Football is back and the new season is only days away.
During the off-season Oxford United have been synonymous with the word new.
The U’s have a new chairman, manager, players, sponsors and even a revamped kit.
All of the above bring a sense of anticipation and excitement for the up and coming season to those that follow the U’s.
I am one of those people filled with excitement about the season ahead for Oxford, but of all the new changes there is one that delights me the most.
The appointment of the new manager Michael Appleton is their best acquisition of the summer.
It just seems a good decision and one that says the club is forward thinking.
Yes it is just a change of manager and that isn’t something new in football, but for me it’s the potential he brings that excites me.
He is a determined young manager with the hunger and desire to be very successful.
In one of my Oxford Mail columns, I spoke of the type of manager I would like to see take over when Chris Wilder departed in January and I feel that Michael Appleton fits that mould.
Obviously we all know he will be judged on results, but I think he has made a great start laying down the foundation and putting his stamp on what is now his team.
His opening statement as Oxford manager was refreshing to hear, especially the part when he said he wants his players to express themselves.
He has added to the squad, and rightly so, but the new players coming in has not meant the door being closed on the current crop of top youngsters the club have brought through.
They seem to have been given a fair chance to impress the new manager too.
Of the current Oxford United squad, only seven players remain since the day I left the club in 2013.
That doesn’t shock or surprise me. That’s just football and we all hope this squad takes the club further than previous squads before them.
With the word new being associated with Oxford so much this summer, I hope that at the end of season we see a ‘new’ ending to the campaign for Oxford United and they finally go up.
Since retiring in October, people always ask me do I miss football.
I reply the same way, with a long pause then an answer of ‘yes and no’.
Yes I will always miss football, it’s in my blood and I love it.
I have to admit though; I only miss match days and games. That pre-game build up, the tunnel walk and of course the game.
The feeling will never be reciprocated by anything I do post football, well not unless I win £80m on the Euromillions lottery!
The ‘no’ answer I give is for the no – I don’t miss the running and no – I don’t miss pre-season training.
Every year of my pre-season since I signed professional at 17, I remember running around and saying to myself and who ever would listen that I cannot wait to retire so I don’t have to do pre-season training ever again.
I do not miss that hard running. My good friend and current Oxford United head of sports science Alasdair Lane was the smiling assassin.
He was always bubbly and smiling, which made it hard to shout at him, even though he was giving you these killer running drills in what seemed like near impossible times.
He was very good at his job and one of the best I have worked with in my 20-year career, so I know the Oxford United players have had the best possible build up to the season ahead.