NOVEMBER is shaping up to be a potentially season-defining month for MK Dons, but in Tranmere Rovers they face their toughest test this Friday night.
Although Karl Robinson has always played down talk of poor form, the League 1 table has made for slightly disappointing reading for most of the season. However, three straight wins have seen Dons turn their dominance in matches into points, and victory in front of the TV cameras at Prenton Park would see them jump from seventh up to second – albeit just for a few hours.
With that in mind, the Dons boss said all he’s thinking about is a fourth straight league win, but he certainly isn’t taking anything for granted against the team sat top of the table, with just two defeats in 17 games.
“We’ll have to be at our best to win, but Tranmere will also have to be at their best to get anything out of us,” said Robinson. “So the best team will win the game at the end of the night.
“Whatever happens on the night will not determine where we finish in the league, but it goes to show you that – being three points behind second and still in the FA Cup, and everything else that goes with it – the boys have done remarkably well.
“They’ve come under certain criticism at times, which is a little bit unfair I think, but it shows you how tight this league is.”
Only Doncaster have left Tranmere with all three points this season, and although Ronnie Moore’s men did suffer something of a blip after their superb 12-game unbeaten run at the start of the campaign, they have responded well with back-to-back league wins. But Dons aren’t in bad shape either.
“We feel like we’ve got some momentum and we feel confident,” said Robinson. “I want to win. I think when you go with four forwards, and you play the way we do, you’re always hoping to score goals. But it’s going to be a topsy-turvy game, especially with the way Tranmere play as well.
“Our system will be set out to go up there and win, but I also know that Ronnie Moore’s system will be set out to beat us as well. It’s set to be a very good clash.”
Robinson described Moore as a ‘Tranmere legend’ and ‘probably the best manager in the country because of what he’s achieved with his budget’. And the fact that Dons visit Tranmere on a Friday night is significant for Robinson, who said the Birkenhead club holds a special place in his heart.
“Prenton Park is a phenomenal ground,” he said. “I remember growing up as a kid, watching their Friday night games which were quite historical.
“Most fans in that area would go and watch Liverpool or Everton on Saturdays, so they had to capture those fans in some way. And they did that by playing Friday nights. No footballer wanted to play Tranmere away on a Friday night because you knew it was going to be loud.
“My wife’s father was a season ticket holder at Tranmere for many, many years until he passed away just recently, and I used to go with him when we weren’t playing. It’s a club that’s always been close to my heart.
“Us first, Tranmere second – that would be my perfect scenario. I remember my father-in-law saying to me that it would be nice to see Tranmere win this league. I’ve still got friends that go, and my house isn’t too far.
“So it’s nice to go back there, but when that whistle goes, it doesn’t really bother me what colour the other team wear, all I think about is our special badge, and hope we can do enough to win the game.”