Attacking football, togetherness and plenty of running: An insight into Sunderland target Gareth Ainsworth
Attacking football, a fighting spirit and a culture of togetherness.
Gareth Ainsworth has certainly made his mark both on and off the field at Wycombe Wanderers, and it’s no surprise to see the 46-year-old in contention for the vacancy at Sunderland - following the departure of Jack Ross earlier this week.
The Wycombe boss is currently the favourite with the bookmakers with the Black Cats having been given permission to speak to the former midfielder.
Marcus Bean knows the man better than most - having played alongside him for QPR before signing for the Chairboys under his management - and offered Sunderland fans an exciting insight into what they can expect should Ainsworth be appointed:
When appointed, Ainsworth and Wycombe’s sporting director Andy Howard composed a five-year plan.
The manager, therefore, has been given time to cultivate the environment he desires - which Bean believes has been key.
“He’s been given the time to implement his philosophy, which a lot of managers don’t have,” he said.
“His philosophy is about people. He’s a people person and he demands that everyone in the dressing room is a good character.
“He won’t sign a bad character, so he does a lot of research into what a player is like.
“Gareth tries to create a harmonious dressing room where there is no bad eggs and everyone is pulling in the right direction.
“That’s what his philosophy is built on.”
Also notable is the ‘never say die’ attitude he has fostered at Adams Park, which the 34-year-old claims is down to his never-ending positivity.
“If you look at some of the results this season, they’ve come back and scored so many last minute winners,” added Bean.
“That’s because of him, basically. He’s such a positive person that if we lose at the weekend he’s the first one in at the training ground egging everyone up, looking on the positive side and that reflects in his teams.
“He has a never say die attitude and that’s what Wycombe have been doing all season.”
STYLE OF PLAY
While adaptable, attacking football is at the heart of the Wycombe manager’s philosophy; no doubt something which will please the Sunderland fans who had grown frustrated with a more conservative approach.
For Bean, that’s no surprise - given it mirrors Ainsworth’s own dynamic approach while a player with QPR, Lincoln and Preston among others.
“He’s pretty much horses for courses, to be honest,” said Bean.
“He’s one of those managers who will look at the opposition they’re playing and try to stop their strengths and then impose their strengths on the game.
“He’s an attacking manager.
“Anyone who has seen him play knows he was very much an all-action, heart on your sleeve, head in the tackle kind of player - and he demands his players to do the same.
“Get tight, get on the front foot and get on the ball.
“And he loves to attack - whether you agree with the way he plays or not, he likes attacking football.
“As a player who liked to shoot from everyone and score outrageous goals, he likes to see his players do the same thing and express themselves.”
This is where Ainsworth has arguably made the biggest difference at Wycombe, with numerous players hailing his unique style of handling personalities in the dressing room.
Bean too, has plenty of praise for his approach.
“His strengths, for me, lies in his man management and his ability to get every last inch out of a player.
“I’ve known him for many years having played with him at QPR and he’s a great guy.
“The same attributes he had then he has now - looking after the younger boys and being that cool senior professional - he’s brought that into management.
“He’s helped a lot of players with their personal issues they’ve had at the club and he’s very understanding.
“Not just in football, but in any business, if people are apathetic to you then you’re willing to run through brick walls for them.
“I can genuinely say that there are very few people that have a bad word to say about the gaffer.
“He’s a different sort of manager, in that sense.”
“He was great with me,” he continued.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him as a human being and that’s how i judge people.
“It’s all well and good winning games, but he’s a real good man.
“Obviously he released me, but there’s no hard feelings and I’ve texted him a few times since to wish him all the best.
WHAT ABOUT SUNDERLAND?
While Ainsworth has excelled with the Chairboys, he will face a tough task if appointed at the Stadium of Light - with promotion a near-necessity this season.
Bean believes some key on and off field tweaks could prove key, and he has warned the Black Cats to brace themselves for plenty of hard yards if Ainsworth is appointed.
“A club like Sunderland need to be going up, let alone challenging for promotion,” said the former Colchester man.
“How will he do it? First of all he’ll unify the dressing room. I’m not sure if there are any bad characters in there, but he’d look to get them out pretty quickly if there are.
“He’ll look to bring in players who, first and foremost, can run. He loves to make sure you can run and that’s a given with him.
“If there’s players there that aren’t necessarily very mobile or aren’t working hard, then he’ll change things up pretty quickly.”
The midfielder believes Ainsworth deserves a chance at the Stadium of Light - but knows he will have a tough decision when it comes to leaving Adams Park.
“I’m glad to see Wycombe are top of the league and he deserves his chance at a bigger club,” admitted Bean.
“What’s he done at Wycombe on the budget he had is amazing, and now he’s got a little bit more money.
“He’s spent it wisely and they recruited well in the summer, so now he deserves a chance to play with a bigger budget.
“I know Wycombe have stepped up in the league and have a great chance this year, so he might not want to move and I know the Wycombe fans certainly won’t want him to leave.”