March 22, 2018 – the date that Karl Robinson was appointed as the new Oxford United manager. It has been an up and down three years with the U’s boss but things have certainly improved since his early time in charge.
Oxford United Manager Karl Robinson Reaches Three Years in Charge
Karl Robinson took over as Oxford United manager two months after the club sacked Pep Clotet. During that time, Darryl Eales sold the club to current chairman Sumrith ‘Tiger’ Thanakarnjanasuth, who made bringing Robinson to the club a priority.
Clotet was sacked with the club tenth in League One but the team were still in touching distance of the playoffs. By the time the takeover was complete and Robinson was appointed, Oxford had slipped to 15th and were edging closer to the relegation zone. Despite the drop down the table, Robinson steered the U’s to safety, despite only picking up three wins from his ten games in charge.
First Full Season
It was a disappointing finish to the 2017/18 season, but the following campaign wouldn’t get much better. The U’s spent more than half of the season in the bottom four, including the first 17 league games until mid-November.
The U’s won just once from their opening 12 league games and the highest position they got themselves to was 18th.
With ten games remaining and the club back in the bottom four, Robinson led the club to a nine-game unbeaten run, losing out on the final day to already-promoted Luton Town, to lift the U’s to a 12th placed finish.
A season of transition it certainly was, both on and off the field, as the board were wound up several times by the HMRC.
Coronavirus Halted Robinson’s Best Season
While the first full season was hugely disappointing, his second as Oxford United manager was a stark contrast. The U’s ended the season in the League One play-off final, enjoyed successful cup runs and went 18 games unbeaten during the campaign.
Oxford recorded 17 wins from their 35 league games and ended the season in four as a result of PPG, just two points off the automatic promotion places. The U’s also won their last five games in succession, asking the question would they have finished in the top two? A 6-0 win away at Lincoln City was also a club record away win in the Football League.
The cups competitions were just as exciting. The U’s took Newcastle United to an FA Cup fourth round replay after drawing at St James’ Park, before coming from two goals down in the second game, losing out in injury time. The Carabao Cup also borough enjoyment. Robinson’s side beat West Ham United 4-0 at home and gave Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side a run for their money in the quarter-final.
Although it ended in defeat at Wembley, it was a bright season for the club. Karl Robinson had made his mark as the Oxford United manager.
One problem under Karl Robinson is the slow starts to the campaign. Even last season, Oxford lost four from their opening seven league games and it was a similar story back in September. Oxford lost seven of their opening ten league games and found themselves in and around the bottom four during that spell.
But, under Robinson, the club climbed the table. Two league defeats in 16 games, which included a club-record nine successive wins in all competitions, lifted the U’s to a playoff push. Although Oxford have only managed two wins from their last nine games, Robinson’s side remain just three points outside the playoffs.
Future as Oxford United Manager
During his time at the club, Karl Robinson has been linked with several moves away. Last season, the Oxford United manager was linked with the Blackpool job while Bournemouth and Birmingham City have been associated with the U’s boss recently.
But, with a proposed takeover from an Indonesian consortium, made up of current and previous board members, the future looks bright for the club and Robinson has claimed he wants to turn Oxford United into a “top-30 club in England over the next five years.”