Wycombe’s playoff hero Joe Jacobson joins us to talk about their adaptation to life in the Championship, and why he prefers a full calendar of games…
The first few games of this season didn’t bode well for Wycombe.
After their surprise promotion from League One last season, they were most people’s picks to go straight back down, and defeats in their first seven Championship fixtures seemed to confirm those predictions.
But things started to pick up before the international break as they eased themselves into life in the second tier, drawing with Watford and then picking up their first victories, against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City.
Joe Jacobson, the man who scored the winner in last season’s playoff final, joined Ali Maxwell and George Elek on The Totally Football League Show: Extra-Time to discuss how this season in the Championship is going so far.
“We’d hit a bit of form points-wise [before the break], but the performances have been good for probably six weeks or so, and we weren’t quite getting the rub of the green or the luck that we thought we deserved. The first point against Watford was huge for us, then the first win against Sheffield Wednesday.
“When we thought we were hitting a little bit form, we’ve had a break, but the break’s needed. We’ve had so many games the last six weeks and the schedule that’s coming up in the next month or so, it’s a bit brutal. So the break was probably come at a good time to get a couple of bodies back. Everyone refreshed and refocused.”
That said, Jacobson actually prefers a packed calendar to a more fragmented one, particularly at the moment.
“It’s weird because if you’re doing well and you’re performing well and getting points on the board, you seem to be fitter. You seem to heal faster. You seem to recover better for the next game, and then you’re all just in your flow. And when when it’s the other way, you kind of feel the little niggles and, you know, the team change and you get into rhythm and things like that. But for me as a player, I prefer having more games.
“Training is great, but the games is where you really enjoy yourself and where you really come to life. So for me, having Saturday-Tuesday games or Wednesday, I really like it. It’s not nice having six of them in a row, but to have, you know, a couple here and there is really good.
“It’s hard to recover, especially the older you get is a little bit more difficult. That’s why they’ve got sports scientists and analysts and people like that to kind of look after you, tell you what to eat, what to drink and how to recover.”
On that topic, this weekend will see teams return to the post-lockdown rules of being allowed a bench of nine substitutes, of which five can be used in any one game.
“I think it helps a lot the bigger teams with the bigger squads. I think they were the ones pushing for it at the start. And they’re the ones you’ve kind of got their way a little bit. But we’ve got a great squad here. We’ve got players who are desperate to be involved and and it allows managers to kind of change two or three, subs here or there when when players get tired and if it stops any injuries from happening, then it can only be a good thing.”
So, now that we’re a quarter of the way through the season, how does Jacobson think Wycombe are doing?
“I think we’ve shown that we’re kind of good enough to compete now.
“We’ve signed a few good players this season who have got the Championship experience – Daryl Horgan, Garath McCleary, Ryan Tafazolli – who have played at that level and kind of shed some light on on how to do things. And I think once you once you’re in it, you’re just in it and you’re part of it.
“And they [Wycombe’s higher-profile opponents] are just human beings. They may be a little bit quicker or sharper than other players you played against. But, you know, they still have emotions. They still have weaknesses. That’s why they’re not playing in that in the Champions League or the top end of the Premier League. So we’ve just got to try and find out what they are and where we can exploit them. And at the end of the day, we’re just on a pitch, just 11 guys against 11 guys.”
To perhaps illustrate the point, left-back Jacobson identifies one of the Championship’s younger talents as his most difficult direct opponent this season, rather than some of the more high-profile players who might have been intimidating to someone just coming up from League One.
“The toughest game I’ve probably had this season with Tyrhys Dolan at Blackburn, the young lad. He’s started off the season on fire. I think he’s only, what, 18, 19 years old. And he’s going to be a very good player for a long time.
“I’m really enjoying playing against these guys and testing myself. Most of those players are really humble guys, you get to have a little bit of chat during the game and things. They’re all really nice guys and very complimentary of Wycombe and what we’ve done.
“So I’m enjoying it. The names will continue throughout the season and then hopefully I can hold my own a lot of time and come out of it very proud of my performance.”
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