Wycombe Wanderers v Doncaster Rovers: ‘Expectations have been exceeded and raised’ – the opposition view

Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth

It is back to the business of League One football for Rovers this weekend and awaiting them are a Wycombe Wanderers side at the opposite end of the form table.

Four consecutive defeats have curtailed Wycombe’s impressive first half of the season following promotion. We spoke to Nick Tunney of the Bucks Free Press to get the lowdown on the Chairboys and their prospects for the rest of the campaign.

Q: How would you assess Wycombe's season so far? What have been the reasons behind the recent struggles?

NT: Wanderers have certainly exceeded expectations. To currently sit 14th on 32 points is beyond where everyone associated with the club expected them to be.

However, up until a few weeks ago, they were on the fringes of the play-offs having embarked on a superb run, especially at home where they won six league games in a row.

They have lost their last four but against Scunthorpe they had more than enough chances to win and could have easily got points against Coventry and AFC Wimbledon.

They had performed to such a high standard that I think the expectation level rose. In those four defeats, they weren’t awful, they just weren’t at their best and if you have a slight off day you get punished.

Q: What were the expectations for the start of the season and how have they shifted?

NT: Survival was the one and only aim. Ainsworth has spoken about the 55-point target so often and if they can stay up it would be a monumental effort from a side who haven’t got the resources to compete in the top half of this division.

That expectation is still the same but like I said, due to their form in November and early December I think that opinion shifted slightly.

Q: What will January look like for Wycombe? Will there be incomings and outgoings?

NT: I think it will be fairly quiet on the whole.

Fred Onyedinma, Randell Williams and Bryn Morris, who were all on loan, left after the Coventry game on January 1 and they will be missed. Onyedinma, in particular, is a real threat with his pace and skill.

Ainsworth has extended the contract of Curtis Thompson, who has been a revelation in midfield this season. I think the club may got one or two loans in. In terms of other players out, I think they will be able to keep the nucleus of the squad.

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

NT: Ainsworth flits between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3. Against the better sides he likes to use 4-4-2 and that formation worked so well for them earlier on in the season.

The pace that the team had was a joy to watch and they are a real threat with that system and can really punish teams on the counter.

Q: Who are the dangermen for Wycombe?

NT: Wycombe’s dangermen for me are Alex Samuel and Jason McCarthy.

Samuel signed on a short-term deal in the summer and has since had that extended for two-and-a-half-years. He has become a real fans favourite with his energy and work-rate. He is also a very clinical finisher and his hold-up play for a slight bloke, is absolutely superb.

McCarthy rejoined in the summer after a loan spell in 2015/16 where he won player of the year. He signed permanently in August and for me is one of the best full backs in the division. He bombs up and down the right for the full 90, is rarely beaten for pace, in the air and is a strong tackler. An incredible coup to get him back here. Easily good enough for the Championship.