WHEN former U’s boss Liam Manning departed for Bristol City on November 7, there was a noticeable sadness, betrayal and fear amongst fans that this would derail our best chance of promotion since the play-off final against Wycombe in 2020.

As a fanbase, we knew we had an impressive manager at our disposal, who had got a really impressive team playing even better football.

The feeling of betrayal probably hit the hardest, with many fans, including myself, feeling like we had been left in the dark.

Manning had led the U’s to second in the league with only three losses all season, and a total of 32 points from a possible 45.

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Oxford Mail: Former Oxford United boss Liam ManningFormer Oxford United boss Liam Manning (Image: Mike Allen)

How could we possibly find a manager that fits the club the same way that Manning seemed to do so?

Enter Des Buckingham.

Since Des’ arrival at Grenoble Road, the feeling around the club has changed dramatically.

A new-found optimism, combined with a deep thirst to prove to Mr Manning that he chose the wrong club, has rejuvenated the fanbase (and hopefully the players).

The new boss has had well-documented success in New Zealand as well as in India. He even has a noticeably better win percentage (55 per cent) compared to Manning (47 per cent).

Oxford Mail: Des Buckingham oversees training at Oxford United earlier this weekDes Buckingham oversees training at Oxford United earlier this week (Image: Steve Edmunds)

More importantly however, Des is a man who has an undeniable love for this club, growing up a stone’s throw away from the current training ground in Cowley.

As someone who has been through the academy set-up both as a young player and a coach, he knows exactly how he can get the best out of youngsters like Tyler Goodrham, Gatlin O’Donkor and Stephan Negru.

O’Donkor in particular is a player who has yet to impress in the same way as he did last season, with several lacklustre substitute performances when the team needed his energy and physicality to lead the line.

We are yet to see what a Des Buckingham Oxford United side will look like, and Saturday’s away trip to Cheltenham in front of a sell-out away crowd will be the first to welcome Des back to the club.

At the time of Manning’s exit, United were just off the back of three league games without a win.

Now I’m not saying this was the start of a trend that would see United start to fall down the table, but Manning choosing to leave for Bristol City may well end up being the best thing to happen to the club this season.

Only time will tell if this is true or not, but in the meantime, let’s all savour the fact that we have one of our own in the hot seat, and get behind him and the team for the rest of the season.