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Rock n’ roll Gareth!

The business end of the English footballing season is just around the corner. Though most of the focus is on the outcome of the Premier League, the playoff finals below will be tantalizing too. One of the most interesting teams present are Wycombe Wanderers. The Chairboys are helmed by Gareth Ainsworth, an enigmatic figure by all accounts.

Wycombe suffered relegation from the Championship in 2021, and are looking to bounce back immediately. Ainsworth has been in charge for almost a decade, one of the longest tenured managers in the EFL system.

His long hair, exuberant nature, and an array of colourful outfits have made him a cult hero. However, the most interesting thing is Ainsworth is in a band called ‘The Cold Blooded Hearts.’

Ainsworth will be relishing the chance to take on one of the Championship regulars in Sunderland. Having tasted victory through this same route in 2019-20, Wycombe will be banking on Ainsworth and co. to repeat.

 

A manager like none

Gareth Ainsworth has been involved with EFL football since a long time. A long and successful playing career with Preston North End, Port Vale, Wimbledon, and Cardiff City amongst others. Ainsworth was part of the Third Division Team of the Season and Second Division Team of the Season during his career.

Moreover, he was also named Port Vale Player of the Season in 1998. Ainsworth joined Wycome Wanderers as a player in 2009, playing four seasons. However, he had already been appointed as player-manager in November 2012. Ainsworth retired officially in the summer of 2013 and took on the managerial role full-time.

Therefore, his connections with the club runs deeper than most. The whole town is in love with their club, thanks in large part to their charismatic manager. Wycombe have been regularly punching above their weight, with the Championship experience being the highlight.

Wycombe finished the 2021-22 season in sixth-place, winning 23 games and just nine losses. They stunned MK Dons in the playoff semis with a 2-1 aggregate victory. Sunderland will be a fantastic fixture at Wembley, and Ainsworth is more than ready.

Growing Wycombe

Gareth Ainsworth is in no doubt of magnitude of the job at hand. Sunderland will definitely start as the favourites, given their history. However, Ainsworth is relishing being the ‘underdogs,’ as he himself stated to the Bucks Free Press,

“We’re going to be the underdogs and that is going to be our approach as that’s how we do things here. This is a David and Goliath without a shadow of a doubt.”

Wycombe have a cast full of experienced veterans and young talents who know the EFL scene. Top scorer Sam Vokes with 16 goals, was a regular for Burnley a few years ago. Left winger Jordan Obita was a mainstay at Reading previously, and the hero against MK Dons, David Stockdale has spent time with Fulham.

Therefore, this mesh of different, colourful characters has been vital to Ainsworth. He has been able to keep the spirits high and make Wycombe a daunting challenge for any club. Moreover, he is extremely adept in using a variety of system depending upon the match situation.

Adebayo Akinfenwa, the club legend, is brought off the bench towards the end of matches to influence matters. He solidfies the midfield pivot when his side need to defend a lead, as evidenced against MK Dons.

Premier League soon?

The ultimate dream for all involved. Gareth Ainsworth has not been shy of stating the targets of the club becoming a Championship regular,

“We’re taking 25,000 hopefully to Wembley, so I think calling us ‘Little Wycombe’ now would be wrong. I think ‘Growing Wycombe’ would be better because we’re definitely building something. There’s more kits in the town centre, more press activity, and I think we’ve got to start shaking that ‘little’ tag off.”

Ainsworth and his team have transcended the footballing side of things. There is a complete belief that this team can achieve the biggest things. Ainsworth has been attached with the club for a long time, so is enmeshed with the culture.

He has developed a fan following with his image and connection. Even if Ainsworth and the team fall at this hurdle, there is no doubt that the support will remain just as strong. Wycombe are doing something special in recent times, and Ainsworth is the right man to lead the change.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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