Monday, 27 April 2015

Oxford's Best And Worst Ever Kits

Ahead of the last game of the season, where Oxford fans are being encouraged to wear retro football shirts as part of #OUFCRetro. In celebration of this, I look back at some of Oxford's best and worst ever kits. Credit goes to oxfordkits.com.

BEST EVER KITS!!!!

Oxford United Home Kit 1986
A classic shirt donned in Oxford's famous Milk Cup win against QPR in 1986. The club badge was nice and plain with no text. Every Oxford fan who is old enough to remember this shirt will remember the classic 'Wang Computers' sponsor. I'm not sure if this is a good shirt simply because its the year Oxford lifted the Milk Cup but I love it all the same!






Oxford United Home Kit 1994
When looking back over the old shirts, this one really stood out to me. I adore the great incorporation of a huge Ox on the shirt. This particular kit had four variations, with different coloured shirts and socks. This was also the season after United's relegation from Division 2, so Oxford were forced to produce their own kits under the name of 'Manor Leisure'. 



Oxford United Home Kit 2009-2010
This is the shirt that Oxford wore in the season that the U's returned to the Football League. I liked the simplicity of the kit, there isn't too much going on in this shirt. Nike replaced Carlotti as Oxford's kit supplier this season and instantly improved the design of United's shirts. I love this shirt and will always be remembered as a great Oxford kit. 



OXFORD'S WORST EVER KITS!!!


Oxford United Home Kit 2010-2011
The season after Oxford produced a really nice kit, Nike dropped an absolute clanger. This shirt has far too much blue on it. Oxford pride themselves as being a club who play in YELLOW. Yes, we play in yellow and blue but not this much blue!!! I was really disappointed with this shirt. This was Oxford's first season back in the Football League and unfortunately it was also the season Oxford produced a woeful jersey. 



 
Oxford United Away Kit 1994
Oxford wanted the shirt in the centenary year of the club to be memorable, it was definitely memorable! This is hands down Oxford United's worst ever kit. It honestly looks like someone has vomited on the shirt, what on earth were Matchwinner thinking with this? Unsurprisingly this shirt was not very popular amongst the Oxford fans and this kit only got three run outs at Wolves, Luton and Watford.





OXFORD'S KIT CALAMITY 
In 1994, Oxford were forced to wear Cardiff City's shorts and socks after it was deemed by the matchday officials quite rightly that Oxford's navy shorts and socks clashed with Cardiff's. 





Sunday, 26 April 2015

Why I Am Willing To Give Appleton Another Chance To Win Me Over

It has been a disappointing season which looks set to be Oxford's worst since returning to the Football League in 2010. However I am willing to give Head Coach Michael Appleton another chance next season.

I have been highly critical of the manager this season and some would say I have been a vocal member of the 'Anti-Appleton' campaign. I am somebody who strongly dislikes the sacking culture that is poising the beautiful game, however on many occasions I have called for the dismissal of Michael Appleton. However with the season drawing to a close I have had a chance to look at the bigger picture. The project that Michael Appleton is trying to accomplish at the club could just be a work in progress. There is no doubt that we have progressed as a team over the past few weeks and months. There have still been disappointing displays in that time, Northampton and Wimbledon were nothing to write home about. However we drew both those games, whereas at the start of the season we probably would have lost them both. This shows steady signs of progress. Wins against Wycombe, Bury and an emphatic victory over lowly Tranmere have also given the me belief that Appleton is learning as a manager and United are improving.

Michael Appleton's signing have improved recently as well. At the start of the season Appleton didn't really know what League Two was about and thought inexperienced 18 year olds were going to be able to make an impact. However in recent months he has brought better players in. George Baldock and Kemar Roofe were excellent additions to the team and possess some real quality. Don't get me wrong Appleton's player knowledge still isn't the best. Kyle Vassell, Armand Gnanduillet and Giorgio Rasulo were not great signings. However at least Appleton is now able to attract players like Roofe and Baldock which is encouraging to see.  The money that the board are willing to invest into the club should see Oxford significantly strengthen in the summer. Players like Marlon Pack and Ryan Taylor have been heavily linked and I think they would be fantastic additions. If Michael Appleton is able to attract these players to Oxford, then I think we could be in for a memorable season. 

Criticism has been hurled at Michael Appleton since the first defeat at home to Burton in August. However it is now time to forget all that has been said about the manger this season and start to believe in what Appleton is trying to do at the club. We should just have a fresh start and pretend this season never even happened. If we do this then hopefully we can finally start to see some success at Oxford United!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Cambridge Reaction- Oxford Crush Cambridge

Oxford United overwhelmed a poor Cambridge side to climb themselves to 14th place, the highest they have been all season.

It ended 2-0, it could easily have been 10. Oxford taught Cambridge a footballing lesson today, thanks to goals from Roofe and Hylton.

I have to admit the opening half an hour was slightly mundane but we soon upped the tempo and ended up blowing Richard Money's team away. Oxford were clearly out for revenge after the 5-1 hammering they took at the Abbey Stadium in October. Danny Hylton looked like a man on a mission from the first minute, having not scored since the 21st February. He really should have put Oxford in front when he rounded Will Norris early on but the ball ended up dribbling just wide. Kemar Roofe was spectacular once again and got a goal as a reward on 31 minutes. Out of absolutely nothing, he picked the ball up on the edge of the box and drove it into the bottom corner. Leaving the Cambridge keeper with no chance. I am very hopeful that we can sign Roofe for next season. Lock him in a dark room till he signs the contract if needs be. Danny Hylton managed to break his goal drought soon after with an excellent header into the corner, he has been great this season and thoroughly deserved his player of the season award. I was also impressed with Chey Dunkley again, he looked pretty poor in his first few games but has clearly made a large improvement since then. Alex MacDonald also looked very dangerous in this game, although he will spend a long time wondering how he didn't grab himself a goal.

I am glad to hear that the injury to Johnny Mullins isn't as serious as first feared. He has been crucial to us and I'm glad to hear it is only a bit of concussion and a sore head. His replacement Andy Whing looked excellent as well. If we didn't have so many players who played well, he might have got the man of the match award. Despite this performance, I think we probably have seen Whing's last game at the Kassam in an Oxford shirt which is very sad. 

Cambridge were absolutely woeful today. They looked like a completely different team to the one who humbled us in October. Maybe that's down to the fact Kwesi Appiah no longer dons a Cambridge jersey but even so they really have disappointingly deteriorated. As soon as Oxford broke the deadlock there was only ever going to be one team that was taking home the three points and it wasn't Cambridge. 

I offer my commiserations to the supporters of Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers, both teams were relegated to the Conference today. I wouldn't wish the displeasure of playing in that poxy league to anyone. However, on a brighter note Oxford are up to 14th and could still finish in the top half of the table. I look forward to the game at Newport next week, lets end this season on a high! 

Monday, 20 April 2015

Who Should Stay And Who Should Go At OUFC

Several players are out of contract in the summer at Oxford United, I have given my opinion on who I think should stay and who I think should go.

OUT OF CONTRACT PLAYERS IN THE SUMMER:

Danny Rose- I definitely think the recent performances of the former Manchester United trainee have warranted a new contract at the club. I am not entirely sure if what is happening is a similar situation to what I think happened with Asa Hall a few years ago. He was relatively average until he realised that he needed a new contract, then suddenly started to play well. Danny Rose was the forgotten man a month ago, now he is bang in form after a number of impressive displays. I do think he should be offered a new contract. 

Jamie Ashdown- He is an average goalkeeper. He is no where near the standard of Ryan Clarke or even Max Crocombe. We have no reason to keep on a back up goalkeeper, with Max Crocombe likely to return from a loan spell at Nuneaton Town. Ashdown isn't getting any younger as well. I think Ashdown should be released.

Michael Collins- This is a really tricky one. He quite clearly has plenty of ability but hasn't done it on a consistent level this season. I have heard rumours that players like Liam Sercombe and Marlon Pack could be joining the club in the summer and if that's the case then there is no need to offer Collins a new contract. 

Jeremy Balmy- For all I know this kid could be the next Cristiano Ronaldo. However I've never seen him play so I can't really comment. It's clear that this signing was just a waste of time and it is very unlikely that he'll still be at Oxford next season. 

John Campbell- I think Michael Appleton signed this guy with no knowledge on him whatsoever because he was out the door as soon as he had signed. It's clear the manager doesn't rate and despite him impressing on a loan spell at Torquay United, I don't think we will see him in an Oxford shirt again. 

Sam Long- We have a clause in Sam Long's contract meaning that we can keep him for an extra year. This has to be activated because Long is one of hottest prospects in the Oxford team at the moment. He played really well in the last two games and I hope to see more of him in the coming years.

Jake Wright- Unfortunately Jake Wright has attracted criticism from some of the fans this season. I agree that this has not been Wright's best season at the club but people were spouting nonsense such as "he's useless" and that "he is a liability". I have never heard so much rubbish in all my life and if I was the manager I would offer him a new deal in a heartbeat. However I am not sure if he wants to stay and may look for a new challenge at a different club. 

Andrew Whing- I have always liked Whingy, however I fear his days could be numbered at Oxford United. I love his hard work, commitment and never say die attitude. I am not going to lie and pretend he has bags of footballing ability, his passing isn't great and he is not going to score too many goals. However on a frozen muddy pitch in December, I can't think of too many players I would rather have. I would give him another year if I was Michael Appleton. 

Will Hoskins- He has been plagued with injuries since the second he signed the dotted line to join Oxford United. I think it would be a huge risk to offer Hoskins a new contract, a risk that isn't worth taking in my opinion.

Jon Meades- I think Jon Meades desperately needs a fresh start. He was injured for the whole of his first season and hasn't played much this season either. He can't even get on the bench these days and I think it's inevitable he will leave the club in the summer. 

Josh Shama- Not really one I can comment on because I have only seen him the play the odd friendly game. He seems like has some pace and a bit of skill but whether he is Football League standard is extremely questionable. I would not offer Shama a new deal, although I admit I have limited knowledge on this player.

Joe Skarz- Michael Appleton seems to rate Joe Skarz very highly and no matter what my opinion is I am 99% sure he will be offered a new contract. Whether he wants to stay or not is a different matter but I'm sure he will at least be offered a new deal. I agree that keeping him would be the correct decision. 

Matt Bevans- In the few games that I have seen Bevans play, he has impressed me. However he picked up a really nasty injury last year. With his well known history of long term injury problems I am not sure the risk of offering Bevans a contract is worth it. I think Matt Bevans will probably end up in non-league and I wouldn't personally retain him.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Tranmere Reaction-3-0 To The Oxford Boys!

Oxford plunged Tranmere closer to the drop after a brace from Roofe and another from Rose condemned Micky Adams' team to another damaging defeat.

We have to make the most of days like this. It isn't often that Oxford win by three goals. It also gives Oxford fans renewed optimism ahead of the new season. We might be getting a bit carried away after this result, however I think we have every right to. 

Kemar Roofe put in a first class performance today. I was unsure of Roofe when he first signed but it has become clear that I was far too quick to judge. He is a proper old fashioned winger, he will run at the full backs and cause them problems every time he gets the ball. His pace can bamboozle defenders and as we have seen today he is capable of chipping in with a few goals as well.  The exact player Oxford have needed for years. We thought for a while that Alfie Potter might be it but now it seems Kemar Roofe is the pacy, dangerous wide player we have craved. It was also good to see Chey Dunkley put in a solid display at centre back. He was thrown back into the team for his first start since mid-January and surprised a few people. I was expecting him to be a weak link but he was actually quite impressive. 

The amount of youth products on the pitch was also brilliant to see. Sam Long with another decent display at right back, with young James Roberts and Aidan Hawtin joining him off the bench as well. I am very excited about these young players coming through the ranks. Since I have been supporting Oxford, we have had tons of prospects that never lived up to the hype. Players like Alex Fisher, Billy Beechers, Aaron Woodley and Tyrone Marsh immediately spring to mind. However this crop of young talent is a whole different kettle of fish. I think O'Dowda, Roberts and Long will play at least League One level maybe even higher. They are extremely talented. 

I think that Tranmere fans will now be preparing themselves for trips to Southport and Braintree next season. They are just not at a good enough standard for the Football League, which is a sad thing to say about a club that has played at a consistently high level since the 1970's. When Micky Adams was appointed in October, I thought that Tranmere would comfortably survive after a shaky start. However, he has failed miserably and the players look like they have given up all hope. Especially today, once the first goal went it there was only going to be one team who was going to win. The hope and desire just got sucked out of Tranmere. Other results were kind to them but their two remaining fixtures are against Bury and Plymouth; I just don't think they can do it.

We need to finish the season strongly now. The whole campaign has been just been one big nightmare, hopefully the final few games can be a small highlight in it. The home match against Cambridge on Saturday will be another 'dead rubber' but lets just enjoy it and cheer the boys on!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Northampton Reaction- MacDonald To The Rescue

A last minute strike from birthday boy Alex MacDonald salvaged a point against Northampton, in ex manager Chris Wilder's first return to the Kassam since leaving for the Cobblers.

Chris Wilder got a mixed reception on his return to the Kassam Stadium last night. I didn't give him a round of applause or shake his hand as he got off the team coach as one fan did but I wasn't going to boo him or abuse him either. There is no doubt that he rejuvenated this football club that was is complete crisis at the time. However I still am deeply unhappy at the way he left and will never fully forgive him for that.

My consensus of the match it self would be that it was a poor start but we had the character to get ourselves back in the game and nick a point. The first half display from Oxford was probably the worst 45 minutes of football I've seen from them this season and there are plenty of awful halves to choose from as well. However, we were much improved in the second period and in the end probably warranted the point that we eventually got. 

I was extremely impressed with Northampton Town. Chris Wilder has got them playing some excellent football, however during the second half they dropped deeper and invited pressure upon themselves. I liked the look of their centre forward Ivan Toney, he is a big physical presence but is also very competent with the ball at his feet. I am not at all surprised that he was scouted by Championship sides such as Wolves in January. The goalkeeper on the other hand was one of the reasons that they couldn't hang on to their lead. Shwan Jalal, who had a brief spell with Oxford in 2013, was mis-judging crosses and making his back four nervous. 

Our goalkeeper wasn't much better though. I admit that the goal might have hit a bobble caused by the London Welsh or the pitch wreckers as I know them. However I still think that Jamie Ashdown should have saved Toney's free kick that ended trickling into the net. I was also disappointed with Josh Ruffels, he kept giving the ball away and looked nervous and timid from the first minute. Kyle Vassell had yet another poor game. I just think he is a distinctly average and weak centre forward that Peterborough can have back as far as I'm concerned. 

On a more positive note, I thought that Sam Long had a decent game at right back. He was thrown in late on after George Baldock got injured and I was a little bit worried that he might be a weak link in the team. I couldn't have been more wrong as he was the man of the match in my opinion. The amount of good youngsters we have coming through at the moment is very positive. I was also relieved that MacDonald showed what he could do for the first time since the Mansfield game at home. He clearly has quality but had a point to prove coming into this game and I was delighted to see him make an impact off the bench and grab himself a goal. Hopefully we can finish this season strong now, starting with a win on Saturday against bottom side Tranmere Rovers. COME ON YOU YELLOWS!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Wimbledon Reaction- Bore Draw...Again

Another Saturday afternoon wasted watching a pedestrian, dull, humdrum performance from Oxford United, how is this going to change next season?

There have been too many negative blog posts from myself recently but it really is hard to find the positives. Yet again I was in the car on the way home with ''I'm never going to get those two hours back" swirling around in my head. That has happened far too often this season. 

I am really unsure if Michael Appleton actually wants to win games at times. His tactics once again were all wrong. Alex MacDonald does not even deserve a place on the subs bench at the moment, let alone the starting XI. Alex MacDonald is strutting around the pitch shrugging his shoulders, while James Roberts is sat in the reserves. It's just not acceptable. Danny Rose played two marvellous games on the left hand side against Carlisle and Wycombe and yet MacDonald walks back into the team after a daft suspension. What on earth is going on?I unfortunately once again have to criticise Kyle Vassell. I'm not sure if he has won a header in an Oxford shirt yet, he is just so incredibly weak in aerial battles. We have seen the talent that he has with that cracking goal he scored against Carlisle a couple of weeks ago. However we are facing a similar situation that we have with Alex MacDonald, we aren't seeing that quality on a regular basis.

I was a little bit disappointed with Kemar Roofe as well today. He was really starting to grow on me with his last couple of performances, however he was very quiet today. I just wonder if he is going to be another Alfie Potter, a player that has the talent to go and play at a higher level but isn't consistent enough to achieve it.  

It must be said though that defensively we do look solid. Everytime I watch George Baldock, I rue the fact that we won't have him next season. He is a very confident young man and possess a high amount of quality on the ball. We have a settled centre half pairing in Wright and Mullins who on their day are two of the best centre backs in the division. Joe Skarz has had a few below par games so far but does look like he is starting to find his feet in the Oxford United team. I also thought Andy Whing did a decent job considering he hasn't played in so long. He just did what he is supposed to do and that is win tackles and give the opposition's centre midfielders a rough ride. 

I didn't think too much of AFC Wimbledon. A very average team in my opinion. They clearly miss the goalscoring threat that they had in Matt Tubbs earlier in the season. They have the physical presence of Akinfenwa who is going to make things difficult for centre halfs but isn't going to get too many goals. There tactics were pretty negative, they are always looking to nullify the opposition.  Not exactly a surprise that both games this season have ended goalless. 

I do question what is going to happen over the summer at Oxford United that will change our fortunes next season. A few new players? Not according to Michael Appleton's signing history. A new system? Michael Appleton's tactical stubbornness would make that very unlikely. A new manager? Absolutely!

Monday, 6 April 2015

York Reaction- Bore Draw

It was back down to earth for Oxford fans after a thrilling 3-2 win at Wycombe on Friday with a pedestrian performance at home to York this afternoon.

 A disappointing display from Oxford today, they took so long to get going and was a game that had 0-0 written all over it. I think you could tell from the first ten minutes that this match was not going to be a classic.

I was really hopeful that Wycombe might finally have been a turning point for Oxford United. I thought Michael Appleton showed good tactical awareness on Friday but failed miserably to back it up today. Kyle Vassell up front offered very little and looked like a player who hadn't had much football this season. Alex MacDonald was also very quiet and has been for the past few games that he's played for the club. He played one great game at home to Mansfield and has been missing ever since. He has most definitely not lived up to sizeable reputation he walked through the door with so far. Although things livened up when Hoban came on he sadly missed the best chance of the game, a great ball across from Skarz and all it needed was an easy tap in. However Patrick managed to miss the ball completely and a huge chance went begging for us. This just backs up the point I've made about Hoban from day one, he is a physical presence but is a not a natural goalscorer and needs plenty of shooting practice before he is good enough. I was also frustrated by the performance of Michael Collins in midfield, I know what a good player he can be but just doesn't do it enough. He didn't control midfield and we were lucky his counterpart Russ Penn had a slight off day as well.

Predictably Michael Appleton had plenty of excuses lined up for this pedestrian display. He said to Oxford Mail "I think the second half proved how much the game against Wycombe took out of us". I think this is a load of rubbish to be completely honest. We made changes to the side to freshen things up so we can't have been tired and if we were then more changes should have been made. Players like Andy Whing, Chey Dunkley and James Roberts would be desperate to get themselves back in the side so maybe we should have chucked them back in.

I think it's a missed opportunity for the club. They give away free tickets, get the ground properly packed for the first time this season but the performance is not going to attract any of those extra fans back. In my opinion this free ticket scheme is farcical. It is soon going to get to the point where people will expect free tickets and not want to pay and that's just not right. I'm all for doing that sort of thing once maybe twice a season but you can't gifting people with free tickets. The atmosphere was better today but we want 9,000 paying customers every week not just people who are there for a freebie.


I don't want this blog to be too negative, so I'll end it with the welcome news that Oxford will be playing in the Football League next season barring one of the biggest capitulations ever seen in football history. A few weeks ago I thought it would be going right down to the wire and Newport away on the last day was going to be huge, thankfully it looks like it's going to be a relaxing end to the season for Oxford fans. I don't think a rebuilding job is needed in the summer, add a bit of extra quality up front, a more creative player and a replacement for George Baldock who will go back to MK Dons and I feel we will have a good enough squad going into next season.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Wycombe Reaction- Noisy Neighbours Spoil The Party

A terrific performance from Oxford United lifts them closer to safety and puts a massive dent in Wycombe Wanderers' promotion bid. 

Never mind Good Friday it was a marvellous Friday for Oxford United at Adams Park this afternoon. One of the best performances I have seen from an Oxford team in years. We played some really excellent stuff, it wasn't a scrappy win we played very well and thoroughly deserved it. 

I thought Danny Rose played his best game in a yellow shirt as well. He did not stop running all game and got himself in great positions time and time again. I'm not forgetting to mention his superb finish for the second goal as well. It has been a mad couple of weeks for Danny, forgotten man to Oxford hero. Kemar Roofe was outstanding as well. I thought he looked very average in the previous games but definitely looks like he has found his feet after two good displays. An excellent cross for Hoban against Carlisle and a vintage performance today caps off a great two weeks for the West Brom loanee. Danny Hylton looked like he returned to his early season form as well. He needs a goal to get the confidence back but he didn't stop running today. He always puts blood, sweat and tears into every game, doesn't matter if it is a pre-season friendly or a cup final he will never fail to give 100% and that's what I love about him.

Although I think we can do better than Patrick Hoban up front I am relieved that he has started to improve in the last couple of games. However I do maintain that pace is very important in this league and Patrick Hoban has a severe lack of that. If he had a yard more pace then I think he would be a decent League Two striker but he just isn't quick enough for me. I have to admit though he has offered some good hold up play in the last two games and hopefully he can kick on now and get a few more goals for us.

I would also like to talk about how disappointing Wycombe were. I thought they looked like a non-league team playing non-league football. Every opportunity they got they would pump the ball into the box and try to put Clarke under pressure. If a neutral fan watched that game and was told that one team was near the top and the other near the bottom, I'm sure he would be convinced that Wycombe were the bottom side. They didn't seem to have the same organisation that I saw from them when we played them earlier in the season.

I feel confident that we can stay in the league now. If we win on Monday then we can relax, put our feet up and start to think about next season. York won't be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination as they have picked up in recent games and have started to drag themselves away from danger. Russ Wilcox is a very good manager and will come to the Kassam with a plan and we should be wary of that. However if the Oxford fans can give the same support they did today we can cheer the players to victory.