Oxford United

Kassam Stadium

FA Cup 4th Round Replay

8.05pm, Tuesday 4th February 2020

Live on BBC



Jesus, where to begin?


The new decade has swept in with more fakeover nonsense and stultifying performances on the pitch. It’s rarely been easy to follow our lot, but recent times have been harder than ever. We loathe the horrible bastard who runs us and however unlikely, the tantalising talk of affluent new owners coupled with the absolute turgid football on offer are a particularly undigestible mix.


Actually, it’s a never ending nightmare; I think it’s fair to say, the Grim Reaper has more chance of an ownership intervention than some Saudi Prince, and the only small crumb of comfort averting complete implosion is our unfathomable mid table perch.


Another straw to grasp at is our continued participation in this year’s FA Cup. Having been given kind looking draws versus third tier opposition, we’ve huffed & puffed our way to the three sided Kassam Stadium on Tuesday evening. If we’re honest with ourselves, Rochdale probably should’ve finished us off in the final fifteen at their place and Oxford also had chances to put us out of our misery at St James’. For years, I’ve bemoaned our luck, but we’ve had so much go our way this season as to beggar belief.


Our hosts warmed up for this one with a 2-1 home win over Blackpool, their forward Marcus Browne grabbing both of the goals. They sit on the edge of the League One play offs and despite the disappointing loss of influential midfielders, Baptiste and Fosu (to Brentford) they’ll be desperate to get at us.


United will travel there, a side running on empty. Despite Florian’s incredible late, great intervention at Goodison, the last 270 minutes of football have been some of the worst I can recall. As an attacking force we are pretty much redundant. Our build up play is laboured and littered with error and on the rare occasion the ball finds its way to our isolated forwards, profligacy is usually the order of the day.


We were simply desperate for a injection of some attacking quality during the recent window. For Bruce to breathily claim that there was nothing out there better than what he’s got, just underlines his ‘company man’ status. With two thirds of the season played, our four current ‘strikers’ have one Premiership goal between them. Just let that sink in.


So, what’s going to happen on Tuesday? D’you know what? I’ll give a prediction as it’s part of the gig, but in all honesty, I’m just not sure.

We’re playing a side thirty nine places below us and the biggest positive I can think of, is that we’ll probably be more comfortable having them come at us. They’ll be on the front foot, and our ‘banks of four’ mentality prefers that.


Unless the Corbridge Capello goes with youth, he’s only got Goalinton to call on, so I guess our beleaguered Brazilian will carry on up top. I’d imagine one or both Longstaffs will make a reappearance alongside recent loanee, Bentaleb. Fellow newcomers, Lazaro and Danny Rose are unavailable (I believe?).


Our biggest hope of something special, St Max looks knackered. Whilst I largely agree with Shearer’s take on the other two, his criticism of the Frenchman is ‘wide of the mark’ (®Anal Oliver – ask your fatha). Will Bruce chuck him in again? Probably – he has nowt else to replace him with. Excessive use of this lad will undoubtedly come back to haunt him, though.


It’d be awful to exit in Oxford, and as I said earlier, the way we’re playing coupled with the lack of options going forward make this all but impossible to call. Everyone not of a black & white persuasion will be keen to watch the plucky U’s cause an upset, and therefore this was an obvious choice for ‘live’ viewing. For what it’s worth, I think it will be tight but defensively we’re generally strong and have a top 4 keeper in Martin. If they can deliver their usual standard of performance, I reckon we might nick one from somewhere and am going 1-0 to the Mags.


Get yourself some Prozac to go with your peeve, and hopefully I’ll see you in the next round….


Nick Clark