The Opposition View: Oxford United

Last updated : 11 August 2017 By Jim Bonner

What are your hopes and expectations for this season following a strong campaign last year?

I think 'hopes' for most people are a play off spot. My expectations are 10-16th. The league is stronger this year and we have to get used to a new manager.

Did Michael Appleton's decision to leave the job job at Oxford to become Leicester's assistant surprise you? And what do Oxford fans think of him now?

It did surprise me, but then there are plenty of rumours that his current salary is a multiple of the one he earned at Oxford. I don't think many fans blame him for moving, and there's no doubting his impact at Oxford.

He put together our most successful teams for years and they played stuff that could be a joy to watch. We could go toe-to-toe with pretty much everyone we came up against and he had a superb record against teams in higher divisions. 

What do Oxford fans think of Pep Clotet since he arrived at the Kassam Stadium?

He's got a lot to live up to, but the Leeds fans absolutely love him. Most are positive and look forward to seeing what he can do. An early change has been in transfer policy. Appleton looked to sign younger players and resale value was an obvious priority. Now we are going for more experienced heads and we've also looked further afield. New signings are from Brazil, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. Some seem to have had lengthy injuries, so there's a good deal more risk to it. 

Both teams go into this match on the back of defeats after extra time in the League Cup. Do you think that will have any baring on how Saturday's match plays out?

I hope not, because ours was less than impressive. It surely can't affect much at this stage, although Oxford fans probably wouldn't like going one or two down.

Simon Eastwood, Mike Williamson and Wes Thomas are all former Pompey players. What do Oxford fans think of them?

Eastwood arrived with a poor reputation, but there's not an Oxford fan that would say a bad word about him. He played every game last year and has clearly improved since the beginning of his career.

Williamson has only played one game. Most are impressed by his CV, recognise the need for experience but hold their breath over his recent injuries.

Wes Thomas; I think most fans like him. He has a decent record for us when he gets on the pitch, but missed most of last season through injury. I think we're all a bit wary of how much we will rely on our lone striker for goals.

What are the main strengths and weaknesses of this Oxford side and who are the key players?

We were a patient, passing side under Appleton and it'll probably take a while for Pep to get us playing how he would like. I'm not a tactics man by any stretch but most see us going 4-2-3-1. Jack Payne is a tricky number 10, who'll play behind the striker and be our spark. Ryan Ledson is a midfield engine and as talented a player as Oxford have had in a while, although you likely won't see him popping up with a goal.

Weaknesses as a young team have usually been shipping games to teams that are a bit wiser, and not always taking the initiative when we should. Maybe the older recruits can change that as they get up to speed.

What do you make of Portsmouth and what are you expecting from them this season?

Big club and a billionaire owner, so I expect plenty. Jackett knows League One and Pitman was a signing that made you take notice. I expect play-offs plus a big crowd.:)

What kind of match can we expect on Saturday?

I expect both teams to attack and try to win. I don't think we'll hoof it or kick you off the pitch. 

Predict the outcome of the game.

2-1 Oxford. I am an optimist but don't expect us to keep a clean sheet.