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Is Gareth Ainsworth any good? Would he make a good Sunderland manager? BBC commentator tells all

Gareth Ainsworth is one of the clear favourites to become the next Sunderland manager, but is he any good? We sat down with Wycombe match commentator Phil Catchpole to pick his brains and find out more about a man he’s worked closely with for many years.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

RR: Sunderland are believed to be interested in appointing Gareth Ainsworth as their manager. With all due respect to Wycombe, the sizes of the two clubs are not comparable and, as we’ve seen with Jack Ross, that jump is very difficult to make and depends upon a manager having the right type of character to adapt quickly and thrive in such a high pressure environment. Do you think he has what it takes to manage Sunderland?

PC: Absolutely. Gaz is a proper coach and man manager who gets the best out of players. He is very interested in the character of a player and if someone isn’t prepared to graft and integrate then they will be on their way, regardless of their abilities.

He can certainly deal with pressure too.

At Wycombe he has lead the entire club from the brink of going out of existence to where they are today, all with the backdrop of having hardly any resources. He is brutally honest and unbelievably positive, even in the bleakest of situations. A different kind of pressure maybe, but he has passed this test at Wycombe with flying colours.

RR: Should Ainsworth leave for Sunderland, how do you think that news would go down with the people, fans and players of Wycombe?

PC: They’d be absolutely gutted to see Gaz go but 99% of fans would wish him well in everything that he did moving forwards. Quite simply, he is now in club legend status.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: What kind of manager is Gareth?

PC: Honest, kicks and heads every ball and works his socks off. Players LOVE him and he has instilled a culture at Wycombe which has enabled the club to punch considerably higher than it’s weight.

When the club had literally nothing, Gaz was on Amazon buying replacement goal nets for the training ground and painting the gym alongside club volunteers. Tactically, by his own admission he has learnt a lot in recent seasons at Wycombe and he is a much more well rounded manager than he was 5 or 6 seasons ago.

RR: Would you say that Gareth has a discernible style of football? If so, what is it?

PC: Gaz has a reputation for long ball/direct football. I think this is a little unfair and with all due respect to Sunderland, is largely borne out of fans of much bigger clubs who get annoyed by him finding ways in not getting beaten by teams who have about thirty times the budget.

The start to this season has proven that Wycombe can play some really exciting football as well as dig in and mix it when required. Set pieces are key to him and he likes to get the ball in the box - so if you want a manager who likes to have really high possession mainly in their own half, Gaz might not be the man for you.

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: What has Gareth done this season that has made his Wycombe side so successful?

PC: For the first time in his time at the club, Gaz has had a little bit of cash to get some higher calibre players in. All of the signings attributed him as a main reason for joining Wycombe. He has combined these players with the trusted generals and committed younger players in the squad to propel the Chairboys up the table.

RR: What would you say to any Sunderland fan who isn’t sure that Gareth Ainsworth would make a good manager for our team?

PC: Ask Luke O’Nien. He is a walking example of what working with Gaz can do for you. Luke had played Conference South football when he came on trial at Wycombe. He was raw and needed the chance to develop and Gaz saw something in him and facilitated that development. I l love watching Luke pull up trees for you chaps. Seriously, if not everyone wants him that’ll be fine with Wycombe fans, they want him to stay.

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