Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth has spoken about his admiration for José Mourinho ahead of his side’s fourth round FA Cup fixture against Tottenham this evening, saying it will be ‘an honour’ to be on the same touchline as the Spurs boss.
Mark Pougatch: “You gave Tottenham a real scare at this stage three or four years ago when Mauricio Pochettino was in charge in the fourth round. Now you’ve got José – that’s going to be great, isn’t it?”
Gareth Ainsworth: “Absolutely, you know, I’ve got huge amount of respect for this guy. He’s forever being followed around, the publicity, the press and I think he handles it superbly well. What he’s achieved, again, is just phenomenal in football. You look at his trophies, his awards, his accolades. For me, and I really mean this, for me to be on the same benches, just 10-20 yards from José Mourinho, is an honour. It really is. It’s like when I played on the same pitch as Patrick Vieira or Frank Leboeuf, who’d just come back from winning the World Cup. These are the moments that stay with you. So to be against someone of that ilk – believe me, we’re going to give it our all and we’re going to be the Wycombe that we can be. But again, I’ll really pinch myself and think ‘wow, this lad from Blackburn’s not done too badly’.”
In the latest edition of the ‘Football Ramble Presents’ podcast feed’s ‘Ramble Meets…’ episodes, (episode out now, available here), Ainsworth spoke with Ramble host Mark Pougatch ahead of tonight’s game, with the wide-ranging interview also covering his style of management, the Wembley night last year that saw Wycombe promoted to the Championship, and how being part of a band can be a welcome distraction to football management.
As the longest serving manager across the EFL and Premier League, taking the job at Wycombe in 2012, Ainsworth reflected on the night at Wembley in 2020 that saw Wycombe promoted to the Championship, just 6 years after they almost slipped back into the conference out of the EFL.
Ainsworth: “It was the culmination of that six years since, just to build and build. We actually turned to each other and said, ‘what have we done?’. That’s what me and my assistant manager said to each other! It was unheard of, which it really is. It was a fantastic occasion that night and one of the nights I’ll never ever forget. To see some of the boys in tears, literally in tears, like you see at the end of films sometimes when it’s been staged in Hollywood… people on their phone crying and hugging. It was so genuine – because there were no fans there, nobody ran off to celebrate with their own personal friends or family. It was just us together and I remember the Wembley stewards that night at about 11.30pm saying ‘please, please Wycombe, go home’ because nobody usually celebrated that long at Wembley, they usually go off somewhere! So it was a brilliant night.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Pougatch asked Ainsworth about his love of music, and how being in a band is a useful tool for keeping focused as a football manager.
Pougatch: “Are you a better football manager for having the music because you have something to take your mind off things?”
Ainsworth: “100%. I always say that it’s my safety net. Obviously everyone’s got their families and they say that’s their safety net and that’s always there of course, but people do go through issues with that, but the music has always been there for me. It’s always been something that I felt is my safety net. If it all ended tomorrow, I’m not the most accomplished guitarist but I would pick that up and I would be out there singing. I think that makes me happy, I’ve got that and I think it’s really important to have something, I really do. I don’t think that I could ever be one of these managers that you see are out at every single game that they could be at, and every bit of networking, in every newspaper, on the TV. Listen, that’s them, but I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. It wouldn’t be me, I’d go into what I really enjoy and I think having that allows me to be who I am on the touchline.”
ABOUT FOOTBALL RAMBLE PRESENTS
The start of the 2020/21 football season saw some exciting changes at Football Ramble HQ – the fan favourite podcast returned with a brand new format, four new permanent presenters, and additionally, the launch of a brand new podcast feed: Football Ramble Presents.
Football Ramble Presents delivers unrivalled insight and captivating stories that stretch far beyond the ninety minutes on the pitch. The range of different shows provide a considered, thoughtful look at all aspects of the beautiful game, bringing together some established Ramble favourites and new programmes that both inform and entertain. Unearthing football’s greatest tales, past and present.
On The Continent provides weekly analysis of the biggest stories in European football, now hosted by BBC Radio 5 Live’s esteemed presenter Dotun Adebayo and Andy Brassell – joined each week by a rotating European football expert.
You’ll find yourself immersed in the heart of fan culture with At The Match – where you’re invited to join our presenters and experts as they attend some of the biggest and most interesting games in world football, including AFC Wimbledon’s recent return to their spiritual home of Plough Lane.
Having already provided fascinating interviews with Arsène Wenger, Asif Kapadia and Stuart Pearce, Ramble Meets… promises interviews with true footballing icons and, finally, Book Club provides intimate conversations with football’s most revered authors – with Football Ramble Presents there really is a show for every football fan!