The Insider: All change at Oxford for Pompey visit
It was always going to be a fairly significant summer for changes personnel-wise at Oxford.
But the departure of Michael Appleton to become Leicester City’s number two came as a surprise to a lot of people.
And the timing, just before pre-season training, was far from ideal.
While searching for his successor, the U’s missed out on a couple of players and have been playing catch up a little bit.
However, Pep Ruiz has arrived – and is a manager perceived as somebody who can carry on the Appleton philosophy.
Appleton liked attacking football and playing with intensity, while he developed young players who could hopefully take the club up a level before being sold on.
Ruiz is following the same blueprint and has been an interesting guy to work with so far.
Appleton was very good at raiding under-21 teams, now the man in charge is bringing players in from Sweden and the Czech Republic.
Players have left this summer, although the club wouldn’t have wanted to retain that many.
Midfielder John Lundstram was the main one.
He was in the final year of his contract and was sold to Sheffield United.
Conor McAleny had been on loan from Everton so returned to them, while Chris Maguire moved on to Bury, who are really having a go this season.
Of the squad that won promotion in 2015-16, only Josh Ruffles remains in terms of players who started more than one game in that campaign.
Some weren’t ready for step up. Others were too good for League One, like Kemar Roofe.
There has not been a great deal of continuity and I guess it will take a little time to settle down.
Still, 12 signings arrived in the summer, three of which before Appleton departed.
The U’s remain ambitious and will be aiming for the play-offs, but you would say 12-14 clubs will be looking to do the same.
Ruiz has said he will be happy with progress, although, while there is momentum from last season’s finish of eighth, a lot of people involved have moved on.
For that reason, a lot of it is new and no-one really knows what to expect this season.
Former Pompey keeper Simon Eastwood was last year’s player of the season and there were not many games where he didn’t pull off a big save.
He is a quiet and humble lad who earned himself a new contract in February and has been ever-present since arriving in the summer of 2016.