Karl Robinson draws out two 'perfect XIs' as he plots summer recruitment

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Karl Robinson knows which players he needs to sign this summer to put together his dream starting XI for next season come true Picture: David Fleming
Karl Robinson knows which players he needs to sign this summer to put together his dream starting XI for next season come true Picture: David Fleming

KARL Robinson has already mapped out his ‘perfect XI’ for next season – in two different formations.

Oxford United switched between a three and four-man defence in the second half of the 2021/22 campaign, ending with 3-4-1-2 against Doncaster Rovers a week ago.

Robinson said his team for that game had next season in mind, with the U’s head coach primarily picking players contracted beyond this summer.

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He will expect to add new signings into the mix and the United boss has a clear idea of which transfer targets will fit each formation.

“We know the players we want,” Robinson said.

“We’ve drawn out two systems: I’ve drawn out my perfect XI in a (back) five and my perfect XI in a four, and who the subs would be.

“And how the recruitment can fit in, because the subs in a back five have to fall into place if you go to a back four.

“We know playing 4-3-3 gets us progression, but we’re just looking at internal change.

“It’s really interesting times and something I’m really excited about for the football club.”

Robinson has generally favoured 4-3-3 in the last three seasons as United mounted a string of promotion challenges.

The U’s rarely lined-up with a back three until early 2022, when they switched formation during the comeback win over Sheffield Wednesday in January.

But it was the trip to Charlton Athletic on February 19 that sparked a run of games in that system, as United ran riot in a 4-0 triumph.

The U’s lined-up in a 3-4-1-2 formation for six of the next seven matches, although their potency in attack fell away after striker Sam Baldock suffered a season-ending knee injury.

United reverted to a four-man defence for the 2-1 defeat at Morecambe on April 5 and that remained until the final-day draw with Doncaster.

READ MORE: Karl Robinson explains final-day line-up decisions

Robinson suggested before the game that he could recruit for that system, adding: “The shift in formation shows we’re going to be aggressive in this window.

“We want four top strikers here and a left-sided centre back, so your back three and front four will be very aggressive.”

The U’s head coach revealed he met several agents and a player last week as he plots his summer transfer business.

Robinson says clarity over his system is most important, though.

He said: “The players that we have here sometimes make that dependent, and also the players that we’re looking to recruit.

“You have to have a formula first and foremost – a style, a philosophy, a built-in culture.

“The players fall into that and where that fits will make sense the closer we get to the first game of the season.”

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