DES Buckingham praised the Oxford United board for supporting him during some of the darker days during his early time as head coach.

The 39-year-old inherited a U’s team which had been flying under former boss Liam Manning, with United sitting second in Sky Bet League One when Buckingham was appointed on November 16.

Buckingham had to wait until his fifth league game to taste three points, with the 3-0 win at home to Burton Albion.

Form remained patchy though, with four victories in the following 11 league matches.

The turning point for the U’s proved to be the 5-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on March 12, with United winning then five and drawing two of their final eight games of the regular campaign.

A 2-1 win at Exeter City on the final day of the season, combined with results elsewhere, nudged the U’s into the top six.

Buckingham led his side to a 2-1 win on aggregate against Peterborough United in the play-off semi-finals, before Josh Murphy’s first half brace secured a 2-0 victory against Bolton Wanderers in the play-off final at Wembley.

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Speaking after the club’s promotion in the League One play-off final, Buckingham credited United chairman Grant Ferguson and chief executive Tim Williams for backing him when times were tough.

Buckingham said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Grant Ferguson and Tim Williams. I was tested, and there were a couple of dark days, and you go to some bad places at times.

“You have to then stick to yourself, and you test your behaviours and your beliefs, but when you get the support of your chairman and your CEO in the way I did, there was never in my mind that worry.

“The support they gave me, and that those around gave, that for me was a wonderful sign of where our football club is.”

Oxford Mail:

He added: “The last six months have been a whirlwind. You’re trying to prove you can coach at this level, firstly to the players, secondly to the fans, and thirdly, to everyone else that said you have no experience at this level of football.

“You get tested all the time, like I have in the last three roles I had. There’s been a lot of change for me, but the real things that helped were the staff here.

“I came here by myself, but Craig Short, Lewis Price, Chris Hackett and Ed Waldron, to name but a few, the way we utilised that skillset and formed relationships makes things a little bit easier than it would be to coming in and trying to build things from start.”