Almost six months of from the remarkable day at Torquay which saw us stay in the Football League, Wycombe Wanderers are now a point clear at the top of the League Two table.
It’s been a start that no one at the club could’ve imagined. To have stayed up on the final day of last season many would’ve considered anything higher than 21st a success. Instead, having gone out and played with no fear, we find ourselves top of the table sixteen games in. And it’s only set to get better for us as a club.
The FA Cup first round takes place this weekend, with the Chairboys facing a trip to Vanarama Premier side Barnet with the hope of going through and then the week after the visit from Sky Sports for our Monday night game against fellow promotion hopefuls Burton Albion.
But what’s been the key success to our magnificent start? Well, it looks like there is a real togetherness in the squad, one I haven’t seen for a number of years at Adams Park. From the increased use of social media, you can see how much the players have bonded, and it seems to be replicated on the bench with the full team, bar the goalkeeper, celebrating almost every goal as a unit.
The additions to the squad have also been great additions. In losing players like Dean Morgan, Charles Dunne and Anthony Stewart, the team morale from an outsiders perspective is a positive. Disruptive figures in a squad, especially during last season’s troubles and to bring in genuine players, players who are willing to work hard for the cause is something incredible. Peter Murphy has come in and given us those goals from midfield we’ve lacked for years, and Paul Hayes, although not terrific, is always in the right place at the right time and is the perfect poacher for our side.
Sam Wood feels like a new signing again with him being moved back into left midfield, and Joe Jacobsen has been a great addition at left-back. From watching Charles Dunne for two seasons, it’s nice to go back to someone who can defend, and control a football at that position. The centre-back pairing has also been key, without being changed yet this season, Aaron Pierre and Alfie Mawson have been class.
Pierre, now here permanently, and Mawson on loan from Brentford they’ve been solid, using the perfect combination of height, pace and aerial ability to hold some of the league’s best in Akinfenwa, Hylton and Tubbs at bay so far this season. At right back, Sido Jombati looks like a much more solid player than Marvin McCoy who moved on in the summer, and with that, a whole new back four which fills many at Adams Park with confidence on a Saturday afternoon.
Arguably, we haven’t had the hardest of starts to the season, but we look a million miles from the side who stepped out last season, and the two cup ties we’ve had this season convey that. We out played Millwall, a Championship on their own patch and gave Coventry a run for their money in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Despite this, we lost both of these games 1-0, and now, with Barnet on Saturday in the FA Cup First Round, many fans are also wanting a decent cup run to consolidate a decent league finish. There is limitations in the squad however, with a smaller squad than last season, a cup run could cause more injuries, more fixture congestions and cause injuries to players in key areas.
I’ll end this with one small request I’d like from Gareth Ainsworth. Paul Hayes has been an excellent poacher, but very rarely is he running in behind, causing defenders to turn. Aaron Holloway, Matt McClure and Steven Craig are the same. With Nicky Walker’s loan from Rotherham ending earlier this week, there is money and room, surely, for another loanee. I would love to see a striker come in on loan, someone who makes the runs, and sets up other players, and someone who can finish. Altogether though, the season is still bewildering to me as of yet. To stay up was my personal aim, and to be top of the table in November shows how well Ainsworth performed in the transfer window.
Written by George Stokes, We Are Going Up’s Wycombe Wanderers blogger
George tweets at @georgestokes13