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 Lawrences Shorts: Karl Mechanics

Saturday 1 February 2020

Blackpool is a famous place for breaking your duck in a gritty and uncomfortable way. Fittingly, Oxford popped it’s 2020 league victory cherry on Saturday with a tough 2-1 win against the Seasiders. Afterwards KRob confirmed that he wasn’t planning to bring in any free-agents unless there were any legends in the Oxford area who fancied a game. Martin Keown is adjusting his shin pads as we speak.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Half-man, half KFC Family Bucket, Gillingham boss, Steve Evans, says he fended off an unnamed Championship team to land former Oxford loanee Jordan Graham who has joined them until the end of the season. The reason Evans hasn’t named the club is due to professional integrity, ethics and the fact he’s lying.

Monday 3 February 2020

Mystery injury magnet and former Oxford winger, Marvin Johnson has definitely not been talking about getting a new contract at Middlesborough. ‘Of course I want to stay’ he said, not talking about it, ‘it’s not in my mind’ he added firmly putting it out of his mind, ‘It’s not important to me right now’ he said, shutting down the very thought of it.

Meanwhile, GLS feared the worst when Joey Beauchamp’s name appeared in a news story with 15 school children from Cardiff. It turns out he was listed as a ‘famous’ member of MENSA alongside TV critic Gary Bushell and former Miss Rochdale Laura Shields.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

It was an avalanche of Lonsdale tracksuits and Donnay golf shoes on Tuesday as Sports Direct’s Newcastle returned to the Kassam for the FA Cup replay. It was an emotional rollercoaster as we battled back from 2-0 to force extra-time before going down 3-2.

Extra-time created a cultural earthquake as Holby City and Silent Witness were both cancelled. Nobody embedded themselves into the national psyche like the Newcastle fan who ingratiated himself with the locals by doing the patented Gavin Whyte Wave while celebrating The Toon’s winner.

The Telegraph has been talking to Gary Bloom who has been working with the club as a psychotherapist. Psychotherapy is about getting inside a someone’s head, a shuddering thought when it comes to Jamie Mackie.

The step-over kid Tariqe Fosu has been talking about his move from Oxford to Brentford, like a 56 year old lottery winner dumping his family for a pneumatic 22 year old pole dancer, he says he was gutted to leave Oxford before shrugging ‘but that’s football’.

Wednesday 5 February 2020

KRob was omnipresent on Wednesday. During the day he met the flippin’ Duke of flippin’ Cambridge to discuss mental health issues. The two shared stories of their mental health challenges. The Duke talked about his uncle befriending a convicted sex trafficker and his brother being hounded out of the country by the racist right-wing press, KRob spoke movingly about the mental challenges of dealing with a foul throw that was wrongly given against Rochdale last season.

This was a mere aperitif as KRob then headed for Oxford’s Senior Cup defeat at Banbury in the evening. There was more cup heartache as a young side went out after penalties. On the upside, KRob drew the half-time raffle with the winner receiving nearly nine pounds in prize money.

Elsewhere, your daughters are safe as Jedward orphan, Mark Sykes may have to pass up his lost week in Magaluf this year to head off to Euro 2020 with Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, Tariqe Fosu could be lollypopping his way to a place in the Ghanian national team.

Thursday 6 February 2020

It was the Seven Minute Fifty-Seven Second Fans Forum on Thursday with, who else? KRob. With the club playing as well as it has for decades, one ray of sunshine asked how he can convince his daughter to support Oxford rather than Liverpool when the club sells its best players. You don’t need to sell it to her, mate, just put her up for adoption.

Friday 7 February 2020

It’s Peterborough tomorrow who are managed by Darren Ferguson, the son of legend Sir Alex Ferguson. Dazza is a chip off the old managerial block being a garralous Scotsman. But don’t let that fool you, he’s his own man as well, one thing that really sets him apart from his dad is his lack of managerial success.

Oxford United’s attempt at taking over the world took one-step closer when it was announced that former yellow Craig Harrington has become the new head coach at the Utah Royals. This answers the questions ‘whatever happened to Craig Harrington?’ and ‘who the hell is Craig Harrington?’.

Live blog: January 2020 transfer window

Is it really that time again? The January transfer window is open and fans are catastrophising about losing Rob Dickie, Cameron Brannagan and Shandon Baptiste. And Simon Eastwood, Chris Cadden and Alex Gorrin. And Mark Sykes and… well you get the idea. You can keep up with all the rumours, comings and goings by checking here from time to time. I’ll try and keep up so that you don’t have to.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Chris Cadden has left for Columbus Crew after the MLS side triggered the clause in his loan deal to return for the start of their new season. Also sneaking out is Ousanna Zamouri who was on a short term deal, playing one EFL Trophy game.

Jonte Smith who is currently playing for Cheltenham Town is interesting Motherwell and Bolton Wanderers.

Friday 3 January 2020

With Chris Cadden on his way, Karl Robinson is interested in signing Steven O’Donnell from Kilmarnock and Nathan Holland from West Ham.

Blackburn Rovers are apparently interested in signing midfielder Alex Gorrin and Bournemouth are considering a move for Middlesborough winger, Marvin Johnson.

Saturday 4 January 2020

Karl Robinson confirmed that he was interested in Steven O’Donnell along with Feynoord midfielder Liam Kelly. He also suggested that Ricardinho’s agent has been in touch, which would presumably be a backstop position if other deals didn’t materialise.

Sunday 5 January 2020

There’s a lot of Marcus Browne talk at the moment. The Middlesborough player fits Karl Robinson’s desire to add a pace winger to the squad, Coventry, Doncaster and Charlton are also interested.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

The Sunderland Echo have reported that Oxford are set to beat Sunderland to the signing of Liam Kelly from Feyenoord. The rumour is that he was in the stand on Saturday for the FA Cup match with Hartlepool.

Former Oxford captain Jake Wright has had his loan deal with Bolton Wanderers cut short and returned to Sheffield United.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

A double whammy as the club announce the signings of Nathan Holland from West Ham on loan along with Liam Kelly.

Thursday 9 January 2020

Not content with Kelly and Holland, KRob dropped Rob Atkinson from Eastleigh and the returning Marcus Browne from Middlesborough.

The Telegraph are reporting that Leeds United are interested in signing Cameron Brannagan. Leeds are well served in midfield, but have injury problems in that area. If you add their ambition to make the Premier League, it all looks like a short-term option. Brannagan would need to decide whether he’s up for the scrap for places at Elland Road.

One time Oxford loanee Carlton Morris has signed for MK Dons on loan from Norwich City while Alex Mowatt is rumoured to be interesting Nottingham Forest in a loan deal.

Friday 10 January 2020

The Scottish press are fairly certain that Celtic’s full-back Lee O’Connor is set to sign on loan. Derby manager Philip Cocu has said that George Thorne will go back out on loan, but didn’t imply it was back to Oxford.

Sunday 12 January 2020

The eh? What? Uh? news of the transfer window is that Karl Robinson has been linked with the vacancy at Malaga. As I say, eh? What? Uh?

Thursday 8 January 2020

Jordan Archer has signed for Fulham after his short-term deal with Oxford covering Simon Eastwood came to an end.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Oxford signed George Thorne from Derby until the end of the season. Thorne had been on loan, but has been out injured for much of the season.

Former loanee goalkeeper Jonathan Mitchell has joined Macclesfield on loan until the end of the season from Derby.

Friday 24 January 2020

Rob Hall has signed for Forest Green Rovers on loan, but not before signing a year’s extension to his contract with Oxford.

As predicted, Rob Atkinson, signed earlier this month, has signed for Eastleigh on loan.

Saturday 25 January 2020

Lee O’Connor, the Celtic right-back linked with us earlier this month, has signed on loan with Partick Thistle.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Another loanee, Joe Riley, has joined Mansfield from Plymouth on loan.

30 January 2020

Ouch, Tariqe Fosu and Shandon Baptiste have signed for Brentford in a deal which Karl Robinson describes as significantly higher than the rumoured £3m that was suggested earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, if you’re still reading, Conor McAleny has signed for Shrewsbury Town on loan from Fleetwood.

The Marvin conundrum

A friend of mine once had a boat, one of those wood paneled river cruisers. It was beautiful. He lived a good 25 miles from a river that he could sail down. He’d bought it on eBay on a whim, blinded by romantic notions of his family floating carefree down the river on sunny days.

Of course there were very few days in which the sun shone when they were free to tow the boat down to the river. When they did, they nearly drowned as the weight of the boat dragged both them and their car into the Thames as they tried to launch it. Such a beautiful dream that didn’t quite work. It quickly went back on eBay to be sold on.

The sale of Marvin Johnson to Middlesborough feels a bit like that; everything about him seemed right, but at the same time there’s something about his time at Oxford that didn’t quite fit. He had pace, strength, a deft touch and he was a joy to watch, but was he ever quite an Oxford player? It sometimes felt that the squad was made up of him and then everyone else.

I got a similar sense with Kemar Roofe, destined never to be in and or of the team, but a discreet entity surrounded by his own aura. But Roofe achieved something notable with the collective; promotion, and that cemented an enduring quality that Johnson could never have. 

Like the boat, what should have been a dream never quite fitted and he always felt like an asset to sell on. Part of the point, I suppose, was that he was with us for such a short period of time. Had he stayed we might, in two or three years, have had five or six Marvins and he would have been an original of a new breed and considered a club legend. Instead the fit was slightly awkward, the right player at the wrong time; a bit too good.

He didn’t do interviews or maintain much of a social media presence, he had all the assets of a great player on the pitch, but not the brand that engaged fully with the fans off it. It was more introversion and focus than arrogance, but his aloofness made him harder to love.

To some extent we are victims, or beneficiaries, of the financial doping of the Premier League. Although Johnson will be playing in the Championship, it’s no surprise that two of the teams that were in for him were ex-Premier League teams with parachute payments to spend. Time will tell whether blowing your wad on players is the best way of getting back to the big time – over time as more teams get into that position these spending-sprees will be less of a differentiator and we may drift back into the same cycle that has affected so many clubs who spend big, fail and then capitulate before eventually someone will learn a new way to succeed. For now, spending is believed to be the quickest way forward and that’s what we’re benefiting from. But this is perhaps one of the weird things about this; Johnson is the second largest fee we’ve received, but in five years he won’t be mentioned in the same breath as others in the top 10 like Elliot, Roofe or Beauchamp.

As for Johnson’s conduct during the episode, people are being wholly unfair. Firstly, his physicality and ability is the result of hard work and focus, the same focus that allows him the option of moving into the Championship or beyond. He has earned the move and deserves it. The reality is that he is far more likely to play in the Championship and beyond with Middlesborough than with us. That said, it’s still a big decision for him personally and professionally, so to expect it not to affect him is nonsense. Secondly, there is likely to have been a significant amount of admin involved in getting the deal over the line with payments to Motherwell as well as plenty to negotiate between players, agents and clubs. Third, once a deal was likely, it was in nobody’s interest to scupper it by playing Johnson and risking injury. And finally, delaying the announcement until the last minute discouraged a bidding war, which may have been good for us if it had forced the fee up, but it would have created uncertainty which could also have killed the deal. Football transfers can be messy; it’s not Johnson’s fault that he and we have to go through such processes where in normal working environments he would just hand his notice in and leave with a handshake.

For me, Johnson and Oxford never quite gelled. But, this is not his fault. In the future, he’ll probably be viewed in the same way as someone like Dean Windass; fondly but not deferentially. For a fleeting period he was exciting to watch, as good as those we remember as legends, and while we may never learn to love him wholly, he’s a product of his own hard work; so he deserves his move and I hope he succeeds.