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MK Dons boss wise beyond his years

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Paul Fletcher | 07:13 UK time, Thursday, 16 September 2010

At stadium:mk

MK Dons boss Karl Robinson celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday by selecting his team for Wednesday's match against Southampton and enjoying what he dryly described as "a romantic evening meal" with assistant manager John Gorman.

It might not be everybody's perfect way of waving farewell to their twenties (I spent my 30th in Amsterdam with my girlfriend and 12 mates watching Rafael van der Vaart score a hat-trick), but it is difficult to argue with the end result.

Robinson's team won their third straight home game in League One on a wet Wednesday evening at stadium:mk to ruin Nigel Adkins' debut as Saints manager and move up to third in the table.

Angelo Balanta, who had been dropped to the bench, and Peter Leven struck in the second half for a 2-0 win, Robinson celebrating both goals with a double fist pump in the direction of the home fans. Afterwards, Robinson quipped that his players were giving him so many selection headaches that he was running out of paracetamol.

But there is clearly more to Robinson than his sharp scouse wit, like a burning desire to preside over a successful period at the helm of MK Dons.

MK Dons manager Karl Robinson

"I love this club, it is very similar to me, young and still learning," said Robinson. "Chairman Pete Winkelman appointed me and he will look stupid if it doesn't work out. I just hope that I never let him down."

Winkelman gave Robinson the job on a permanent basis in May after the former assistant to Paul Ince impressed the chairman with a top-to-bottom presentation detailing his vision for the club. Robinson outlined his plans for his backroom staff, player recruitment policy and the high-tempo, attractive style he wanted his side to adopt.

He had effectively been in charge of the team for the last four games of last season after Ince announced his intention to step down. The club drew one and lost three of those four fixtures but Robinson's attempt to introduce a less direct and physical style of play was appreciated by a large section of supporters.

Even so, it was a bold appointment by Winkelman and marked something of a change of strategy. Predecessors Ince, appointed twice by Winkelman, and Roberto Di Matteo were both men who had enjoyed glittering playing careers.

On the other hand, Robinson's playing career was spent at non-league clubs like St Helens Town, Rhyl, Bamber Bridge and Kidsgrove Athletic. A serious injury in his late teens had ended his chances of turning professional and the striker eventually retired from playing in his mid-twenties. But in stark contrast to the mediocrity of his playing days is the trajectory of his coaching career. Robinson was a full-time member of the coaching staff at Liverpool by the age of 20 and spent seven years working for their Academy.

"It was a brilliant grounding," added Robinson. "I ran a few things abroad with the Liverpool legends, spread the word all over the world on various coaching seminars and worked with the elite Academy players, such as Jay Spearing and Jack Robinson. It was so diverse and there were so many different elements to it."

Robinson left to become assistant to Ince during his first spell at MK Dons, eventually following him to Blackburn. When Ince was sacked by Rovers in December 2008 after less than six months in charge, Robinson was kept on by new boss Sam Allardyce before rejoining Ince for his second spell in Milton Keynes.

"Sam Allardyce is an absolute genius," said Robinson. "He is fantastic at what he does. He gets the best staff around him and makes them believe they can move mountains - that impacts on the players."

Robinson has surrounded himself with experience at MK Dons, with Gorman and Alex Rae on his coaching staff and Dietmar Hamann taking control from the centre of midfield. The four men normally convene for a brief discussion before Robinson addresses the squad at half-time and they often go out for dinner together. Robinson is quick to acknowledge that they provide what he lacks - the background of playing the professional game at a high level - but he bristles if you suggest he lacks the necessary coaching experience.

"What is experience? People only gain experience when they are given the opportunity," Robinson said. "I might not have much managerial experience but I probably have more experience than a lot of people as far as coaching and looking after individuals goes.

"Sir Alex Ferguson was young when he stopped playing. Then there are the likes of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier, Rafael Benitez and Roy Hodgson - they have all been students of the game from an early age."

I spoke to Robinson for 40 minutes on Tuesday and his desire to learn and improve came across strongly during our conversation. He explained how he once heard Wenger tell Ince as they chatted after a cup tie that he felt it was important to know a little bit about everything at the club so that he could then make sure he employed the right staff. It is a skill that Robinson is keen to acquire.

Robinson's family remain in Liverpool and so the manager spends long hours in his office during the week watching games or speaking to players and managers as he attempts to broaden his knowledge. Not long before I spoke to him, Robinson had been on the phone to a Premier League player for half an hour exchanging stories.

"The more friends you make in the game the longer you stay in it and the more opportunities you will be given," he told me.

Robinson acquired his Uefa Pro Licence in the summer and has been told that he is the youngest in Europe to have gained the qualification. His opposite number on Wednesday, new Saints boss Adkins, also has Europe's top coaching qualification, as well as various diplomas in business, finance and sports psychology and a degree in physiotherapy. Adkins will probably need all of his available skills as he attempts to turn the under-performing team he has inherited into promotion contenders.

The former Scunthorpe boss said he was going to watch the DVD and reflect privately on what had happened during his first game in charge. He talked with genuine enthusiasm about his new role and spoke a lot of common sense when discussing the need to rebuild confidence after a run of four defeats without managing to register a goal. He was also realistic enough to acknowledge that he must start winning games quickly if Saints are to fulfill his aim of winning promotion this season.

Robinson suggested afterwards that Adkins had not been able to change the tide of the match once MK Dons had scored because he had not worked with his new team long enough to develop a Plan B. The MK Dons boss also explained in some detail how his team had defended slightly higher up the pitch after the break in order to starve the service to Saints forward Rickie Lambert. He sounded like a man in control.

There are some people who will never acknowledge the existence of MK Dons, arguably with good reason, but in many ways I think it would be great if Robinson could emulate the success of Bournemouth's Eddie Howe (at 32, now the second youngest manager in the Football League) in winning promotion.

And now that Robinson has turned 30, he believes that people might start focusing a little more on his credentials and a little less on his age.

"At one point after I got the job, I was starting to think that my full name was '29-year-old Karl Robinson'," said the MK Dons boss.

You can follow me throughout the season at


  • Comment number 1.

    I think Nigel Adkins may have to give lots of tough-love to the Southampton squad on the evidence of our start to the season. Their appears to be a distinct lack of fitness and application from the first team, possibly because they know the Saints reserve players are not pushing them for a place.

    Good luck to Nigel Adkins (and to Karl Robinson), Saints need to get their act together fast to stop a season from going down the pan.

  • Comment number 2.

    I had my doubts about Karl Robinson especially with the results with Paul Ince, but he has been a relevation since being made manager. He has the coaching credentials, clearly the players respond to him and he has made a special effort and time to include the fans.

    If I have any criticism of him, its that he is too depreciating and can take credit without being big headed as well as an occasion tendency for hyperbole, like saying Southampton have possibly the strongest team in the Championship (I think a few might disagree with that).

    He has turned our home form into something to be proud of and if he could get the away form sorted we could be promotion contenders.

    Well done Karl and a belated happy birthday.

  • Comment number 3.

    A winner!

  • Comment number 4.

    It's all rosie here now. No issues and everything appears to be going well. The problem with experience will come around December, January time when results start to go a bit wrong, and the attitude of the players will change. How he handles the tough times will determine whether he will make a manager.

    For me, he is too young, and would be better in charge of a youth or reserve team. I am interested as to why Ince brought him along in the first place.

    Young players can be cynical sorts, and it wouldn't surprise me if when things get tough, they get personal with their manager. Question his experience, question his lack of distinguished playing career, question his age. Unfortunately I couldn't see how he would have a decent reposte for all these, which will really test his resolve.

  • Comment number 5.

    I remember last year, a heated debate on Alan Pardew at the Saints on one of your blogs Paul, and most Saints fans were saying Saints would walk this division. I said he wuold be sacked by xmas and Saints would find it hard again this year. I was lambasted for this opinon - yet both my predictions appear to have come true.

    Saints are a huge club that everyone wants to beat - this is why Leeds struggled to make it out of the league for so long. Adkins will have his work cut out, and i will predict that he will also not be in the job for much more than 12 months. I dont think Saints will go up this year and it appears Cortesi is trigger happy, so lets see how long he lasts! Adkins did a decent job with Scunthorpe, but he didnt have the same pressure or expectation. And whilst he has a couple of promotions, he also has a relegation to his name.

    On the other side of things, i think Winkelman is doing a great job at recruiting managers with no experience (Ince, Di Matteo, Robinson). Why give the job to some guy who has already failed half a dozen times? Its a breath of fresh air to see the likes of Howe and Robinson doing so well. Long may it continue. These guys could well be the future of English football - come the WC in 2018, one of these guys may be the next Alf Ramsey???

  • Comment number 6.

    Whatever Nigel Adkins does, I salute him. As a Physio myself, he is living the dream!

  • Comment number 7.


    All those things can be questioned (lack of experience and playing career and his age), but the point is that one can be a good manager even without much experience, a professional playing career or 40+ age.

    Of course experience helps, but there is also a thing called talent.

    Maybe he has some, let's judge after the season.

  • Comment number 8.

    You are certainly correct Paul when you say, "there are some people who will never acknowledge the existence of MK Dons, arguably with good reason"...

    It's a real shame to see obviously talented managers like Karl Robinson at a so called club like this.

  • Comment number 9.

    # 7. ArtMorte

    Well that's when we'll see the character of the man. It must be difficult, Ince knew what it took to be a very elite international captain.

    This man doesn't have that experience.

    Egil Olsen knew what it involved to build successful sides and win trophies. This man doesn't

    Lee Clark had experience in first team coaching at premiership level, this man has very little of this experience.

    I'm not suggesting a lack of these things will prevent him being a good manager, but these are hurdles he must overcome...this will test the character, the man.

    Arrigo Saachi once quipped.

    "You don't have to have been a horse to be a jockey"

    Never truer words spoken, but this was from a man who was a very big character, this is what you need

  • Comment number 10.

    fake city, fake team.

    Come on AFC Wimbledon (a club with a 100 years history), who have had a cracking start in the Blue Square Prem

    When will MK be chucked into non-league football and do it the 'proper way' - it's been about 6 years already

    Celtic and Rangers have a very strong case for starting life in the english 2nd tear if MK can (wrongly) remain in the football league without earning it

  • Comment number 11.

    I am probably one of few MK Dons fans who desperately wanted 'Robbo' to get the job.
    Karl shows a massive passion for his job, and equal, if not more passion to the fans.
    Unlike previous managers before him in Ince and Di Matteo, Karl is a fans man and is always grateful to the fans in their contribution to the match, the loyalty and the traveling.

    I think last night he was a bit unwilling to go out into the middle of the pitch and applaud his fans in the pouring heavy rain, but he came back out the tunnel and done it.

    I, personally, am very comfortable with Karl in charge of the team, not at all bothered by his age, 'inexperience'
    though he has MANY contacts in the game to help him if there was any inexperience.
    My only criticism would be his team selections. Against Southampton, it was slightly more rotated, but Karl seems to pick a similar team every week, even when we have some very good players on the bench who need game time.

    I think we have finally found a manager who will stay with us. A manager greatful for his oppertunity. And we have a common theme of changing managers...I dont think Karl Robinson will leave MK Dons in the near future.

  • Comment number 12.

    "Robinson suggested afterwards that Adkins had not been able to change the tide of the match once MK Dons had scored because he had not worked with his new team long enough to develop a Plan B"

    I would suggest that most managers' "Plan B" involves bringing a fresh face or two off the bench - we've got nothing. We lost 13 players over the summer (including last season's Plan Bs Papa Waigo and Michail Antonio) and brought in three...only one of whom is attack-minded and he's never played in English football before.

    We're lucky that a just-turned-17 year old has shown enough promise to be an option, otherwise we'd be in even deeper trouble. With Barnard and Lallana unavailable in recent weeks we've looked painfully exposed - something I never thought I'd be saying at the end of last season.

  • Comment number 13.

    stadium:mk ... ugh. Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

    (same people who thought moving Wimbledon to Milton Keynes was a good idea, I suppose)

  • Comment number 14.

    What's the reasoning behind Chairman Pete Winkelman's policy of always going for young, untried managers (Ince, Di Matteo and now Robinson). Is it because he's a relatively young chairman himself (not from a footballing background) and feels more comfortable overseeing inexperienced men, is it it simply a publicity stunt (his managers always seem to get noticed) or is he really setting out to define a clear 'club culture' reflecting Milton Keynes status as a relatively young town?

    Good luck to Karl Robinson but if you look at the record books it's not filled with too many successful young managers. Stuart Pearce has been written off by most as Capello's successor purely down to his 'lack' of experience even though he seems very studious - so managers of his ilk swim against a very strong tide.

    Most managers use their past accomplishments to defend themselves in the hard times, but I guess you've got to start somewhere?

  • Comment number 15.

    who did the MK 'fans' support up until the millenium? Interesting.

  • Comment number 16.


    The wisest thing that Karl Robinson has done has been to surround himself with experienced people:

    John Gorman: a wide experienced manager at all levels as well as England Assistant Manger

    Alex Rae: has played at the highest levels

    Didi Hamann: Champions League winner with Liverpool and World Cup finalist with Germany

    If you haven't got the experience then work with people who have and I like to see any player argue with them.

  • Comment number 17.

    I didn't know a great deal about Robinson until I read a recent magazine article about him. Seems to have been heavily influenced by his time at Liverpool's Academy and is also a huge fan of Sam Allardyce.

    His age shouldn't be a factor if he's getting results. As for his playing career, how many great players go on and become great managers?

  • Comment number 18.

    As a young aspiring coach and manager completing a coaching degree i find this story pretty uplifting, although it is still quite remarkable how misunderstood the profession is. The man has been coaching full time since he was 20, 7 years of that at Liverpool no less so to claim he is inexperienced is a touch ill-judged. Sure he may not have been a professional player but he has been working with elite footballers that whole time. Managing is a big step-up but one he is certainly prepared for with that previous experience.

    I find it mad that older players can be considered so often in coaching roles without qualifications or experience, compared to the man with 10 years coaching at the elite level who people claim is 'inexperienced'.

    However it is fantastic to see a young english manager making his way in the game. The chairman has obviously based the decision on coaching experience and qualifications which is a nice change of pace for a young coach.

    Go Karl Robinson and go the Dons, all the best.

    p.s. as someone who grew up in milton keynes most people my age supported premier league teams as far as i can remember.

  • Comment number 19.

    The perfect example of no experience is Jose Mouriniho he only played low league games in Portugal and then retired from football in his early 20's, went to study coaching, ala Karl Robinson with Liverpool and then worked as a translator (not an assistant manager) at Barca, before he went into management,

    Cutting the story short he then went onto win 2 champions leagues, couple of league titles in Italy and England.

    Guess his lack of being a prima donna footballer it has really hinderedd him

  • Comment number 20.

    # 16. Furzdonny

    Do you not think there could be problems with these people either? Or that they could undermine him.

    Gorman suggesting that is not how Glenn Hoddle would do things. Hammann, disagrees with Robinsons style or thoughts then argues that he knows more as he played for Germany in a World Cup Final? Alex Rae belittling others by stating he played premiership football despite his limited ability?

    It could help, but what you get with successful people, is an ego. Very soon, you could get the lunatics trying to run the asylum. Just as Dennis Wise attempted to do at Newcastle. Just as Houllier tried to do at Liverpool and succeeded.

  • Comment number 21.

    I suspect Karl Robinson worked with Jay Spearing, the former under 18s and reserve team captain at LFC rather than Jay Spearman, who was not.

  • Comment number 22.

    @5 - Although our old manager Adkins has a relegation to his name, it was with a squad and budget nowhere near Championship level. It is massive credit to him that we came back with and incredible play-off performance and then managed to hang on in the Championship last year. What he will bring to you at Southampton is a huge amount of team spirit - and if you have squad everyone says you have then this can only be very positive for you. I thoroughly enjoyed his tenure at Scunny and I hope he does well for you too.
    Back to the article, it is great to see some new management blood doing well - it can only help the English game in the future to see that people like Robinson and Adkins are getting their chance. Indeed with Adkin's departure another new name Ian Baraclough is getting his chance - it is really good to see teams bringing people up through the ranks and blooding new management talent.

  • Comment number 23.

    #15 They supported Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - what is your point. The majority of the supporters of "the big clubs" are not local to the club

    Now thay have a local club to support - no matter whether you agree with the decision to move the club to Milton Keynes (would Wimbledon even exist now if Pete Winkleman had not intervened??)they do a tremendous amount of work in the community and if you ask the 7 and 8 year olds in Milton Keynes who they support many will have an alliegence to the MK Dons!!

    The situation is what it is and it's time to move on - although this seems to be a difficult thing for the average football supporter to do!

  • Comment number 24.

    #20 I think you will find its called teamwork and you shouldn't go looking for problems that don't exist.

  • Comment number 25.

    A nicely written blog about what sounds like a very promising young manager. Given his background and apparent nous, it's nonsense to suggest he's too young for the role. I'll watch his progress with interest.

  • Comment number 26.

    Paul, I used to enjoy reading your blogs. I will now never read your blogs again. I know you aren't nailing your colours to the board but how you can even right about the Franchise fails me.

    Franchise football, never forgive never forget.

  • Comment number 27.

    #26 I know its painful, but he is more talking about young managers prospects, I wouldn't get too worked up about it!

  • Comment number 28.

    I was sat in the away end yesterday. Not a good day out for me, but MK have a great stadium and a good team. There seemed to be a lot of families and kids at the game, particularly for a Weds evening so I suppose they are doing the right thing.

  • Comment number 29.

    Totally agree with #23. My son is 10 and he and his friends all follow MK. It has put a sense of belonging into the city. The work they do in the local community is phenomenal and the way they encourage families to games should not be underestimated. As to the comments at #10 and #15, I am guessing you are obviously very bitter about the past, but should really try and move on! Calling the city fake is a bit strong and wanting us to be punished for what has happened, seems very over the top. The chants of "you've got no history", go up every week from the opposition fans, but we are making our own history.
    Also, when the options of "local teams" are Oxford, Northampton and Luton, you will find people supporting the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool etc. Now we have a real local team to get behind.

  • Comment number 30.

    "there are some people who will never acknowledge the existence of MK Dons, arguably with good reason"...

    It's a real shame to see obviously talented managers like Karl Robinson at a so called club like this.

    First of all I do sympathises with the true Don’s fans but at the end of the day nothing could of been done with the plight of your club. Ok so they took your league position, big deal, get over it and move on!
    It takes more than a league position to build a club and at least now a great city (open to debate) has a football team of its own and gives the kids a chance to support a local football team- lets be serious Luton or Northampton Town were never viable options- rather than one of the top four.

  • Comment number 31.

    All these people harping on about whether Karl Robinson has a lack of experience or not are missing the point...

    He idolises Sam Allardyce?!?!?!


  • Comment number 32.

    I certainly wasnt a Robinson fan when it was evident at the tail end of last season he was being lined up as Inces successor. It felt very much like the cheap option that would no doubt lead to more of the same that we had under Ince and the games where he stood in for Ince had me even more certain of our fate.

    Well Karl I and probably many at SMK owe you an apology.

    You are turning MK1 into something of a fortress with several promotion fancied sides already sent packing pointless (Swindon and Southampton) and Premiership Blackpool dumped out of the Carling Cup. More importantly gone is the thuggish indiscipline and astronomical yellow card count.

    Bringing in Gorman is proving to be a stroke of genius, with Karls enthusiasm and passion, which needs to be kept in check at times when chatting to officials and John's experience allied with the big Scouse/ Bavarian Wardrobe in the midfield whose knowledge of the game is being passed on to our young players the future looks bright.

    Its early days but six wins out of eight isnt a bad start for our Rookie boss but hopefully no-one will be mentioning the P word for months yet, but Karl is definitely on the right track for now.

  • Comment number 33.

    It is easy to say move on.

    I grew up in the area and had been a regular at Plough Lane with my familly as a kid. I have great memories of a truely fantastic club who were never happier than when they were upsetting the form book. So close an number of time to adding to the FA cup win and getting into Europe, but it never quite happened.

    The pre-runner to the franchise could happen to any club - a badly financed take over and a poor manager. Would the Portsmouth fans be happy if someone was able to pick up the club for cheap and move it to London (or someother plasic town in the midlands)??

    MK dons may well be a well run club and able to give chances to extremely good young managers but the bottom line is that creating a completely new club and gifting them a place in the league should never have been allowed to happen.

    It did so we get on with it - but we'll never forget.

    Cannot wait until they draw AFC in the Cup or even better meet in League 2 next year

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm not exactly proud of how we got here, but we are here. People are going to have to get used to that fact. We're also doing alot more for the community, the kids, the families, and young players than the majority of other clubs are doing. Some priorities have to be adjusted...

    I'm thrilled with the job Karl is doing, but we saw how easily things can go wrong with Ince last year. However, I can assure Karl that as long as he and the team keep playing with passion, excitement, and discipline, I and many other MK fans will be happy.

    Last year was a disgrace, it was disgusting to watch how they conducted themselves under Ince. An improvement in style, passion and discipline is all I am looking for this year.

  • Comment number 35.

    Just so these 'we never had a local team before' posters are aware, Milton Keynes had a non league club founded in 1956 -

    But it would seem that nobody in Milton Keynes could be bothered with the process of supporting a team from the grass roots up so instead they stole another club's position. MK Dons have a different badge, club colours and name to Wimbledon FC but they still took their (actually not 'their', as I was a fan it's still 'our') youth team, first team, coaching staff and league position.

    I can't believe people are posting things along the lines of 'get over it' about what happened. I will not forget that my team has been lost, nor forgive the fact that the Wimbledon supporters had to take matters entirely into their own hands and start up a new club at the bottom of the football pyramid because I larger town couldn't be bothered to do the exact same thing and instead stole / franchised MY club.

    Would Wimbledon FC still been around if this hadn't happened? I don't know, but I'd rather have had the opportunity to found out than see my club moved 60 KM up the road.

    I hope, if Karl Robinson is good, that he leaves MK Dons and they never produce anything good again. They don't deserve to.

  • Comment number 36.

    ForeverBlue369 wrote:
    #15 They supported Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - what is your point.

    ** Chelsea? Really?

    The majority of the supporters of "the big clubs" are not local to the club

    ** Obviously. But I think changing your allegiances is quite different to supporting a team based on geography.

    Now thay have a local club to support

    ** You mean 'a local LEAGUE club'. I'm sure there are non-league clubs in the area older than MK.

    - no matter whether you agree with the decision to move the club to Milton Keynes (would Wimbledon even exist now if Pete Winkleman had not intervened??)

    ** Wimbledon does exist still and has nothing to do with Winkles.

    they do a tremendous amount of work in the community and if you ask the 7 and 8 year olds in Milton Keynes who they support many will have an alliegence to the MK Dons!!

    ** I imagine 7 and 8 year olds are a small minority of match attendees and they didn't support anybody pre 2000??? (my original question)

    The situation is what it is and it's time to move on - although this seems to be a difficult thing for the average football supporter to do!

    ** I thought the decision was wrong in the first place and still is - MK should have started in non-league.

  • Comment number 37.

    Now then,

    Thanks as always for all your comments.

    Matthew Cain (post 21), I've tweaked that, many thanks for pointing it out. I really must listen more intently when transcribing interviews.

    Talking about MK Dons is always going to arouse some hot feelings but I would be very disappointed if WombleBrett6 (post 26) really stuck to his guns and never again read a blog I had written purely because this one is about MK Dons (or more specifically, their manager).

    The story of how Wimbledon became MK Dons is more a book than a blog but I hope that AFC Wimbledon win promotion as it will complete a fairytale rebirth and rest assured I will be at their ground to cover their return to the league.

    However, I think there is no doubt that Karl Robinson is an interesting bloke and has a story well worth telling. English football took one hell of a hammering after the World Cup but I think it needs to be pointed out that there are bright young managers out there.

    As for Saints and Nigel Adkins - I have always been impressed when listening to him discuss the game and his record at Scunthorpe stands up to scrutiny. I would not worry too much about the fact he is not a big-name appointment. He knows he has to deliver soon and I think that Saints fans who give him a chance might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Comment number 38.

    #33 and #35 - well said.

    Franchise will never be accepted as a real club.

    Their existence is a stain on our game.

    Don't "Back The Bid" while MK is a potential World Cup venue. For shame.

  • Comment number 39.

    'Alladyce' and 'Genius' spoken in the same sentence?!We should worry about Robinson's lack of judgement.Alladyce is clearly the worst possible manager for anyone to take after- one dimensional hoof and aggitate game plans,clueless buying policy,mediocre to dreadful results with not one trophy.How is that an example of anything other than inadequacy and ineptitude.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good story, well told.
    Good luck to Karl Robinson and Nigel Adkins, I love it when young on unheralded managers get a deserved crack at a decent job. Is it coincidental that many of the best managers had little or no top-level playing career?

  • Comment number 41.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - there's nothing more cringeworthy than a blog gets the simple things wrong.

    Winkelman, not Winkleman. Can't take any of it seriously when your knowledge extends so far that you don't even know how to spell the chairman's name.

    Still - good to see the AFCW keyboard warriors are out in force. Fighting franchise football one comments section at a time. Still amuses me that the 'I bet I can find a million people who hate MK Dons' group on facebook still has about 990,000 more people to find...

  • Comment number 42.

    FranchiseProud - I must admit that I thought I'd written Winkelman. I reckon that if I had supported the old Wimbledon I would have been furious with the way their club moved up the M1. I'm not sure how much of that can be blamed on Karl Robinson. None, I reckon. That said, he has fully bought into the idea of growing and developing MK Dons.

    As for his description of Allardyce as a genius - I think that refers to the Blackburn manager's ability to squeeze every last drop out of the players he has available.

  • Comment number 43.

    I echo the majority of sentiments here... I've been hugely impressed by Karl Robinson in every way since he took charge of the Dons.

    He comes across as knowledgeable, confident and personable. I see his youth as an asset rather than a weakness; what he lacks in number of year's experience he more than makes up for in enthusiasm and dedication. I'm really proud to have him as the manager of my club, and almost regardless of how we do this season, I feel confident about our future under his stewardship.

    Keep up the great work Robbo!

  • Comment number 44.

    Paul, I always enjoy your blogs so no hard feelings there - I will continue to read and enjoy.

    As for....

    Still - good to see the AFCW keyboard warriors are out in force. Fighting franchise football one comments section at a time. Still amuses me that the 'I bet I can find a million people who hate MK Dons' group on facebook still has about 990,000 more people to find...

    I'm going to sign up later thanks for the ad

  • Comment number 45.

    Great Birthday Dinner ;)

  • Comment number 46.

    MK 'Dons' don't deserve to bear the name. A fake club with a fake league position. What a pity such a seemingly talented manager ends up at a club which epitomises everything that is bad about modern day football. Hope the FA do the right thing and remove MK from the bid, yet another shocking lack of judgement

    Womble 'till I die.

  • Comment number 47.

    Thanks Paul, good to see a blog about the Dons, who don't tend to get too much BBC coverage (better than Sky though). Robinson has started well and is trying to bed in a patient, passing attacking style which is a big step up on last year's offering. Interesting comments about Winkelman's preference for inexperienced managers (I thought Robbo was also the cheap option) and there's no doubt the Chairman has an eye for a publicity statement.

    Will be interesting to see how we're doing this time next month after some tricky away games. Meanwhile, long may this new approach continue. When he makes them, he's also proving to be quite bold in attacking subs. A lot more thoughtful than his predecessor for sure.

  • Comment number 48.

    Great blog Paul. I'd been waiting for a blog on MK since the start of last season when in an earlier blog you mentioned you hoped to cover them soon.

    I have to say I was apprehensive at the appointment of Robbo, especially after a disappointing end to last season. It is a brave appointment and I hope he can stay for more than one season, which has not happened for several seasons now.

    I also can't help but feel it's all about club finances. Winkleman has been quite shrewd in giving the job to someone, comaparable to Di Matteo or Ince in terms of actual experience, on what I presume is a lower wage. I do not know this for sure, but Ince's wage, plus the slightly deeper squad last season, did not yield the promotion Winkleman must have expected after investing that bit more. This would also explain Ince's somewhat confusing departure, with him commenting that a reduced budget the following season would not match his ambition.

    Winkleman has appointed marquee names in the past to increase the profile of MK Dons, get the punters in, and of course, be successful. With an unfamiliar, but presently youngest football league manager in charge, it might not be obvious, but Robbo could be the best at fulfilling all 3 of the above criteria. Youngest football manager to get a team promoted? I hope so.

  • Comment number 49.

    gregmk (48), Brian Clough was 34 when he took Derby up to the old First Division, I suspect he was the youngest, Robinson could beat that by a few years.

  • Comment number 50.

    Very nice blog Mr Fletcher as ever.

    Its really nice to see the Don's getting a mention for a change. Most pundits do tend to stay away from writing about our club due to the torrent of abuse that follows (as seen here today) and although i know you probably dont fully agree with the move to mk i thankyou for noticing us, unlike some reporters.

    I am willing to admit i didnt really understand why Robbo was appointed, i felt a experianced head was needed for a change, but wrongly assumed that just because Robbo is 30 he wouldnt have experiance. I supose its a similar situation to that of Brian Clough, playing career ends early and so the next step is to stay in the game. Robbo just started ten years earlier than most. He wants teams to play attractive football, please the fans and most importantly win.

    With regards to the people who 'hate' our club, i would say you need to rethink your defenition of hate. I dont hate anybody, i dislike things that people do but hate is an incredibly dangerous word. However, i am only 19, and am already a football nomad. Before MK i had a couple of season tickets at coventry city. Ive been from blackpool to barcelona to watch football and love the sport. MK Dons just happened to be he closest and most affordable team i could get to with my dad and so we have been watching them since they came to the town. We started as neutrals, but football is an infectious game and if you watch a club long enough you will want them to do well. Now when people ask me 'who i support' i reply 'MK Dons'.

    Football is in my opinion the greatest game in the world. It unites poor and rich alike in one common interest. We all saw what happened in south africa to a war torn continent this summer. So, for someone to begrudge me going to watch a sport i love and that does so much good in the world, its sickening. Yes our club has had very bad press over the years, but did anyone get hurt? Did anyone die? Is it such a crime that a man decided to move a football club to a passionate city here it could survive. If this had been a buisness and MK a company, Winkleman would have been praised for saving a company on the brink. Better for there to be a football club left to 'hate' than not one in existance.

    Some people cant travel to old trafford and pay stupid money every week to watch football. So why begrudge them for watching MK Dons?

    Some older. wiser men than i may say im just young, stupid and idealistic. That im to young to realise what happened. But theyed be wrong. Someone took a club that would have gone out of existance and kept it alive, needless to say it wasnt the ideal slution, but its still alive. For me, looking at the plights of so many clubs at the moment looking at going bust, thats a brilliant thing to do.

    Still hate us if you want. . . but i dont think any of us believe you 'hate' us.

  • Comment number 51.

    I can’t understand why all these Wimbledon fans are complaining about the MK franchise stealing their place in the league. According to Wikipedia, Professional sports leagues in North America are 'closed corporations' limited to a fixed number of teams, known as "franchises". Only a vote of the existing constituent franchises can admit more teams; when this is done, a new franchise place is put up to bid among would-be owners.
    Wimbledon was originally voted into the league, replacing Southport. All that’s happened is that the Wimbledon franchise has been moved on to a more profitable location.
    Louise Taylor writes in the Guardian 4th September:- When Erik Samuelson, the Blue Square Premier club's chief executive, takes friends to watch AFC Wimbledon, the common reaction is surprise. "They always comment that everyone in the crowd seems to know each other"
    So still not many turning up then?

  • Comment number 52.

    I had a little experience of working with Karl at the Liverpool Academy. Just want to say a big well done to him. It's a fantastic story.

    Hopefully he's in for a big future & long career in management.

  • Comment number 53.

    I don't support AFCW or MK Dons, obviously, but I agree with the Wimbledon fans. It was a disgrace that a team was transplanted from one city to another so easily. If MK wanted a team, it should have had to do what all other cities/towns have had to do; start one and work their way up.

    It's all very well saying that if Winkelman hadn't have done what he did, Wimbledon would've folded. So what. Other teams have gone that way and their place was taken by a team that had earned that right through merit.

    Football is supposed to be a meritocracy. Yes, you can buy success but even so you have throw the money at a team that already exists in the hope it will accelerate its progress. You don't transplant a team and give it a name with a tenuous link to its predecessor, just to circumvent the proper process. How the Football League allowed such transparent finagling is beyond me.

    And to the 19-year old that blissfully believes that the old Wimbledon fans don't really hate MK Dons; I think they do, with a passion.

  • Comment number 54.

    The point of the article is the relative success of Karl Robinson - put your purses away.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    Brilliant blog. Really hope Robinson is a success there.

  • Comment number 57.

    26. At 11:36am on 16 Sep 2010, WombleBrett6 wrote:

    Paul, I used to enjoy reading your blogs. I will now never read your blogs again. I know you aren't nailing your colours to the board but how you can even right about the Franchise fails me.

    Franchise football, never forgive never forget.


    I'm not sure I'll miss the opinion and views of somebody that cant even use the words right/write in the correct context!

  • Comment number 58.

    #57... I'm not an internet warrier such as yourself therefore I don't re/re/re/re/re read my post to check everything is perfect, it was a heat of the moment post and I was pretty angry therefore typed one word incorrectly. Deepest apologies for that.

  • Comment number 59.

    Yawn, usual comments about Franchise etc...

    Hmm, AFC Wimbledon was formed in 2002, how come it has 100 years of history...?!

    Didn't all the cups and awards go to Merton council?

    MK Dons are only two years younger...

  • Comment number 60.

    "There are some people who will never acknowledge the existence of MK Dons, arguably with good reason"

    The same should apply to the media.

    A club formed out of one of the most disgusting acts in football, how anyone can support or play for this club is beyond me.

  • Comment number 61.

    cmr-oafc... Thank you for your comments. This is what I meant with my comment towards Paul. I was over-reacting yesterday and will read his blogs again as I think he is a quality writer but you have hit the nail on the head.

    How people can even write about anything to do with them (especially in a positive light) is beyond me.

    Everyone must support a club and imagine it happening to them.

  • Comment number 62.

    #60 how anyone can support or play for this club is beyond me.

    How anyone can think they can tell me who I should support is beyond me.

    #61 How people can even write about anything to do with them (especially in a positive light) is beyond me.

    Its called the freedom of the press as well as making for an interesting read.

  • Comment number 63.

    Firstly congratulations on an excellent blog.

    Which is clearly written about Karl Robinson the man and not MK Dons the club, so please read the article properly before you make such silly comments about not reading the authors blogs ever again. And in defence of MK Dons:

    1. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman that sold off Plough Lane

    2. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman who moved the club out of the Borough of Merton

    3. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman who moved the club to Milton Keynes

    4. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman who ran up debts of £35 million that put the club in administration

  • Comment number 64.

    #50: You display wisdom, judgement and understanding beyond your years, putting these MK Dons-bashing morons to shame with the sort of sound and logical reasoning that they will never be capable of. I couldn't have said it any better myself.

    Good on you mate, glad to have you as a fellow supporter.. come on you Dons!

  • Comment number 65.

    #63: Similar message to you, thanks for bringing balanced judgement and common sense to this thread. Nuff said.

  • Comment number 66.

    Please do check out the goals from Wednesday, although you may be more enthustiastic about that process if you support MK Dons!

  • Comment number 67.

    Top performance on wednesday from the dons. Best of luck to robbo for the upcoming season.

    In response to some of the anti dons comments on here. I remember when Wimbledon were playing in the premiership, no fans used to turn up to watch them, they had to play in palace's stadium and they spent the 90 mins hoofing and hacking away. Does anyone really miss them??!

    With the fantastic stadium, and massive potential for a large fanbase that the city of MK provides, you can see the dons taking large strides forward as a club over the next decade

  • Comment number 68.

    "1. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman that sold off Plough Lane"

    True. That would be Sam Hammam. What's your point? Wimbledon fans know ALL the culprits well. We don't need some johnny-come-lately to remind us.

    "2. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman who moved the club out of the Borough of Merton"

    Since when did a London borough boundary become so important to you? At least at Selhurst Park the club was in south London, where its fans were and still are.

    "3. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman who moved the club to Milton Keynes"

    Winkelman approached Wimbledon FC's owners with his enticement of a 'free' stadium worth £50m in 2000. It is him that instigates the move to MK. Trying to whitewash him for that act is simply ridiculous. Without Winkelman there is no move to MK. He must stand accountable accordingly.

    "4. It wasn't Milton Keynes or Peter Winkelman who ran up debts of £35 million that put the club in administration"

    The vast majority of the 'debts' were to the club's owners. Ironically, the debts of Franchise FC have risen every year and continue to increase rapidly. Guess who the vast majority of those debts are to? That's right... the owners. So what's so different now from back then? Just one thing - there isn't another chancer with a supermarket property deal in another town to facilitate waiting in the wings.

    Let's have no more of these attempts to whitewash Winkelman (and others in MK), they are also responsible for the demise of Wimbledon FC, along with Hammam, Koppel and quite a few others.

  • Comment number 69.

    "Someone took a club that would have gone out of existance and kept it alive, needless to say it wasnt the ideal slution, but its still alive. For me, looking at the plights of so many clubs at the moment looking at going bust, thats a brilliant thing to do."

    One small problem - it isn't alive. Wimbledon FC did go out of existence. Wimbledon FC Ltd has been wound up - it never exited administration. No company was saved. No football club was saved.

    The only people saving a football club were Wimbledon fans banding together to reform our club - now that really was saving something.

    All the MK move did was transfer a Football League share belonging to a Wimbledon football club to a Milton Keynes football club.

    People in MK need to stop deluding themselves that anything was saved - it wasn't. The sooner you all 'get over' that, the better.

  • Comment number 70.

    I must confess that I am not a football junkie, but all this fuss about "Wimbledon" reminds me of the old story about the woodsman who loved his axe. As he said, it was the same axe that belonged to his great great grandfather, and "it's only had six new handles and three new axeheads"

  • Comment number 71.

    Excellent point abaty - new name, new town, new strip, new badge, new players, new everything. So it's not the same club, now is it?

  • Comment number 72.

    @ Ploughdon

    People in Merton need to stop deluding themselves that anything was saved - it wasn't. The sooner you all 'get over' that, the better.

  • Comment number 73.

    It's a shame any publicity has to be given to this poor excuse of a club.
    MK might be a huge place but there are many many far more deserving cases in the FL who should be credited. And Non-league teams who deserve their place in Division 3!

    Here's to the real Wimbledon drawing them in the FAC and giving them the beating they so richly deserve. And I'm not a Wombles fan.

  • Comment number 74.

    I took my 4 year old son to watch the Dons v Hartlepool a couple of weeks ago. It was his first football match and my first visit to Stadium:MK.
    My son had been sat watching the England game the night before, and stated that he wanted to go to watch a game at Wembley.
    Being his first match, I'm reluctant to spend £30+ per ticket and have him declare boredom within 20 mins of arriving.

    The next option was to take him to watch either Leighton Town or Aylesbury United, who ground share in the town we live in. I figured that it's no issue to take him there, and when bored, just leave for home. That was until I checked ticket prices - £12 for pair of us.

    So I looked up ticket prices for Dons v Hartlepoool and ended up paying £11 for the pair of us.
    The atmosphere is incredibly family friendly and, yes 8-12 year olds do indeed make up a big part of the attendance. In fact, any under 7 with a membership gets in free with an adult, or £1 if not a member.
    Surprisingly my son loved it, from the face paints, to the picture with the league trophy and then the mascots. Oh and actually his face when the Dons scored was something every dad loves to see.

    We're going again for the Colchester game, and this time it's cost £8 for the 2 of us.

    Yes, I should probably support my grass roots team, but when it's more expensive to do that than a professional game???!

    I don't really care about it being a so called "franchise" or what Wimbledon has now become (I think Selhurst is the only ground I've been to more than White Hart Lane). The fact is, that financially a move away from Merton was the only viable option at the time. I'm sure that, if the rules were around then, as they are now, it would not have been so bad for Wimbledon - Probably just a 10 point deduction and still a place in the league, sharing with another club.

  • Comment number 75.

    Karl Robinson is my dads best mate's son!

  • Comment number 76.

    Robinson has provided the Dons with a new lease of life and i firmly believe that he is one of the best young football managers in the lower leagues.

    He possesses the quality to be able to steer the club in the right direction after years of pain for the club.

    Alex from Football Insight


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