OXFORD United head to Essex tomorrow still looking for lift-off to the Michael Appleton era, but the head coach is adamant the bumpy start will be worth it.
There is a reason few teams at this level even consider the sort of attractive style United have deployed so far – it is not easy to pull off.
A commitment to artistry is admirable, but they have come away empty-handed against teams using a lower-risk, more agricultural approach.
Pretty performances do not pay the bills if they fail to produce results, but ahead of the visit to Southend United, Appleton is not rattled.
On the contrary, the U’s boss believes it could be necessary in the long run.
He said: “I’ve been involved in three promotions as a player and a couple as a coach and you have to experience periods like we are at the minute to actually win things and get on the other end of it.
“Because you don’t appreciate a 1-0 win away from home where you’ve been under the cosh unless you’ve been on the other end of it, where you’ve played really well and lost.”
A handful of bad results will not deter Appleton from a long-term plan to take United forward, but that does not mean fixtures will be frittered away.
He said: “What we have to be really careful of is making sure we get the balance right between short and long-term success.
“I have a long-term vision for the club and I want to change the philosophy and DNA.
“I think I am doing that slowly but surely and I think the fans are seeing that, but obviously people want short-term success as well.
“What is short-term success? At the minute it’s just to win a game.
“Once we’ve done that you go to the next goal.”
Although all appears calm inside the United camp, a Sky Bet League Two table which shows only goal difference keeping them off the bottom will fill some supporters with unease.
“I understand it because that’s the way football has gone – it’s to panic,” Appleton said.
“That is the truth, when a couple of results haven’t gone our way let’s panic, let’s go and do something stupid.
“I can’t control that and I don’t want to.
“All I can control is making sure the players are in a good frame of mind and are organised.”
He added: “The players will feel frustrated at the minute, but not to the point where they forget what we are about.
“As difficult as it is to lose a game, I would pay to come and watch us play, because we do it the right way.”
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