It’s not just the first team that is making progress at Oxford United.
With one defeat in their last 12 games Karl Robinson’s side are in great form right now, but on Monday night the Under 23 side drew with Premier League club Wolves while next Tuesday the table-topping Under 18 side are in FA Youth Cup action away at Burnley.
Manager Karl Robinson was quick to praise the work of those involved when iFollow asked him earlier today whether he was impressed by the Under 23s on Monday.
“Very impressed” he said “But they impress me every day. Chrissy Allen does as well, and Dan Harris, Leon and Chrissy Hackett. It’s the same with Darren Purse with the under 16s and all the way through. All these people are massively important to the future of this football club.
“At this level it is increasingly important that a club like Oxford United has a connection with the local community. We can’t lose players any more to clubs like Reading and Southampton and others in our catchment area. We have to be strong enough and bold enough to keep hold of the best players from this area. There is nothing better for fans than seeing a boy who went to school just round the corner from you doing his best for a club that he loves just as much as you.
“The cohesion is greater when you have home-grown players. If you go back many years football was much more that if you came from an area you played for that area. It’s good to have an under 18 team that is ultra competitive and an Under 23 side who against a multi-million pound Wolves team were really good and very unlucky not to win.
“I am looking forward to seeing the under 18s next week at Burnley now. We will train on Tuesday and then I will jump into my car and drive up there to watch them and support them because I am so proud of them. That is part of my role. I think sometimes as Manager we overlook the progress of the whole club. I know I am judged on results and I know people will question whether we should play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3- or whatever it is, but there is a greater aspect to our job that sometimes people don’t always see. That is as a support mechanism that you can give to coaches and players throughout the club, to encourage and to eke out a DNA that runs through us all; not just one area of the club.
“The under 23s have already done great against Swansea and Wolves and should have done better at Hull, so there have been some very competitive games, and the under 18s have been good all season as well. So we are getting more ruthless in those areas, more competitive and well done to the boys on Monday. Hopefully I am saying the same thing next week about the under 18s.”
See the full interview plus Karl’s thoughts ahead of the game at Peterborough in iFollow right now.