After a series of seasons where Oxford have just missed out on a League 2 Play-Off place, Chris Wilder’s team were one of the favourites to gain promotion at the start of the campaign. In their three seasons since returning to The Football League, Oxford have finished no lower than 12th, but they have been unsuccessful in their attempts to finish in the top 7. In the 2011/2012 season, United ended the season with a poor run which cost them a Play-Off place and last season injuries and patchy form meant they failed to deliver. Some fans even called for Chris Wilder to be sacked, but was instead given a contract extension.
This season things seem to be different. There is a fresh sense of energy and purpose at the Kassam Stadium; the team is the best it has been since the club was relegated from The Football League in 2006 and the fans seem to be right behind the manager and the players. A successful summer of transfer dealings brought the likes of Dave Kitson and Daniel Rose to the club, whilst the defence enjoyed some fine new additions with Johnny Mullins, David Hunt and Tom Newey all joining the club and those three have been an integral part of the team so far this season.
The new players joined the likes of fans favourite James Constable, Alfie Potter, Deane Smalley and Andy Whing to ensure the squad is one of the best in League 2, with a perfect blend of ‘brutes and artists’; a strong, powerful defence is complimented with players who can do the business at the other end of the pitch.
And, for the most part, all of the pieces of the jigsaw have come together for Oxford. The opened the season win a thrilling 4-1 annihilation of Portsmouth and they followed that win up with a 2-1 win over Bury; a late Johnny Mullins goal secured all of the points. Oxford were unbeaten until their meeting with Chesterfield last month, after but they stuttered slightly between the Bury game and the Chesterfield game as they only won one out of four, a 2-0 win against Burton. A big win over Hartlepool followed this setback before being beaten 2-0 by Southend. Their run of patchy home form was put to an end though this weekend, with a solid win over Northampton, in which James Constable scored his 98th goal for the club.
Oxford have a few tough games coming up, as well as a few games against teams towards the lower reaches of the table, but considering the large amount of confidence that seems to be running through a group of very talented players, The U’s will be hopeful of coming out of that run still in the automatic promotion places.