Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Liam Manning Appointed and Defeat Against Derby

Liam Manning

There was plenty going on this week for Oxford United with the main talking point being the appointment of Liam Manning.

The 37-year-old, who replaces Karl Robinson as the club’s new head coach, oversaw Oxford’s League One match against Derby County from the stands.

Oxford United Weekly Round-Up: Liam Manning Becomes New U’s Head Coach

U’s Defender Selected for International Duty

The week began with Oxford defender Ciaron Brown being called up to the Northern Ireland squad for their upcoming Euro 2024 qualifying matches.

The games against San Marino and Finland take place on March 23 and 26 respectively, meaning the 25-year-old would miss Oxford’s home game against Cheltenham Town.

Brown has earned 12 caps since making his debut in a 1-0 win over Luxembourg in 2019.

Young U’s Out of the Cup

Oxford’s U18s were unable to continue their record-breaking cup run as they lost 3-0 at Manchester City.

The young U’s, who we’re playing in the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup for the first time in the club’s history, put in a respectable display but were unable to find a way through.

The three-times winners will now face Arsenal in the semi-final.

Oxford United ‘Closing In’ On New Manager

Ahead of the appointment of Liam Manning, Alan Nixon claimed that the U’s were “closing in” on Grant McCann as the club’s new manager.

The 42-year-old, who left Peterborough United in January, had stood out against the other candidates for the job, according to the report.

McCann has enjoyed some success as a manager, most notably gaining promotion from League One as champions with Hull City before establishing them in the second tier.

He also built a very strong Doncaster Rovers side who were knocked out of the playoffs by eventual winners, Charlton Athletic.

Jermain Defoe on Oxford Links

Former Premier League and England striker Jermain Defoe also expressed an interest in the vacant manager’s job at Oxford.

This came as part of the BBC Radio 5 Live podcast Jermain Defoe: Outside The Box, as he looks to become a manager.

The 40-year-old, who retired in March last year, remains the ninth-highest Premier League goalscorer after finding the net with several clubs, including Sunderland, Tottenham and Portsmouth.

When asked if the position would come too soon, Defoe said: “Obviously it’s early because I’ve not managed.

“I don’t think I would force it because I want to be ready, I don’t want to go into a situation where I’m not ready.

“I want to be fully prepared so I wouldn’t force it, but at the same time, if I got a phone call then I’m not going to be one of those people who’s in a comfort zone.

“I don’t mind going outside my comfort zone and throwing myself into the deep end because, at the end of the day, it’s that competitive side of me – I’ve always been like that anyway.

“I don’t think you can be afraid to fail, I think you have to set your sights high but if they called me, I’d go of course.

“I’d go and listen to what they say.”

Liam Manning ‘On The Verge’ of Oxford United Job

On Friday, Liam Manning was on the verge of becoming Oxford United’s new head coach, according to BBC Radio Oxford.

The 37-year-old, who was sacked as manager of MK Dons in December 2022, had been a candidate for some time and the latest reports suggest that the board had finally made their decision.

While this season was a huge disappointment for the Dons, last season was one of real excitement under the new manager. Manning guided his team to a third-placed finish (just one point behind second-placed Rotherham) but lost out to Wycombe in the semi-final. Like Oxford under Karl Robinson, Manning’s side were an attacking, free-flowing and high-scoring side that was comfortable in possession.

Manning also picked up his first Manager of the Month award just 11 league games into his tenure after gathering 11 points in five matches. He also scooped the award for January.

The young manager also has a reputation for developing young players, having spent some of his early coaching career with West Ham, Ipswich and New York City.

Liam Manning Confirmed

Former MK Dons head coach Liam Manning was then appointed the new manager of Oxford United on Saturday.

Manning has brought his former Dons assistant head coach Chris Hogg, while interim caretaker coaches Craig Short, Leon Blackmore-Such and Wayne Brown will remain at the club.

He replaces Karl Robinson who was sacked after a dismal run of form which included seven defeats in eight games, with the other match ending in a draw against MK Dons.

Speaking to the club’s official website, chairman Grant Ferguson said: “Liam has a fantastic reputation as a coach and for helping to develop young players.

“His sides play with a sense of identity and purpose and play attacking football and that is something that Oxford United have always tried to do.

“We had an outstanding list of candidates and as promised we went through a rigorous recruitment process but Liam was our unanimous choice.

“We would also like to welcome Chris and thank Craig and the staff who have all worked so hard over the last couple of weeks and who I am sure will be a huge help to Liam and Chris as we all try to turn results around this season and then build for the future.”

Manning added: “I thank the board for showing faith in me and I want to repay that, first of all by ensuring the team pull away from any immediate danger and then by being part of a very exciting period in the club’s history.

“Oxford has amazing fans home and away, there are big plans for the future of the club and I can’t wait to get started.

“Obviously Craig and the staff have worked towards the Derby game all week, know the players and will be in charge today but I will be there to watch and offer advice if asked, and I look forward to meeting the supporters and staff and being part of a big club with even bigger ambitions.”

Defeat Against Derby

While there was a new manager watching from the stands, it was the same result on the pitch as Oxford lost against Derby County.

The U’s took a deserved early lead through Sam Long but a quickfire brace before half time gave the visitors the lead.

The Rams added a third after the restart before Kyle Joseph netted a late consolation for the hosts.

It was an improved performance but the U’s sit just three points above the drop after the results.