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Oxford: The Premier League Journey

[b]The story continues. And rightfully so. Something much more sinister is on the cards here, though.[/b]
Started on 7 July 2014 by OUFC2k14
Latest Reply on 15 July 2014 by OUFC2k14
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OUFC2k14's avatar Group OUFC2k14
6 yearsEdited
As you may be aware, we have moved. For the good. Maybe not the good of the world. But the good of me. Find our new story here. There is something scary, devastating and deep bubbling below the surface.

First Day at the Office

It's 6.59. Phew. 'Beaten the alarm again. In a minute though, the slow, controlled and yet thoroughly disruptive beep would be regurgitated from the small black box in the corner of my room that was currently just emitting a dark red glow.

Great. I thought. As the cacophony started to build up. 10 minutes later and I was finally pulling myself out of bed, resisting the temptation to hit snooze and instead decided that now would be the best time to relieve myself, after all, there was a long day ahead of me.

The next big choice I was forced to make? What to wear. Do I go for the smart, but casual 'knows what he's talking about but doesn't need to show it off' look; the tracksuit, that basically tells everyone you meet that you're a footballer through and through and you'll do whatever is necessary to get the job done; or does day one call for the full blown suit: elegance, charm and knowledge.

It had to be the suit, I decided, just a couple of minutes later. Eventually, I settled with a two-piecer: a simplistic dark grey jacket and matching trousers, with the centre piece, a striped grey tie, with a brilliant emerald trim. Yep. I’m pleased with this one. I thought, as I mulled over the prospects in my head.

I’d only met Lenegan in person twice before, and both times I’d had the same sort of impression: calm, articulate and wise. A man who really knows his stuff. He can keep things quiet, keeps the fans on side (for the most part!) and, most importantly for me, has a long term plan for his club and knows how much investment it’ll take to get there.

Anyway, I’m off to meet Ian and the rest of the team now. Despite the nerves, that feeling of anticipation is a tough emotion to mess with, and I really cannot wait to sink my teeth in with this group of players.
Nice start there, lad. :)
Nice writing, I'll be following :D
OUFC2k14's avatar Group OUFC2k14
6 yearsEdited

Ice Breaking

It was just how I imagined it, funnily enough. But the wood was just a tad darker. And the name plaque was more of a laminated paper article, stating just my name and the Oxford logo. Is that a good sign, or a bad one? What was temporary about this situation: Me? Or the sign? Anyway, I was, as usual, reading into the situation far too much. That’s probably the one thing I can confess to on a more-than-regular basis. In fact, I probably delve too deep into every aspect of my life, my career and most certainly football.

But today, I was here to meet my new boss. Well, owner. The guy in charge. I knocked; he responded; I walked in; he gestured for me to sit down; I did. His hair was even whiter than I’d remembered it. And the large, but controlled moustache protruding above his upper lip exclaimed someone collective, too collective, almost. But that’s what I liked about the guy.

Too many times in modern football are managers handed with the same old same old, ‘look kiddo, here’s £2 million, I want a bunch of new players, 75 goals between them this season, and I don’t want to be in this league this time next year, do what you need…’, my God: this is frustrating. These are the sort of owners that deserved to be banished from the football world. Managers need a solid base to work from, foundations in place to create an infrastructure of talent and ability that isn’t just going to succeed for the next 5 years, but for the next 50. And that, my friends, is what I’ve got. Be jealous.

Back to the conversation… we spoke briefly about the day to day running of the club, press conferences before and after matches – oh, and I agreed to an introduction with the press later today, wish me luck! – and, after asking to discuss the philosophies, was put forward to Mickey Lewis, who I met for the first time.

Come in,” he beckoned, in the gruff voice that all Oxford fans must have become accustomed to by now. It was no surprise to me that he was wearing shorts. Apparently, he’d been in those same pair of shorts for every match day of the past 12 years, according to a friend. He hadn’t shaved in a while, either. The same could go for his hair. In fact, he looked more like a grufallo than a human. Or is that being too harsh? Either way, he seemed like a nice guy... providing you can get used to the voice.
But I suppose that’s what Oxford fans love about him: he bleeds yellow and blue. I’m not so sure, though. He said he’d send my reports on the squad every so often, which was a plus, and I also put him in charge of our opposition instructions, never something I’ve particularly enjoyed. Besides the mundane, and relentless scouting, I find it hard to criticise any team I work with, after all, we are the best, and always will be.

After the meeting had drawn to a natural close, I checked my watch. A silver Rolex with a blue face and slick dark golden hands, fitting with the club identity perfectly, I thought. It was already 15:00, I could barely believe it. The press conference was due to start in approximately… minus 7 seconds. What a start. It couldn’t really get more embarrassing.

Gulping down the last of my coffee, and scalding my throat in the process, I rushed across the training ground, past a couple of young fans wanting an autograph that I had to plough through and, at around 15:04, I finally made it into a room packed full of editors, radio presenters and one specific face that I recognised from Football Focus. As the door swung shut, it seemed to take the noise with it. And all of a sudden an awkward silence, yet a silence of anticipation harassed the room as I stood up against the back board, not interrupting the defined words of Ian, ready to field my first questions as a football manager.

Game on.

Best of Both Worlds

Having 100 or so heads staring at you, anticipating your next answer, is actually quite frightening. But I’m sure I’ll get used to it over the next few months. The questions came in thick and fast, asking me about whether I trusted the chairman, where I was looking to improve and what I was going to do about the current backroom staff. Naturally, I sided with the ‘team player’ at every opportunity, not giving too much away. It seemed to be enough to please the media, anyway. I wonder what they can twist about this.

Soon after, I thought it appropriate to meet my scout, seen as there were many targets I was looking at and felt like his opinion was welcome. What am I saying? Of course it’s welcome. It’s probably more his decision that mine. Anyway, I spotted him in the corridor and he invited me in to his office. The office was much more modern and professional than the previous rooms I’d ventured into today. There was a white/black colour scheme going on with very dark furniture and brilliant white walls, they wouldn’t stay clean for long. In the corner of the room, was a large, green plant that had grown to the towering height of 6 or 7 foot, and was now pushing to the bookcase by its side.

Interesting. I thought. As he passed a file across the table, and swivelled it around to face me. Damien Mozika. That was a name I’d seen before. What a player. Probably one of the best box to box midfielders you can get at this level. Doughty thought the same. In fact, he thought he’d be a good signing for most league 1 clubs… this guy’s going onto the list. Casting my eyes down across the paper, one other name caught my eye: Peter Murphy. If I remember correctly, a natural CB, but one that can easily adjust to playing on the left if necessary – I’ve already noted LB Tom Newey as an ‘area for improvement’.

We then continued to chat, to talk about how I got here, where he’s off to next… I must be on my fourth or fifth coffee of the day by now. I think I was going to get on with Lee Doughty quite well. He was my kind of guy. But I’m not sure how fit he was for the job, some of his opinions were – in my humble opinion – quite weak. I’ll have to get someone in alongside him, that’ll sort it… best of both worlds. Just before I was about to leave, he mentioned some trial day put on by the England’s Player Association. It sounded like a good idea, but I really couldn’t afford to take a day out, so sent Lee off to scout the players instead.
Some fantastic updates here, just a bit long to read, if you know what I mean. To sort this out, I would either add more images or pictures to break it up or put the key points in bold so people can skim read through and pick up what you are trying to say. Great start though!
2014-07-08 06:18#183361 tallery1164 : Some fantastic updates here, just a bit long to read, if you know what I mean. To sort this out, I would either add more images or pictures to break it up or put the key points in bold so people can skim read through and pick up what you are trying to say. Great start though!

Cheers, keep getting to eager to post it before I've thought about pictures, so I seem to be adding them as I go. Bold sounds good, I'll try and put that in a bit more :)
OUFC2k14's avatar Group OUFC2k14
6 yearsEdited

Building From the Bottom

It was time. I’d decided to get to the stadium earlier than I was expected to, 2 hours earlier. I’d managed to find my way through the maze and, eventually, to my office. I must have sat for 15, 20 minutes almost, contemplating the day ahead. Of course, the team had already been chosen and my tactics implemented. I’ve been working with the boys for a few days now, and I’m keen to get them straight into the swing of things, even if it’s only a friendly.

On my desk, it appeared as though Lee had compiled his report from the EPA trial day. Great. Something to take my mind off the upcoming game, I decided, starting to flick through the pages. A couple of the players were, in my opinion, duds… but 1 or 2 really struck me. Namely, Columbia’s Esteban Lopez and Iranian goalkeeper Dean Santangelo. It was no surprise that neither of them were English. We might as well give up with football. I dread to think how the World Cup is going to go next July.

Anyway, that’s a different issue. Here’s what Doughty had to say on the matter:

I seemed to spend an age casting my eyes over the buff coloured files, and, before I knew it, the players had assembled in the dressing room for what was going to prove to be a passionate and inspiring match day briefing, or so I hoped. The formalities were soon over and, instead, we spent the majority of the 45 minutes until we could hit the training ground talking about the Bale move that was increasingly on the horizon. And that was fine. The boys were relaxed. But still in the zone. And I was in no position to disrupt that, not yet, anyway.

I let Mickey take the training session, with Andy (our first team coach) to give him a hand when necessary. That gave me a one time opportunity to have a word with some of the fans. Hear their first hand views of the club, not through some spokesperson or supporter’s trust. And I got some mixed reviews. It really is interesting to see how little some of the fans know about the club. A couple mentioned a lack of investment from Lenegan. That was frustrating. Ian has put in £8million of his own cash into this club, and people still accuse him day-after-day, year-after-year million-after-million of asset stripping a club that, quite frankly, has no assets. No ground. No training facilities. Basically, the only thing that this football club has is an abundance of kits, home, away and a spare for each player. I know, how the hell are we not yet in the Prem?

This, in itself though, creates another issue. The club has to pay £600k in rent to Kassam every year. That’s massive. We’ve already lost 2 top strikers, a league 1 calibre creative midfielder and a few youthies, Ian tells me. On top of that, he’s left us with a 3-sided stadium and the infamous ‘3 sides and a garden fence’ chant. Notice the use of the term us. I class myself as one of them now. An Oxford boy. And I intend to keep it like this.

Oxford Crumble at the Hands of Sheffield

New manager Adam Woodage took charge of his side for the first time, earlier today. Whilst it was only a friendly, I’m sure the rookie boss was looking to get a win under his belt as soon as possible. It was never going to be easy, though. Sheffield are a very strong, organised, and disciplined side with a bag full of experience under their belt. The match was open, though, and both sides had chances. Oxford were, perhaps, a little unlucky not to score or to lose the game in fact… especially by two goals.

The first real chance of the game came in the 30th minute when a cross in from the left floated over to the back post, off the head of Murphy and into the back of the net. The linesman, however, was reading from a different script. His flag was immediately up for offside and the referee duly followed his decision and awarded a free kick, the correct choice, as replays have shown.

Oxford soon had a chance of their own to go in front: a composed slotted pass from midfield found the forward-looking run of Ryan Williams on the wing from where he placed a perfectly weighted ball to the prolific James Constable in the middle who forced an absolutely exceptional save from goalkeeper Long, at full stretch from just a few yards out. Critics will say he should’ve scored, but I think all the credit here has to go to the goalkeeper.

It didn’t take long for Sheffield to take the lead when, right on the brink of half time, Oxford gave away a sloppy free kick on the edge of the area that Tony McMahon placed, over the wall but below the bar, giving Sheffield United a deserved lead going into half time. Or so they thought.

Oxford showed great fighting spirit, taking them just seconds to feed the ball into James Constable, again, who this time tucked away his chance only to look over to the linesman, who this time took a little longer to raise his flag and the hesitation of the linesman was immediately registered by players, fans and most people in the stadium as the protests started viciously, notably from Kitson who was then given a warning by the Keith Hill, the referee.

- 45' McMahon
- 72' Brandy
- McMahon

Sheffield managed to play out the 2nd half and also managed to score a 2nd after a rocketed shot from Sheffield’s Brandy cannoned of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Despite Oxford’s best efforts, the score line remained 2-0. In a post-match press conference, the Oxford boss said that he was ‘not too bothered about the result, we know we need to bring some new faces in and that’s what we’re going to do’.

Oxford face another tough test against Nottingham Forrest, but I’m sure they’ll find their game again.

Head Hunters

What a week, I decided as I lay down, arranged my pillows and turned off the light. A lot had happened since the result against Sheffield: I presume you’ve seen the papers? I was disappointed to say the least with the result, and I know change is necessary to make this team a success. But change is coming and, on some parts, already has come.

The Monday after the game, the team and I got news back on Connor Hunte, the 16 year-old winger who I believe will make it to the top flight; it was good news. He’d agreed to sign with us on a two year deal, costing just £250p/w.

- Connor Hunte - Current: (Decent L2) Potential: (Decent BPL)

Whilst all that was going on, I also put in a couple of other bids for Santangelo and Lopez as youth prospects and Mozika for the first team. I’ve also been in contact with a couple of Premier League clubs over the availability of loanees, namely West Ham, Man Utd and Norwich City. Hopefully we can get things wrapped up quite quickly on that part.

This has been very much a week of recruitment, and so I sent Lee on a small assignment for me. We’re desperately in need of a new left back, to replace Newey who really isn’t up to the task so I sent Lee out looking for a couple, I’m sure he’ll do alright.

With recruitment, though, comes the need to let players go. Asa Hall was on a loan deal with us until the New Year. He was brought in by Wilder and, quite frankly, I’m just not a fan of his style of play. This was his second spell at the club, he played permanently for the U’s a couple of years ago now. Telling him we’d chosen to terminate his contract was tough though. He clearly loved it here at Oxford, and I suppose it was a shame actually sending him back. But it was something we had to do. So I did. And I think we should leave it at this: he didn’t take it very well.

On that note, we’ve got an absolutely massive game tomorrow against Nottingham Forest and I can’t bear to lose two on the trot, I will not take it very well at all, so that won’t be happening.

Oxford: A Pre-Season to Forget

New boss Adam Woodage isn’t getting himself off to the best of starts as manager of Oxford United after his second loss on the bounce earlier today, at home to Notts Forrest. Whilst the championship side were always going to be a tough outfit, I’m sure Woodage was really looking forward to getting a result on the board. Still, it appears as though it will have to wait. But early signs say it won’t be a particularly long wait.

The first half was rather indifferent , with only one major chance falling to Forrest about a quarter of the way through when a goal mouth scramble from a corner saw Clarke come away on top, clutching the ball gratefully at the third time of asking. Nothing much happened for the rest of the half and the second was similar, but this time Notts managed to find a way past the Oxford defence after a whipped ball in found the head of Cohen who took his chance well to give Nottingham Forrest the victory.

There were slight hopes of salvation in the final seconds of the game when a long throw down the line from Hunt found Rigg, who subsequently squared the ball to Williams. His shot was unable to find the back of the net, though, and instead was guided into the drop-proof hands of the Nottingham keeper.

The game was a chance for fans to see new 16 year old wonderkid Connor Hunte express his ability for the first time. He had an average game but that appeared more due to nerves than anything else.

- Hunt
- 48' Cohen
– Conboy

Notts Forest 1 – 0 Oxford
Good write-up, nice updates in general! Maybe you could put some more matches into one update, although it's all up to you man ;)
2014-07-09 18:35#183596 ASR-PSV : Good write-up, nice updates in general! Maybe you could put some more matches into one update, although it's all up to you man ;)

Yeh, I think I'm going to start doing that when the games come in thick and fast / after the transfers are finished... cheers for the support :)
Shit . I knew I set my sights to high after the game against Sheffield. Who was I kidding ? We are a league 2 side. Perfectly capable of promotion, but we shouldn’t be beating ourselves up about a result like that. Especially with a team under maintenance. Now’s the chance to bounce back, though. The rest of the friendlies should be easy, so we can start to concentrate on getting a team ready to win this league. I’ve only got a couple of grand to work with, but, when you actually need to, you’d be surprised how far you can make money go.

Mind you, saying that, I am sitting in my newly refurbished office, with a solid oak desk, a new MacBook placed on it and a couple of prints on the walls that must have cost at least £150-£200 each, alongside the golden name plaque on the door that I had been anticipating so highly. But everyone's allowed their luxuries. If mine came from skylines of cities in the world, then so be it. Continuing with potential signings… I’m expecting the Santangelo deal to be wrapped up in under 24 hours and then we’re just looking at a couple off trialists, loanees from various clubs and 1 or 2 more permanent players.

I’ve got a long week ahead of me, so I better take a break now and reflect on what just unfolded.

Jubilation at Last

A much changed Oxford side comfortably beat American opponents Seacoast United Mariners this morning. Djeziri replaced Constable upfront whilst Clarke made way for Santangelo. Also making his debut for the club were Johnson and Lopez. Lopez came on in the 70th minute for Williams and Johnson started in the role of central midfield.

It took just 6 minutes for Oxford to take the lead. A good ball through from right back David Hunt found the run of trialist Adda Djeziri, who kept his head and fired it into the bottom corner. Oxford continued to press on for the remainder of the half but were unable to properly penetrate the Mariners’ last line.

Substitutions were in the abundance coming into the 2nd half of the game and both sides made full use of these. Again, chances started to roll in for both teams, but Santangelo proved composed in his first game between the sticks whilst Oxford’s front line often failed to hit the target or play with any conviction.

– 7’ Djeziri
– Hunt

This was a great match for the U’s and fans will also be pleased to hear Woodage’s reaction in the post-match press conference when he was questioned about potential new signings: ‘Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush. We’ve got a few players on the way, some as you know we’ve already completed, and, providing everything goes to plan we should be seeing a few more of these press conferences over the next couple of days.

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