Oxford United Chairman Sumrith “Tiger” Thanakarnjanasuth has been talking to oufc.co.uk about pre-season, the tour of Ireland and how recruitment is going at the U's this summer.
“I enjoyed the trip to Ireland very much" he told us. "I flew out with the players and spent a couple of days with them and the coaching staff. It is a very together group and they worked very hard all the time in Ireland. I was also amazed by the fans out there. I guess there were 500 of them at the game against Portmarnock and I really appreciate that support: people had to take time off work or college and spent a lot of money to follow the team and it was fantastic to be part of that. One of them liked my Oxford shirt so I took it off and gave it to a fan as a little thank you but really I want to thank every single person who was there.
“I spoke with as many fans as I could while we were there and the one thing they kept asking me about was recruitment of new players. I can understand that; let me try and explain how recruitment works at the club.
“We have an excellent recruitment and scouting team, headed up by Mark Thomas, who researches and analyses a huge range of players at every level in every league. They watch games, they look at data and they do their homework on character and what that person is like within the dressing room.
“Sometimes the Manager or one of the coaches may have worked with a player before, like Samir Carruthers, and that makes it easier because they can vouch for their character. There are seven of us on a panel, really: myself, Karl, Derek Fazackerley, Shaun Derry, Darryl, Mark and Tui, someone the fans may not know but who I hope will be around the club on a regular basis. We work with Mark and have regular meetings, as well as talking every single day.
“Often people may approach us with players and we bring them to the group. I have no problem if I mention a player and the others say no. We are open and honest with each other and we will only bring in players who we believe will improve the squad. If it sounds like a committee then Karl is very much the head of that and ultimately it is always his final say.
“With Gavin Whyte last week we had watched him many times, talked to people about him and then met him to see if his ambitions and hopes matched our own. I think fans will like him and he is a very exciting signing, but he will not be the last. We have other targets lined up. All of them will be players we feel add to the squad and we can work with to improve them still further. but I can confirm that we are close to two, perhaps three, new faces and there will be more before the start of the season.
“May I ask for bit of patience, the same as I asked when we needed a bit more time to bring in Karl Robinson. We got it right then and we will get recruitment right this summer as well.
"Oxford fans are very knowledgeable and they know the areas we need to strengthen before the season starts, so all I can say is that we are making progress, working hard, and in the meantime just to stay positive and look forward to what I am sure will be a very exciting season.”