Pep Clotet can inspire a play-off push at Oxford

Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Pep Clotet and Oxford ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.

Background

Oxford have navigated the departure of Michael Appleton with an intriguing appointment in Pep Clotet. The highly-rated Catalan coach was part of a remarkable revival at Leeds last season, to which his contribution was presumably significant. He slots into a slick operation at the Kassam, assisted by the entourage of backroom staff assembled by his predecessor. The Yellows have made continual progress over the past three seasons. Last season, they finished eighth with Appleton lamenting a tendency for standards to slip at crucial moments.

Personality

Clotet’s people skills and leadership credentials remain a mystery at this stage but he speaks fluent English and appears well-liked by many who have previously worked alongside him. The video analysis suite is where he can really make a difference. He essentially comes with the persona of a police detective with a keen eye for tactical detail, an intuitive mind who spends countless hours trawling through match footage and performance data searching for that one crucial piece of information that cracks a case.

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Verdict

The potential exists for Oxford to mount a serious promotion challenge because, rest assured, Clotet will know more about League One than League One knows about him. The Appleton era was distinguishable for searching mid-season runs when a myriad of good practices would suddenly bear fruit and carry the Yellows forward on multiple fronts. Clotet's approach is more hands-on and his insight could give the team an additional edge in those pivotal matches when a mental barrier has to be pushed through.

Prediction: play-offs

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