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  • "The best pair of hands our club has been for many, many years...I suspect the reason so many fans were unsure of Ian Lenagan is because he liked to stay in the background. With recent circumstances he has had to propel himself to the front. What we hear from him now just cannot be argued with, you just can see why he is such a successful businessman and professional Rugby Club owner. Long may it continue."
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Oxford United chairman spells out the way ahead

United chairman Ian Lenagan

United chairman Ian Lenagan

First published in Headlines 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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