Chris Wilder comes up against a familiar face tomorrow as United head for Torquay. In the opposite dug out will be Alan Knill, once a teammate of the United Manager when the pair were trainees at Southampton. The pair were reunited as the management team at Bury before Chris came to Oxford and have stayed in touch and remain good friends, although that will go out of the window come Saturday afternoon:
“I spoke to Alan on the phone on Tuesday night” Chris told Yellow Player. “He’s a proper class act. I’ve been amazed and stunned by the amount of calls that I’ve had on Tuesday and Wednesday after the Rotherham game telling me to keep going and that these things happen, it doesn’t make it any easier, it wasn’t a nice experience for everyone connected, but Alan is a good and proper guy, he was great with me when I was working at Bury and he is a very talented man. Unfortunately he had a tough time of it at Scunthorpe, but he’s bouncing back and fighting on at Torquay. I’ve known Alan since I was 14! I’ve known him when we went to Rotherham and obviously at Bury so we go back a long way”
Three wins and a draw in the previous four games counted for nothing as a ‘mad fifteen minutes’ cost United dear against Rotherham, and the Manager is looking for a positive reaction tomorrow afternoon:
“The facts are we are hurting after Tuesday night, I’ve got to look at the bigger picture afterwards as I’ve said before after the last three games. I think Rotherham should be at least ten points clear and in the second half that wasn’t a team sitting back and settling for the lead that they had, Rotherham really went for the jugular in the second half as that’s the type of people that they are up at that club, they wanted to hurt us on Tuesday and turn the game into a cricket score. I need to give a bit of praise to the players for showing some spirit for their team mates, the club and myself and they stuck in with it”.
United have been plagued by injury problems this season but hope to have no new problems as they travel down to the West Country. Midfielder Andy Whing is available again despite limping off in the second half on Tuesday:
“Andy Whing is going to be available for Torquay because I took him off after 60 minutes on Tuesday. If I had left him on for the whole game he wouldn’t have been. I think anybody that knows Andy Whing will know that he isn’t the type that will come off at half time. When you see him hobbling off after the last ten or fifteen minutes in the second half it was pretty clear that he needed to come off and be protected for the trip on Saturday, I know that move by me came in for a lot of criticism but I took a decision that he needed to be protected.
Another midfielder, Scott Davies, made a 45 minute appearance as a sub on Tuesday and impressed again, giving the Manager a possible option in the centre of the park on Saturday:
“It was a very difficult situation on Tuesday that Scott went into, we were 4-0 down, he had 45 minutes to impress and was going into a team that were struggling and had to face the likes of David Noble and Michael O’Connor who have both played in the championship and one internationally for Northern Ireland, that’s what I was talking about when I talked about the quality that Rotherham have. I thought Scott was excellent when he came on and we are looking for him to build on that. It’s unheard of to play the top three sides in three games; the timing has been ridiculous. But we have to take the positives and belief from moments in the last three games and we must take that into the game against Torquay on Saturday.”
See much more of this interview in Yellow Player right now