Good evening everyone and may I start by saying how proud I am to be Manager of Oxford United.
Taking charge of the team at home for the first time is very exciting and a huge honour and tonight’s game is one I am really looking forward to. Brentford will be a great test for us. They are an excellent club and we wish them well for the season.
I have been made to feel very welcome here and I would like to thank Darryl and the board for giving me this opportunity. There is a real togetherness behind the scenes, something that has evolved over the last few years and which goes from the boardroom right through to the fans. The first two weeks have been very busy but thoroughly enjoyable and I have been very humbled to receive the welcome I have had and to be made to feel part of the Oxford United family so quickly.
We have played three games so far and each one has been very worthwhile. We kicked off at Oxford City and everybody got a chance to gain match time. I was impressed with the set up at City and think our link with them will be very beneficial this season. Clearly results are irrelevant and mean little in pre-season but a win can only be a positive thing and a clean sheet, plus goals from Joe Rothwell, Kane Hemmings and Wes Thomas meant it was a very good start.
Twenty-four hours later we flew out to Portugal for games against Middlesbrough and Hull City. The first one meant I was up against my old friend Garry Monk, someone I respect a lot. He was very complimentary about the way we played and the fantastic support we had and I think we probably shaded the game even if it ended 0-0. We then returned to the same stadium on Saturday and won 2-1 against Hull and I was delighted with the attitude of everyone involved.
One or two new faces joined us during the week in Portugal: Dwight Tiendalli and James Henry, joining Scott Shearer and Fiacre Kelleher who signed earlier in the summer. We have an excellent recruitment team here and continue to work hard to bring in further new players; there may be one or two involved tonight or on Saturday, when we welcome Birmingham City. We finished last season in a very strong position and it is a case of adding and building on what we already have as we take things step by step, fight in every game, remain faithful to our style, improve and learn from our mistakes.
It’s important that we make this a difficult place for away teams to come, so tonight is an important step for us. It won’t be the biggest crowd we play in front of this season but it is a game we are looking forward to and a golden opportunity to get used to the new pitch, settle into the dressing room and keep the momentum going that we have built over the last two weeks.
I hope you enjoy what you see.