The Oxford United chairman shares his views in tonight's matchday magazineWelcome to everyone to tonight's game, especially to the fans, players and officials from Hartlepool United.
Ronnie Moore’s first game in charge was a hard-fought 1-1 against us in December and I am sure his side will fight just as hard tonight as they look to pull away from danger at the wrong end of the table.
Recent results have been encouraging - now five games unbeaten. There is a togetherness, steeliness and belief throughout the squad and coaching team which I think has been replicated by a series of stand up and be counted performances. With a little bit more good fortune, our points return could have been even greater!
With 10 games to go, we still need to keep our foot on the gas and ensure we begin to look up the table, not down. I am sure there will be twists and turns aplenty but I see no reason why we shouldn't finish the season strongly.
One of the frustrations shared by all of us has been our lack of results at home but with five massive games to come, I really think we should aim to put this right and begin to make Oxford a place where away sides know they will be in for a real battle, with an atmosphere to match.
The fans, both home and away, have been superb and, notwithstanding our collective disappointment with our league position, have played a real part in what I hope and believe is a renewed togetherness across the club but especially between fans, players and the coaching team. This unity and common cause plays a massive role both on the pitch, especially in tight games, and in the general positive spirit throughout the club.
Last week we received the excellent news of international call-ups for Callum and Max. I would like to add my congratulations. They are both very talented footballers who have worked extremely hard to get deserved recognition at this stage in their careers. Equally importantly, they remain level-headed and two of the nicest lads you could wish to meet - a real credit to the club. Our thanks and appreciation should also go their families and to the entire staff in our Centre of Excellence and youth systems.
It is a busy 72 hours for the club: following fast from tonight, the women’s side kick off their WSL2 season on Thursday evening at home to Watford. Like the men’s squad, they are a young group of players, a lot of them local, who wear the yellow shirt with pride. It would be fantastic to see as many of you as possible at Abingdon United on Thursday night to support Les Taylor and his side.
On a lighter note, I am delighted to be quizmaster at the United in Business quiz this week. I really think UIB can become a real catalyst for closer business and community links. My thanks go in particular to Paul Charles, Darren Field and Nick Babbington for their leadership, drive and enthusiasm for taking UIB to the next level.
I have mentioned on numerous occasions our desire to build sustainable success. This requires patience and the creation of stability. It requires balanced decision making and at all times seeking to serve the best interests of the club. This has been a difficult year on numerous fronts but I do feel there is a real coming together across the club and a belief that we are heading in the right direction.
I don't deal in motherhood and apple pie. I remain of the view that openness and transparency, integrity, trust and loyalty, and candour, constructive challenge and objective judgement which builds on successes and learns from mistakes are at the heart of creating an environment where people perform to their true potential and the foundation for building long-term success.
I firmly believe that we have sought to stay true to these principles and are making real progress both on and off the pitch. Adversity, setbacks and disappointment are part and parcel of life, and in football all the more so. We have had our fair share this season but have emerged stronger as a team, across the club.
We will continue to engage with all supporters in our quest to put the fans and the community at the centre of the club. We will continue to seek and respond to constructive challenge which shares our desire to do the best for Oxford United. I look forward to the opportunity to really develop our engagement over the next few months and over the summer.
So, 10 games to go, five at home. We all bemoan the close season and long for the next season to start. Let's especially enjoy the last five home games and show our togetherness with the players - unity really is our strength!