Des Buckingham has pledged to build on the foundations left by Liam Manning after being unveiled as Oxford United’s new head coach.
The 38-year-old was born in Oxford and played for the U’s youth sides before joining the coaching staff aged 18.
Buckingham told BBC Radio Oxford: “The club is in a great space. It’s about recognising what has been before and what I can add rather than change.”
After being given a farewell by dozens of Mumbai fans at the city’s airport at 1am before flying back to the UK, Buckingham admits he has experienced “a mix of emotions”.
“There’s one of sadness leaving a club and a place where I have lived and been extremely well looked after for two-and-a-half years,” he said.
“But I am extremely excited to be coming back to a club I was at nine years ago, one that has hugely developed and grown and one where I can come in and continue taking it forward.
“It’s an opportunity to take over my hometown club that I have supported, I grew up working for and which gave me my first opportunity as a coach. It’s an opportunity to come back, be the head coach and lead forwards. It’s not so much nerves, it’s more excitement at the opportunity.”
‘I am going to be myself’
He said: “I’ve worked the last three or four years at the City Football Group and there is pressure there. There are expectations at Melbourne and Mumbai that they challenge for silverware every year – the club here is as ambitious as that.
“I think Liam Manning has set the team up extremely well. It’s now about coming in, seeing the good work that has been done and for me to try to add to that to take us forwards.
“I am going to be myself. I will recognise what has been done and learn very quickly what has changed in the time I have been away. I will use the skillset of the people in the building. We have some wonderful people here, some I have worked with, others I used to teach and some that I have even coached that are playing in the first team.”
Buckingham coached Us defender Sam Long when he began his coaching journey aged 18.
He said: “I coached him as an eight-year-old boy and to see him grow up and make his first-team debut is very special. It’s wonderful to come back and see people still here and doing well.”
Buckingham revealed talks were ongoing about his backroom staff but added: “Craig Short has done a wonderful job in the interim.”
Buckingham paid tribute to Us legend Micky Lewis, who passed away in 2021 after a 28-year association with the club as a player and youth coach.
He said: “Micky Lewis was the reason I got involved in coaching. He was like a father figure to me, I spent a lot of time with his family. I hope he is as proud as my dad and my family are right now of ,me coming back here to take this club forwards.”
On a day of high emotion, Buckingham said he will keep a cool head in order to help bring success to a club he holds so dear.
“To an extent you have to have emotion but emotion can’t rule your decisions,” he added.
“We have got a direction we want to take this club and it’s important now that people see their role within that. If you stick with that then results have shown in the last three or four years that it can bring success.”