May I start by wishing all readers of the Oxford Mail a very happy Christmas.

It is a very special time of year and I am really enjoying experiencing life in Oxford with my family.

We will try to get the balance right for the players over the next couple of weeks because it is important they get time to be with their friends and families as well.

But at the same time, this is one of the most crucial times in the whole season.

There are four games condensed into just nine or ten days and you can make huge strides.

But because you are moving so quickly from game to game you can easily lose your focus and intensity.

The key thing is the preparation, which we always do very well, and then to maintain your energy and make sure you peak at the right times.

We start with a huge test today against Wigan Athletic.

It is a game between two of the top-scoring sides in the division, and two teams in good form.

Wigan have won four games in a row, while we are now unbeaten in four as well.

That adds to what I am sure will be a very good game of football.

We have home advantage – and two clean sheets in the last two games is very encouraging from a defensive point of view.

The most recent came at Rochdale last Saturday when I thought we were resilient and very solid.

A couple of people asked me if we had sacrificed a little flair to be more solid recently, and I understand that question.

I don’t necessarily think it is true though.

Instead I think we have worked hard to develop and progress as a squad, so when the opportunity requires open expansive football we can do that.

But when we need to fight and battle we can also adapt to do that as well.

That is very encouraging and I think this group of players is changing and evolving all the time.

Hopefully, we can combine everything we have been working on to win today.

If you are coming along then wrap up warm, put on that yellow scarf, and help us get Christmas started in the best possible way.

There are one or two new faces behind the scenes at the club with Chris Hackett and Niall McWilliams joining us.

Chris will need no introduction to the fans who will remember him as a fine winger for Oxford.

He joins us to help Leon Blackmore Such coach the youth team, and having seen them both work I know those young players are in very safe hands.

Niall is the new managing director, joining after a career in education at the Oxford Academy.

I have worked in that area myself and am full of admiration for what he and his staff have done.

We sat down for a chat this week and we share the belief that a successful club is only possible if the football and backroom teams work together.

I am sure 2018 will see the club continue to make progress on all fronts.