Is Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson looking at the sack if results don’t improve?
Six years ago, in the summer of 2010, Karl Robinson became the youngest manager in the Football League at the age of 30 when he took over from Paul Ince as the boss of Milton Keynes Dons.
After experiencing almost everything possible as manager of a football club, from promotion to relegation, to humiliating Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United in the League Cup, it seems like Robinson is becoming a man on borrowed time at the Stadium:MK.
Robinson’s loyalty to the club can’t be questioned, turning down offers of Championship football from Leeds United over the summer to try and lead the Dons back up the divisions, but the Chairman and the board at Milton Keynes Dons now have the arduous decision to make as to whether new blood might bring a positive change to the club.
Perhaps the final nail in Robinson’s coffin came last weekend during the televised League One match-up with local ‘rivals’ Northampton Town.
Man-of-the-match Alex Revell, who was deemed surplus to requirements at MK Dons over the summer, came back to haunt his old club by propelling the Cobblers to a 3-0 lead within half an hour, and from then on it was a long way back for Robinson’s side.
In his post-match interview with the local newspaper, Robinson’s excuses for the defeat seemed as if he was almost clutching at straws, cutting the figure of a frustrated man who knows that the clock is ticking on his job.
He attributed some of the blame for the defeat on pure “bad luck”, and said:
“Northampton had three shots and scored three goals, that has been the story of our season. It’s as though every shot is nestling in the back of our net at the moment. It just seems that we are being punished for every single individual error at the moment.”
It’s understandable, though, as to why he’s frustrated; with the squad that the MK Dons boss has at his disposal, they should certainly be aiming at bouncing straight back up to the Championship come the end of the season.
The Dons possess the perfect mix of both experience and young potential in their ranks – between Dean Bowditch and Dean Lewington alone (one of only two men to remain after the changeover from Wimbledon to Milton Keynes Dons) they have over 700 appearances for the club, whilst youngsters Ben Reeves, Samir Carruthers and on-loan Ryan Colclough all look like promising players.
It’s these young players which could save Robinson; this is the man, let’s not forget, that raised Tottenham Hotspur star Dele Alli through the youth system and nurtured him as a young player into the first team, as well as drawing the full potential out of Bournemouth man Benik Afobe during his season-long loan in Milton Keynes.
In addition to this, Robinson has instilled a very attractive style of play into his side where neat, short passes are very much the order of the day.
However, as seen in the Northampton Town game, when this doesn’t work in breaking down tough defences there doesn’t seem to be a Plan B to turn to, which arguably was their downfall last weekend as they couldn’t convert their possession into many real goal scoring chances.
Perhaps Robinson also needs to remember that he’s not in the Championship anymore, but that he’s in the nitty-gritty world of League One where the quality of football is not quite at the same level as to what he was accustomed to dealing with last year.
Although short interchanges between players look good, especially if it ends in a goal, if it’s not getting results he needs to find another path through a defensive line. The Dons like to play in front of the defence whilst having possession, rather than having players make runs in behind a back-line, yet if it’s to be a successful season for the Milton Keynes side then they have to adapt to this quicker than they have.
With only seven points coming from their first six games of the season, including only one point in three home matches, Robinson needs a quick turnaround to regain the support of, firstly, the fans, and secondly, the people above him that will decide on his job.
Let it be said, however, that being the mainstay of a Football League club for over six years is an impressive feat; with the way that the managerial roundabout works nowadays, having the support of the board for that amount of time is a credit to the job that Robinson has done at the Dons.
Unfortunately for Karl Robinson, though, this may not be enough to save his job.
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