Death is but a door, time is but a window, I'll be back - Interview
Tuesday, 9th Mar 2021 11:46 by Clive Whittingham
A predictable season of struggle for Championship minnows Wycombe in their first crack at this level of football, but still plenty for QPR to be wary about and Rangers favourite Gareth Ainsworth to be proud of according to The Wanderer fanzine editor Jonny King.
How has Wycombe’s season been?
Pretty much as I expected – bloody tough. We weren’t under any illusions going into this - we knew we’d be in a relegation battle and one that we were likely to lose. To an outsider, you can look at our results and all the defeats and say we’ve been rubbish and out of our depth, but actually, on the whole, the performances have generally been there. I must admit, I was a little concerned at the start of the season that we’d be getting pounded every week, but there actually haven’t been that many games where we’ve really been outclassed and only two teams (Blackburn and Brentford) have absolutely hammered us. Otherwise, I’ve been pleased with how well we’ve competed against clubs with far more spending power than us. Of course I wish we were doing a bit better than we are, but looking at the bigger picture beyond this season, the future looks incredibly bright for Wycombe.
Wycombe league results so far…
What have been the main differences that have made the step up hard?
The step up in quality is huge. The gap between League Two and League One is negligible, but between League One and Championship its vast. Even the teams down at the bottom have that bit more quality than us. We’ve given our all in every game and sometimes that’s got us something, but we don’t have that extra gear we can go up if things aren’t going our way. We go in at a hundred per cent and that’s it. Of our squad at the start of the season, twelve of them played for us in League Two and they’ve gone up against multi-million pound, international level, Premier League standard players and generally held their own, but on this occasion we’ve not quite had enough quality. I suppose it comes down to money. I don’t want to make excuses, but it’s a fact that we don’t have the financial muscle to compete with most of the clubs at this level. We have to find a different way.
Absolutely! I mean, I can’t speak for everyone and I have seen a few Negative Normans on social media who seem to have lost all sense of perspective, but I think the overwhelming majority of our fans recognise how far we’ve come and what an incredible job he’s done. Of course he doesn’t get everything right, his brand of football isn’t always the easiest on the eye and he undoubtedly has some weaknesses, but there’s no way we’d be where we are without him. Importantly, he has the public backing of the board too and even if we don’t win another game all season he still probably has the safest job in football. We’ll probably go down this season, but he’s absolutely the man to take us back up again. My only worry with him is how much longer can we realistically hope to hold on to him and what will happen to us when he does eventually go?
What January transfer business did you do?
Not a huge amount to be honest. We brought in the delightfully named Admiral Muskwe on loan from Leicester, signed Jordan Obita from Oxford and brought Nnamdi Ofoborh back on loan from Bournemouth. Muskwe is a young Zimbabwean international striker and while he hasn’t played a huge amount since joining, he’s shown a lot of promise when he’s featured. Obita was an unusual one, as we had him on trial in the summer when he was a free agent but didn’t sign him. He’s a proven Championship player though and it’s nice to actually have two left backs on our books for the first time in about six years. Ofobohr is a Nigerian U-20 midfielder who we had on loan last season and is a real star of the future. He’s set to join Glasgow Rangers in the summer. We also extended the loan of defender/midfielder Josh Knight, also from Leicester, and Wycombe fans are hoping that might become permanent.
Summer Ins >>> Uche Ikpeazu, 25, CF, Hearts, Undisclosed >>> Jason McCarthy, 24, RB, Millwall, Undisclosed >>> Daryl Horgan, 28, LM, Hibs, Undisclosed >>> Ryan Tafazolli, 28, Hull, CB, Free >>> Giles Phillips, 23, CB, QPR, Free >>> Curtis Anderson, 19, GK, Unattached, Free >>> David Stockdale, 34, GK, Birmingham, Free >>> Anis Mehmeti, 19, AM, Norwich, Free >>> Garath McCleary, 33, RW, Reading, Free >>> Dennis Adeniran, 21, CM, Everton, Loan >>> Josh Knight, 23, RB, Leicester, Loan
Summer Outs >>> Sido Jombati, 32, RB, Oldham, Free >>> Jamie Mascoll, 23, LB, Bolton, Free >>> Craig Mackail-Smith, 36, CF, Bedford, Free >>> Jacob Gardiner-Smith, 23, DM, Released >>> Curtis Anderson, 19, GK, Walton Casuals, Loan >>> Giles Phillips, 23, CB, Aldershot, Loan
Winter Ins >>> Jordan Obita, 27, LB, Oxford, Undisclosed >>> Admiral Muskwe, 22, CF, Leicester, Loan >>> Nnamdi Ofoborh, 21, CM, Bournemouth, Loan
Winter Outs >>> Josh Parker, 30, CF, Burton, Free >>> Sido Jombati, 32, RB, Oldham, Free >>> Nick Freeman, 25, CM, Orient, Loan
Where is the team strong and weak?
We’ve been really poor at the back this season and that has probably been our biggest downfall. We’ve conceded 57 goals in the league so far this season – the three teams just above us have conceded 43. It’s disappointing, because under Ainsworth our defence has usually been our strongest area, but we’ve been uncharacteristically sloppy at the back and conceded a lot of really soft goals, particularly from set plays, an area of the game we usually pride ourselves on. Going forward, we simply don’t create enough. It’s not that we can’t get the ball down and play, we just seem to go into panic mode a bit and whack it long instead of taking a second to look for a pass. Our biggest strengths are the same ones that got us up last year; our work rate, organisation, team spirit and attacking set pieces. The togetherness among the players is great to see and they won’t stop fighting for each other.
If you do go down, is the squad equipped to go strongly into League One or do you think there’ll be a bit of a break apart and rebuild? Will that be under Gareth?
We’re going back to League One with a much better squad than the one that got promoted. Barring the handful of players who’ll probably be on their way, most of our squad are under contract for next season, so I don’t think we’ll need a big overhaul, just five or six quality (Championship standard) additions. None of us expected to go up last season and the club have been sensible with the windfall, spending some, but keeping most of it back. We could have blown the lot on players who might have kept us up, but the Couhig family, who took over the club last season after a vote by the Supporters Trust, have been clear on their intention to run the club sensibly and sustainably. Chief Financial Officer Pete Couhig said we’re ‘prepared to yo-yo’ and I think that’s the right approach. Take the money and run and use it to challenge for a return to the Championship. This isn’t the end – we’ll be back!
The Twitter @J0NNYKINg, @WandererFanzine, @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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