Gareth Ainsworth can lead Wycombe up to League Oneby Mike Holden / 14 July 2017, 15:00Tweet
Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) previews Gareth Ainsworth and Wycombe ahead of the upcoming 2017/18 League Two season.
Gareth Ainsworth is now five years into the job at Wycombe, and three years into a five-year plan devised after a harrowing brush with relegation. In Year 1, the Chairboys overachieved massively, finishing fourth and narrowly missing out on promotion twice. Outsiders have since judged them by that benchmark but the original targets for both Year 2 and Year 3 have been met. Ainsworth might have suddenly gone quiet on this, but the stated aim has always been to secure promotion in Year 4.
A free spirit nicknamed Wild Thing for his rock-and-roll lifestyle and cheerful extraversion, he brings an energy to the dressing room that often convinces players they are part of something special. Equally, though, he finds it difficult to mask his true feelings in the wake of a setback. Always prepared to take responsibility and admit his own mistakes, Ainsworth's adaptability serves him well. His backroom staff do most of the coaching nowadays since he learned that his intensity can have a negative impact if not rationed.
"I’m feeling very positive. We finished last season with 19 players under contract. That's great for a manager to have a philosophy laid down and be happy with his players. We've improved year on year and that’s important. If we improve again this year, we won't be far away at all. People will look at last season and say we just missed out after finishing brilliantly. But I'm looking over the last three years when I say that where we are now is fantastic."
The Chairboys boast an enviable level of continuity with an accomplished back four that has been virtually set in stone for the past two seasons and they would have surely finished in the top seven last season had their knockout exploits not proved such a distraction. Prior to the agonising 4-3 FA Cup defeat at Tottenham, they had gone 16 matches unbeaten (12 wins), suitably demonstrating their ability to sweep through the division when they get on a roll. This could be their year.
Prediction: automatic promotion