LIAM Manning wants to create a special bond between players and fans after a troubling season on the pitch for Oxford United.

Under previous head coach Karl Robinson, seven defeats in eight matches for the U’s saw them slip from 10th in Sky Bet League One to 17th.

Robinson was sacked on February 26, with Manning replacing him on March 11.

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The former MK Dons boss stopped the run of losses with four consecutive draws, before wins against Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers at the end of April secured safety, barring a bizarre goal swing on the final day of the season.

Manning said: “The fans have been brilliant and terrific since I’ve come in, they’ve been really welcoming and I can’t speak highly enough of them.

“They’ve stepped up and delivered at key times when we’ve needed them.

“Going forward, I want a real connection between the players, the staff and the fans because it’s such an important one and it’s what the game is for ultimately – the game is for the fans.

“We have to give the fans something to get behind and at the same point, in tough moments, we need the fans to pick the players up.

“It’s having that common goal and everybody being all in for the club.”

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here:

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.