First of all I want to tell the fans how excited and proud I am on the eve of the first home game of the season. I have loved every minute since I arrived at Oxford and this summer has been a fantastic experience, working with Karl and everyone else to build both a team and a club that we feel has improved massively.
I thought it might be a good idea to highlight some of the great work that has happened over the last few months, just to emphasize the progress we feel is being made in all areas.
We knew we appointed a very good Manager in Karl but his willingness to work hard and his man-management have been even better than our expectations. He has the full backing not just of the board but also the players and staff, and I believe the fans as well. He has helped unite this club, and we believe the appointment of Shaun Derry to work with him and Derek Fazackerley gives us a superb coaching team
People maybe didn’t expect us to deliver so many quality players in one summer.We promised there would be new signings and the recruitment team have done a fantastic job. In defence we have added Tony McMahon, Luke Garbutt and Cameron Norman. All three have different qualities but they illustrate our goal of building a squad that mixes experience and promise, but with real quality. Further forward Samir Carruthers, Jamie Hanson, Tsun Dai, Jamie Mackie, Ricky Holmes, Marcus Browne and Gavin Whyte are exciting players who we fought off plenty of other clubs to sign, while Sam Smith is someone we chased all summer to help us in attack.
Those are quality signings but also great characters who are hungry for success. Too many players were just happy to be here at Oxford last season. This season the squad is hungry and very aware of what is expected of them every time they pull on that yellow shirt.
I hope that the addition of a dedicated under 23 squad has not gone unnoticed. Chris Allen is the perfect person to coach those players and we believe it will be an important stepping stone
Dan Harris and his team are doing amazing work and we are building a sustainable club for the future. To see Owen James and 16-year-old Fabio Lopes play for the first team in pre-season is, I hope, just the first sign of what is to come.
Perhaps the biggest single change that will be made this summer is the new training ground. We always expected to be in the building around now; the one major delay was beyond our control with the weather presenting problems both in terms of building and preparing new pitches. The water supply is now working, the finishing touches are being applied and our new home will be fully open very soon. When it is, I would like to invite fans to come and take a look around, and we are exploring the possibility of holding a Fans Forum there. Please bear with us while we sort out whether that is possible, given the large number of fans we believe would like to come and see what we have built.
I would like to thank Richard Blackmore and his team for working around the clock to build such a great facility.
To have a worldwide brand like Singha on the front of our shirts is a big step forward, but we retain our Oxfordshire roots with our friends at Polythene on the back of the shirt as well. We have a new relationship with Thai airways and many new commercial partners, with others very interested in working with us in the future
The new kit, made by Puma, looks excellent and the club shop have had record sales this summer. The new away is just as attractive and I am sure will be a big hit with fans.
I am pleased to say that our MD Niall McWilliams will become much more hands on now that he has more time available after stepping back from his outstanding work in local education.I also believe that by appointing Matt Everett to look after the commercial and marketing side of the club we have made another excellent signing. He will work with the very dedicated staff we have here already; people who pour their heart and soul into their work every day and who give it true character. There are other key appointments such as the full time chef at the training ground who will make a huge difference.
The new management team have done an excellent job in building a strong squad that will challenge at the top of their new division. We remain committed to building much more than just a first team here- it is good to see the Walking Football team doing so well and our new ‘Online XI’ reaching a new generation of fans
Perhaps I have left the best until last. I was so pleased to see everyone in Ireland where the supporters did the club proud. All I want to add is that it has been wonderful to be involved in the rebuilding of your club.I will see you tomorrow for the first home game against Fleetwood.
Please help us spread the word. Something great is happening at this club. Come and be part of it.