Phil Parkinson’s Sunderland are level with Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers in the League One table.
Wycombe Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth turned down the chance to take over at Sunderland last year, telling Football League Paper that a move to the Stadium of Light just wasn’t for him.
After an alarming start to the 2019/20 season, the Black Cats made the decision to put Jack Ross out of his misery in October. And, before Phil Parkinson was given the reins, one of the Football League’s biggest and most iconic clubs was linked with a whole host of other managers, including Daniel Stendel, Mark Robins and Paul Cook.
According to the Telegraph, Sunderland also made an approach for Ainsworth, the punk rocker of a manager who splits his time between face-melting guitar solos and turning Wycombe into genuine promotion contenders on a shoestring budget.
But the Football League’s longest serving boss, who was hired by the Chairboys in September 2012 when Martin O’Neill was still at the helm on Wearside, turned down the chance to up sticks midway through the campaign.
“Sometimes, you have to look around and realise what you’ve got,” Ainsworth says. “It’s very tempting to move on, to change clubs a lot. But it has to be right. And the offers that were well documented earlier this season weren’t right, for me or my family.”
“(A big pay rise is) not as tempting as you’d think. It’s about asking yourself what’s important in life, and I think I’m quite a grounded guy. What matters is my family. My happiness.
“I evaluate my situation and I’m doing a job I love. I’m not under a lot of pressure. I’m in control of things. Stress levels are low.”
It is fair to say Parkinson’s blood pressure is probably a little higher than Ainsworth’s right now. A 2-0 defeat against a struggling Bristol Rovers in midweek means Sunderland have picked up just two points from a possible 12, derailing their brilliant run of form since the turn of the year.
Wycombe are level on points with Sunderland but, crucially, they have two games in hand.