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Accrington Preview

A look ahead to Saturday's game...

Also, here are some thoughts on the current season from Vital Benny... (Warning - not for the rose tinted)



  • I'm wondering which two of Stewart, O'Nien and Harriman that Che regards as failures.

    I completely agree that five year plans don't work for football, and about the pointlessness of an arbitrary points target.

    I don't think this has been a bad season, although undoubtedly it's been a bad 2016 so far.

    We go again next year.

  • It's been an awful, depressing season - for the poor quality of football, the excuses made for weak performances, the failure to get the best out of quality players, the lowering of expectations, the failures to address issues with tactical formation, copious issues with man-management, relatively poor marquee signings (excluding Harriman), the lack of goals, the worsening reputation of the club in eyes of others and excesses in gamesmanship unignorable even by our own fans.

    If we, as paying supporters, make too many excuses for this or accept too much of the spin put out for the club, we will be likely to suffer the same next season. All of the above is rectifiable this summer - but only if the club realise this season simply has not been acceptable, and that will only happen if we fans tell it as it is.

  • @aloysius actually agree with most of your post , the best part of the season was our FA cup games V villai

  • He's talking about Luke O'Nien, although he changed his mind on him as well seeing as he didn't rate him to begin with (told you he was good Benny!)

    Very well written and articulated article that though. Thanks Vital for this, and all your work over the season. I don't always agree with what your writers say but they're always worth reading

  • edited April 2016

    I tell you what was an awful, depressing season... two years ago.

    The best part of this season was the games against Villa.

    It's been a tough end to the season, I don't think anyone disputes that. But the season (luckily) didn't start in 2016. Recency effect and the comparison of our performance in 2016 to both this season in 2015 and the 2014/15 season makes this season as a whole seem worse than it actually has been.

    We haven't had the joy of watching Mawson or Scowen or PCH (much) or Saunders this year. They are all players at a higher standard than League 2, and we simply can't expect to bring in players of that quality every year.

    poor quality of football - it's League 2 and not many teams play a significantly better style of football than us, as acknowledged by Martin Allen. Nearly all other teams have scored more goals but you've included that as a separate point. I'll accept that some games have been pretty poor spectacle, but that's part and parcel of football.

    the excuses made for weak performances - that we have a small squad, because of financial reasons? That's just the truth.

    the failure to get the best out of quality players - happens to every team every year.

    the lowering of expectations - yep, your expectations are too high. We've been in the top half all season, and we've got to the third round of the FA Cup. Purely in terms of results, we've had a good year.

    the failures to address issues with tactical formation - many different formations have been tried. People have called for 4-4-2 when we played 4-3-3, and vice versa. It's not simple, and all formations have advantages and disadvantages. The limitations of which players are available also have an impact on which formation to use.

    copious issues with man-management - copious isn't true is it? Stewart was brought back in to the fold, the Pierre situation seemingly dealt with effectively. The only obvious issues here are with Banton and Amadi-Holloway both of whom have had history of the same at other clubs. As Che said when I was moaning about Doherty leaving these kind of things happen all the time (although I'm sure he said it more elegantly!)

    relatively poor marquee signings - Relative to what? Last season, yes, because last season was exceptional. O'Nien, Stewart and Harriman all successes I would say. The biggest failure was to bring in a creative midfielder. McGinn has had occasional flashes but in most games hasn't been good enough.

    the lack of goals - you can definitely have that one. We need a creative midfielder to create more chances.

    the worsening reputation of the club in eyes of others - eh

    excesses in gamesmanship unignorable even by our own fans - there hasn't even been that much in 2016, mostly because we haven't been winning games. Definitely something for the FA to look at though.

  • edited April 2016

    @eric_plant Thanks Eric. Even conditional praise is wildly appreciated at Vital towers.

    I don't agree with everything that's written either, but that's the beauty of it.

    In our defence, it's been difficult this season to vary the coverage of what has been one of the most repetitive series of performances (style wise) that I can remember.

    *Next year will be thrill a minute, I can feel it in my water!


  • And I also agree with Eric, I much appreciate the hard work and insight of all those that contribute to Vital. It enhances the experience of being a Wycombe supporter.

  • Che/benny has been moaning for years - its what he does.

    No club in any circumstances will have success every year - it just doesn't happen. Last year extraordinarily we had an amazing season - this year its Accrington and Leicester's turn, next year no doubt somebody else. Leicester will not win the premiership every year.

    Wycombe is a relatively small club whose fate at best is to operate around the lower ends of the league structure. At that level the players simply aren't good enough to play champagne football. Some years it will be better than others - some years the players brought in to be the creative ones will not perform as well as in other seasons - the reality is with a small budget the chance to bring in new creative players midway through the season is more limited.

    2015/6 in terms of results was an above average season - a good cup run for the first time in a while and in the playoff hunt in to April. That is a little better than we should expect. We would be lucky to do as well next season in terms of results.

    It would appear that the more noisy fans at least want a good style of play and minimum play offs every year. That simply isn't realistic every season. It will happen occasionally, last year was an example, it will not happen every year regardless of ownership status. Fan ownership means generally lower budgets which means that generally the probability of the above is less. That is not an argument for or against fan ownership, others who see more games than I do should decide this, it is just an acceptance of the reality that the benefits of fan ownership are counterbalanced to an extent by the negatives - lower budgets mean that the probability of a successful team operating at the top of the league playing attractive football are lower. It really is that simple. Some seasons will be better and more attractive than others. The second half of last season was one of less attractive less successful ones.

    There are dangerously unrealistic expectations amongst a significant proportion of the more noisy supporters. Those supporters appear to be never happier than when they have something to criticise the club and its manager for . If they are not very careful, they will end up causing significant damage to the club and its future. I take a different view. I think the club is extremely well run both off the field by Howard and particularly on it by Ainsworth. Neither will get every decision right, but overall they are both tremendous assets to the club. I understand that some seasons may be more of a struggle than others. I expect some seasons (maybe next) to be much worse than this.
    I fear what will happen when Ainsworth leaves (and who knows when that day will come).

  • Prediction 1-2 I am happy with that. I would like to Accrington go up automatically. I assume their budget is lower than ours.

  • Incidentally there are two games left and it doesn't much matter whether they are won or lost. I would say to both Max and Sellers, you are going to start these two games, show me why you deserve a contract for 16/17. if the games are lost as a result, well frankly so what.

  • A very well written article and not much you could argue with.
    Coming to the point of Gareth's weekly 'Were over achieving,tiny budget,little Wycombe' routine brings me to a couple of theories.

    1st one is that Mr Ainsworth four years at the helm, have seen finishes of 15th,22nd,4th and this season we are likely to finish somewhere between 8th and fourteenth.
    To a neutral or casual observer that record is not over impressive, especially considering the brand of football we play, but Gaz is a bright young manager and knows if he highlights the 'shoe string budget'and 'punching above our weight' to every article and interview at both local and national level, it maintains in the consiousness of journo's, possible future employers and opposing fans what he sterling job he is doing under the supposed conditions.

    2nd theory is as highlighted in the article, It's an attempt to wear supporters down
    to the thought of 'this is all we can expect under the present ownership system' and
    maybe a takeover could be waiting in the wings ????

  • Massive thanks to the Vital team for all their hard work over the season. I regularly trot out stats from their excellent previews on the commentaries.

  • @bluntphil You're welcome Phil. It's nice to think we play a very small part in what are the best, most genial and most professional commentaries in league two.

  • @DevC once again you lump Wycombe supporters as this negative mass when nothing could be further from the truth.

    People who watch the team every week are entitled to an opinion on the playing style - this does not make them "dangerous" in any way.

  • The same post time after time after time

  • Everyone is entitled to an opinion on everything of course, Peter.

    There is a creeping anti=Ainsworth, Anti-Howard feeling growing again on this message board and from what I understand the facebook one. I have no way of knowing if that is typical of fans generally or is confined t these forums. This seems to me to be based on the unrealistic expectations that the club should always at least challenge for playoffs and the rather bizarre wishing away and refusal to accept the financial constraints the club operates under and the consequences thereof. I disagree I think that is incredibly dangerous. Fans are rather good at causing changes of management. If next season is a bit of a struggle (and after two seasons of outperformance it could well be), I rather fear what the consequences may be. I bet in hindsight Dagenham and York supporters would have chosen the 14/15 season over 15/16.

    Of course all are entitled to an opinion and to voice constructive criticism. But that constructive criticism should be informed by a realistic understanding of the constraints the club is working within and hence the realistic expectations the fans should have. At the moment I see little sign of that.

  • There's some excellent, important thoughts here - both in Che's article and in some of the responding comments.

    I personally don't subscribe to the season having been a disaster - we've competed reasonably successfully in our club's par division, albeit without being very watchable. Nonetheless, I do have concerns about the on-pitch direction of travel and where we'll be in 6 months time.

    We've certainly played less 'football' this season compared to the previous campaign with an ever greater focus on the high press, going man-to-man across the whole pitch, breaking up the rhythm of the game and a direct delivery to the front players (who haven't ever seemed suited to such an approach).

    I've never been one to sign up to the view that our finances dictate that we can't play "Champagne football" as suggested above. In reality, though, WW fans aren't actually asking for Champagne football but they would like to see some players who can do the basics (as well as tackle and harry), some controlled possession, some passing, some flair and some goals. We weren't exactly Barcelona last season either, but there was certainly enough excitement to keep most fans happy.

    Ultimately, its a mindset and coaching thing dictated by the manager rather than club finances - as our opponents tomorrow have shown throughout the season, on what I'm sure is an even smaller playing budget (regardless of their mid-season buy-out putting a few more pennies in their coffers).

    I fear that were we to replicate our poor end to the season during the first 3 months of next season, Gareth would soon come under real pressure. Not getting any points and not providing much entertainment is a toxic combination as the likes of Alan Smith, Peter Taylor and Gary Waddock all discovered.

    That would be a terrible shame as Gareth is very likeable, very talented and is the best manager we've had since Saint Martin. However, he does need to sit down and consider his approach as things are just starting to head in the wrong direction, once again.

  • A good read as always, which is not to say I agree with everything written. For me, along with O'Nien, Stewart and Harriman have been excellent signings, although granted Harriman has faded rather in 2016.

    Also, I find it hard to write off any season where we've competed in the top half, got to the 3rd round of the cup and beaten Oxford & Bristol Rovers. In terms of results, I think we've done pretty well up until the last few weeks.

    The one area of concern that I think we all agree with is playing style (lack of goals, entertainment, gamesmanship). I actually have faith that this is something GA will be looking to address in the summer, in the same way he addressed our problems in summer 2014.

  • Have we currently got the players in the squad that can actually play an attractive attacking and passing style of football? I would suggest not.

  • @mooneyman What are you talking about? Harriman, Jacobson, McGinn, Kretzch, Hayes, Jombati, and Holloway are more than capable of playing attractive football.

  • I think my main concern is that there is literally no football being played. Literally none. If we're not going to play ANY football whatsoever game after game, why have we not got two giant strikers who can st least win EVERY high ball and hold it while the midfield like into the box en masse?

    Astonishingly we were still close to the playoffs, one or two goals away to Newport, Cambridge, York, Carlisle, Accrington, or home to Yeovil, Barnst or Wimbledon and we would have done it,

  • Accrington should no more be seen as the norm than Dagenham. they are having a great season, if their budget stays low, they are unlikely to do as well in future years. teams with lower budgets tend to try to compensate by adopting hard work, pressing styles as this has a history of competing.

    Due to our budget we have to adopt a policy of bringing in rough diamonds and hope to polish them. This season's expected creative players (Banton, Holloway, McGinn) all for various reasons underperformed. With no money to bring in new ones, the manager adopted the style with the players he had most likely to get results. He achieved remarkable results with the playing resources he had IMHO. Even when we managed to get in more creative types (PCH,Umanga) they either got injured or didn't quite make the grade.

    Next season who knows. I am sure we will try to bring in some creative players although again we will in reality due to our budget struggle to get the players we ideally want. Will we unearth a couple of rough diamonds - who knows.

    there is every chance that we might have a worse season results wise than this. Far from impossible that we may hover around low mid table. Should we sack GA in such circumstances - well I would argue no - I fear relegation may well follow if we did.
    And that is precisely why the unrealistic expectations of always challenging for a playoff spots I have referred to above are so dangerous.

  • *pile into the box

  • Bill - You need more than 7 players to play an attractive passing game, two of which probably won't be here next season. McGinn, whilst able to pass the ball, has no pace and gets outmuscled by most midfielders in this league. I really enjoy watching Jombati and agree he can play positively but unfortunately goes walkabout too much for a defender.

  • I will add my thanks to the Vital team for all their sterling work doing all the sums and providing interesting reading for those of us who cannot make away games!
    Interesting views all round. I also don't think we've had a terrible season, considering the size of the teams (accrington aside) that are in the promotion/play-off births above us and some of the players have shown some spark at certain points.
    I have not seen that many teams that have shamed us performance wise, but I'm not going expecting to see scintillating football (though it would be nice now and again) or a hatful of goals, we will finish nearer the top than the bottom and so for a small squad (yes, we have got one) we've done okay. Like many, I have concerns about the lack of goals, 'game management', young players not getting time and very late subs that seem to serve no purpose. But I reckon quite a few of the fans of a lot of the clubs around us probably feel the same way. Sadly, the post-61 points slump was quite marked and had we won the games we drew after that landmark, we would possibly be battling for seventh now. Which is not to be sniffed at considering we are not a free scoring team this year! As for might be refreshing for him to stand next to @bluntphil and say that we've got loads of money and we're just not spending it....or I've fallen out with (insert name here) because he's (insert crime here) or the young players are all crap in training...or I like paying big money to old fellas to wheeze about for 90 minutes and get rid of anyone with any skill...or that he feels we won;t get another win for ages... that the five year plan is something Andrew Howard told him to say, but it's not something I've ever really heard at any level in the professional game and I doubt it would go down that well with everyone in or outside the club besides about 25% of the 50 or so people who regularly post on here. So to finish...we go again in a wycombized stylee with Big Aaron immense at the back today until we reach 62 points and no-one knows that better than me. The fans, as usual, have been great.

  • @DevC every Wycombe fan I ever speak to is well aware of the constraints the club operate under, which is precisely why many of those Wycombe fans are donating money to the club each month.

    To suggest they have dangerously high expectations is simply patronising. Once again you have invented a situation in order to criticise Wycombe supporters.

  • My view, based on the views expressed on this forum, is that expectations are dangerously high. Based on our playing budget, a playoff challenge should be seen as a fairly rare bonus not an expectation, yet when asked this exact question a few days ago, the majority made this their minimum expectation (not aspiration). Che appears to feel the same. If we expect to reach the playoffs and judge the players and manager to have failed if we don’t, if as it appears to me many are beginning to see GA as manager as a problem not a solution as a result, those are IMHO dangerously high expectations.

    Assuming no change to structure or income levels, would you regard three mid table finishes, one playoff challenge and one successful relegation battle as a reasonable outcome for the next five seasons. If not why not. (Note expectation not aim/aspire).

  • @mooneyman You don't need centre backs who distribute and retain possession at this level. Pierre and Stewart don't need to attack. Also, even the most positive teams have someone who breaks up play in midfield.

    Therefore, we do have a squad capable of playing attractive, attacking football. 7 focus on attacking and passing, whilst two in defence and one in midfield do the gritty stuff.

  • What a superb posting from Vital Benny.

    Completely sums up what has been a turgid and depressing season.

  • Above all my top wish for next season is that Benny joins in the fun on here. My biggest disappointment in the switch to Gasroom 2.0 is that he never made the transition.

    I don't think there are any fans of the club who want Gareth to fail and he has a number of great qualities to him. But it is worrying that he is still showing the failings he was in the early days - no willingness to shake things up mid-match with either changes of formation or early switches of personnel; a desire to sacrifice a creative element on the pitch for another willing runner; and an increasing reliance on gamesmanship to get us over the line.

    We were rather good at it last year but this season we've been found out. Teams know what to expect from us and have set up accordingly, and we've not been able to change our style in light of that. My overriding fear is that unless we try something new next year we're going to lose even more games as clubs get better able to counter us. In the early part of the campaign our willing runners are able to win us matches through sheer determination - but as the season runs its course, injuries, tiredness and a small squad make it difficult to play such aggressive football. Could that partly explain why our campaigns petered out last season and this? Can we expect any difference next time if we continue with a small squad but don't change our style?

    The depressing thing is, when pitted against higher league opposition we have played sexy football - and our performances against Millwall and Villa show we can compete with far better squads when we do. It makes it doubly frustrating that we don't let our players play this way in League Two when playing the ball out from defence and zipping it about on the deck has a greater chance of success. As I've said before, there are quality players in our squad who would be able to wow us given half a chance to do so and it must be very depressing for them they've been so constricted this campaign.

    Final point - no matter how big a fan of Gareth you are, you must accept he invites criticism when he gives interviews to the official website saying that, now he's got 61 points, he's letting his side "off the leash" then continues to play the same players, in the same formation, with the same conservative hoofball and continues to see us score no more than one goal a game, dropping out of play-off contention in the process. He's got two matches to show us what he meant and send us into the summer with a spring in our step. I really hope he does.

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