One team that defied the odds and found themselves on the lips of everyone last season were underdogs Wycombe Wanderers.
Gareth Ainsworth’s men perplexed English football when the Chairboys reached the play-off final upon defeating Fleetwood Town and overcame Oxford United in a empty Wembley stadium due to the coronavirus, as a late Joe Jacobson penalty conquered Oxford and confirmed the Wanderers promotion to the Sky Bet Championship for the 2020/21 season.
With many placing early predictions that Wycombe will struggle to adapt to the harsh nature of the Championship and could find themselves well out of their depth, fans of the club remain optimistic and confident in Ainsworth’s management skills and transfer agenda to build a capable squad who can make Wycombe fans proud.
Ainsworth has been making moves in the transfer window to help bring this vision to reality, recently confirming the addition of Hearts striker Uche Ikpeazu. The towering forward, who stands at 6 foot 3, has split Wycombe fans as some remain unconvinced by his unimpressive scoring ratio at previous clubs, however some fans are confident in the business the club are doing and look at Uche as part of the bigger puzzle, the new number nine with a point to prove to his doubters.
Uche, who was born in England despite the fact his parents are from Nigeria and Uganda, began his career as a youth prospect at Reading in the Championship, where he was even offered a first team contract after being on loan at Didcot Town, but opted to reject the contract and sign on a three year basis at fellow Championship side Watford FC. Uche would not enjoy his experience at Watford however, failing to make a single professional appearance in three years and rather being shipped out on loan numerous times, having stints at Crewe Alexandra (twice), Doncaster Rovers, Port Vale and Blackpool, but after failing to make a significant impact he returned to his parent club and was released upon the expiry of his contract at the Hornets.
Desperate to show what he is capable of, Uche went on trial at Norwich City and even scored in a friendly, but decided to sign for League Two Cambridge United to get more first team football, despite being quite young at the time. It was a bold move, but one which would pay off, as Uche went onto make 69 appearances for the U’s and scored 19 goals, becoming a fan favourite and a feared target man in League Two. As bigger clubs began to circle for the forward like sharks, he was tempted away by Hearts, as Uche claimed to be attracted by the size of Tynecastle Park and felt comfortable with the faith being shown in him by the boss, Craig Levein. Despite struggling with a foot injury, Uche thanked the fans for their support during his time off of the pitch, but didn’t have a huge impact on it, scoring 5 goals in 40 games and averaging a goal once every eight games.
Despite his poor form, Uche was reportedly the subject of interest from Scottish powerhouses Celtic and Rangers, but lost his place in the first team squad as Hearts suffered relegation to the Scottish Championship following the points-per-game ratio and the attacker knew his time at the club was up.
Now signing on the dotted line for newly promoted Wycombe, what can Chairboy supporters expect from their new talisman?
A strong, powerful force up front who hasn’t had the best of luck in his career so far, Uche is the ideal target man for the Championship. He won’t be bullied by defenders, and he won’t struggle to deal with the physical side of the game, as Uche is a strong unit whilst also being able to explode into pace when needed. The Ugandan international, he would be if the coronavirus didn’t cause the postponement of the fixtures, will benefit from not having to play teams three times in a season, as he did in Scotland, as by the third game the opposition were aware of his abilities and had developed a game plan to stop any glimpses at goal that he may have. He showed last season that he is excellent with his back to goal, being able to use his dominant build to hold up the ball and await backup from his oncoming team mates, whilst also having the ability to swivel and take a strike at goal.
One notable factor from the Hearts fan base on social media reacting to his departure were lots of positive comments, with many praising his determination and enthusiasm to the game. He’s clearly a fan favourite at wherever he’s been, if not for his footballing ability but for his human nature, and if given the right service and if Ainsworth can utilise his capabilities by playing the game to his strengths, Uche could flourish at Adams Park next season.
What do you make of the signing? Let us know in the comments below!