• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Oxford United boss Karl Robinson’s asset turning into weakness this season


Sep 22, 2022

We are giving Oxford United fans the chance to share their views on the club every Thursday this season. This week, Will Tyrrell looks at how one of Karl Robinson’s strengths is working against him.

AFTER Oxford United’s loss to fellow strugglers MK Dons, Karl Robinson was quick to protect his players and suggest other issues were responsible for the lacklustre performance.

This follows the pattern of most post-match interviews the U’s head coach has given this season.

When Robinson first took the job back in March 2018, his first port of call was to go live on BBC Radio Oxford for a Q&A where the fans were able to welcome him in, and ask the questions they wanted answering.

READ MORE: James Golding not involved in Ireland game + international round-up

The confident and eloquent way that he responded to queries earned the backing of the supporters. Since then, his ability to talk the talk has gone down very well, with most fans appreciating how well he speaks to the media.

This season however, Robinson seems to mention the same three points every week, regardless of the result.

The first is praising the players’ effort which, while worth mentioning, is surely the minimum requirement.

The second point is complaining about refereeing decisions.

There has clearly been a change in the way games are being officiated this season, and certain decisions have been extremely poor – like the late MK Dons handball that was missed on Saturday.

But this cannot excuse the situation we are in, or get us out of jail because every team will have decisions go against them at some stage of the campaign.

The third point is United’s injury problems.

Granted, the likes of Matty Taylor, Elliott Moore and Josh Murphy are top players in this division, but none of those in the treatment room cover the positions we’re short in.

Putting Ciaron Brown, clearly a central defender, at left wing back is just cruel on him, while Sam Long isn’t playing at the level of a first-choice right back for a side with play-off aspirations.

Simon Eastwood simply doesn’t have the ball-playing abilities to allow him to play the way Robinson wants and James Henry isn’t hitting the heights he once did.

THE VERDICT: International break couldn't come at a better time for Oxford United

The transfer window was poor in terms of strengthening the positions we needed. With the supposed backing from the board, why were these issues not addressed?

Robinson’s constant recycling of the same excuses is starting to sound like a man who isn’t sure what to say, and yet is continuing to speak extensively in interviews. Not a very good mixture.

It’s worth noting that the head coach acknowledged results have been ‘unacceptable’ and that United are not meeting their high expectations.

The international break gives him much-needed respite, and allows some of the injured players to get closer to match-fitness by the time the U’s go to Charlton Athletic next Saturday.

But if improvements aren’t made on the pitch when these players return, what will Robinson say then?