Well played Oxford United. Let’s get that out there first of all following their 4-0 Capital One Cup victory over a Brentford XI last night. To go three up within twelve minutes deserves credit at any level and, being honest, we were lucky it wasn’t more.
Let’s be equally clear, I don’t blame any of the youngsters on show. I’m all for using this sort of game to blood a couple of less experienced players. But don’t make so many changes and leave them with so little first team support. The lads were on a hiding to nothing against a physically stronger Oxford team.
For that, you have to look to Marinus and wonder why he felt it a good decision to give so many untested players a game simultaneously. He blamed injuries but have we really got that many just one game into the season? Let’s hope they can learn from this and we do see more of them being, gradually, phased in rather than another such baptism of fire
And if you are going to make such a decision then have the balls to stand by it. At a time when the new look side were crying out for some direction, Marinus’ body language spoke volumes. I’ve seen more animated statues as he cut a forlorn figure rooted to the edge of his technical area. Worse, there was no handshake for Courtney Senior when he came off. Indeed, it looked as though the youngster was actually given the cold shoulder as he turned to the head coach on reaching the dugout.
A similar snub was offered to the entire team at full time aswell as the crowd. Aside from a brief chat to the Oxford management and officials, he headed straight for the dressing room with no further word or sign being offered.
Perhaps this is just Marinus’ style and he does his talking in the dressing room. But at a time when the youngsters he’d chucked into the lion’s den needed an arm around the shoulder it was this that really upset me. Defeat I can take but at least back your team in public.
Andreas Bjelland had a debut to forget. Whether it was worry about a pitch that continued to cut up or first game nerves, he didn’t put a foot right as challenges were missed and clearances misdirected. As one wag in the New Road suggested to me, “He looks like a defensive Nick Proschwitz”. Harsh, perhaps, but matters became worse when his game to a premature end following injury just before half time.
But it’s not fair to single him out. Jack Bonham struggled with his distribution – Oxford’s third goal being an exquisite strike by Kemar Roofe who put the goalkeeper’s headed clearance straight back past him from 40 yards. Lasse Vibe barely had a touch whilst Nico Yennaris was played in an unfamiliar central midfield role.
Marinus would later describe it as, “An embarrassing performance from my team. After 12 minutes it’s game over. I think there was no organisation, no leadership in the team.” In layman’s terms, Holby City hadn’t even started on TV by the point we were 3-0 down.
Look. I like Marinus. He comes across as a genuine bloke and a wonderful straight talker. I have no doubt he and the team will bounce back and so I hope this is just one that we have to chalk up to experience. A heavy defeat at the hands of a better team.
Mistakes were made but at least they have been realised. Let’s just put it behind us and focus on the game at Bristol City. Three points there and this will all be forgotten about.
As for the youngsters. If any of them are reading then chin up. There was a lot of potential out there and I’m sure we’ll see the likes of Courtney, Josh Clarke, Jermaine Udumaga and Josh Laurent again. As Alan Hansen so famously said, “You can’t win anything with kids” and look what happened next.
For now though, we just have to take it on the chin.
Well done Oxford United.