Wycombe Wanderers Season Preview: the nearly men

Wycombe Wanderers are known for close shaves. They were seconds away from a League Two play-off final victory in 14/15, only to be denied by Joe Pigott’s 122nd minute equalizer and a penalty shoot-out defeat to Southend. The year after, the Chairboys occupied a top seven berth until a winless last eight games, before last season, which saw them just miss out by a point. The Football Lab spoke to supporter Russell Cox of The Wycombe Wanderer, who reflects on last season…

We had a couple of bad runs during the season and played some dire football at times. The end of the season was quite good, playing some decent stuff for once and a winning run in the last few games.

Trust member Trevor Stroud is now the club’s chairman. Andrew Howard leaves the role but remains on the board – does he deserve some of the credit for the last three years?

I think he has bought some business acumen and professionalism into the role, he certainly deserves some thanks for his work.

24% of your efforts last season were headers, a higher proportion than any other League Two side. Did the signing of Adebayo Akinfenwa dictate the style of play?

We’ve always been hoof-ball merchants under Gareth Ainsworth, so the Akinfenwa signing was a perfect fit.

You only scored 16 goals in the 19 games you conceded the opener last season and only six teams scored fewer second half goals than your 28. When crossing doesn’t work, do you have enough goals from midfield?

We play far too narrowly for my liking and far too cautiously. Goals from midfield is what I’d like to see more of.

Centre-back Adam El-Abd joins from Shrewsbury. Was this a precautionary signing in case Aaron Pierre were to leave?

It would seem that way, yes. Pierre is on trial at Bristol City and I was never confident of him staying in any case.

At the time of writing, El-Abd is your only signing. Are you frustrated by the slow business, or do you welcome a summer of stability?

It’s been a boring summer if you are a Wycombe fan, news of friendlies and signings have been thin on the ground.

One of your best players last season, Jamaal Blackman, has gone back to Chelsea. Can Scott Brown adequately replace him?

Brown did well when he was called upon last season and has a good record in the past. I’m confident he is good enough to be our number 1.

Some fans feel this could be a big season for winger Nick Freeman. Do you see him getting ahead of Paris Cowan-Hall in the pecking order?

I think he will play a role from the substitutes bench. He hasn’t played much, but has shown some decent play on occasions.

Joe Jacobson has only missed 23 league games in three seasons at the club, Michael Harriman nine in two. Does their consistency make it hard for the club to attract back-up full-backs?

I think our budget, more than anything is the stumbling block. We have Sido Jombati as a backup/rotational right back and he is very good. Left back is more of an issue, but Jombati can play there and ex Stevenage full back Andrew Fox is on trial and looked good in the friendly against Slough.

What are your thoughts ahead of the League Two season as a whole? Any potential dark horses for you?

Looking at the odds offered, 40/1 seems pretty generous for Grimsby Town

Where will you finish? You were pretty accurate last summer…

I’ll go for the lower half of the playoffs, either 6th or 7th.

The Football Lab’s Verdict

Wycombe’s squad looks weaker than last season, especially with Blackman’s loan expired and Pierre likely to depart. Akinfenwa and Kashket should score the bulk of their goals, but with width and variation lacking, this could be a year of regression. 16th