LIAM Manning admits the 2022/23 season was a steep learning curve after becoming embroiled in two relegation battles.

Having guided MK Dons to third place in Sky Bet League One during his first season as a manager in the 2021/22 campaign, Manning then had a change of fortune the following year.

The 37-year-old watched his Dons side stutter and he was sacked in December with the team second from bottom in the table and enduring a run of just one win from 11 league games.

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Oxford United appointed Manning as their new head coach in March after a similarly troublesome season under Karl Robinson.

After two play-off campaigns and an eighth-placed finish, the U’s then failed to get going in the 2022/23 season and sacked Robinson in February following a seventh defeat in eight, which left them five points above the bottom four.

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Manning came in though and stabilised things, primarily by making United a much tougher team to break down and play against.

That was evident in keeping a clean sheet away against free-scoring Peterborough United, as part of a run of conceding just twice in the first four matches under Manning’s stewardship.

Handsome wins against Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers at the end of April led the U’s to safety, barring a miraculous goal difference swing on the final day of the season.

That failed to materialise although United’s season did end on a sour note with a 2-1 defeat at home to relegated Accrington Stanley.

Manning, who brought with him to the club his assistant Chris Hogg from MK Dons, said the season just finished was a useful learning exercise for the duo.

He said: “I’ve learnt bundles. It’s quite funny from that aspect, my stock was extremely high last summer and then I had a difficult time with MK.

“I’m a much better coach for having had that period, yet your stock is lower after that.

“It’s been a terrific year for me in terms of learning and developing.

“You ask big questions of yourself, I’m my own biggest critic and I want to learn, get better and improve so whenever I have a good or bad experience, it’s what do I take to make sure I get things right in the future?

“I’ve had a really good year learning from that aspect and it’s the same with Hoggy.

“Hoggy has been outstanding for me, he’s been terrific and I can’t thank him enough for sticking by me through it.

“I’m looking forward to going again next season.”

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here:

Formerly the politics reporter for the Oxford Mail, Liam now covers all things Oxford United.

Liam attends the U’s home and away, as well as covering other big sports stories across the county.

His Oxford United newsletter is released every Saturday morning at 6am.