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The Opposition View: Oxford

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 02/08/2005

WITH just a few days to go before the long-awaited opening game of the season - when the Mariners take on Oxford at Blundell Park - Rob Sedgwick caught up with United fan "Big Ox" to see what the opposition's view of the game was and how their summer had gone so far.

Lee BradburyWhat have been the main changes to your squad over the summer?

We have made a few changes. We got rid on Tommy Mooney who was supposed to be the mainstay of the team but he affected a lot of the team morale. We have also brought in a few strong players in all positions, particularly a new keeper and a left-sided defender, which was our weak side last year.

How has your pre-season gone?

Very well. We recently beat Brighton 4-1 in a friendly. That's the last 3 friendlies we have scored 4 goals in. and conceded only 2. So we are looking a lot stronger than we did last season are actually scoring goals [since then Oxford have lost to Leicester].

Who should we look out for in the Oxford line-up?

Chris HackettLeft winger Chris Hackett (left) has the speed of a greyhound and is setting up some great goals, and it's mainly Lee Bradbury (top) who is knocking them in from all over the place.

Do you think your squad is stronger or weaker than last season?

The squad has made a number of improvements, some down to changes, some down to management style. Hopefully a lot stronger than last season

Brian TalbotCan Brian Talbot (right) bring the glory days back to Oxford? How do you rate your new manager?

The new manager has had promotion out of this division in the past, so no reason why he can't do it again. There have been a few changes; the biggest visible one is the players' morale and playing as a team.

What lessons can you learn from last season?

Don't invite managers in to run the team with ideas above the club's limited capabilities.

Who are your biggest rivals in this division?

Bristol Rovers purely because of the manager Ian Atkins leaving us with loads of excuses , but is now using the same excuses to justify Brizzles demise.

Other than Oxford and Grimsby, who do you expect to do well this season?

I tip Wrexham to win the title. They have a few strong players and they only came down because of the 10 point deduction. Their players have remained mainly the same and are all a division above quality.

What kind of away following should we expect?

Don't give too much room as we tend not to travel well. I would say no more than 500.

Do you have any pre-conceptions about Grimsby?

I do. It's a nice town actually and I have enjoyed previous trips there. Friendly fans also.

Do you especially remember any previous games between the two clubs?

I remember the home game last season: we were leading at half time only to throw all 3 points away. Report

How do you normally do on the first day of the season?

We have won 2 of the last 3 season openers (lost the 2 before that).
Last season we started away in Lincolnshire losing 1-0 to Boston, The season before we started at Lincoln City and won 1-0, so this will be our third season on the spin starting with a trip to Lincs.

Finally, a scoreline prediction?

If you had seen last season's predictions league you would see I do not always do well. With that I am going for 3-1 to Oxford: Bradbury, Basham and Hackett to score.

Thanks to Big Ox of for the interview.

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