Oxford United chairman Sumrith 'Tiger' Thanakarnjanasuth wrote the following notes for the Cambridge United programme in the Papa John's Trophy tonight:
Hello everyone, wherever you are, and thanks for reading the programme for our Papa John’s Trophy game against Cambridge United. It’s amazing to think this is our first home game of 2021; the team had such a busy run of matches and then nothing for ten days. I hope it means everyone is rested and ready for a game which will move the winners almost within touching distance of a Wembley final. Maybe the biggest wish should be for that final to be in front of fans, whoever makes it.
Like everyone else, I have been enjoying watching the team play on iFollow over the last couple of months. They have hit their stride and look to be playing with so much confidence at the moment. It’s incredible what a difference that can make, just that extra little bit of belief. Everyone is playing well and tonight will probably be a chance for one or two players to try to remind Karl that they should be playing more regularly.
I was invited on to a Fans Forum on BBC Oxford last week and there were two common threads which I should probably answer more fully here. Both were about players and contracts and the first batch of them were about players who are out of contract in the summer. I will not go into specifics, but we talk to players all the time and we know that the time is approaching to step up from informal talks to something more concrete. I think everyone recognises that the first half of the season has given us so many problems – not just our club but football in general – and we have had to deal with so much off the field. There were new rules for the season involving financial fair play and wage caps, so there have been a lot of moving parts. But fans are right, and we have talked to players informally and will start talking more seriously very soon.
The other question was around players joining us in this window. Recent results have been very good, but we always hold regular recruitment meetings and have our targets for this month. Karl has our full support and we will strengthen, I am sure. Maybe one thing we learned from the summer was not to give specific timelines, although I know that will frustrate fans! We will get it right and we will kick on from the promising position we are currently in. On the subject of players, I am so happy to see Sam Winnall and Cameron Brannagan playing again; they are both remarkable young men who we all hope will play a big part for us in 2021 and beyond.
And finally, I want to wish that you all can stay safe. This terrible virus seems to be growing and spreading and more than ever before we have to stay home and protect our loved ones. I miss the football just as much as you do, but for now please everyone just keep doing the right things and looking after each other. The more we do that the quicker the day will arrive when we can all be together doing the one thing that unites us all: watching Oxford United.