Monday night saw the Emirates FA Cup fourth round draw take place, with Wycombe pitted against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur at home, in a reverse of the 2017 fixture.
Fans and players alike will be overwhelmingly excited for the match, which will take place on the weekend of the 23rd January, but manager Gareth Ainsworth (pictured after the 2017 meeting) wasn’t avidly watching the draw on TV as many of us were:
“I was out walking the dog. I had the radio on with my headphones, and believe it or not, I didn’t know we were at home. I knew that we’d got Spurs but I didn’t know which way round the tie was. Then, my dad called me and said what a brilliant tie it was and that it was great to have them at home as well. Tottenham at home is a brilliant tie.
Ainsworth pointed to how much getting to the fourth round means to him personally, as well as coming up against a manager like Spurs boss José Mourinho:
“José Mourinho is obviously a huge manager and what a manager! It’ll be an absolute honour to manage against him, and hopefully with them coming to Wycombe, it’ll be a bit tougher than it would be for them at home.”
The Spurs clash won’t just be special because of the action on the pitch though, there’s also a milestone in the dugout as Richard Dobson looks set to mark his 500th game as Assistant Manager.
“That’s fantastic for Dobbo, my right-hand man. We’ve had some big moments together and we were actually talking about it the other day; Torquay, Wembley, Chesterfield, and Wembley again! We’ve had some real pivotal moments in our managerial careers together, and Spurs back in the day was one of them: 4-3. We thought we had a draw. We thought we were bringing it back to Wycombe at 3-3 but we’ll have to make sure that we get the job done this time… I’m not saying we can do the job, I’m saying it’ll be a fantastic game!”
The 4-3 defeat to Tottenham might be a painful memory for a lot of Chairbosy fans, but Ainsworth looks back on the occasion with nothing but pride:
“Win, lose or draw, I’m always proud to be the Wycombe boss and I think that’s a strength I’ve got. That day especially, I think was a big moment to show how far we’d come as a club and to take the Tottenham team, all the way really, it was a brilliant day. Paul Hayes’ early goals, the penalty, Sam Wood going down, and then Myles Weston and Garry Thompson combining for that goal in the 87th minute, was just unbelievable. Obviously, a mishap at the back falling to Dele Alli, and then Son Heung-min scoring in the 97th minute... Going down to a Son goal in the 97th minute wasn’t too bad and the fans were fantastic. What a day!”
Although this year’s competition takes place under a cloud of difficult circumstances, Ainsworth knows that the fans will still be cheering on the Chairboys all over the world:
“I wish the fans were allowed in; I really do. It would be sold out. We could probably sell it out three-times over, I’m sure. They won’t be there, but I’m sure they’ll be watching (hopefully) on television - there’s a lot of history in this tie now. We’ll see what we can do!”
With some big matches coming up during the next few weeks in the form of away fixtures against QPR and Sheffield Wednesday, the players will be chomping at the bit to claim their place in the starting-11 for the Spurs encounter. However, our Gaffer has faith in his whole squad to give it their all:
“My only headache now is that everyone will want to be playing in these games now. I can pick 11, I wish I could pick more but whatever team goes out, I’m sure they’ll give a good account of Wycombe Wanderers.”
You can watch the full interview on iFollow.