THE core message from Pep Clotet’s first outing as Oxford United manager was clear – at least to begin with it will be evolution, not revolution.

Significant progress has been made in the last two seasons and the intention was always to find someone willing to continue on the same path, rather than change direction.

Clotet is not a clone of predecessor Michael Appleton and will have accumulated a wealth of ideas during a coaching career across four countries.

Striking a balance between keeping what has worked and introducing new methods will arguably be the key factor in the next weeks and months.

But the Spaniard’s intention is to drip-feed the information, rather than make sweeping changes from the outset.

“We have to respect the foundations, mainly for one reason – it makes sense,” said Clotet, sitting in the home bench at the Kassam Stadium for the first time yesterday.

“It’s how the players have played here, they are used to it.

“What we will do is slowly keep growing into that mentality.

“Every coach has their own ideas, but you have to respect what has been done and build on it instead of starting a process.”

He added: “From the point of view of the players, when someone comes in opportunities might come for some, so it always creates a bit of a little shock.

“But I think the work we are doing will minimise this.

“We try to do it as smoothly as possible and the staff have been very helpful in that.”

When Appleton took over, three years ago tomorrow, the brief was to guide United from Sky Bet League Two to the Championship.

Clotet spent last season with Leeds United in the second tier and his goal will be to secure a return with the U’s as soon as possible.

Building on last season’s eighth place finish effectively means reaching the League One play-offs.

The new chief avoided setting any targets in stone at this stage, preferring instead to speak of improvement in more general terms.

He said: “I’m very excited to start and try to help as much as possible to add to the success we’ve had before.

“It’s difficult to predict the kind of success we can have, but I do think we have to finish better than when we start.

“We have to be better now than before.

“Oxford is better now than two years ago and that’s the only way we can achieve sustainable success.

“We have to see the opposition and fight hard for every point, but that’s my goal.

“If we keep growing sustainably, eventually you will be in a position where you get there.

“The important part is doing the right things and eventually the football will put us there.”

For now, Clotet’s attention is purely on getting his bearings.

The 40-year-old has just over a month to get to know his squad, approve the additions required to strengthen it and hope none of the star names are lured away.

It is a period which he described as “very intense”.

But the process of familiarising himself with the playing staff began before he was even interviewed.

Clotet has a reputation for meticulous research.

He reportedly spent months analysing match footage and training statistics with Garry Monk following their exit from Swansea City in 2014 to find where it had gone wrong.

So when it came to meeting United’s players on Monday, the background work had already started.

“I did a lot of homework before coming and now that I’m here, I’ve done even more,” Clotet said.

“You must watch a lot of games, you can never watch enough.

“I think the process is very simple – to know one player you have to see at least ten competitive games and watch all their actions.

“Everything I know comes from what I do. I work on it.

“To know a team 100 per cent I will have to do the digging, cut the clips and see ten, 12 games to see what’s going on.

“I don’t know another way, it’s my method.”

A crucial element of the selection process was on finding someone willing to work with the existing set-up.

Appleton valued the staff around him very highly, but it is never easy to come into a tight-knit group as an outsider.

However, the approach from the support staff has instead been the big bonus of the first week for Clotet.

He said: “I was very surprised – but in a positive way.

“If you analyse the work that everyone is putting into it, they love the club and their work 100 per cent.

“I’m very happy to be here.”