New Oxford United manager Darren Patterson says he's determined to give the fans a team to be proud of.

And he's looking for players who perform with desire and passion - something he felt was lacking in their last showing, at Rushden last week.

This is Patto's third attempt at being the main man. He was United's caretaker boss briefly in 2004, and got the job for a short spell in 2006 before having it snatched away from him.

Now he wants to prove what a good manager he can be - and to be given enough time to do the job properly.

"We all know I've been here before," he smiled. "It's possibly third time lucky, I suppose you could say.

"Everybody knows my loyalty and love for this football club and I'm determined to make a success of the job."

Setting out his goals, he said: "The immediate target is that we need a response after our last performance in which we let everybody down.

"We need a response in the FA Cup against Northwich, it's a great chance to get through to the next stage of the best cup competition in the world, and that's my and the players' immediate focus.

"We've had a lot of soul-searching these last ten days, we've worked extremely hard and hopefully we shall put a few smiles on people's faces, with a proper performance.

"We've talked a lot about desire and passion, and that's something they need to show."

Patterson's loyalty is beyond question.

He led the youth team to their league title and turned down the chance to manage Brentford, and other positions, to stay at Oxford.

His positive attitude, infectious enthusiasm and the great encouragement he gives to young players, can only be good for the club.

But he first has to address a slide which has seen United win only two of their last ten league games.

He added: "Short-term the main aim is to win football matches, and to get us up the league.

"The medium term aim is to get basically the team that I want and to get the tactics and formation that I want, and long-term is to bring kids through, the youth through and develop our own and obviously go up the leagues.

"It's not going to happen overnight, but I know I've got the backing and the faith of everybody involved, I've got an excellent staff and we're all raring to go."

Patterson is well aware that there was a groundswell of opinion from U's fans wanting Smith to go, but some also questioning him because he has been Smith's No 2 during the recent poor run of results.

However, although he has been coaching the team, the tactics, formation and picking of the team was out of his hands.

So he is understandably disappointed to have been "tainted", as one newspaper put it, by his association with Smith and the team's slump.

"That's football," he said philosophically.

"I'm a big boy and I'm big enough to take that. You've got to take the rough with the smooth.

"I've had plaudits as a player and caretaker manager, and as youth-team coach.

"Once you stick your head above the parapet, it's there to be shot at. I can understand the fans' frustration, it has been disappointing for me, but that's the nature of the business we're in and if you can't handle that, then you shouldn't be in it.

"I'm well prepared to accept that criticism, and take it, but am determined to give them a team where they're praising me rather than having a go at."

And Patterson had nothing but praise for the supporters.

"We've got, in my opinion, the best fans outside and inside the Football League. I know they support this football club - they've done it through thick and thin - at times we've served up some poor performances this season and they're still here, and I know they always will be.

"I want to give them a team to be proud of, but that's not going to happen overnight, let's not kid ourselves.

"We need to improve the intensity at which we play, and the effort and desire over 90 minutes. We've been getting it in patches, but it's not been enough."

Our picture shows Darren Patterson being congratulated by Charlie Greig and Les Taylor (back to camera) after leading Oxford United's youth team to the league title last season.