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Club News

MANAGER: They've got some talented players

Paul Simpson ahead of the Saturday away game

11 August 2023

Club News

MANAGER: They've got some talented players

Paul Simpson ahead of the Saturday away game

11 August 2023

United head to Oxford on Saturday knowing that they’re coming up against an opposition that will be looking to bounce back from two disappointing away defeats as they host their first game of the campaign on their own turf.

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“We don’t need to be any more wary than we were before they lost their first two games,” manager Paul Simpson insisted.

“I know what they’re about, I’ve watched their game against Cambridge and looked at the highlights from their game against Bristol City, I also spoke to one of the staff at Bristol City this morning.

“I watched their game against QPR in pre-season so we’ve got an idea of what they’re about. They’ve got a new coach in there who wants to stamp his own style on it, and they’ve got the players to play that way.

“They’re a total football team who want to play in all areas. They’ve got some talented boys and we know it will be a tough game, but we also think if we get our game right we can cause them problems.

“They’ll be looking to stamp their mark,” he added. “Especially with being at home for the first time this season. That doesn’t change anything we do though, we’ve got to go there with a clear focus about how we want to go about it.

“We want to stamp our game onto it and hopefully improve on the quality. They’ve got a new coach who’s gone in and wants to put his own stamp and footballing philosophy on it.

“He’s worked with the City Group teams and has a good reputation as a coach. They’re trying to play total football. They’ve had a couple of bad results so far, so they’ll be coming into this first home game wanting to put that right.

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“They got a bit of a beating at Bristol, which can happen against Championship teams. We have to go there and make sure we keep improving, showing we’ve earned the right and deserve to be at this level, and it’s going to be a great game to look forward to.

“It’s about us trying to play our way. They can cause you problems if you get pulled out of shape but we’re quite disciplined in the way we play. The players know their roles and it’s a case of hoping they go out and do it as well as they can.

“It’s going to be tough. I noticed Brannagan came off the other night injured, when they’d already made five subs. I’m sorry to Mr Brannagan but I hope he’s not fit because he’s a good footballer.

“They have others; McEachran’s a good footballer, Marcus McGuane’s a good footballer who’s had a good upbringing with Arsenal and then went to Barcelona as a young kid. Harris who they’ve took from Cardiff, Rodrigues, they’ve got some good players.

“It’s a game we know will be a good challenge, just like Fleetwood was, but a game we’re looking forward to.” 

And, of course, have played there for four seasons it’s an area he knows well.

“It’s a stadium and city that I know really well from my time there, I loved my few years at the club,” he said. “It’s different now because we were at the old Manor Ground which was totally different to this stadium, for a start it had four sides to it, so I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s going to be a real good test. I’m sure the fans will enjoy their day out but we have to put on a performance that makes them enjoy it even more. 

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“Looking back I was there from 1998 to 1992. I loved it. It was brilliant for me, I went in with a manager in Brian Horton who showed real faith in me at a time where the manager at City hadn’t got faith in me.

“It was good, Oxford in those days, we were in the equivalent of the Championship, a Second Division team, and we had a good group of players there. I really enjoyed my time.

“I loved living there, two of my boys were born in Oxford, so I’ve got great memories of my time there. I’m looking forward to going back. Funnily enough, I got a letter this morning from somebody who was a season ticket holder in my time, who remembers me from those days.

“I had a really good relationship with the fans and had a great time there. I think it’s a lovely city, I wouldn’t describe it as a football city, but when the fans turn up they turn up in their numbers and support the team well. 

“Somebody told me a while ago I was voted in their best 11 or something, which is wonderful when I think of the good players Oxford United have had. I’m looking forward to going, if I get applause brilliant, as long as we win I’m not really bothered what happens.”

For the Blues, they’ll be looking to emulate what was a very solid away record last term.

“I just want the first victory whether it comes at home or away,” he insisted. “I want the first three points and I actually think it might just calm everybody down a little bit, because it starts to build that belief.

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“There’s such a lot of football to be played over the season and we’re going into the game at the weekend with a squad who are capable of going and showing the energy and ability that we know we’ve got in the group.

“It’s the first one where we’re going on the train. I’m looking forward to that to see how that goes. We’re trying to just get any gain. It was Sir Dave Brailsford who talked about marginal gains.

“We’re trying to get any marginal gain and if this one works, then fantastic. I still do think it’s about the players going and performing on Saturday regardless of how we travel. But if it helps us and gives us a bit of energy rather than sitting seven hours on a coach, brilliant.”

In terms of away fans, it’s shaping up to be another sizeable following.

“It will be great to walk out and see that number on Saturday,” he told us. “I think it’s a really nice ground and I had a few good years there.

“I loved living in the area and it’s a really good place to go. I’ve got to say, the new stadium doesn’t have the atmosphere of the old Manor Ground, but I’m looking forward to going. I’m really hopeful we’re able to go and perform to the levels I think we’re capable of.”

And helping out on the day will be Dean Scholey, a new addition to the backroom staff in the kit department.

“Dean has come in as another pair of hands, particularly on a match day, to help Colin with the kit side of things,” he explained. “He’s a massive Carlisle fan and really enthusiastic.

“He worked part-time with Barrow last season. I got a phone call in the summer from Grant Holt to say Dean had left Barrow, but was keen to be involved.

“I had a conversation with him and I had a conversation with Colin, and it was just a case of wanting an extra pair of hands.

“He’s also a really good personality and I don’t think you can have enough of those, you’ve got to surround yourself with them.

“He’s come in, he knows what he’s doing, and he’s always got something to say. He’s a good bloke to have around.”


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