Lewis determined to keep the hammer down

Mickey Lewis shouts the orders as he takes the pre-match warm-up at Bristol Rovers last week

Mickey Lewis shouts the orders as he takes the pre-match warm-up at Bristol Rovers last week

First published in United News Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor. Call me on 01865 425451

IT has been a week with a difference for Mickey Lewis since Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers.

After stepping up following Chris Wilder’s departure, the Oxford United caretaker manager was faced with four games in 12 days, including two long midweek away trips.

But after the point at the Memorial Stadium, Lewis was faced with that rare occurrence of no Tuesday night game.

It means that for the first time since being becoming United’s main man, Lewis has been able to take a step back from the pressure-cooker situation of matchdays.

“It’s been nice to have a free week,” he admitted. “But it doesn’t mean it’s been any easier for anyone.

“Players love playing games, but without a midweek match it does mean you can give them a breather.

“The staff are all working as hard as ever to make sure we are ready for Saturday, so while there’s obviously the preparation to do, there is the chance to get a bit of a rest for some of the lads.

“Every game we have played recently has been on a heavy pitch and with quite a few away games too, it does take its toll.”

United are unbeaten under Lewis, with a win and three draws from his four matches in charge.

It sees the U’s in third place in the Sky Bet League Two table, but with the five clubs below them all having games in hand.

However, the caretaker is looking at the bigger picture.

“We are unbeaten as a group in seven now with three wins and four draws,” he said.

“We were disappointed not to win last weekend, but then Bristol Rovers go and win in midweek so it’s maybe not such a bad result.

“People would have thought Fleetwood would win at Wycombe, but they end up scraping a draw so there’s no easy games in this league.”

He added: “You always say that points are better than a game in hand.

“There is perhaps more pressure on those teams below, but there’s pressure on every team to be honest because it’s so tight up there.”

Many questioned whether Lewis’s approach as manager would change from that as a No 2 on a matchday, but he does not see any reason to alter something that has worked well so far.

And that includes taking the pre-match warm-up as usual.

“Yes, there’s going to be a tinker here and there because everyone has different ideas, but when you’re on a good run you don’t want to change too much,” he said.

“I like to be out there with the players pre-match. That’s the way I am.

“If I was sat in the dressing room before a game it would be doing my nut in.”

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