Oxford United chairman Kelvin Thomas says that managing the expectation levels at Oxford United will always be one of his most difficult jobs.

A run of seven wins and three draws from 11 games saw Chris Wilder’s side climb to third in the npower League Two table.

But five straight defeats – two of which came in cup competitions – now sees the U’s ninth.

Saturday’s 3-1 loss at home to Cheltenham saw a minority of fans vent their anger at United’s manager.

That resulted in one person being ejected from the ground, while the club are also in the process of talking to police about a separate incident of racist abuse towards a United player.

Thomas is keen that opinions are heard, but in the right way.

“We are in the middle of a tough run at the moment,” United’s chairman said.

“But I think we need an element of calmness and balance.

“I don’t think the run of fixtures has been kind, and I also think we have hit teams at their good times and maybe when we have not been at our best.

“I’m not sitting here panicking because the reality is that it is the same players and the same management that got us to third earlier in the season.”

He added: “Fans should have opinions, that’s what football is about, but we just have to be careful about those opinions turning into abuse.

“We don’t need people that are abusive or violent.

“Fans vote with their feet – and I thought we saw that on two counts on Saturday “When the third goal went in, a lot of people left the ground and I can understand that.

“But there were more than 8,000 people at that match – and we had lost four games in a row before that.”

Thomas is confident that hard work will get United through their sticky patch and see them climb back up the table.

“Managing expectations is especially difficult at a football club,” he said.

“After 19 games last season, we’d lost five at home, but Saturday was our first home def-eat this season (after 19 games).

“Myself and Chris talked in the summer and what we wanted was improvement – and we have got that.

“It may not be as much improvement as some expect, but we are six points better off than this time last year.

“We shouldn’t forget we had a spell similar to this a couple of seasons ago, and came through that and got promoted.”