Pep Clotet can inspire a play-off push at Oxfordby Mike Holden / 20 July 2017, 09:14Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Pep Clotet and Oxford ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League One season.
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.
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.
"We have to respect the foundations. Every coach has their own ideas, but you have to respect what has been done and build on it instead of starting a new process. I did a lot of homework before coming and now I’ll do even more. You must watch a lot of games, you can never watch enough. I don’t know another way, it’s my method. It’s difficult to predict the kind of success we can have, but I do think we have to finish the season better than when we start it."
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.