Oxford United go in to a big week when they take on Oldham Athletic at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
United have three home games in seven days as they try to stay clear of the chasing pack, including visitors Oldham, but new boss Karl Robinson has seen his side’s performances improve in the last couple of weeks and doesn’t believe that nerves will be a factor at all as the U’s take on the Latics.
“There shouldn’t be any more nerves than usual because they are professional footballers” he told iFollow earlier today. “If you approach it differently then you are disrespecting the other games so no, it’s the same and they should be looking forward to the games.
“I don’t get overexcited about tables and fixtures anyway, I just focus on where we are and what we have to do between now and the end of the season. We take stock at the end of the year but the problem is with football there are so many ‘what if’s’ that you can drown yourself in problems and situations that may never occur! You can only control what you can actually control yourself and in our case that’s the game against Oldham on Saturday.”
All eyes may be on Oldham but Karl is already starting to plan for next season as well:
“It’s difficult because we are focusssed on this year so much” he said “but you don’t want to get stuck in a rut, you want to be planning for next year already as well: pre-season, games, players. I have agents coming in to see me this afternoon and am speaking to players and there’s excitement and a buzz around that because results have got to change and we have to start well next season, and at the same time we are talking to the players we want to be here and part of it all.
“The next few games may influence that but I can be ruthless as well because I have to stay true to my beliefs. I respect everybody as a person and am honest with them as footballers and I expect them to be honest with me. It’s not about being nice, it’s about being honest and it’s about this football club being successful, not just one person.”
One man unlikely to feature again this season is Rob Hall who Karl worked with at MK Dons and told iFollow is unlikely to be involved between now and the end of the season.
“I’m gutted” Karl said “because I wanted to work with him again because I know about his quality as a player and as a man. But it looks like that will have to wait for the summer now, which is disappointing but injuries are part and parcel of football I guess.”
Karl was also quick to praise Agon Mehmeti after the Albanian international came into the side to lead the line at Shrewsbury on Easter Monday:
“I thought he was excellent. His ball retention and hold up play were different class and that’s what I am expecting of the forwards: get hold of the ball and let us get close enough to you to affect the game.”
See the full interview plus the thoughts of Ryan Ledson and a Preview Show guest starring Todd Kane and Liontrust’s Simon Hildrey, all in iFollow right now.