Half way through the January transfer window and there has been much drama at the Kassam Stadium. Oxford United have been busy sending players out on loan everywhere, but bringing in just one player so far. However the biggest news of the transfer window has been Swindon putting in three bids for star forward James Constable, with the last one being accepted by the U’s thus meaning the striker affectionately known around Oxfordshire as ‘Beano’ could open talks with the club closest to his home in Wiltshire.
Now, when your main rival comes in with a bid for your top striker and the price is too good for the club to say no, a fan goes through many emotions. My initial thought was to the 3rd March and what he could do against us. Every possible scenario seems inevitable. All fears were put to bed later on in the day though when Constable flat out refused to talk to the Robin’s, posting an emotional comment on Twitter declaring his happiness at being with Oxford. Its nice to see that there is still some loyalty left in the game.
This decision is massive for Oxford, not just because our top goalscorer could have gone to our fiercest rivals, but also the fact that had he gone it would have been very difficult to find a replacement of the same calibre. How many clubs are willing to sell their top striker in the January transfer window? Not many; meaning we would have probably had to bring in a player of less quality or stick with what we have.
Whatever people say about Constable (and he does have a surprising amount of critics) he is the top scorer at the club and his work rate is second to none. This has been shown in him being top of the scoring charts in the last three seasons and is in the top 10 all time goalscorers for Oxford. This season I think will be no different and once he hits the back of the net again, don’t be surprised if Beano goes on a run of scoring in continuous games.
A couple of players have really impressed the Oxford faithful recently, one of them being Andy Whing. A revelation since switching from right back to centre back/defensive midfielder, he has proved all his critics wrong from the start of this season and should now be considered one of the first names on the team sheet. This is a far cry from his first few games at the club where everyone thought Whing would be better suited to a different profession, let alone a different position in the team. However his hard tackling style and general control over the midfield has seen him replace veteran Paul Mclaren and make that defensive midfield role his own.
Another major breakthrough has been the returning Jon-Paul Pittman who has now hit three goals in four games since coming back from his loan spell at Crawley and has fast become a new fans favourite. His pace on the wing and skilful runs have given Oxford a fresh option up front, especially after Alfie Potter’s current dip in form.
In the week we made our first signing in Oli Johnson from Norwich. Another winger/striker that looks like a direct replacement for the disappointing Deane Smalley, who has now gone out on loan to Bradford for the rest of the season. Johnson came on in the draw with Hereford and showed some promise, almost grabbing a winner towards the end.
That was another disappointing result as Oxford created so much, but once again finishing was poor. It was as if the crowd could anticipate what was coming as for the third home game in a row the U’s were hit with the sucker-punch; a smash and grab style goal. With such decent football on display at the moment it’s a shame we can’t kill games off, but I have confidence that if we keep playing the way we are the results will pick up, and come May the Yellows should still be sitting in the play-offs.
Written by Mickey Cosier, We Are Going Up’s Oxford United blogger
Mickey tweets @MickeyCosier