MARK Jones has agreed a deal to become Oxford City’s head coach – and is relishing the chance to build his own team.
Jones took over as temporary boss in December and led the side away from danger at the bottom of the Vanarama National League South table to a comfortable mid-table finish.
He has now been confirmed in the position on a permanent basis, with Jo Deeney (assistant) and Steve Glenister (coach) staying as his backroom staff.
Justin Merritt will be City’s director of football, tasked with developing ‘an attractive playing style throughout the club, with a view of developing and supporting teams and managers from under 8s through to the senior sides’.
Merritt’s role will also involve structuring departments at the club to support the management team and players, including sports science, video analysis, player recruitment and sports medicine.
Jones is upbeat about the future and is already in discussions with a number of players.
“It’s an exciting time and a great challenge for me,” he said.
“It’s a really good opportunity to take the club forward because last season was difficult.
“There were lots of changes during the season, but we definitely had more stability in the second half.”
He added: “I came in after 21 games with our main aim to stay in the division.
“It was a case of making sure we got the points we needed, but how we got them didn’t matter.
“That wasn’t ideal and not how we want to do things, and now I have the chance to really take the club forward.”
Jones has already started to shape his squad for next season, and while he does not want to make wholesale alterations, admits there will inevitably be a number of changes.
Jefferson Louis and Mike Fondop, arguably City’s two main strikers, have been released, as have Wilson Carvalho, Tom Winters and Shaun McAuley.
Jones says finding an answer to their lack of goals last season is crucial.
“I think only the bottom three teams scored fewer,” he said.
“Jefferson and Mike did well for us, but we just felt we needed to change things.
“Everybody is looking for that 25-goal a season striker, but we do not have the budget to compete with a lot of clubs.
“So it’s a case of trying to find a hidden gem.
“We are talking to a number of players and hopefully we will be able to sort something shortly.”