Former Chairboys boss Tony Adams reveals the story behind the signing of Matt Bloomfield some 13 years ago.It was December 2003 when the Wanderers - deep in relegation danger in the third tier of English football - announced the signing of promising midfielder Matt Bloomfield from Ipswich Town.
The youngster was an unfamiliar name to most, but the manager at the time had done his research and believed Bloomfield had what it took to add a new dimension to his squad. That manager, of course, was former England and Arsenal legend Tony Adams, still finding his feet in his first managerial post since retiring from playing.
Speaking to wwfc.com in the week of Bloomfield's 400th appearance for the club, he explained how the move came about:
"I was doing everything at Wycombe at the time – taking training in the day and scouting for new players in the evening," said Adams. "I was given a brief by the chairman to build a new team and to virtually halve the budget, to stem the flow of losses after the collapse of ITV Digital.
"I was able to bring in some good, talented young players relatively cheaply, such as Nathan Tyson, Mike Williamson and a young lad named Matt Bloomfield. I got the tip-off that he was worth having a look at, so I drove over to Suffolk to watch him play in a reserve match.
"I liked what I saw. He reminded me of a young Nobby Stiles; neat and tidy with good feet, but the main thing that stood out for me was his aggression. He was very competitive and I put a star next to his name on my teamsheet, as I knew I wanted to explore the possibility of bringing him to Wycombe.
"I spoke to Joe Royle, who was the manager there at the time, and he said Matt probably wasn’t going to make it there. So I brought him in and very quickly I knew it was a great signing for us. He took a little while to find his feet but his attitude was first-class and I think that is what has allowed him to have such a long and successful career.
"He was technically very good as well – he was like a Didier Deschamps or a Lassana Diarra. I just felt he lacked a bit of athleticism because of his height, and that is probably the only thing that stopped him going on to emulate Russell Martin and Mike Williamson by playing at the top level."
Adams is able to reflect fondly on his year-long stint as Chairboys boss, during which time he was unable to prevent the slide into the fourth tier, but he did restructure the squad with a host of talented youngsters joining some experienced heads, getting off to a flying start in the 2004/05 before hitting a run of poor form in the autumn which culminated in his departure.
"I didn’t get many signings wrong as a manager," he continued. "I had to release 20-odd players and only a couple came back and went on to bigger things, but most of them didn’t.
"I don’t regret my time as Wycombe manager at all – it was great fun but I realised after a year that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I needed to go and be a coach, working with the top players at the game, and all I was able to do at Wycombe was manage the team and put them out on the pitch, but not coach them like I wanted to. I think it summed it up after my first game when Andy King, who was the Swindon manager, said: “what have you got yourself into?!” But I was pleased with my time there – the chairman asked me to build him a new team, and I did it."
And his final word was for Bloomfield, the boy who became a man during his 400 appearances with the club.
"Congratulations to Matt; he deserves every accolade which comes his way and he's been an excellent servant. He's never let the club down and I'm pleased to have seen him go on to have such a long and successful career."