Why Come to Wycombe?
After scraping their way in to the Championship last season, nobody expected Wycombe Wanderers to do much and after 27 games they were sitting 12 points adrift of safety. Their top goal scorer only has 4 goals, they’ve conceded a league high 49 and only Wayne Rooney’s Derby County have scored less. But that’s not to say they aren’t enjoying life in the second tier. They don’t have too much to play for at this stage; it’s clear they don’t have the quality or finances to compete in this league and when they were 2-0 down with just injury time to play before half time away at Huddersfield it looked as though loss number 17 was on it’s way. But Anis Mehmeti’s strike in the third minute of injury time inspired what I can only describe as every neutral’s favourite comeback of the season. A trademark Joe Jacobson penalty on 63 minutes after Uche Ikpeazu was fouled in the box brought them level and after a flurry of chances they completed the comeback through midfielder Josh Knight. The fight and passion that this Wycombe team have is brilliant and few teams can rival it. Most would have given up by now. They’re still 10 points off safety at the time of writing, but if they can play with the belief and heart we saw in the second 45 at the John Smith’s Stadium then who knows what could happen. The Championship is renowned for the unexpected and I for one would love to see a survival fight from Gareth Ainsworth’s boys.
Debut Double for Fulham’s Missing Link
After being touted as a top player for the future when he was at Sunderland, Josh Maja was picked up by French side Bordeaux in 2019. After making 45 appearances for the Ligue 1 side he was loaned out to Fulham in January and never has a team been so desperate for a striker in his mould. He scored twice on his full debut against Everton, with both goals being “he was in the right place at the right time” sort of goals. But that’s what Fulham have been looking for! They’re a creative side with the likes of Lookman, Decordova-Reid, Loftus-Cheek and Anguissa, but they just haven’t had anyone up-front to bury the chances these players are creating. And Maja has come along and already picked up 3 points for the relegation-threatened side. It’s already looking like shrewd business from Scott Parker and should he continue how he started, I can certainly see the young London-born Nigerian international steering his new team to safety.
A Touch of Tuchel
Obviously there are exceptions (see Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kevin De Bruyne) but I find that a lot of players find the initial move from Germany to England quite a struggle. Son Heung-Min only scored 4 goals in his debut season at Tottenham, Roberto Firmino’s first season saw his lowest goal contribution after his move from Hoffenheim, Leroy Sane never quite did it at Manchester City and Thiago Alcantara and Kai Havertz have a combined 3 goal contributions in 29 appearances (with all 3 coming from Havertz). Even Ilkay Gundogan is only just starting to show how good he really is after 5 years in England. I find it strange, because of the top leagues in Europe, the Bundesliga is the most similar to the Premier League in terms of playing style and intensity.
Timo Werner is playing under extraordinary circumstances after he moved to London from RB Leipzig in the middle of a global pandemic. Adapting on the football pitch is just one of many problems players have to deal with and after going 14 games and 1000 minutes he finally got back on the scoresheet against Newcastle with his first goal under new boss Thomas Tuchel. After spending approximately £120 Million on Werner and Havertz, hiring a German coach could be a masterstroke. Yes, football is an global language, but imagine moving to a country and trying to understand the tactics and trying to fit in with the rest of the squad when you barely speak the language. It’s tough. Players need that time to adapt. I think with the appointment of Thomas Tuchel, we will start to see the best of Chelsea’s Germans. I’m pleased for Werner; he’s played well this season without too much reward and I look forward to seeing more of the elite striker that made his name at RB Leipzig.