Extra help to choose Oxford United's next boss

6:00am Thursday 6th February 2014

By Mark Edwards

IAN Lenagan is confident that he will get the right man for the Oxford United job and says that U’s supporters should not think of him more of a rugby league man than football.

In fact, he says, it irritates him when that criticism is thrown in his direction.

However, with the United board only comprising Lenagan and his two sons, Simon and Adrian, the U’s owner confirmed that an extra person will sit on the panel charged with finding the next manager, but would not reveal his identity.

“I am on the Football League board and I know a lot of people in the game and have got to know a lot more over the past year or so,” he said.

“I could turn around for advice to at least three other people in the Football League community.

“And because of our involvement with the Premier League, we have three separate people who have watched dozens of Oxford United games this year who are well capable and have advised me on the policies in the last six months.

He added: “I could easily resent people who say I am not a football person because I have probably watched maybe 1,000 or 2,000 football games over the last 40 years – or even more than that.

“Some of them were at Liverpool because I have been a season ticket holder there for ten years, some of them Wigan Athletic because I have watched dozens and dozens of matches, and probably 15 years of watching every Woodstock Town match in the Hellenic League and Oxfordshire Senior League.

“So it is wrong to suggest that I don’t have any football experience when we are choosing a manager.

“I would take advice from people about which striker we need to buy, of course I would, but we are looking for a manager and a person of a particular culture, a track record and of a particular vision. I could judge all of those, but I won’t do it on my own. obviously.”

Lenagan confirmed that the process is likely to be similar to that which found Chris Wilder.

Five years ago, the then-chairman Kelvin Thomas led a panel comprising Jim Smith and Simon Lenagan.

Advice was sought from various other people with football knowledge – including ex-director Jim Rosenthal – but it was those three men who conducted final interviews and chose Wilder.

“When we recruited Chris, I controlled the recruitment process,” Ian Lenagan said.

“I said how we would do it. I didn’t sit on the board because at that point I wasn’t doing it, but my son Simon did, as well as Kelvin and Jim Smith.

“We did that rather well, don’t you think?

“We will do the same thing. I have selected three managers in the last seven years at Wigan and all of them have done well for us – two as managers of the first team and one for the youth development team.

“Oxford United fans can have great confidence that I will not sit in a room on my own and choose the next manager, but I would think I could do that quite well anyway, having taken advice from the people I take advice from.

“At least one other person will sit on the board with us in looking at who the next manager would be.

When asked who this would be, Lenagan replied: “That’s private business, I will not name who.”

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