Fan’s View 18/19 – no.41- Accrington Away

Article by Paul Beasley Wednesday, February 20th, 2019  


OUFC – The future looks bleaker by the day

I wouldn’t have thought it possible but the outlook appears worse and worse by the day. We’re supposed to swallow the hollow words of the whole sustainability four pillars thing whilst the evidence mounts that off the field we’re a football club in total crisis heading in just one direction. We all know where that last journey ended. Tiger talked Championship. We know the Conference. We’ve been there. Is he even aware that not that long ago we were travelling to Histon, Farsley Celtic, St Albans and the like?

The way I feel now it’s hard not to just resort to a torrent of abuse but I’ll try and hold back because that really doesn’t do much good. It is however hard to remain objective and I’ll never be in possession of the full facts as my football club has become a completely embarrassing laughing stock.

The team sits in 21st position which is not good enough by far but I’d say they’re making a much better fist of doing their jobs than the clowns who own OUFC are doing in running the football club. It’s heart breaking.

  1. Firoka issue winding up petition

So we owe £240k with the case due to go before the High Court on February 27th.  The Oxford Mail has reported that this figure is thought to be the first payment requested over the historic service charge, which is believed to be in the region of £800,000. The club have “confirmed payment has been agreed in principle for the due amount.” WTF does that mean? If I go into Tesco and pick up a tin of beans I don’t walk out with it under my arm and cheerily shout at the security guard that I agree in principle that I should pay whilst leaving my wallet firmly in my pocket.

Either the owners, who are 100% responsible for the finances, have the money or they don’t. If they have it but won’t pay up that’s crazy. There’s an additional cost to the club’s balance sheet when these matters go to court. If they don’t have it, or are not willing to put it into OUFC to stave off such humiliation, then they should not be anywhere near the club. Oh wait, they’re not. It’s just their names on documents.

As for the line we’d been fed that relations with the Stadium Company were much better now, well the stench from that bullshit is even stronger than first thought.

The mere mention of the name Firoz Kassam makes many angry. If he’d done his due diligence properly, Tiger would be aware of these costs even if they appear excessive beyond belief. If he’s not ensured due diligence had taken place he’s got no place owning any business anywhere in the world, not even a small corner shop.

What of the remaining £800k? What of further payments to Firoka down the line? What of the next payments due to HMRC?

How many winding up orders can one take before it is impossible to drag oneself back up from the canvass?

I hate to think what the club’s accounts for the year ending June 2019 will look like. Oh yes, when are the shareholders going to get the AGM promised by Niall McWilliams? Or did I dream that?

Others put the blame of where we’re at on the doorstep of Darryl Eales for selling to whom he did and not to Stewart Donald who has Juan Sartori as a financial ally. I’ve never commented much on this because I don’t have the information to do so. But let’s just say it’s very unlikely we’d be in a worse position now if that’s who he had sold to. Mr Eales of course possibly may well have been worse off himself, but I’m just guessing at that.

The blame game will go on and on. I don’t think it’s a single person we can point at and say, hey you, you’re responsible for this terrible predicament Oxford United are in. There’s a whole host of names to consider. Robert Maxwell. Robin Herd. Firoz Kassam. Ian Lenagan. Nick Merry. Darryl Eales. All owners save one. There’s probably others that can be thrown in too.  And if the butterfly effect theory holds good then one wonders what course the club would now be on if there had not been the boardroom invasion which prompted FK to sell Oxford United but not the stadium which was contrary to what he’d previously said he’d do. For better or worse and all that. Championship or Conference South? We’ll never know.

  1. Ian Mixter resigns

There’s two sides to every story of course and I don’t have any inside knowledge on the resignation nor IM’s involvement in the pre- midday turning away of the Ultras against Peterborough and whether the two were connected. Suffering vile abuse is out of order as is general rudeness and bullying, but these do not appear to be normal civilised times at OUFC.

What I know of the Ultras I’d be surprised if they were the ones that delivered the very unsavoury language. I could be wrong.

The club issued the following statement, “At around 10.00 am the Ultras arrived to put up their flags and banners at the back of the East Stand. The Ultras were then asked by Ian and Michael Doyle the Stadium Manager to return at noon to erect the flags and speak to Niall McWilliams who would explain the situation”.

The Ultras claim it happened somewhat differently to that and said they were told in no uncertain terms that the flags were not allowed up and they could return at 12 to discuss why.

Who to believe? Take your pick.

What I don’t get is why it took both IM and MD to ask them to return at 12:00. Nor why IM was not in a position to explain why the situation was as it was. Couldn’t Mr Mixter just have said sorry lads it’s the Stadium Company’s decision as is their right under the licencing agreement?

If I had to pick sides, which I don’t, I know which side I’d be on.

This though is yet another example of the utterly sorry state we now find ourselves in as supporters of the certainly no longer mighty yellows.

  1. There’s more

It’s not just the big things that we’re capable of cocking up. We’re riddled with ineptitude. I didn’t mention it after the Posh game but I ask how many other clubs throughout the country failed to mention who the minute’s applause was for. GORDON BANKS, England World Cup winner in 1966. Exceptional goal-keeper. He deserved so much better.

And finally before I move on to men kicking a ball, the club shop in the Covered Market. In one window there’s a poster listing opening times. Monday – Friday 10:00 – 17:00. In the window round the other side there’s a poster also listing opening times. Monday closed. Tuesday through to and including Saturday 10:00-17:00. Sunday closed.  How many passing tourists have concluded that those tossers don’t know what they’re doing? If they can’t get the most basic of basics right how on earth are they going to put a decent football team together?

Accrington Stanley 4 Oxford United 2

I was hoping that the trip to Accrington to watch a football match would be a welcome distraction from the off the field nightmare.

Big Clock in Grants Bar

Not a bit of it, well other than a bit of welcome relief in two pubs that served fine ale: Peel Park Hotel and Grants Bar, which is connected to the Big Clock Brewery. As I was designated driver even here I couldn’t get the full benefit as I obviously had to be very restrained.

During the first half Mark informed us that he was worried. Mark is an eternal optimist. It worried me that he was worried. Worried about what I asked. “Relegation he replied.”  Yes, it does look an increasingly likely possibility.

No team in League One has now played more games than us. We’re the only team that has thus far failed to win an away game.  Yet we’ve allowed EIGHT away victories at Minchery Farm. No team has registered fewer wins than us. Only four teams have conceded more than us.

Accrington played well against Sunderland in their previous game and scored a couple of goals. Prior to that though they’d gone SIX league games without finding the back of the net once which makes the four we shipped here even more humiliating, if that’s possible.

Given the circumstances, to have 311 fans follow their club to this out-post was rather impressive. There were a few after the final whistle screaming for Karl Robinson’s head and from what I can gather the stewards needed to step in and do a bit of restraining.

Quite often this season I’ve asked myself whether I’d rather have the manager in charge of our opponents in the Oxford dugout instead of Robinson. My conclusions might surprise some. I think there are quite a few poor managers out there. On Saturday my thoughts were “just about” but there’s no guarantee that a manager who is successful at one club can replicate it at another.

One manager I have a lot of time for is John Coleman and I’d do this swap in the blink of an eye. I guess he’s probably happy doing it at little clubs where he can always get buckets of over achievement on his CV with little genuine expectation. It would obviously be very different if he was with us in the current toxic atmosphere and near breakdown in the fabric of the club.

The home side are clearly no world beaters but they did the basics and they did them very well. They deserved this win without a shadow of a doubt. Their finishing was better than ours. They were defensively frail when we came at them in the second half but almost water-tight when compared to the colander like qualities we displayed in our back line from first to last whistle. When we had them a bit under the cosh, their big centre half could be heard loudly encouraging his team mates to hold firm. I heard not one Oxford voice all night long. That silence spoke volumes.

I can’t for one moment agree with the decision to put John Mousinho back into the back four. His presence in front of that unit was sorely missed. Rob Dickie may not have looked L1 class very often but unless Sam long was to be trusted back at centre-half the decision to drop him looked stupid.

In the first period we lacked shape and but for one attack which ended in a tame shot from Marcus Browne I can’t remember us getting anywhere near the Accrington goal. Debutant Mark Sykes did though provide some hope as he looked promising all night. Some first game that was. Perhaps we should go over to Northern Ireland and bring back a whole team.

We were lucky to be just the one goal down at the break. Before we’d gone one down we’d already been easily carved open when a basic cross was missed by Jamie Hanson and was headed against the post. Note basic and simple.

The goal came from a simple but well executed header from Billy Kee. Josh Ruffels was his marker but there’s a big question mark over Simon Eastwood for remaining rooted just in front of the goal line. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to have come and claimed it.

Twelve minutes into the second half and it got worse and the goal was so simple. Sean McConville was in acres of space when he received the ball. He took it on a bit and shot on target. Goal. Bet they didn’t have to work on that on the training ground.

A few minutes later Marcus Browne and Samir Carruthers were replaced by James Henry and Luke Garbutt. Improvement was instant. We began to attack, properly. The Accrington defence no longer looked comfortable.

Browne looked injured (possibly). At the moment he doesn’t look anywhere near being the best player in our squad let along the standout man in League One. Carruthers can pass a ball but match fitness is naturally questionable and he was never going to win the game for us nor stop Accrington playing.

Henry looked much more attuned than on his last two run outs and perhaps there is something in this thing that KR says about playing Garbutt on the wing.

The latter had only been on the pitch for three minutes before scoring his first goal for us. It was Sykes who put over a good cross and the downward header was a superb one. He’d really attacked the ball and that’s not something we have been able to say about Oxford players in the penalty area in recent times.

So there was hope. And a dodgy defence. Ten minutes later that hope had largely been crushed. Curtis Nelson couldn’t stop a cross. Mous had allowed Jordan Clark to get goal side. If Ruffels had stepped up Clark would have been off-side. He didn’t. A glancing header later and we’d been easily undone, again.

We still continued to attack but whereas Stanley were finishing their chances, we weren’t. Jamie Mackie, who put in his usual shift but without any unsettling effect and without producing a goal threat, headed wide when he should have at least got the effort on target.

Another who produced a poor finish was Jordan Graham. He was fed by Henry who had held the ball up well. He used his right when cool thinking would have dictated that he bend it with his left. That way it surely would have got nearer the goal. I thought he was two footed but perhaps I’m wrong.

So the game was petering out with just a minute of the 90 remaining. Then, bloody hell, there was hope again because we got another and for some inexplicable reason there was to be seven added minutes.

Garbutt delivered a free-kick from the left, Nelson dipped his head and somehow got the back of it onto the ball which looped up for Mous to head home.

We’d proved that the defence we were up against was creaking when we were going for it with a bit of meaning but we knew that we were more than capable of opening up to allow the two goal margin to be restored. Nothing else was going to happen other than that was it?

It took until the 4th minute of the additional period for it to come and confirm the inevitable.  A ball was clipped down the touch line. Clark ran easily past two yellow shirts and was greeted with more space than he could have wished for as he entered the penalty area. The shot Luke Armstrong subsequently got away should have been meat and drink to Eastwood. Instead he treated it like a pissed up person would a wet bar of soap. He then had to dive backwards to scramble the ball away to prevent the most embarrassing of goals. It was seized upon by the unmarked Liam Gibson who knocked it back to Armstrong (unmarked) who poked home.

Crap defending. Crap marking. Crap result. Crap journey home.

Ready to do it all again on Saturday but hopefully without all the crap.

A depressing sight, like watching Oxford United at the moment



This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 at 10:42 pm and appears under News Items. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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