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Oxford United boss Chris Wilder holds Portsmouth talks
CHRIS Wilder met with representatives of Portsmouth’s board yesterday after Oxford United gave their manager permission to talk.
The 46-year-old was one of several candidates interviewed in Newbury as Pompey stepped up their search for a new boss, after sacking Guy Whittingham last week.
With the south coast side not expected to conclude the process for a couple of days, Wilder now has the task of preparing for United’s rearranged FA Cup first-round replay at Gates-head tomorrow.
Routine pre-match interviews are due to take place before the U’s squad head north this morning, but Wilder is unlikely to attend.
The meeting with Portsmouth came shortly after United broke their silence on the situation yesterday lunchtime.
In announcing the decision, United owner Ian Lenagan stressed the club wanted to keep Wilder.
He said: “We have allowed Chris Wilder to speak to Portsmouth, partly out of respect for Chris’s long service at Oxford United and partly because we want our manager to be at Oxford United because he has the desire to be here, not because we prevent him speaking to other clubs.
“Chris and I have been entirely straightforward with each other and from the board’s point of view we have made it abundantly clear that we want him to continue doing the good job he has been doing at Oxford United.”
Although Portsmouth trail the Sky Bet League Two leaders by 13 points and 16 places, the high profile of the 2008 FA Cup winners was shown by the fact ‘Wilder’ trended on Twitter after the statement was released.
Lenagan also revealed his displeasure at the way the news of the approach had broken after United’s 1-1 draw with Fleetwood Town.
The U’s chairman, who said in a radio interview on Saturday night he had not heard from Portsmouth, felt the south coast club had not acted correctly.
He said: “There are ways of doing these things properly, and we feel that the timing of the approach by Portsmouth, and the leaking of that approach on a matchday – whoever was responsible for that – was not doing things properly.
“It is a tribute to Chris Wilder’s professionalism that he remained 100 per cent focused on the job at hand, but I will be writing to Portsmouth’s board about what happened.”
Richie Barker, who was sacked by Crawley Town last week, and Wilder are vying for favouritism with bookmakers for the Portsmouth job.
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