying this new role, having an impact on young lives for the better.”