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  • "I absolutely trust Ian 100%, he's a man of great business acumen and has fantastic people skills. However I would like to say that football isn't rugby and people have been trying for decades to instil ideas from different sports into the game - Liverpool trying a moneyball system and Southamptons appointment of Sir Clive Woodward both ended in failure because football is a supertanker to turn and everyone in the game is suspicious of change.

    If Ian Lenagan whats to see his vision materialise then he must be prepared to invest decades rather than years of his life in the club.

    Oh and if you're after another example, Dario Gradi joined Crewe as a manager in 1983, one of his first ambitions was to be able to field a starting 11 entirely made up of youth team (Academy) graduates. It wasn't until April 2013, 30 years later and nearly 2 years after Gradi stepped down as manager were they finally able to do so."
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Oxford United chairman spells out the way ahead

United chairman Ian Lenagan

United chairman Ian Lenagan

First published in Sport Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor. Call me on 01865 425451

AROUND a third of the people interested in the Oxford United manager’s job would like a ‘director of football’ role at the club.

U’s chairman Ian Lenagan revealed last week that he had received more than 50 applications within five days of Chris Wilder leaving to join Northampton Town.

That figure has since risen, with many enquiring about a position ‘above’ the manager.

It is something Lenagan admits is a possibility, although he was keen to stress that he is very open-minded on the route he will go down.

“I would say we would be odds-on to be in at least the play-offs, with a good chance to get into the automatic promotion places,” he said.

“Because of the fact we are within spitting distance of promotion, the interest in the Oxford United job is much greater than in the past.

“We need to make decisions as to what the structure is.”

Lenagan also owns rugby league club Wigan Warriors and there has Kris Radlinski working above the head coach, Shaun Wane.

It is an approach that could be implemented by Oxford United.

“I do not like the title director of football, because it has been demeaned by some poor appointments and the way it has been done,” Lenagan said.

“I prefer the title sporting director because that’s the continental title that accurately reflects what that person does.

“The sporting director delivers the vision across the whole club. He doesn’t do coaching, team selection and suchlike, the head coach – or whatever his title – does that.”

He added: “At Wigan, I have got a director of rugby and a head coach and it works like an absolute dream.

“I wouldn’t mind such a structure at Oxford, because how are we going to make sure that the development squad and academy squad and the vision we have for the whole of Oxford United is delivered across the whole club?

“If you were to ask me if I had the ideal structure in mind, it would be that. But whether we can afford it depends on the cost of such a person and the head coach themselves.

“It could be either of those. If I favour anything, it is the head coach with another person. But I am not presupposing that.

“It is interesting, however, that around a third of the applicants are to do with that strategy.”

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