Wycombe Wanderers defender Anthony Stewart is hopeful that the Chairboys are going to learn from this season in the Championship, whatever happens in the final weeks of the season.
Speaking exclusively to Football League World, the centre-half fielded a number of questions concerning the season so far, the mood in the Wycombe dressing room, manager Gareth Ainsworth’s approach and also revealed who the toughest opponent he’s faced so far this season was.
Read on for a full transcript of the interview…
How much of a difference in quality is there between the Championship and League One?
“I would say the difference between the Championship and League One has been big.
“Every week you’re coming up against teams, and strikers from my personal point of view, that are good quality. Sometimes in League One you might be able to pick out a team and think ‘we’ll be alright today’ but in the Championship there is no rest.
“Every team has good strikers and good ones that come off of the bench so you need to be strong in all aspects to challenge at this level.”
How has losing the fans at Adams Park impacted the season?
“For the style of football we play, we definitely do need help from the fans to give us that extra boost but at the end of the day, we’ve got to hold ourselves accountable for what we’ve done this season.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned, you learn a lot more when things are tough. When you’re winning and things are going well everything gets covered over quite easily. So in the tougher times, you learn a lot and I’ve learned a lot about myself and the team.”
And in general, what’s it like to play without an atmosphere at the moment?
“It’s been tough at times this season – I think it becomes mind over matter. Usually, you have no choice but to be built up for a game with the fans and the noise they create but at the end of the day it’s a game of football and it’s 11 v 11 so you’ve got to take that into it and use it as motivation.”
What’s the mood like in the Wycombe dressing room at the moment?
“In all honesty, the results do take their toll but the togetherness of our team is something I would say not many professionals would come across.
“How we are with each other, how close we are, and how we work for one another. There’s never a thought of ‘I’m going out on a Saturday or a Tuesday and the boys aren’t going to have my back.’
“We’re always together and no matter what the result is the manager helps keep us positive, you won’t be able to find a more together squad.”
What’s it like to play under Gareth Ainsworth?
“You won’t find a manager as optimistic as he is.
“No matter what the result, he is positive all the way through and he gives you that belief to go out there and not worry too much about the results because he’ll take all that pressure and leaves none of it on the players.
“It’s great to have that feeling that no matter what happens when you go out there the manager will have your back. It’s a good thing and how we are as a team stems from him.”
Ainsworth says the target is to become an established Championship club, how soon can that happen?
“I think it’s a short-term target because we’ve had that experience of playing in the Championship now.
“There’s a lot we’ve learned for next time so in the next year or two Wycombe will benefit from the experience we have had now to prepare us in the future.”
Who’s the toughest player and team you’ve faced this season?
“I would say Blackburn. Adam Armstrong was very good in terms of how he plays and I’ve got massive respect for how he’s come along as a player and how he works.”
What’s the aim for the rest of the season?
“It’s been a good year for me personally. I’ve come into this season playing every game and I only came out because of an injury so I’m looking forward to getting back in for the remaining games we’ve got in the Championship.
“We just need to play with no fear. No-one expects us to do anything so play with no fear and enjoy. Learn as much as you can, express yourself as much as you can and be as good as you can.”