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
2:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
BRIAN Howard’s situation at Oxford United is unclear after head coach Michael Appleton admitted he did not know whether the midfielder would be offered an extension to his short-term contract.
12:33pm Friday 19th December 2014
PIRI Weepu returns to the London Welsh starting line-up for tomorrow's Aviva Premiership fixture with Saracens at Allianz Park (KO 3pm).
12:00pm Friday 19th December 2014
JOSH Ashby is good enough to play in Oxford United’s side right now, but the teenager knows his time will come, according to head coach Michael Appleton.
9:40am Friday 19th December 2014
RONNIE Moore is braced for a tough first game in charge of Hartlepool United after comparing opponents Oxford United to Real Madrid.
9:30am Friday 19th December 2014
John Campbell admits it would be difficult to keep his kit on if he was able to make an impact on debut for Oxford United tomorrow.
Interactive match preview: Appleton and Hylton on goals; Moore likens United to Real Madrid; Howard's future; Ashby; club stalwart departs + video
9:34am Friday 19th December 2014
Get ready for kick-off with our interactive preview of Oxford United's trip to Hartlepool
9:10am Friday 19th December 2014
THERE were times earlier this season when it felt like Danny Hylton was scoring in every game, but Oxford United’s top scorer is not getting weighed down by a sudden barren run in front of goal.
9:00am Friday 19th December 2014
FINDING a predator to turn dominance into goals has been an Achilles’ heel for Oxford United this season, but Michael Appleton is hopeful two candidates will emerge over the festive period.
8:00am Friday 19th December 2014
ABOUT 150 supporters have taken advantage of Oxford United’s offer of free transport to tomorrow’s game at Hartlepool United.
7:30am Friday 19th December 2014
North Leigh boss Mark Gee admitted he is ‘wary’ of struggling Wantage Town as his side travel to Alfredian Park in Division 1 South & West of the Evo-Stik Southern League tomorrow, writes Matthew Bruce.