FOOTBALL: City boss Merritt putting faith in Spanish imports

Oxford City general manager Justin Merritt (right) and head coach Enrique Guillen

Oxford City general manager Justin Merritt (right) and head coach Enrique Guillen

First published in Non League Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Non League Football. Call me on 01865 425488

Oxford City’s general manager Justin Merrit is hoping that a mixture of experience and Spanish flair will help fire them to success in the new season.

Over the summer, Merritt and head coach Enrique Guillen have brought in a number of new signings including four Spanish imports, centre back Alejandro Adrian, from Real Betis B, former Zalla Union Club defender Josetxo Lapoujade Garde, ex-Zamora CF midfielder Javier Rodriguez Mendez and Ander del Alamo (Club Deportivo Laudio).

The quartet have signed contracts with the Marsh Lane outfit, who start their campaign with a trip to newly-relegated Hyde United tomorrow.

Closer to home, they have also brought in former Burton Albion striker Adi Yussuf and ex-Reading FC scholar Ben Brown.

Combative midfielder Liam Malone has re-joined from North Leigh, while striker Felipe Barcelos is back from playing in Italy and Kynan Isaac has returned from Banbury United, though he misses the trip to Cheshire as he is having a trial at Luton Town.

“We have extended our search to Spain for certain players that we wouldn’t necessarily find here,” said Merritt.

“The economy over there is not so good, so you can get better value for your money in terms of wages.

“We will see how it goes because there is always a question of how they will adapt.

“Because there’s a bit of merry-go-round locally, it’s difficult to get the better players.

“Wages have gone through the roof and we can’t compete with some of the other clubs in our division, so we have looked at it another way.”

But Merritt, who took over in May following the departure of Mike Ford, said patience was going to be required.

“I’m happy with the progress that has been made,” he said.

“I think it will take a fair amount of time before people notice a difference in the way we play.

“We want to get everyone to buy into what we are trying to do.

“We’re looking for an improvement on the position they finished last season. We don’t want a relegation fight.

“I don’t want to start saying things like we are going to finish in the top-six.

“Our job is to get a better product on the pitch.

“But it won’t happen overnight.”

IN: Lapoujade (Osasuna B), Brown (QPR), Adrian (Real Union), Malone (North Leigh), Del Alamo (CD Laudio), Barcelos (ASD Santhià Calcio), Isaac (Banbury Utd), Wilson (Bishops Stortford), Rodriquez (Zamora CF), Yussuf (Lincoln), Acha (unattached).

OUT: Adam Learoyd (Didcot Tn).

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