In a returning feature, we are joined by George from The Wycombe Way who gives us a Wycombe viewpoint on this weekend’s game.
Hi and thanks for talking with us? How do you feel about the start to the season you’ve made?
It’s been underwhelming, for a number of reasons. We’ve had a few injuries in recent weeks, but the squad wasn’t assembled in time for the start of the season, and isn’t at the level that many think it should. We started the season with a teenage ‘keeper who’d never made a professional appearance, three full backs in our back four, and very little squad depth.
We haven’t even had a difficult start on paper with our fixtures, so to be down in seventeenth is rather disappointing. We’ve a tricky month coming up, and are in poor form heading into October.
And your thoughts on the summer transfer business?
It wasn’t good enough, simple as. We made two first team signings, and for a side that needed improvements, that wasn’t enough. Max Stryjek & Alfie Mawson are proving to be quality additions, but the rest of the squad is untouched and are stalling.
Stryjek wasn’t our first choice ‘keeper, a loan move for Nathan Bishop fell through because Utd took the p*ss, and no one will ever know if Mawson was a target going into the summer or whether the opportunity to sign him was just too good to turn down.
I quickly lost count of the number of development squad signings we were making, there could be a few diamonds in the rough, but I don’t believe any of them are yet to get league minutes, other than D’Mani Mellor.
You’ve got the longest serving manager in the 92 in Gareth Ainsworth. How much longer can you see his tenure continuing?
His job is pretty safe, it’s whether one of his “dream” moves pop up sooner rather than later. He’s never kept quiet about his dream to manage one of his boyhood clubs, Blackburn or QPR will be likely destinations one day, but he’s still got a lot more to achieve here.
He’s vowed to get us back into the Championship to give us fans a taste of the second tier, but perhaps there is a ceiling once we get there. He’s seemingly got a great relationship with owner Rob Couhig and is always very open about both of their ambitions.
He’ll be here for a little while longer.
Do you think your brief spell in the championship raised expectations amongst fans and can you see yourselves getting back there any time soon?
It certainly raised expectations, but did so across the club, right up to the top. Rob Couhig said he’d only be satisfied this season with promotion, whereas most fans would be pleased with a play-off finish again. The fans who have been around a while know the club is punching well above it’s weight, and don’t allow them to get carried away thinking about the future.
Our best chance to return to the Championship was last season. It’ll be a few years until we’re fighting near the top again. Despite the season in the second tier, we still don’t have the funds to compete off the pitch with the bigger clubs in the division. We’ve seen that this summer, the first team squad isn’t getting any younger, and the newly adopted moneyball approach with the B Team will take a few years to bear it’s fruits. The squad needed improvement and fresh blood, and we just weren’t able to bring that in.
What are your thoughts on the controversial circumstances that saw Wycombe relegated in 2021, effectively rescuing a financially negligent Derby County?
It’s a difficult case, there are so many different ways to look at it. Over 46 games that season, we didn’t deserve to stay up. However, it was disappointing to see Derby’s (Mel Morris’) cheating go unpunished that season. I’ve no ill feeling towards the club, the fans were oblivious to what was going on in the board room. I thought our own club could’ve done more to help when they were really struggling last season, nobody wanted to lose another EFL club, but the real pantomime villains were the crooks at the EFL headquarters.
Wycombe have a lot of very long serving players and perhaps a slightly ageing squad. Is this a problem to you?
It wouldn’t be a problem, if they weren’t guaranteed starters every week. The youthful development squad will eventually break into the first team and provide competition, but many of the ageing players are giving lacklustre performances because they’ve got minimal competition. Adebayo Akinfenwa & David Stockdale both departed in the summer and brought the average age of the squad way down, but we didn’t replace or bring in competition for the older players who showed signs of fatigue last season.
Wycombe can have a reputation among other fans in the league as being associated with foul play and timewasting. Does this ever make Wycombe fans uncomfortable or does the siege mentality work in your favour?
We harness that reputation pretty well, and have a positive outlook on the grief we get from rival supporters. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, and it’s clearly worked over the years. We see more attractive football then most rival fans will, and sometimes I think we do it purposefully when we know we’ll get a negative reactions.
It used to be quite bad, but I think we’ve evolved, and we’ve had to. We’ll always save a top performance though for when Plymouth or Oxford come to town.
On that note, Argyle and Wycombe have had some fiery encounters over the years, not least between the social media accounts of the clubs. What’s your view on this very modern form of rivalry?
It highlights the power of social media in the modern day, especially in football.
I think there is a genuine sort of dislike between the clubs now, and it all originated with a few cheeky and then distasteful tweets from both sides. It makes for more fiery encounters, and means that Plymouth home and away are always among the first fixtures I look for in the summer. It’s always good to have a reason to get up for games, and I think the players feel that energy from that stands too.
Aside from this, what are your views on Argyle as a club?
I like Argyle, I think that off the pitch they do things the right way.
I’m no League One expert, but have a pretty decent understanding and knowledge of most clubs, but Argyle are a mysterious quantity. You utilise the transfer market well, and don’t tend to throw money at the issue, even though I’d suggest you have the funds to do so.
I admire the club for the way they’ve bounced back after a rollercoaster few years. From Championship football to a number of seasons in League Two, before a few yo-yo years. It’s always good to see a club who can survive a difficult period like that, because we’ve seen with a number of teams over the years (Scunthorpe, Yeovil, Chesterfield) it’s difficult.
If you could bring any one current Argyle player to Wycombe, who would it be?
I really liked Dan Scarr when he was with us, and he’s surely improved since then. Bali Mumba is a great player too, very versatile, and is a great coup for you on loan.
How do you see the rest of the season panning out for both clubs?
I think that come May it’ll be a reverse of last year, Plymouth making the play-offs with Wanderers missing. Apologies if that brings up any PTSD, was a good day to be a Wanderer that one.
Finally, a score prediction for Saturday?
I don’t think it’ll be as cagey as many think, It’ll be open with a few goals hopefully. We’ve a fully fit squad again and are in desperate need of a win, fingers crossed we turn up, 3-2 win.