MICHAEL Appleton used his first meeting with Oxford United’s players to call for them to stick to their strengths and play without fear.
The new head coach is well aware time is of the essence after starting work on Monday, just over a month before the start of the Sky Bet League Two season.
He is keen to bring in new players quickly, but also wants to get to know those already at the club.
Appleton spoke briefly to the squad to lay out his plans, and the former Portsmouth and Blackburn boss intends to lead by example.
He said: “I told them there’s going to be no Robert de Niro speeches. You’ll know what my qualities are and you’ll see what I’m about over the next days, weeks and months with the professionalism I bring to the party.
“I expect them over a period of time to come and introduce themselves to me and tell me about themselves.
“That’s how I work. I always have an open door and I’m quite an easy guy to get on with as long as you do your job properly.
“I just want the players to express themselves.
“Whatever qualities they bring to the team – do it without fear.
“Whether you’re someone who defends well, a good passer or like to attack people, stick to your strengths and relax.”
Dave Kitson is the only U’s player who has worked with Appleton before, when the pair were at Fratton Park during the 2011-12 season.
The rest will have to learn how the new boss wants to play, their first outing coming with the start of the pre-season games at Farnborough this Saturday.
Appleton believes his sides have a track record of attractive football but also acknowledged there was a need to be pragmatic.
He said: “Most people are going to say ‘I want an open brand of football’.
“They use all the right words and to be fair, with 90 per cent of them, that is what they want.
“With my background I think the majority of sides I’ve been with have always played good football.
“But on the other hand, you have to find a way to win.
“There will be occasions between November and January where the weather isn’t fantastic and there will be situations where we need to find a way to win when we’ll have our backs to the wall.
“Hopefully we have enough personalities and strength of character to do that.”
Latest Sport news
9:42pm Tuesday 6th October 2015
KEMAR Roofe etched his name into derby folklore with two goals as Oxford United stretched their winning run against Swindon Town to five matches.
11:15pm Tuesday 6th October 2015
6:40pm Tuesday 6th October 2015
Vlae of White Horse beat Swindon 1-0 at Highworth Town FC in the ESFA Under 15 Inter Association Trophy to earn a second-round tie next month at home to Coventry or Cheltenham.
6:35pm Tuesday 6th October 2015
All the news from Oxford United's derby clash with Swindon Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
11:00am Tuesday 6th October 2015
MICHAEL Appleton is looking forward to his first experience of an Oxford-Swindon clash, but has made it clear the priority is on ensuring it is a fixture in Sky Bet League One next season.
9:30am Tuesday 6th October 2015
KEEPING a cool head will be key if Oxford United are going to beat fierce rivals Swindon Town tonight, according to skipper Jake Wright.
9:20am Tuesday 6th October 2015
CALLUM O’Dowda cannot wait for his first taste of a game against Swindon Town after getting permission to delay his trip to meet up with the Ireland Under 21 squad.
9:00am Tuesday 6th October 2015
JORDAN Graham is in line to make his first Oxford United start as injury looks likely to rule Danny Rose out of their clash with Swindon Town.
8:30am Tuesday 6th October 2015
ALTHOUGH Oxford United have won fewer derby matches than rivals Swindon Town, who lead 21-13, they go into tonight’s game looking for an unprecedented fifth straight victory.
8:00am Tuesday 6th October 2015
Oxfordshire are still looking for their first win in this season's BDO Inter-Counties Championship after losing 20-16 away to Surrey at Worcester Park at the weekend The visitors never recovered after losing the opening Ladies’ B match 5-1.