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Respect well earned between Oxford United and Cheltenham managers
IN AN occupation where many only hang around for a few months, the technical areas at Whaddon Road tomorrow will be a tribute to a pair of survival experts.
Following Greg Abbott’s dismissal at Carlisle United this week, U’s boss Chris Wilder moved up to the third longest-serving managers in the top four divisions.
While he is three months short of five years in the job, his oppposite number tomorrow, Mark Yates, is nearing a fourth anniversary with the Robins, making him fifth on the list.
The clash will be their eighth head-to-head and Wilder believes there is plenty in common.
He said: “I think we both work in the same way.
“We get our heads down, go out to games and work hard with the team.
“I don’t think Mark has ever been given a blank chequebook to go out and spend and neither have I.
“We have had to construct teams and work on the training ground.
“We see each other at games, he’s not sat at home with a remote control in his hand or a seven iron every other day.
“They will be in and around it at the end of the season, no doubt.”
He added: “I think Mark is one of the top managers in our league.
“When jobs come up, I don’t see his name being mentioned and I’m a bit surprised at times because he works within the budget, as we all have to, but he gets good teams which play good football.”
The feeling is reciprocated. Yesterday Yates, who has guided Cheltenham to the Sky Bet League Two play-offs in the last two seasons, rates the United boss.
“I like Chris Wilder,” he said.
“He’s a great bloke and a good football man so I’m glad it’s happening for him.
“They have started well. He has a lot of good players and a very good spirit.
“I keep hearing about their camaraderie and we have it here too, but that doesn’t show when you are losing games.
“He’s made some astute signings and looks set for a successful season.”
Through their efforts both have raised expectations at the respective clubs.
Reminders are never far away for Wilder, even during the best start to a league season for a decade.
He said: “When I walked into the ground at Burton on Saturday somebody came up to me and went ‘we haven’t won for two games’ – that was the expectation I’ve had to have.
“That’s how it is. It was quite funny and gave me a bit of a boost before the game.
“I tried to say we were unbeaten in five games and second in the league, but he was determined to say we definitely needed to win.
“I’m happy the players produced a performance to get us one”
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