U's get set for showcase final
Oxford United head for Wembley on Sunday for just the fourth time in the club’s history. A huge crowd awaits them as they take on Coventry City in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy and you can sense a fierce determination among the players that this time they are coming back from Wembley with the trophy.
“It’s not just a day out” says Chris Maguire. “We are going there to try and win. We did that last year but got beaten by a better team on the day, who showed that by going on and winning promotion afterwards. So hopefully things turn and this time around we can go one better. There is no worse feeling than losing at Wembley. This year we want to win the trophy and be walking up the steps to lift it.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by Marvin Johnson, whose stunning strike at Luton took the U’s to the final.
“You watch international games and cup finals and you can only imagine what it is like to be walking out there in front of thousands of fans” he says. “We are very lucky to have the chance to do it. You have to make the most of the day and try and enjoy the whole occasion: don’t hold back on anything.
“It will be my first time there; not just playing there but even going to the stadium” Kane Hemmings told us “A Wembley cup final is what everyone dreams of. I’m sure there will be a great atmosphere and a huge crowd. That’s the sort of thing you watch when you are growing up and personally I’ve always aspired to get to a Wembley cup final, and to win it obviously. It would mean a lot to win it. In my short career there have been a lots of ups and downs so to get to Wembley and hopefully play would mean a lot to me and to my family.”
Head Coach Michael Appleton is determined to enjoy the occasion this time around.
“Last year was a fantastic experience. This year it looks like there will be well over 70,000 people there which will be fantastic. When you see that many people inside Wembley then it is a proper showcase final and one we will be taking very seriously.
“I tried to take it all in last year but I find it very difficult if we lose a game, whether it’s a final or a pre-season fixture. I have spoken to some very experienced managers and asked them if it ever gets any easier in that respect. And their answer was ’no, not if you care, not if you are a winner’. It goes by very quickly. I am telling people I want to try and take it in and savour it a bit more but the reality is that I will only do that if we win. If we lose, it will be a blur again but I will keep striving until the time we go there and win something, hopefully Sunday."
Chairman Darryl Eales paid tribute to Michael and summed up just what it means to everyone at the club to have this fantastic opportunity again:
“Michael is the consummate professional as a manager and a fantastic coach. We have a very young squad and I think the future is very bright. It is unbelievably special to be Chairman at this moment. It is actually difficult to put into words.
“The level of excitement around the club is back to where we were last season and it will be a fantastic day for all of us. To get to Wembley two years running is an unbelievable achievement. It gives everyone a lift. The staff have done a magnificent job organizing everything and it will be an amazing occasion.
“A lot has changed this year. We went there last time as underdogs . From my points of view it was a dream come true and more of a day out: I know Michael wouldn’t agree with that though! This year we go as favourites and from the players point of view it is business as usual and we go to win. “
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