Gareth Ainsworth says he is relishing his first visit to AFC Wimbledon as the Chairboys look to build on last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Chesterfield.
Ainsworth, a former member of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang, was nominated for the League 2 Manager of the Month Award for December and the Wanderers go into the game on a run of six wins from the last 10 games.
“It was a special occasion when we played them at home,” he told Chairboys Player. “I played in that game and it is one of the few clubs I’ve never gone back to for obvious reasons as they’ve been out of the league.
“They’ve got back up and what the fans have done there is nothing short of fantastic. To have the MK Dons thing against them and in their faces to do what they’ve done is brilliant and I’m really proud to be associated with Wimbledon and this is the real Wimbledon.
“It’s been reborn and I’m really happy to have an ex-team-mate of mine managing them as well. Neal Ardley deserves his chance, he’s a very intelligent guy and there will be two Crazy Gang members against each other. We’ll do everything we can to get the points, but I know him and I know that we’ll have to be at our best to do that.
“He was a fully-fledged member of the Crazy Gang when I was there and I’m sure he had something to do with my induction. That was the spirit we had there and that’s what has helped me realise how important spirit and togetherness is.”
Ainsworth added: “Spirit plays a big part in this game. Sometimes people zone in on just the football and performances and the intensity of that, but you still have to enjoy it. You have to know where you are in your life and realise what’s important and the lads here know that.
“I’ll let them express themselves, but I’ll tell them when they’re in the wrong. I’ll also tell them when they’re right and at the moment I’m really pleased with them.”
The game sees two fan-owned clubs come face to face and Ainsworth is full of praise for the work the supporters have done at both sides.
He said: “Our owners are just as important as Abramovich or the Sheikhs at Manchester City. I have a huge respect for the members of the Trust and it’s the same for Wimbledon.
“Taking on a club is a huge responsibility and they’re very passionate. It’s great that two fan-owned clubs are coming up against each other. It’s one of the best countries in the world football-wise and hopefully we can put on a spectacle on Saturday.”