IT was interesting this week to get the thoughts of Liam Manning on Oxford United’s signings so far this summer.

What has become clear from the additions of James Beadle, Jordan Thorniley, Josh McEachran and Ruben Rodrigues, is that Manning is forming a new spine for the team.

United’s head coach said the four new faces will ‘fast track’ the way he wants the side to play.

READ ALSO: Liam Manning says new signings getting U’s closer to way he wants to play

Creating a new core seems a logical step to take after the troubles of last season.

United were too often exposed down the middle of the pitch, with opponents charging through at will, particularly on the counter-attack.

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Manning helped tighten those holes, making the U’s more solid, largely by dropping Cameron Brannagan and Marcus McGuane further back to form a successful base in the centre of the park.

Moving forward though, Manning will want his team to be more expressive – signs they showed at the very end of the campaign in the 4-0 win at home to Cheltenham Town and 3-0 victory at Forest Green Rovers.

Beadle’s ability with the ball at his feet, Thorniley’s passing range, the composure and experience of McEachran, plus the skill and innovation of Rodrigues will surely enable Manning to get the team in his image.

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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.