I NEED to start this season’s Oxford Mail column with a confession.

It has been pretty difficult to find the time to write anything this week, because as soon as I found a few minutes to sit down and start writing my phone would ring or I would be busy welcoming a new player to the club!

Some of you might say that is my own fault for not getting things sorted earlier in the summer. Trust me, nothing would have suited me more!

But in the end, I think we have done excellent business.

Elliott Moore, Alex Gorrin, Chris Cadden, Anthony Forde, Tariq Fosu and Ben Woodburn have come into the building – all of those players strengthen key areas.

Elliott towers over me and I’m well over six foot, so he will give us a presence at the back, while Alex is a natural athlete who gives us stability in the centre of midfield.

Tariqe and Anthony have won promotions from this division before and have different qualities out wide, as does Chris operating at right back.

Ben is a full Wales international who has already shown us what he is all about in training – his touch and finishing are exceptional.

I would also like to mention two players who were in the squad last season.

Rob Hall has come back determined to show what he can do when fit and Shandon Baptiste will be back in full training next week.

We gave Shandon a few days off this week, because he has been in every day this summer and has achieved his goal of being fully fit again.

It would have been too big a risk to throw him straight in at Sunderland today, so he has orders to rest and then come back on Monday and join training full time, which is a big boost for us.

Add in Rob Dickie signing a new contract and it has been a hugely positive week and sends us into today’s game in high spirits.

It is going to take time for everyone to settle in, and we hope for a couple more new faces – maybe in time for the weekend, but not in time for this newspaper’s deadline!

Whoever comes in they will be taught the Oxford way of doing things.

They will wear the shirt with pride, they will be respectful, they will work hard for each other and they will applaud the fans who travel to support us today.

I can’t wait for kick off. If you are travelling then be loud and proud.

If you can’t make it then we will see you next Saturday for the first home game, against Peterborough.

A few people said that I looked tired out last week.

Not really – every manager in the land SHOULD look tired right now, because we have all been busting a gut to put the finishing touches to our preparations for the first game.

I’ve not worked any harder than any other member of staff or any of the players.

We have all given it absolutely everything we have, and we will continue to do that right through until May.

I want to thank the staff and players for what they have done this summer.

I am very lucky to work with some fantastic people as well as a hugely supportive chairman and board.

The season starts today. We’re ready. Come and be part of it.