The right time come?

From the Rage Online newsdesk Sunday, August 11th, 2002  

All the pre-season games have been played; the new players have come in, the old players have left. The first game is under our belts and, three points to the good, things are looking good for United. This really must be the season that the decline of the past few years is not just halted, but reversed.

The odd blimp excepted it has been many years since United supporters could look forward to a season with an honest feeling of optimism. Now, with players of the quality of Bobby Ford, Steve Basham Matt Robinson and Lee Steele added to the squad, and the continuing improvement of Dean Whitehead, Manny Omoyinmi and Rage On Sponsored Chris Hackett, there is a real opportunity for United to justify the supporters’ traditional pre-season optimism with actual performances and results.

We do not anticipate United storming away with the championship. That would be naive and foolish. We do, though, expect them to be amongst the challengers for a play-off position at least. Anything more would be a bonus, anything less would be a disappointment, and we have had our fill of disappointments over the last four or five seasons.

If there is one concern it is the lack of depth to the squad, especially in defence (which is ironic when you consider that last season we had defenders in abundance, but it is quality rather than quantity that is important). The changes to the loan rules, which allow clubs to take up to ten players on loan each season, could mean that this is not such a pressing problem, as could the plethora of uncontracted players doing the rounds, such as Leo Roget and Sam Okokiolu, both of whom United had on trial in the close season and both of whom (Roget especially) could provide adequate cover if needed.

Off the pitch, unfortunately, things are still not as rosy as they could be. The promised signs, proclaiming the Kassam Stadium to be the home of Oxford United, have still not appeared, or even had the planning application submitted, despite assurances to the contrary. The overflow car park has not even been started, much less completed, despite it being a planning condition for use of the stadium, although the 150 new parking spaces along Grenoble Road will go some way to alleviating parking problems at the ground, as will the news that there will be a delay in implementing the parking restrictions in Littlemore and Blackbird Leys, although that will be of more concern to the residents of those communities.

There is still the opportunity to put these issues right and we hope that it won’t be too long before we can truly complain that we have nothing to complain about. Let us hope that we will also have something to celebrate come next May.

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