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Foyle to put chop on friend Wilder
11:41am Saturday 15th May 2010 in York City v Oxford United - Wembley play-off final
Foyle has little time for the management team of Graham Westley and Dino Maamria at Blue Square Premier champions Stevenage but is full of respect for the Kassam Stadium club and their boss Chris Wilder.
The City chief spent four years with the U’s from 1987 to 1991, playing two seasons of top-flight football at the old Manor Ground and still has fond memories of that period in his career.
Foyle said: “I’ve no point to prove to Oxford fans because, on a personal level, they were a great club to me and I had a really happy four years there. They are a well-supported club as we have seen from the ticket sales and I'm looking forward to the game.
“They deserve the right to play at Wembley. It’s just a shame only one club can make it back into the Football League tomorrow.”
On his comradeship with tomorrow’s dugout rival Wilder, Foyle added: “I keep in touch with Chris. He is a good football person who I would class as a football friend.
“We sit together at games and talk football and he’s done a great job there. People go for names but I think he was the ideal appointment for Oxford.
“He’s a hard worker who knows the non-League scene. He’s always on the training pitch and is the ideal man to get them out of this league.
“I’m sure he’s saying nice things about me as well, but one of us has got to chop the other up tomorrow.”
Oxford have never hit the dizzy heights they managed during the controversial Robert Maxwell era and, although the club were League Cup winners as recently as 24 years ago, Foyle has not been surprised by their recent plight.
He said: “When I was at Oxford, we were in the top league and survived with a win at Luton of all places on the final day of the season when Dean Saunders scored in the 89th minute. The following year, we lost John Aldridge and Ray Houghton and it led to the decline of the club and, financially, they couldn’t cope at that level.
“That can happen to any club. You only need to look at the teams in League Two and the Blue Square Premier this season.
“If you are operating above your means, you can find it hard to survive. I’m sure, in five years’ time, there will be some more surprise names in those two divisions because football’s full of ups and downs.”
Foyle played his highest grade of football while plying his trade at Oxford but it was only after a £375,000 move to Port Vale that he managed to reach Wembley three times as a League One player.
His memories are mixed and, having won his first visit during Vale’s 2-1 Football League Trophy victory over Stockport, he has since tasted defeat three times at the national stadium.
Little more than a week after the victory against Stockport, Vale were beaten 3-0 by West Brom in his only previous play-off final.
He later played in a 5-2 Anglo-Italian Cup final defeat against Genoa, scoring both Vale goals, before returning to north London as City manager for last season’s 2-0 FA Trophy final defeat against Stevenage.
Outlining the distinction between Wembley success and failure, Foyle said: “It’s a horrible place to go and lose a game of football.
“We sampled that last season and I don’t want to experience that again. But there wasn’t enough belief in the changing room to take on Stevenage then and things are different now.
“I have a strong starting XI and a bench that can change things if it’s not going right out there and, if you win at Wembley, there’s no greater feeling in football. You don’t want to leave the pitch and want to just keep walking around the ground.
“They say going up through the play-offs is the best way to get promoted even though it shortens your summer break and your chances of getting players in.”
Despite the passing of 17 years, Foyle is also hoping to learn lessons from that West Brom defeat.
“You have to start the game quickly and brightly,” he said. “There’s no time to see what the opposition are doing and you have to concentrate on yourselves.
“We had beaten West Brom twice in the league but changed formation at Wembley and went 4-5-1, which we hadn’t played all season. It was a bit negative and, at 0-0, our centre-back was sent off for a professional foul so we struggled after that with West Brom finishing worthy winners.”
Like the Baggies back in 1993, City have not beaten Oxford in this season’s two league meetings between the clubs but Foyle feels that will count for very little come tomorrow, saying: “Finals are just so different but the pressure is on Oxford.
“They let their lead slip at the top and the critics came out but Chris kept quiet, got on with his job and they reached the play-offs so we will have to see what happens.”