ANYONE feeling tense about what the next few weeks hold for Oxford United would be well served by sitting down for a chat with Mickey Lewis.
The caretaker manager has been in the game so long that just two of United’s first-team squad were born when his professional career began 33 years ago.
There is little Lewis has not seen in the campaigns since, first as a player and then in a variety of roles on the coaching staff.
Experience brings perspective, so while some will look ahead to a nervous final third of the season, when he looks at the Sky Bet League Two table he sees only opportunity.
Because, unless you are connected to a huge club, chances like the one which sits in front of United do not come around too often.
“There are a lot of times where you get to this stage of the season and you’re not involved,” Lewis said.
“No-one wants to be down the bottom fighting, we’ve all been in those situations as well, and you don’t want to be mid-table and just seeing the season out.
“This is the best scenario you can be in – challenging for promotion with 14 games to go.
“It’s 14 really big games and everyone knows what’s at stake.
“Like everyone we’d love to be 20 points clear, but the way the league is it’s a really exciting time for everybody.
“We’ve got something massive to play for, so it’s a really good time to be at the club.”
United may have lost an away game for the first time in almost 11 months on Tuesday night, but Lewis immediately called for calm heads in the changing room.
There was little evidence yesterday at the training ground that confidence in the camp had been affected by the 3-2 defeat at Newport County.
Blips will hit all of the promotion candidates between now and May, but the key will be how long they last.
It gives tomorrow’s trip to Morecambe added significance.
Lewis said: “You never want to lose two on the trot, but our mentality is we want to go there and win.
“We’ll try and be solid, as we have been all season away from home, apart from the other night, but we’ll still be going to win.”
He added: “There’s no point in feeling down in the dumps about it.
“It’s the first defeat in nine, that’s a good record and we’ll just try and go on another run now.”