IAN Lenagan is convinced the lengthy process of finding a replacement for Chris Wilder has produced the right man to lead Oxford United for years to come.
Exactly eight weeks on from what proved to be Wilder’s last game in charge, the U’s chairman unveiled Gary Waddock as his new head coach on Saturday.
It came at the end of a busy week for the four-man panel, consisting of Lenagan, his sons Simon and Adrian – both directors – plus an unnamed, external, adviser.
A shortlist of five candidates was narrowed to three, and then two, before the final selection was made.
Lenagan admitted on Friday, before the identity was revealed, that not all supporters would be happy with the decision.
But the U’s owner is certain Waddock fulfils the criteria they wanted.
“I have no reservations about the appointment of Gary Waddock,” he said. “We had a worry that the two per cent at the extremes might be underwhelmed, but we are not underwhelmed.
“We are delighted with the appointment. Gary never put a foot wrong through the whole process.
“He’s got the background, he’s got great references, he plays good football. What more can you ask for?
“We went through an interview process five years ago with Chris Wilder, where he came through and it was the right choice.
“We followed an even more stringent process this time. It has given us a good man and we are pleased with the outcome.”
Whereas Wilder was Oxford United’s manager, Waddock’s role has been defined as head coach.
The club went into the search with an open mind and there was a suggestion a sporting director, who oversees recruitment and long-term planning, could also be appointed.
It remains an aim for the U’s in the future, but Lenagan believes Waddock’s role will be no different from his predecessor.
He said: “We debated the title a lot and we believe head coach is right because that’s the focus on football.
“That doesn’t mean to say that Gary isn’t doing all of the job that an old-fashioned manager would have done.
“It’s just that new football thinking has a head coach and someone doing the sporting director role.”
For now, the board will act as the sporting director, but the U’s chairman says he has had plenty of input on player recruitment in the past.
He said: “In the last two years I had a fairly major role in the recruitment of anybody, because the only way you can make sure the culture of the people is right is by interviewing them.
“There aren’t many chairmen who interview prospective signings, but I interviewed 90 per cent of all the signings last year.
“I wanted to make sure for myself they were the right people and I wanted them to understand what they were getting when they came into Oxford.
“That relationship will continue with Gary undoubtedly and he’s very easy to work with.
“I’m confident we will work together well.”
The U’s chairman also thanked the role played by MK Dons, who acted swiftly to release Waddock from his role as their head of coaching.
Despite having a contract until the summer, they allowed him to leave without requesting compensation.
Lenagan said: “I have to compliment them on their professionalism.
“I approached them formally and they responded quickly because they recognised that Gary is capable of being a No 1 and this is a good opportunity for him.”