Strengthening Oxford United squad is new chief executive Mark Ashton's priority

Darryl Eales (left) and Mark Ashton share a joke as they pose for pictures at the Kassam Stadium yesterday      Picture: Ed Nix

Darryl Eales (left) and Mark Ashton share a joke as they pose for pictures at the Kassam Stadium yesterday Picture: Ed Nix

First published in Sport
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Bicester Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

HELPING to recruit the right players to improve the Oxford United squad will dominate Mark Ashton’s first weeks as chief executive – with attacking players top of the agenda.

The 42-year-old intends to play a role in advancing the club in all areas, from youth development to the commercial side of the business.

But with the start of the Sky Bet League Two season just five weeks away, he is well aware Michael Appleton needs to hit the ground running when he takes over as head coach on Monday morning.

So far Danny Hylton is the only addition United have sealed this summer.

Yesterday joint owner Ian Lenagan revealed the plan had been to only add one more signing, but the new investment injected by Darryl Eales means there is greater scope to bolster the playing staff.

While a radical shake-up of the squad is not being planned, Ashton is well aware areas need to be strengthened.

“We’ve got to focus in the short-term on the playing squad,” he said.

“We will look to add, I’ve already had some discussions with Michael.

“He’ll be honest and there are a number of players who’ve left the squad since the end of last season and between those players there’s over 30 goals gone out of the team.

“We’re very aware of where we need to strengthen, but we’ve got to be sure it’s strengthened in the right way.

“There’s no point recruiting players for the sake of it. Sensible funds will be made available to strengthen us.”

While Appleton will be starting his squad building two months after the rest of the clubs in Sky Bet League Two, Ashton does not believe it gives United a problem.

He said: “Not really, it goes back to the club being run well.

“Ian hasn’t left himself in a position where he’s got 14 players out of contract.

“It’s an evolution of the squad, so I don’t think there’s anything we can’t cope with in that respect.

“The transfer window goes on after the start of the season as well.”

There is also the potential for fresh blood on the coaching staff.

Andy Melville has not been replaced since leaving as first-team coach in May.

Former West Brom defender Darren Moore, who was part of Appleton’s staff at Blackburn Rovers in 2013, has been linked with becoming United’s new assistant manager, although yesterday Ashton indicated nothing was decided.

He said: “Initially Michael will come in and we’ll take it from there.

“There’s no rush, there are good coaches here, so let’s evolve it.”

Comments (8)

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9:21am Sat 5 Jul 14

MiddleBartonYellow says...

They were only going to add one more player. Well in a nutshell that shows why all this needed to happen because the squad just isn't big enough to challenge. We would be floundering about in league 2 for years with that mentality.
They were only going to add one more player. Well in a nutshell that shows why all this needed to happen because the squad just isn't big enough to challenge. We would be floundering about in league 2 for years with that mentality. MiddleBartonYellow
  • Score: 17

9:50am Sat 5 Jul 14

matty99 says...

New funs how much is sensible?
A lot of good players have moved now, boat missed !
Getting names should be a priority
Not happy hoofers or buy one get one
one loan budget boosters!
New funs how much is sensible? A lot of good players have moved now, boat missed ! Getting names should be a priority Not happy hoofers or buy one get one one loan budget boosters! matty99
  • Score: 0

12:15pm Sat 5 Jul 14

87oufc says...

"Former West Brom defender Darren Moore, who was part of Appleton’s staff at Blackburn Rovers in 2013, has been linked with becoming United’s new assistant manager, although yesterday Ashton indicated nothing was decided"

I assume Mickey Lewis is still here? (genuine question) With all this shake-up, I'd like to hear something from him.
"Former West Brom defender Darren Moore, who was part of Appleton’s staff at Blackburn Rovers in 2013, has been linked with becoming United’s new assistant manager, although yesterday Ashton indicated nothing was decided" I assume Mickey Lewis is still here? (genuine question) With all this shake-up, I'd like to hear something from him. 87oufc
  • Score: 2

12:57am Sun 6 Jul 14

87oufc says...

I just read Earnshaw is a free agent and used to play for one of Appletons former teams, Blackpool.
I just read Earnshaw is a free agent and used to play for one of Appletons former teams, Blackpool. 87oufc
  • Score: 9

5:55pm Sun 6 Jul 14

Eraser says...

Appleton couldn't find a good player if he "Suarez'd" him on the a**e!
Appleton couldn't find a good player if he "Suarez'd" him on the a**e! Eraser
  • Score: -6

6:28pm Sun 6 Jul 14

bigchet says...

pretty sad when our local experts are questioning appletons ability before he gets started. just remind them that he has managed or assisted at a higher level than any of our managers of recent years and lets hope that he will have contacts in the game to bring in good quality additions to our squad. the new season is not far away so things need to be resolved pretty quickly .
pretty sad when our local experts are questioning appletons ability before he gets started. just remind them that he has managed or assisted at a higher level than any of our managers of recent years and lets hope that he will have contacts in the game to bring in good quality additions to our squad. the new season is not far away so things need to be resolved pretty quickly . bigchet
  • Score: 8

9:50pm Sun 6 Jul 14

New Manor rename says...

bigchet wrote:
pretty sad when our local experts are questioning appletons ability before he gets started. just remind them that he has managed or assisted at a higher level than any of our managers of recent years and lets hope that he will have contacts in the game to bring in good quality additions to our squad. the new season is not far away so things need to be resolved pretty quickly .
So did Peter Reid before going to Plymouth and look what happened there! Managing at a higher level is irrelevant if your results are poor everywhere you go. Don't, get me wrong Mr Appleton needs a chance in this new project and he may have learnt from previous mistakes. However, don't get blinkered with the 'higher level' thing.
[quote][p][bold]bigchet[/bold] wrote: pretty sad when our local experts are questioning appletons ability before he gets started. just remind them that he has managed or assisted at a higher level than any of our managers of recent years and lets hope that he will have contacts in the game to bring in good quality additions to our squad. the new season is not far away so things need to be resolved pretty quickly .[/p][/quote]So did Peter Reid before going to Plymouth and look what happened there! Managing at a higher level is irrelevant if your results are poor everywhere you go. Don't, get me wrong Mr Appleton needs a chance in this new project and he may have learnt from previous mistakes. However, don't get blinkered with the 'higher level' thing. New Manor rename
  • Score: 2

12:37pm Mon 7 Jul 14

Manor Born says...

Whilst Appleton's track record at his previous clubs is hardly the greatest, you have to also take in some important factors. He was on a hiding to nothing at Blackburn and Portsmouth. Both teams were doomed and being comically run. He was always destined to fail at those places. Portsmouth were in freefall and had suffered greatly from the previous regime's over-spending whilst Blackburn were the joke club of the season with all the Venky's nonsense going on.

Maybe, coming to Oxford United will be just the thing he needs to re-launch his career. He knows that failure here will probably see him confined to supporting roles and will be determined to succeed and prove he is capable. By all accounts, he is highly regarded in the game as a coach.

He's got just a few weeks to build a squad capable of competing in League 2. Hopefully he will be able to bring in some decent signings. The worry is that we have missed out on some excellent players at this level and have left it too late - but this is not MA's fault.

Let's get behind the head coach. It's a fresh start. Only time will tell if the changes that happened last week are good or bad for the club we all love and support. What we need now is action. Words are meaningless and we've heard them all before. I don't want to hear things like "a team to be proud of" and I sure as hell don't want to be "taken on a journey". I just want a team that will compete and give their all on the pitch for the shirt and badge they are wearing.
Whilst Appleton's track record at his previous clubs is hardly the greatest, you have to also take in some important factors. He was on a hiding to nothing at Blackburn and Portsmouth. Both teams were doomed and being comically run. He was always destined to fail at those places. Portsmouth were in freefall and had suffered greatly from the previous regime's over-spending whilst Blackburn were the joke club of the season with all the Venky's nonsense going on. Maybe, coming to Oxford United will be just the thing he needs to re-launch his career. He knows that failure here will probably see him confined to supporting roles and will be determined to succeed and prove he is capable. By all accounts, he is highly regarded in the game as a coach. He's got just a few weeks to build a squad capable of competing in League 2. Hopefully he will be able to bring in some decent signings. The worry is that we have missed out on some excellent players at this level and have left it too late - but this is not MA's fault. Let's get behind the head coach. It's a fresh start. Only time will tell if the changes that happened last week are good or bad for the club we all love and support. What we need now is action. Words are meaningless and we've heard them all before. I don't want to hear things like "a team to be proud of" and I sure as hell don't want to be "taken on a journey". I just want a team that will compete and give their all on the pitch for the shirt and badge they are wearing. Manor Born
  • Score: 0

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