Chairman Winkelman says ‘top manager’ Robinson leaving marks the ‘end of an era’ at MK Dons

MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman
MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman
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MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman says it was with ‘a heavy heart’ that he decided Karl Robinson’s time as the club’s manager was at an end, and that it is the end of an era for the club.

Robinson left Dons ‘by mutual consent’ on Sunday, a day after the Dons had slumped to a 3-0 home defeat to Southend United that left the team in 19th place in Sky Bet League One, just a point above the relegation zone.

With Robinson having been in charge at Stadium MK for more than six years, Winkelman admits letting a manager he believes has ‘the X factor’ leave is a ‘big deal’, but that results this season simply haven’t been good enough.

“It has been an extraordinary weekend, very difficult and very emotional,” said Winkelman, talking to mkdons.com on Tuesday morning.

“I have so much time and respect for Karl, and we gave him his first opportunity and he is a great bloke.

“But sometimes things happen in football, things you cannot plan for and cannot know are going to happen.

“It was so unexpected, but anybody who was at the stadium on Saturday, there were a couple of moments where you could see it was the end of an era, and maybe it was time for a change.

“As a chairman, I have the ultimate responsibility and it is not a decision I have taken lightly.

“It is with more than a heavy heart, because I feel Karl is a really top, top manager .

“I think he has the X factor, I think he has a huge amount about him, so to turn my back on that is a big deal.

“Having said all of that, there are times in football when you need a change, and I have some fantastic players here.

“For me, it is all about the players and finding the best way for them to show their capability on the pitch, and results usually go hand in hand with that, and we are in a results-led business.

“So whatever the relationship, whatever the commitment and whatever the loyalty, which I think we have shown each other over the years, suddently there reaches a point.

“I am sure Karl will go off and do really well, and him being available for jobs might be where he needs to be at this moment in time.

“For us, is it an opportunity, or is it a challenge? And for me it is about an opportunity.

“Karl has done some great work here, we have a very talented squad, and I will work with the players over the next few days discussing different options.

“We have to make sure we move forward together as a club.”

First team coach Richie Barker will take over first-team duties while the club looks for a new manager, and Winkelman has been impressed by Barker’s attitude to date and is looking forward to seeing how the team perform under his guidance at in-form Sheffield Unied on Saturday.

“I have been very impressed with Richie Barker and the way he has stood up,” said the Dons chairman.

“Richie knows football backwards, and he knows that probably somebody new is going to come in and might want to bring their own backroom people in or whatever.

“He is in the firing line and could have ducked down, but he has stood up and said ‘Sheffield United on Saturday - I want a bit of that’.

“I will make sure the team is as prepared as we would normally be, and I really respect the fact Richie knows it is about the club, and about the club having the best chance to do well.

“I expect the players to go and put a good performance in on Saturday.

“I want to see where we are and what we have to do about it.”