Oxford United Chairman Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth wrote the following notes for this afternoon's match programme:
Good afternoon everybody and thank you for coming to support us in a very important game against Bradford City. With nine games left we are in the middle of a run of games against teams near us in the league table and a win would make such a difference to our whole outlook for the next few weeks.
I think we have been unlucky to only pick up one point from the last two games, away at Gillingham and Rochdale; the defeat at Gillingham was cruel in the extreme but our home form is good with just one loss here this year. I keep studying the league table and the form guides and it’s going to be tight: we have five points from our last four games (should have had more) and if we can turn one or two draws into wins then I know we will be OK.
I was here for the last home game against Scunthorpe and spent a few days around the club, meeting every department and continuing to prepare and build for the future. I know times are hard for all supporters at the moment but there are some excellent people here doing fantastic things to make this club great again. I talk a lot about the Academy so let me talk a little instead this time about recruitment.
We had very long and very productive meetings on this and I have been involved in football for a long time now and have never seen such a detailed and professional recruitment plan as we have in place for the summer and beyond. Mark Thomas has worked so hard to provide us with a brilliant system that will allow us to make informed decisions and bring in the right players. We have an overview and at its heart is a simple formula: bright, exciting young players who have a point to prove, mixed with experienced players who can help guide them. We got that mix wrong at the start of this season but were prepared to hold our hands up and admit that and work to correct it.
I completely understand that most fans are more concerned about right now and fighting relegation than what happens in the future, but we are putting systems and procedures in place right across the club which we believe are key to future success. Our under-16s girls team, for example, reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final against Arsenal last week, which is an excellent achievement and promises great things for the future. We have seen Gavin Whyte, Jonté Smith, and our under-23 players Aaron Heap and Niall Clayton all called up for their countries, which makes us very proud.
It has been a season of rebuilding and adjustment, but it boiled down to one thing: our aim now has to be to do all we can to help the first team for nine more games and to make sure that we are playing League 1 football next season. We are in charge of our own fate and a win today would be the perfect way to start the most important time of the year.
You can read the full programme online at www.matchdayfix.com/oufc