AFTER coming through the toughest season of his career, Chris Wilder has vowed to make improvements in his approach to take Oxford United to the next level.
The 45-year-old has weathered severe criticism at times over the last nine months, as inconsistent results have seen the U’s finish out of the League Two play-offs.
It is the first time in Wilder’s four and a half years in charge that his position has been under threat.
But the uncertainty was cleared up yesterday when chairman Ian Lenagan announced a new contract had been agreed to keep the former Rotherham United and Bradford City defender, who had been on a rolling contract, at the Kassam Stadium for another 12 months.
Wilder was thrilled with the outcome and is determined to come back stronger.
He said: “I’m just delighted I’ve been given an opportunity to go again, I feel I do deserve it.
“There are issues that personally I can address and be better with and if I can do that and get the recruitment right then the club is set up to go again.
“I think there’s a lot left in me.
“We’re disappointed with the way the season has ended and all we can do is look forward to hopefully a positive season next year.”
Wilder was frank enough to admit the board’s decision would not please some supporters, who were hoping for a change at the top.
Despite being a target for abuse which he felt crossed the line at times during an immensely frustrating campaign, he firmly believes everyone ultimately wants the same goal – a successful side.
“The dissenters are always the loudest voice, but I’ve got to say generally the reaction I’ve had from people I speak to and the supporters that have recognised the difficulties we’ve had over the last 14 months has been positive,” he said “It seems to be the thing now where you just change the manager, but I think there’s a process going on in its own time.
“I’m not saying that last Saturday’s performance (a 3-0 win over Rochdale) was perfect, but when Alfie (Potter) chips in the third goal people who really care about the club walk away happy.
“That’s all we have to try and do – play well and win and if we do that we’ll be at the top of the league and give everyone what they crave.”
It may have been a testing few months, but Wilder insists walking away from the club had not once come into his thinking.
“Never, even in some of the darkest days, did I think about quitting,” he added.
“I have a fantastic staff behind me and I think people recognise it’s been a tough year not only for Chris Wilder, but for a lot of people connected to the club.
“Of course there have been times where I’ve wanted to scream out a bit louder, but it’s a learning curve for me and hopefully we’re on the road to better and brighter days.”
Wilder’s reign makes him the eighth longest serving manager in England’s top four divisions, but as late as last Saturday he did not know whether his days at United were numbered.
The final weeks of the season are a crucial time for clubs to draw up their plans for the transfer market.
Although there has been uncertainty over whether he would still be in charge this summer, Wilder has been busy planning ahead.
He said: “I’ve got on with the job in terms of preparing pre-season and making decisions on players that we feel we have to make.
“I’ve made recommendations to the chairman in terms of offering contracts, players we need to replace and move on.
“Football is 24–7, you’re always thinking and looking about players.
“Everything is clarified and now we need to move forward.”