Chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth brings us the latest update from behind the scenes at the U's.
Happy New Year to you all and I hope you enjoyed some time with your family and loved ones over the Christmas period.
I love Christmas in the UK and was very happy to fly in on Christmas Day and spend time with my sister and nephew who both came along to watch the game on Boxing Day. They loved the passion from the fans and the whole occasion, but the result was clearly not what any of us were looking for: the same against Bristol Rovers and then at Plymouth on Saturday.
One thing I admire a lot about Karl, Shaun, Faz and this group of players is that they wear their hearts on their sleeves. They care so much and are so determined to bring success here and when they lose a game they are devastated. I speak to them after every game and we are very honest with each other: the Plymouth game in particular was not up to the standards we have set and the players looked tired. We can only apologise to the fans who made that long journey.
We now go into an important week where we play in the FA Cup, the Checktrade Trophy and then the league again. Those are important games and with a sold out away end at Brentford on Saturday we have the chance to show the real Oxford United again. We must show a reaction and then we have some massive games at home coming up including Portsmouth, Barnsley and Sunderland. It is time to stick together, get behind Karl, Shaun, Faz and the players and be as positive as we can despite the last three results.
We will be active in the January transfer window and feel we have strengthened the squad by bringing in Jordan Graham and Mark Sykes. Two players in the first two days of the window and two very good players with strong characters who I hope the fans will enjoy watching.
Those who follow patterns will see that we have a clear system in place; both players are young, hungry for success, have a great attitude and we feel will improve. They go in to a squad where the majority of players are 25 and under: Cameron Brannagan, Shandon Baptiste, Rob Dickie, Gavin Whyte, Marcus Browne, even more experienced players like Curtis Nelson and Josh Ruffels. There are older heads to add experience, and youngsters like Owen James, Slavi Spasov and Fabio Lopes who will have their chance at some stage. That is exciting: growing the club, building an Academy, improving the team. These things take time. We have made mistakes along the way, but stay patient and we will get it right.
There will inevitably be changes. I would like to thank the players who have left us this week for their hard work and wish them well for the future. Behind the scenes there are changes as well. We are pleased to say that Lee Barton will be changing role to become Head of Retail and Ticketing. Lee has done an outstanding job with the retail side of the club and will work alongside the existing Ticket Office staff and our Commercial and Marketing Director Matt Everett to look after all supporter sales.
Meanwhile in the Community team we say farewell to Kate Longworth and would like to thank her for all she has done in building the club’s charity side. Kate will be leaving for a new challenge but Chris Lowes will step up to manage the Community Trust. Chris has worked so hard for the Community over the last 15 years and really deserves the chance to make his mark in what is another key role at the club. I like that he is still the new boy after 15 years! There are staff who have been here for close to 40 years, loyal people who love the club and link those two key phrases that we will continue to work towards in 2019: Proud History, Bright Future.