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Opposition View: Expectations, tactics and dangermen - the lowdown on Wycombe Wanderers

Gareth Ainsworth
Gareth Ainsworth

Rovers kick off their home campaign this weekend with the visit of one of the early favourites for relegation, Wycombe Wanderers.

To get the lowdown on Gareth Ainsworth’s side, we spoke to Nick Tunney at the Bucks Free Press.

Q: Following promotion, what are the expectations for this season?

NT: I think survival is all that matters, first and foremost.

The points target of 55 points has been mentioned regularly and to stay up would be a phenomenal achievement in itself due to the very little budget the club has to spend on players.

I firmly believe they can do it. They have a brilliant spirit and players who have played as this level, and higher, before.

Anything other than survival would be an incredible bonus.

If Wanderers can replicate their performance from Saturday’s game against Blackpool every week, they will definitely be staying up.

Q: How key was it to retain Gareth Ainsworth following promotion?

NT: Absolutely massive. He has since signed a new three year deal, keeping him at the club until 2023.

He is, for me, one of the best young managers in the country and he clearly has the backing of the board, his players and of course, the supporters who absolutely worship him.

He is an absolute joy to interview, a brilliant bloke, and just cracks on with his job.

He has a great eye for a player, tactically astute and when it comes to motivating his team, there aren’t many better.

Q: What style of play and system does Ainsworth favour?

NT: Certainly a 4-3-3 is his tried and tested system, with Akinfenwa the main target.

Obviously they play direct with Akinfenwa up top but play some pacy, incisive football in the middle of the park and have fast wingers who love to beat a man.

Certainly Ainsworth lives by the sword and wants his teams to attack.

On Saturday, they had numerous chances to see of Blackpool easily but just couldn’t score.

I say the gaffer favours an attacking system, which he does, but that was the team’s seventh clean sheet in their last 11 games going back to last season, so they are very organised too.

Q: Who are the dangermen for Wycombe?

NT: Undoubtedly, Akinfenwa is the one to strike most fear into the opposition.

‘The Beast’ has scored 36 goals in two seasons in south Bucks and he shows no sign of slowing down.

It normally takes him a few games to get going each season but he played well against the Tangerines.

It usually takes two players to mark him, creating space for the others.

Paris Cowan-Hall is a fantastic player on his day but can be a bit in and out of games. When on form, he is a real danger.

Sam Saunders is another quality player at this level and his range of passing will cause a lot of teams problems.

Q: Match prediction?

NT: I think it will be close. Wycombe haven’t lost on the road since December and there could be a new signing or two in the squad as well.

Whatever happens, it will be tight. 1-1 for me.