George Lawrence’s Shorts: Swind-off, Charlt-on

Saturday 24 October 2020

Saturday’s postponed derby against Swindon has created a serious backlog of fixtures. The compressed season means that games are backing up, so we’re unlikely to see the derby rearranged until Christmas when no games are ever played. Christmas Day is looking fairly blank for most people this year, so let’s Rocky IV this sucker and sort this cold war out once and for all. QUEUE: TRAINING MONTAGE.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Swindon boss Richie Wellens has named Toby Holland along with coaches Tommy Wright, Noel Hunt and Steve Mildenhall as those who tested positive last week. The club’s physio is also self-isolating because, according to Wellens’ bamboozling medical jargon ‘he looked really bad’. If you’ve been unable to attend your loved one’s funeral or lost your job, you really need to get your priorities right: “The goalkeeper needs someone to warm him up.” wailed Wellens by way of explanation. 

Monday 26 October 2020

It was the draw for the first round of the FA Cup on Monday with Grant Holt caressing his balls live on TV in front of Lindsey Hipgrave. A bit like a low rent version of that Peter Crouch thing that they had on in the summer. In these troubled times, the FA Cup offers a reminder of happier times of old. The smell of stale cigars, the stench of cheap aftershave, the whiff of vaguely criminal activity; yes, our home tie against Barry Fry’s Peterborough will come as a soothing balm on our furrowed brow.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Charlton had the good grace to turn up to face KRob’s plucky part-timers on, well, Loseday? Twosday? You pick. Despite a spirited opening, Oxford gifted two goals before half-time so everyone could switch off and catch the end of Bake Off. Following the 2-0 defeat, Oxford now have less clean sheets than Trainspotting’s Spud after a big night on the skag. 

Wednesday 28 October 2020

There are lots of reasons to be positive when you’re from Swindon. It’s not that far from Oxford and there’s always the knowledge that death will come to us all eventually. Swindon supporters club chairman and amateur virologist, Peter Norris has been looking on the bright side of his team’s failure to fulfil the derby fixture on Saturday. “If there’s one positive we can take from this though, it’s that – depending on when the game is rearranged for, hopefully the new year – fans may be able to go.” He didn’t elaborate on which new year.

Elsewhere, The Sheffield Star has revealed why John Lundstram is set to leave Sheffield United in January. The man whose fantasy football defensive credentials were so over-inflated last season KRob couldn’t actually see him has pushed cosmopolitan sophisticat Čhrįßtøphë Wïlłdē’s patience a little too far.

Thursday 29 October 2020

It was the Six Minute Nine Second Fans’ Forum on Radio Oxford with KRob on Thursday. Talk quickly turned to the man who’s been overdoing the hand sanitizer this year, Sensible Simon Eastwood. Is it possible the glovesman might be dropped? Asked one fan, ‘Everyone can be dropped’ said KRob with ice flowing through his veins. No one drops ‘em like KRob, apart from Sensible Simon, of course. 

Meanwhile the Dundalk Donkey Pat Hoban watched on as his team went down 3-0 to Arsenal in the Europa League.

Friday 30 October 2020

It’s a Halloween spooktacular tomorrow as Oxford face Fleetwood for a trick and a treat. Joey Barton has been talking about the game; ‘There’s no doubt about it, Oxford are a top ten side.’ he said about the team currently 23rd. GLS once went to a Halloween party as Joey Barton; we used to trick people into thinking we’re a reasonable human being by wearing glasses and talking about books, and then treat them to a choke hold to the throat and a punch in the face. 

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Watch us wreck the mic, Sykes!

Sunday August 23 2020

Jedward orphan Mark Sykes has smeared his face in camo and crawled through barbed wire to get to a safe house declaring that he now wants to switch from Northern Ireland to the Republic for their forthcoming Nations League games. Bloody asylum seekers.

Elsewhere, spellcheck’s Fiarce Kelleher, who signed in a vacuum between MApp and PClot and played less games than Jeremy Balmy and George Rasulo, may feel he missed his moment at Oxford. Finally, he’s made the big time, headlining the Oxford Mail… because he’s been made redundant by Macclesfield Town

Monday August 24 2020

Well, this is awkward. While Sykes nervously eats cold beans in a ramshackle outhouse, glancing at the shadows dancing in the half-light, he’s been overlooked for the Republic squad while Joel Cooper has been called up for Northern Ireland.

Tuesday August 25 2020

Oxford went down 2-1 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in a friendly. The visitors silenced the home seats with the opener from Matty Taylor. Jack Stevens saved a penalty back-pass early in the second half before conceding two quick goals. 

At Shrewsbury, chisel jawed Sam Ricketts has gone all Trumpian, sacking his assistant manager and promoting his brother from another angular faced mother, Dean Whitehead. Ricketts is confident that the two will work well together; or tessellate, if you will.  

If there’s one thing GLS has missed more than a bucket of woo woo at Shaggers Bar in Torremolinos, it’s speculation that KRob wants to add another midfielder to his endless collection. So, it’s heartwarming to see that Rochdale’s Ollie Rathbone has been linked with a move to the club. Premier League giants Sunderland are interested, along with Fleetwood. Manager Joey Barton is said to be ‘punch in your face and charged with common assault’ excited by the prospect. 

Wednesday August 26 August 2020

Accrington Stanley (who are they?) have targeted the 1980s Milk Marketing Board Derby against Oxford on September 26 to trial allowing fans to attend the game. The game will be limited to 700 home fans, representing Accrington’s record attendance.  

Meanwhile sharpshooters the EFL have discovered a brand new technology called The Internet, which will stream all EFL matches via its iFollow service. We’re no technology experts, but as far as we can work out this is rather like trying to paint the Sistine Chapel with an ear bud. 

Thursday 27 August 2020

He’s ginger, he’s a whinger, he used to choose when he was injured; Dave Kitson has been shouting from the tall tower he looks down on everyone from reflecting on how he propelled Chris Wilder to greatness. His failed time at Sheffield United resulted in manager Danny Wilson getting fired, then his failed time at Oxford saw Chris Wilder getting fired, which resulted in Wilder managing Sheffield United. The rest is history; you are welcome, Chris, says Dave.

Elsewhere, Tony McMahon, The 2018 Phil Edwards, has gone a bit Martin Gray and signed for Darlington.

Friday 28 August 2020

Fantasy Football League phenom, John Lundstram, is centre of a catfight between West Ham and Steven Gerrard’s quest to create McOxford by joining Kemar Roofe at Rangers. George Waring is packing a suitcase full of Tennants Super in preparation for a call.

Saturday 29 August 2020

Oxford’s first home friendly resulted in a 1-0 over QPR with a goal from Matty Taylor. The game evoked memories of the Milk Cup Final; apart from the fans, prestige or Ken Fish looking like an army physical training instructor from the 1950s. The real drama was on the sidelines where sulky sixth former Rob Dickie didn’t even make the squad, which led to anti-maskers, anti-vaxers and conspiracy theorists to conclude it was because Bill Gates has put nano bots in the 5G network to prevent promising central defenders play friendly games of football. I mean, it makes you think, doesn’t it, the MSM don’t report that do they?

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Take me dancing naked in McGuane

Sunday 9 August 2020

It’s like the opening sequence to Dad’s Army; a well trodden path from Merseyside via The Kassam to the Bundesliga in Germany. Following in the footsteps of Jonjoe Kenny’s loan to Schalke last year, Wunderkind Ben Woodburn is reportedly interested in a loan move to Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Monday 10 August 2020

When the club suggested to Derek Fazackerley that he might want to consider moving upstairs, he was half expecting to be handed a pile of Dignitas brochures. Thankfully, Faz is quitting his coaching role and taking his Stannah Stairlift to an advisory position within the club.

Meanwhile, leading Oxford academic Mickey Lewis is heading up a new sports course called Velocity at Oxford City. “Velocity is a fantastic new provision of football and education programmes” said the suspiciously erudite Mad Dog “There are so many ways to develop a fulfilling career in sport and the Velocity courses will provide an excellent grounding in a professional sports environment.”

Which leads us to ask; will the person who has stolen Mickey Lewis please bring him back.

Tuesday 11 August 2020

KRob is rumoured to be interested in Ipswich Town winger Gwion Edwards. Gwion? GWION? Will the nightmare for people who can’t spell Ruffels never end?

In more chilling news, it’s been reported that David Moyes has been casting ‘admiring glances’ at John Lundstram who is also on Sean Dyche’s watch list at Burnley. It reminds GLS of the time he couldn’t pay for his rent or his papers and ended up in a ménage à trois of convenience with Doreen his landlady and Brenda from the newsagents.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

George Thorne, or as GLS calls him, ‘Anthony Forde’ has left the club. Thorne was said he was sad to leave the club after a period peppered with injuries. He then tripped on the curb and sprained his ankle.

Elsewhere, Craig Short has been recruited as Head of Cone Distribution and Looking Pensive With Your Arms Crossed. Short is the brother of the club’s Head of Star Jumps, Chris. Ominous news for Oxford’s full-back Sam Long. We don’t know the long and the short of it, but we hope they’ll find a happy medium.  

It looks like Burton Albion are going to give the EFL Trophy a serious go this season after they announced Kane Hemmings as their new signing.

Thursday 13 August 2020

It’s the summer of 2016 alumni musical chairs as Sheffield Wednesday have decided there ain’t nobody, like Chey Dunkley who signed on a two-year contract. Elsewhere, Marvin Johnson has signed a year’s contract at Middlesborough; because someone has to keep the drinks bottles in order on the subs bench.

Friday 14 August 2020

Big boned Gillingham boss Steve Evans wants a beach-ready body this summer and has been casting admiring glances at Mr Big Guns MApp. Rather than enter into a regime of healthy eating and exercise, he’s looking for a short cut. Like chowing down on over-priced Herbalife products promoted by a Conference footballer, he thinks he’s found a quick solution is to sign all MApp’s previous players. Following the recruitment of Jordan Graham, on Friday he announced the signing of Alex MacDonald. The sleeve tattoo is booked in for Tuesday.

Elsewhere, GLS’ dutch cousin Brian Wilsterman’s Shorts has been translating a Feyenoord Dutch language website after a story about Liam Kelly appeared on it. Apparently Feyenoord have already agreed to ‘rent’ Kelly to the club next season. So it sounds like Kelly is our rent boy.

Saturday 15 August 2020

While on their pre-season holibobs Oxford announced the loan signing of Nottingham Forest midfielder Marcus McGuane. McGuane arrived at Forest from Barcelona where he became the first Englishman to play for the Catalans since Gary Lineker. McGuane will become only the second former-Barcelona player to play for Oxford since Xemi Fernández. Both Linekar and Xemi then followed successful TV careers – Linekar presenting the Champions League on TV, Xemi being caught on camera watching Liverpool v Barcelona without permission in 2019.

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Hally’s Crawley bally

Sunday 10 November 2019

The bragging rights were all ours on Sunday, as well as breezing to a comfortable 2-0 win over Hayes and Yeading in the FA Cup, it was the first time in nearly 20 years that Oxford United have played a first class game against a team with less stands in their stadium. Many Oxford fans sang ‘You’ve only got one side’ while secretly admiring the stadium’s fencework.

Goals came from Headington United’s Sam Long and the Aylesbury Ashley Young; Rob Hall.

Monday 11 November 2019

GLS was a student last time he spent a Monday night watching a part-time landlord caressing his velvet ball-bag expectantly. A quick dash to the cash machine to pay three months of rent arrears and the problem was solved. This time it was Dion Dublin who drew our name out of the bag for the FA Cup 2nd Round away to Walsall or Darlington

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Like wondering what it will take for people to realise that Nigel Farage is a self-serving narcissist, it is difficult to know what would dissuade some people from attending a dead rubber MySpace.com Trophy game against Crawley Town on a freezing Tuesday night.

But attend they did, 412 (FOUR HUNDRED AND LITERALLY TWELVE) of them, KRob fielded a team of such marginal players, Ross Weatherstone and Rob Folland were hoping for a game. The Aylesbury Ashley Young Rob Hall bagged a hat-trick in a 4-1 win.

Wednesday 11 November 2019

The press continue to look at hipster’s favourites John Lundstram and George Baldock with all the puzzled curiosity of a Massai tribesman returning a burgundy corduroy skirt at a moderately sized branch of FatFace. The Yorkshire Post can’t quite figure out how players who have played at lower levels are able to cut it in the Premier League – hard work and talent, perhaps?

Thursday 12 November 2019

Confidence is the habitual voyeur of what is known as Sports Park Life! The club have announced that they will be ensuring there’s no heavy petting or bombing, after they took over the lease of the Oxford Sports Park. As well as being the permanent training ground for the club, it’ll also host community activities. Grandma GLS has already signed up to Jamie Mackie’s over-60s badminton league.

There was a grrreat the Six Minute Thirty Seven Second Fans Forum with Tiger on Thursday. Brenda from Eynsham phoned up to ask whether pilates was on tonight before asking about the stadiumsituation (has never been asked about it before? We can’t remember).

Friday 13 November 2019

No game for Oxford this weekend, but that doesn’t mean the Oxford’s alumni have got a rest. Pocket racist Sam Deering is on the comeback trail, having signed for Dagenham & Redbridge following a period navigating the wastelands of the lower-leagues. Elsewhere, goal machine Sam Smith is enjoying his time at Oxford’s local rivals Cambridge having scored seven goals this season. 

George Lawrence’s Shorts: Up Pompey!… Ooh you are awful

Saturday 2 November 2019

Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Portsmouth was preceded by a Remembrance ceremony so shambolic, it made the First World War look like an episode of Great British Bake-Off. After a minute’s silence, which lasted for well over three, the teams appeared for yet another minute’s silence. Then, in the 90th minute, Matty Taylor popped up to nod home Oxford’s equaliser. Portsmouth fans then meticulously observed several more minutes of silence as they trudged home.  

Sunday 3 November 2019

It’s been debated for years and divided families, but finally it seems to be happening. Yes, Lincolnshire sexiest people have been ranked. Our own Mr Big Guns, and new Lincoln manager, Michael Appleton muscled in at number 11. 

Who is he sexier than? it’s…… Rebekah Vardy (45th), Nicholas Parsons (31st) and Rob Lowe – an America who once played a policeman from Lincolnshire.

Michael isn’t as sexy as Sergeant Mike ‘Tempo’ Templeman from Channel 5’s Police Interceptors or number 1 – Bhasha Mukherjee who is A beauty queen! A woman! and a Doctor! A combination we all know is not actually possible.

Monday 4 November 2019

We were thrust into the vice-like jaws of Big Football on Monday as it was announced that our Type 1 Diabetes Cup Quarter-Final against cash bores Manchester City will be Live! On! Sky! On! Wednesday! 16! December! This will allow the club to suckle on the teat of Sky’s cash cow to the tune of £125000. The game they’re calling ‘Man City Covets Thy Neighbours Ox’ or something, accommodates City’s big game against Arsenal on Sunday, which Sky are billing as ‘The Big Man’s Arse’ – which we all thought was Scott McNiven. 

Tickets are on sale to season ticket holders and members, and will be available to half-and-half scarf wearers in a couple of weeks. 

Tuesday 5 November 2019

We’re not suggesting that Lancashire has slow internet, but The Lancashire Post were reporting a game from 49 years ago on Wednesday. The game between Oxford and Preston resulted in an outfield player in goal and a goalie on the wing in a sling. 

Former Oxford captain John Lundstram is rapidly becoming hipster’s choice in the world of Fantasy Football. Once celebrated as a master of the passing craft, he’s now revered for being cheap and mistakenly labelled as a ‘defender’ in the fantasy parallel world, thereby clocking up plenty of unexpected points. What a life.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Ipswich are on the run from the rampant Yellows after they (Ip)switched the game between the two sides on the 16th November due to international call-ups. The international break would have seen the Ipswich Galacticos stripped of their Cypriot international, a Tunisian Under 23 and Albanian Under 19.  

Thursday 7 November 2019

It was the Six Minute Ten Seconds Fans Forum on Thursday with Jamie Mackie. ‘Who winds you up in training?’ was the first question which caused Mackie to collapse on the floor holding his head, theatrically check his forehead for blood and moan for the rest of the interview about how he’s not getting any protection from the rough-housing.

Friday 8 November 2019

You have to feel for Sunderland, it’s like they live in a parallel universe. One website has suggested that the benevolent failure-magnets could be good enough to take Cameron Brannagan off our hands in January. This is due to us ‘punching above our weight’ (aka punching above Sunderland). The Mackem’s would walk League 1 if less entitled clubs would get out of the way and let them do it.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Going to football is cold and miserable; we should just stay at home with a spreadsheet. That’s what data driven Five Thirty Eight have done; they’ve plugged all their numbers into Excel and predicted that we’ll finish third behind Ipswich and Sunderland. A lot of factors are considered; expected goals, defensive qualities, number of seats in your stadium, Charlie Methven’s loafers, that sort of thing.

Lun gone silver

It is hard to believe that following John Lundstram’s move to Sheffield United this week that only three players remain from the 2015/16 promotion squad. Josh Ruffels, Sam Long and James Roberts played a total of 14 games between them during that glorious year, the rest have gone. If it feels like we’re losing players like sand through our fingers, you’d be right, it’s the equivalent of losing a player from that squad every two weeks for a year.

What does this tell us? Is it that Darryl Eales is impatient for success and the constant replacing of one player for a better one just a necessary part of the squad progressing. Or, are we simply falling apart due to a lack of ambition and an unwillingness invest properly? Have we promised the players something we can’t fulfil?

Lundstram was peak Michael Appleton; he was sprung from a overheated talent factory at Everton and persuaded to drop down the divisions, changing course to find his way in the game. Ultimately, for him it was a worthwhile detour.

Lundstram offered an array of passing that we’ve rarely, if ever seen before at Oxford. He lacked pace, so the ball did the work. Joining the party slightly late in 2015, once he was up to speed he showed an ability to link play from the centre of midfield giving freedom to his partner Liam Sercombe who filled his boots with 17 goals.

Last season he struggled initially, perhaps because of the added responsibility of having the captain’s armband, but also because he had to pick himself up from an intense promotion season and, as they say in these parts, go again.

The arrival of Ryan Ledson steadied the ship in midfield, he offered the platform and Lundstram became a more conservative attacking option, at least in terms of distributing the balls that Ledson won. It’s difficult to say that it was overwhelmingly successful, but it did seem that when Lundstram played well, so did we.

Lundstram is another product of the Eales business model – unearth talent, develop, then re-sell. It’s worked well, to the tune of something like £5m over the last year. That’s the equivalent of a year’s revenue for the club, something that many people forget. The great challenge for the club is to keep that conveyor belt moving, Marvin Johnson is surely next to go, then Ryan Ledson, but then who?

Pep Clotet’s big challenge is not replacing Lundstram, but keeping the machine going. We’re well served in midfield and so the truth is we don’t need another Lundstram-type to be successful next year. However, we are reliant on continually unearthing bankable young talent to keep the money rolling in.

Or are we? Looking at signings made this summer there may have been a move away from the previous policy – Williamson looks set to sign and is 33, James Henry is 28, Dwight Tiendalli is 31, only Xema is in the bracket of Kemar Roofe, Callum O’Dowda and Lundstram and we wait to see whether he can play in England, let alone be valuable enough to be sold on. Perhaps the focus is not to so much to develop players to sell on a continual basis, but to get an efficient squad together which achieves promotion and gains the financial benefits of the Championship.

A change of approach? Maybe; or maybe a diversification of risk. Yes, we want to develop talent, but we also need a stable squad we can build on. People love the idea of picking up raw talent and developing it on, but in the voracious world of football, you will typically lose talented players earlier than you’d like. It goes back some way, but Jim Smith certainly adopted the approach of bringing in players who were older, even slightly past their prime, but who would deliver for a short window before being moved on. It put the development of the squad more in the hands of the club and less in the hands of others with fat wallets.

Lundstram is part of a wonderful, if too brief moment in Oxford’s history, but he’s another pawn in the football economy, an asset to be sold at the best price. It’s not the sign of a lack of ambition, it’s just the way it has to be.