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10... moments that define Chris Wilder's time as manager of Oxford United
Updated 4:12pm Sunday 26th January 2014 in Sport
1. The signing of Ryan Clarke
The Bristolian arrived from Northwich Victoria in the Summer of 2009 and, along with players like Jake Wright and James Constable, has formed the backbone of Wilder's sides. More than 210 appearances later he's created an enviable penalty-saving record and can probably just about laugh at his Wembley howler by now.
2. The axing of Billy Turley
With Clarke's arrival came the beginning of the end for crowd favourite Billy Turley. It was a bold move to bench the former Rushden keeper for the opening game of the 2010 campaign, but it signalled a ruthlessness that has defined Wilder's tenure. Just ask Mark Creighton, Adam Murray, Dannie Bulman, Matt Green and Jack Midson.
3. The Wembley knee-slide
It's May 2010 and Alfie Potter has just sealed Oxford's return to the Football League at a sodden national stadium in front of 35,000 United fans. How does Wilder celebrate? With a joyous knee-slide down the touchline worthy of any hyperactive child on a wedding-reception dancefloor.
4. The signing of Ricky Sappleton
The first of a huge list of temporary strikers to have come and gone under Wilder, big-boned Sappleton came off the bench to score on his debut on New Year's Day 2009 then sank without trace. See also: Mehdi Kerrouche, Ryan Doble, Onome Sodje and Matthew Fletcher.
5. Getting James Constable on a permanent deal
'Beano' was initially brought to the club on loan by Darren Patterson, but it was Wilder – who just three weeks into his time at United said Constable “epitomises what I am trying to build here at the club” – who made the deal permanent.
6. The missing Eddie Hutchinson fax
Less than a month into Wilder's reign his side were deducted five points for failing to register midfielder Eddie Hutchinson. It made Conference chairman Brian Lee a villain in fans' eyes and eventually cost Oxford a play-off spot. Wilder, whose interviews were sometimes cagey and defensive, couldn't hide his frustration as he called the division a “poxy league”.
7. Beating Swindon at the County Ground
Wembley aside, this is perhaps Wilder's greatest day as Oxford manager. A gritty 2-1 win against, let's face it, a technically superior side, ended 38 years of hurt at the County Ground.
8. The battle between Wilder and Di Canio
It's September 2012 and Oxford have beaten Swindon 1-0 in the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. In the bowels of the Kassam Stadium Chris Wilder has just finished a video interview with the club website. He flashes a smile at the camera and holds three fingers aloft. Three from three against Di Canio. The freezeframe goes viral.
9. The loan signing of Rob Hall
Undoubtedly a talented player, Hall is notable for being arguably the only teenager to be given a proper run in the side by Wilder. Aaron Woodley, Matty Taylor, Alex Fisher, Tyrone Marsh, Callum O'Dowda and plenty of others have failed to get regular games, much to the frustration of some fans.
10. This season's home defeat to Scunthorpe
This season and last, United have won just 14 of their 38 home league games in front of dropping attendances. In a division devoid of a runaway leader, an average Scunthorpe team came away with a comfortable win, leaving some fans to ponder Wilder's inability to break down obstinate away sides in the four seasons since promotion.
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