doc

THE stresses and strains of being a manager are too much to take for many in football, but a spell behind the scenes only made Gary Waddock hungrier to get back in the hot-seat.

He was announced as Oxford United’s new head coach on Saturday, 18 months to the day after being sacked by Wycombe Wanderers.

The setback at Adams Park began a spell out of the spotlight, although a reputation built on promotions with the Chairboys and Aldershot Town meant there was no danger of leaving the game completely.

Spells working with the Premier League and then MK Dons, who released him to join the U’s, kept Waddock in the loop.

Besides, the former Republic of Ireland international was never going to be a manager who spends time out of work attempting to lower his golf handicap.

“I’m not that type,” Waddock said.

“Firstly, I don’t like golf.

“But secondly, I’m a worker. I want to improve and make players better.

“I want to develop younger players and bring them through the system.”

And while being the main man brings with it increased scrutiny, Waddock has sorely missed being in charge.

He said: “I have experienced being the No 1 and I like the challenge of that.

“I like the involvement of building a team, getting results, the highs and lows of being a manager.

“People say it’s a stressful job and yes it is, but once you come out of it, you want to go back in to it.

“I worked for the Premier League and then MK Dons.

“I’ve learnt a lot in that period of time, but I always wanted to go back into management.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for me to do that.”

It took a slightly unusual route to get back into his preferred role, but the path was undoubtedly a factor in getting the job.

A key component of Oxford United chairman Ian Lenagan’s vision for the club is a core of home grown talent brought through the youth set-up into the first team.

It meant a role with the Premier League helping to set up the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) ticked a significant box.

Waddock said: “My job title at the Premier League was club support manager.

“I went in and was able to look at the training programmes that were put in place. I learnt a lot, which will help me going forward.

“I covered a lot of games and saw a lot of younger players within the under 21 and youth team systems.

“It was a very good job for me at the time, but I wanted more.”

He then moved to become head of coaching at MK Dons last June.

Waddock is grateful to his former employers, both for the opportunity and for allowing a smooth switch to the Kassam Stadium.

“I can’t thank (manager) Karl Robinson and the staff enough,” he said. “I’ve left a fantastic club to join another fantastic club, so I’m in a very fortunate position.”