CHRIS Wilder believes Oxford United are “pretty unique” in terms of the passion and togetherness shown right throughout the club.

The U’s manager has been in charge for more than three years and has led the team from Conference strugglers to League Two promotion contenders.

United face one of their biggest tests under Wilder tomorrow when they take on derby rivals Swindon, looking to complete the double over the Wiltshire side for only the second time in their history.

And Wilder says that he is very proud to be the boss of Oxford.

The 44-year-old produced a real show of emotion when walking across the Bristol Rovers pitch towards the travelling Oxford United supporters a fortnight ago, pumping his fist against the U’s badge on his jacket as the travelling supporters chanted his name.

And he knows that it will be a highly-charged atmosphere at the Kassam Stadium when United’s fiercest rivals arrive.

“I’m passionate,” he said.

“Just because I don’t chuck my arms around in the air and am not in the press every five minutes (doesn’t mean I’m not) – people don’t have a monopoly on passion you know.

“It isn’t for show, I genuinely care for who I work for – the people in and around the club and especially the supporters.

“I know you will always have critics, but as a supporter I think you want to know that your manager cares and I don’t think anyone can criticise on that score.”

Wilder says it is clear that his passion is shared among the rest of the staff, and is one of the main reasons why the U’s have enjoyed a successful last few years.

“You look at our staff and you can see for yourself,” he said.

Jim Smith comes to watch us because he has passion for the club.

“The chairman kicks every ball and I have got people on the staff who have played for the club and know what it means.

“Andy Melville is here and there’s Mickey Lewis – I don’t think anybody can ever question his passion.

“We all genuinely care for the club and care about what we are doing.”

Wilder says the support from the United fans since he has been at the club is top-class.

And while he, like the supporters, would love to see the U’s sitting at the top of the table, Wilder is happy with the continued progression of the club.

“It’s with us 24/7,” he said. “We desperately want to win every game and there is nobody more disappointed when the players don’t produce.

“We have a fantastic support behind us, and that just emphasises how much I enjoy working for the football club, what we are doing and the way the club is structured.

“The rate of progression is sometimes dictated by other things, but we go about our business in a certain way.

“We want to get there as soon as possible, but we don’t want to get there by putting anything at risk.”

He added: “We want to kick-on, but you look at some clubs and there are splits all over the place.

“From boardroom to players, to staff to supporters to office staff, but I think we are a pretty unique club that on the whole – and I say that because I know I cannot always please everyone – are very together.

“That is shown none more by the support we have home and away every week and I have never backed down from the fact that I am proud to be manager of this football club.

“I am passionate and desperate for us to do well.”