Waddock praise ahead of Oxford reunion

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INVITES to reunions will not be handed out purely to Michael Appleton tomorrow.

Gary Waddock also finds himself up against a club he used to manage, as recently as July.

Pompey assistant manager Gary Waddock Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey assistant manager Gary Waddock Picture: Joe Pepler

And according to Andy Awford, the Blues’ assistant boss has made a favourable impact in his current surroundings.

Oxford United visit Fratton Park seeking to avoid a defeat double at the hands of Pompey.

Appleton is the U’s boss – a figure the Fratton faithful will be only too familiar with following an 11-month and 29-day tenure which ended in November 2012.

Coincidentally, he replaced Waddock at the Kassam Stadium this summer following a change in ownership.

It ended an eight-game spell as head coach for the ex-Wycombe boss, having only joined Oxford in March.

Still, Waddock went on to work at Barnet, and then in December landed on the south coast following the departure of Alan McLoughlin as a first-team coach.

He has become an integral part of the Pompey management team which has overseen 14 points from a possible 18 during a remarkable past month.

It is a magnificent recent record which will put Awford firmly in the frame for February’s League Two manager-of-the-month award.

Oxford are next up – and Awford has plenty of praise for their former manager.

‘Gary has come in and been professional, as I knew he would be,’ said Awford.

‘He has a slightly different role in that he is assistant manager and not first-team coach, so has taken some responsibilities off me which is good.

‘It has allowed me to concentrate on other things and I have enjoyed working with him.

‘We didn’t know each other before I interviewed him and appointed him but it has been a positive relationship and he’s been good.

‘Previously, we had two first-team coaches. We changed that role because we felt it was one of the things that was needed and Gary has come in and been a good support to me – which is obviously the role of an assistant and it has been what we wanted.

‘Obviously, you do your homework before you appoint people and the people I spoke to spoke highly about him – and they were right.’

Waddock joined the Kassam Stadium club in March as a replacement for caretaker boss Mickey Lewis.

Given the job title of head coach, the 52-year-old went on to win only one of his eight matches in charge, losing the other seven.

The U’s finished eighth in the table last season, although nine points adrift of the play-offs in what was ultimately a disappointing campaign.

The summer saw fresh investment at Oxford in the form of Darryl Eales, who also took over as chairman and sacked Waddock.

Pompey’s assistant boss added: ‘It was a change of ownership. I had a very good relationship with the previous chairman, who decided he was going to move on and a new one came in.

‘I understand that, it’s what happens, there’s no hard feelings, it’s one of those things. I have moved on very quickly and am looking forward to meeting them.’