OXFORD United’s opening day loss at Cambridge United was an eye-opener for the club.

After a promising pre-season, which included wins against Sky Bet Championship sides Swansea City and Queens Park Rangers, the U’s were given a shock to the system.

Here are four things we picked up on from the 2-0 loss at Cambridge.

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Not the finished article

They were the exact words uttered by head coach Liam Manning immediately after the game.

As breathtaking as United were in tearing apart QPR, perhaps that game needs placing into context.

Hoops boss Gareth Ainsworth is already under pressure, and more so after watching his team concede four during the first half against Watford yesterday.

No side gets it right every week and Manning’s style of play will not always come off in the spectacular fashion it did against QPR.

More time in training and a couple of fresh faces are still needed to help them become the finished article.

READ ALSO: Liam Manning hopes Oxford United can use opening day defeat as a ‘wake-up call’

Plan B required

The U’s were disjointed and sparse on ideas to break down a well-organised Cambridge side.

It’s a familiar theme which ran through most of last season, but United seem to struggle against teams which make it hard to play against them.

In such games, the runs need to be perfect, passing forward needs to be smart and incisive, and set pieces must be taken advantage of.

The U’s very rarely managed any of the above.

So, when coming up against an experienced centre back partnership such as Ryan Bennett and Michael Morrison, a robust striker – like what Cambridge had in Gassan Ahadme – is needed to ruffle some feathers.

Gatlin O’Donkor has shown in the past he can do that, however another option is certainly something United need to be considering.

More needed from full back

Ciaron Brown and Sam Long are consistent performers for the U’s and can be relied upon pretty much every week to give solid displays.

However, both were found out defensively yesterday afternoon.

It was in the final third too where more was needed from the duo.

Overlapping runs and dangerous crossing aren’t necessarily part of their game, but it’s something that may have helped United as they became too pedestrian and sideways against Cambridge.

Fin Stevens is already in the building to challenge Long, but the same must be replicated on the other side with Brown.

Mills a bright spark

Perhaps one of the very few positives to take from yesterday was the cameo performance from Stanley Mills.

The Everton loanee was immediately involved and looked to make things happen, whether it be putting crosses into the box or getting himself into the danger area.

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About the author

To sign up to Liam’s latest Oxford United newsletter for free, click here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/newsletters/

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.