SO here we are, we blinked and now the new season is upon us.

The hovering above relegation at the back end of the last campaign seems an awfully long time ago for Oxford United.

Eight new signings – with young Liverpool attacker Max Woltman the latest – plus positive displays in pre-season mean most U’s supporters are entering the 2023/24 season looking up, rather than down.

Without wanting to dampen any spirits, it’s important expectations are managed somewhat. Jumping from 19th and into the top six will not be straightforward for Liam Manning’s side.

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There will inevitably be bumps along the way, especially as the team continues to adapt to a new playing style.

Half the third tier will also be fancying its chances of promotion this season, so United are in good company.

However, the early signs are promising. The way the U’s totally outclassed second tier Queens Park Rangers in the club’s final pre-season friendly demonstrates that Manning’s style will be the way forward.

If United can replicate performances like that when it counts, then expect the side to be in or around the top six come the end of April.

For now, enjoy the ride that’s about to start because football is officially back.

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