IT is a long time since Oxford United have taken nothing from three successive games, but manager Pep Clotet believes long-term gain cannot be built without short-term pain.

You have to go all the way back to August 2014, Michael Appleton’s first month in charge, for the last time the U’s had a hat-trick of defeats.

For Clotet, that is no coincidence – in both cases a new boss was seeking to introduce his ideas to a new squad.

“It’s not easy when you pick a new team – for me or the players who don’t know everyone,” he said.

“At that time (in 2014) they overcame it and it was a success.

“Any success always contains a little bit of disappointment and failure – that’s the cycle of building something and achieving things.

“We have experienced a bit of success and failure this season and we overcome it together with the players, to try to go forward and become stronger.”

Somewhere, United have lost their way over the past fortnight, as Blackpool, Walsall and Bury have swept them aside all too easily.

But Clotet was keen to point out yesterday their haul of 12 points from the opening ten games matched United’s start last year.

Alongside them in the table 12 months ago, Millwall were about to lose a fourth game on the spin but still won promotion via the play-offs.

Clotet said: “Everyone can have opinions, but the fact is we have the same points as last season after ten games.

“We have suffered three losses, last year the team suffered many times two losses in a row and they showed they can overcome it.

“You can get promoted from this league and lose three or four games one or two times in the season.

“These kind of blips are very common in League One and our fans and players know that.

“You have to keep a winning mentality, put more effort in and wait for all the work you’ve put in to come out.”

While you may have difficulty convincing someone who travelled to Gigg Lane for Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat, Clotet also insisted progress had been made between the last two games.

He said: “I think the team has made huge steps forward, maybe more than it looks like and many more than when we were winning.

“I analysed why against Walsall we were unable to put our own football (style) on the pitch.

“We didn’t create many attacks until the last half an hour, but against Bury we overcame their midfield pressure and found the striker.

“We created a lot of problems, we were just unlucky we were not able to finish the chances.

“That’s a huge step forward, but I understand when you only think about the result it looks like we’re not making steps forward.”