DES Buckingham hopes the fan in him will help during his first few weeks as Oxford United head coach.

The 38-year-old was appointed to take charge of his home town club last week, succeeding Liam Manning who left for Sky Bet Championship side Bristol City.

Buckingham began his coaching career working with various age group teams at United, before progressing to the first team as part of Chris Wilder’s backroom staff at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.

He left the U’s for A-League outfit Wellington Phoenix in 2014, and then came back to England three years later as the assistant boss of the Stoke City Under-23s side.

Buckingham then enjoyed various roles with the New Zealand national team, including guiding the nation to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

He then joined Melbourne City, part of the City Football Group, before taking up his most recent position at Indian Super League side Mumbai City in October 2021.

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During his nine years away from Oxfordshire though, the fan inside Buckingham has remained a constant.

While many things have changed at United, a couple of familiar faces, including defender Sam Long and academy coach Pablo Haysham, helped Buckingham’s first couple of days run more smoothly.

He said: “I’m a fan and have been since I left, so I’ve followed the team very closely. I used to grow up literally across the road from this training ground.

“Walking into the building and seeing Sam Long, who I’ve coached as an eight-year-old boy all the way through until he made his first team debut, and to have a conversation with him and see him still here, and hear him talking about getting married and his kids.

“To bump into people like Alex Gorrin, who I had in Wellington for three years. Then there was Pablo Haysham, who I taught for two years at college, so to see him here full-time working, there are so many good things here.

“In terms of knowing the club, I’d like to think I know it as well as I could.”

Asked about the key things he learnt while away from the UK, Buckingham said: “Probably the importance around not just coaching and how to coach.

“I’ve said this many a time before, the reason I got into coaching was because of Mickey Lewis and the way that he was able to engage and work with people.

“I’ve been fortunate to work in four different countries and learn four different ways of working, which when I left Oxford as a 29-year-old, I only knew one way of doing something because it’s the way I’d been shown and told.

“But I’ve had some wonderful experiences that I’ve been able to add to that, as a person, which has then allowed me to go on and hopefully better myself as a coach.

“I look forward to bringing that into this role now and seeing where we can go.”