A FORTNIGHT on from sneaking in the back door to watch Oxford United’s previous home game, Gary Waddock is relishing an opportunity to make a higher profile entrance tomorrow.
After two games on the road, the clash with Fleetwood Town is the new head coach’s first game in charge at the Kassam Stadium.
The spotlight will be on Waddock, something he actively avoided in the 1-0 win over Hartlepool United last month.
It came hours after verbally accepting the role, but, with the contract not signed until the following day, he watched the victory from the press box.
The 52-year-old will be much closer to the action tomorrow.
He said: “I’m looking forward to coming out for the first home game in front of the fans.
“I want the team to perform and show them what we’re trying to do.
“The lads have worked extremely hard and I’m very proud to be the manager of this football club.”
Managing at the Kassam will not be a new experience, though.
Waddock’s Aldershot side won 3-2 in a Conference clash six seasons ago, while he guided Wycombe Wanderers to a 2-2 draw almost exactly three years ago.
As a visiting boss he admitted the U’s fans were always a force to be reckoned with and he stressed their role cannot be underestimated, particularly during the run-in.
“They can make it a very difficult atmosphere for Fleetwood,” he said.
“Let’s hope we can put on a performance so they can get right behind us and that’ll give us a chance.
“I’ve been in the other dugout and I know how loud they can get and what the atmosphere is like.
“If we can create that again on Saturday it’ll give us the extra man.
“They’re very vocal and even the away fans when they come to grounds I’ve been at before as a manager, the noise they create is fantastic.
“If we can have that at home the players will get a real high from that and hopefully performance levels will rise as well.”
Back-to-back defeats on the road mean the mood could be tense tomorrow if Fleetwood get their noses in front.
The setbacks at Sout-hend and Dagenham, even though the latter came via a bizarre own goal, have seen United’s advantage over the sides outside the play-offs slip away.
Waddock has been encouraged by the response in training, but admitted restoring confidence could only genuinely come from what happens on a matchday.
He said: “Results help massively in terms of that.
“Performances help, but three points are the key to it all. If you can get on a run of winning games that gives you the confidence.
“We need to do that very quickly.”