KARL Robinson’s close to five-year stay as Oxford United head coach has come to an end, with his legacy in doubt after a troublesome final few months.

It felt like only a matter of time before the club’s board acted and parted ways with a manager who was the fourth-longest serving in the Football League.

Recent form and performances have been dreadful though, there is no beating around the bush with that one.

United’s spine for much of this season has been a creaky defence which has kept just three clean sheets in Sky Bet League One, a midfield lacking the sufficient steel or silk, and a final third which quite simply has been woeful.

Up front has been the major drop-off for the U’s and the biggest contrast to sides in recent seasons under Robinson.

The pace, trickery and flair on the flanks, mixed with ruthless finishing inside the penalty box, has vanished.

Quite simply, United haven’t packed a punch this season.

READ AGAIN: Karl Robinson sacked as Oxford United boss

The frailties across the team have culminated in the current run of form which has seen the U’s lose seven of their last eight games, picking up a solitary point at MK Dons two weeks ago.

In getting to this point though, the obvious question is why haven’t the board acted sooner?

The writing seemed on the wall last weekend after the defeat at an even more out of form Cambridge United.

The hosts had won just once in 14 League One matches but were not made to work hard to get the three points.

A final throw of the dice seems to have been yesterday’s clash at home to Bristol Rovers.

Again, the U’s were coming up against a team in their own drab run of form, losing six of their last seven.

United started brightly and for the opening 10 minutes, looked a team with the fire in their belly.

However, once Rovers nudged in front courtesy of Scott Sinclair’s penalty, the result never really looked in doubt.

The quickfire second goal effectively ended Robinson’s reign as boss, with the likelihood of the team scoring twice slim, based on recent displays.

The third goal ensured a new low point had been reached, and it only seemed a matter of time before the inevitable club statement.

Robinson now has a reputation to rebuild after one poor season from close to five full campaigns.

During that time, the 42-year-old has enjoyed a series of high points both in the league and in cup competitions.

On two occasions, he took the club close to playing Championship football but both times, was the loser in the play-off lottery.

In the 2019/20 season, a sturdy Wycombe Wanderers beat United in the play-off final at Wembley, before Blackpool ran out comfortable winners in the semi-finals the following year.

At the heart of those play-off pushes was free-flowing, entertaining football.

If you wanted to see goals, then watching United would be a safe bet.

That attacking intent translated into the cup competitions, with Robinson helping provide some memorable moments for supporters.

A run to the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup in the 2019/20 season included a thrilling 4-0 win against Premier League side West Ham United, before eventually getting knocked out by eventual winners Manchester City.

The same season saw the U’s claim a goalless draw at Newcastle United in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup, and then be four minutes from a penalty shoot-out in the replay.

The way this season has panned out will inevitably leave a sour taste in the mouths of supporters, who are now anxious about a fight against relegation to League Two.

READ ALSO: Elliott Moore steps down as Oxford United captain

Ultimately, the club on the pitch is in a similar position five years after Robinson took over.

United were 16th and five points above the League One relegation zone.

He leaves with the U’s 17th and five points above the bottom four.

Where the board look now to replace Robinson is crucial as there is no denying this talented – yet supremely low on confidence – squad is facing a serious challenge to turn around form and pick up the wins required to stay in the third tier.

It’s up to those at the top to appoint the right manager, and it needs to be done sooner rather than later if this very much relegation form is to be halted.