Barker can’t wait to get started

Richie Barker will join Karl Robinson again next season
Richie Barker will join Karl Robinson again next season

Richie Barker has put pen to paper to be MK Dons’ Head of Coaching next season.

The 38-year-old former Bury, Crawley and Portsmouth boss joined up with Dons in April after Gary Waddock’s departure to take over the hot seat at Oxford United.

Barker becomes Robinson’s fourth assistant, after John Gorman, Mick Harford and Waddock.

With Robinson’s focus on young players, Barker said making the decision to join the club on a longer-term basis was an easy choice.

“Very few football clubs look at the long term,” he said. “If you look at the players being produced here, culminating in players like Dele (Alli) and Brendan (Galloway) - it’s something I’ve tried to do before.

“I’ve got to know Karl over the last few years, playing against him, and there are very few managers I’d be a number two for.

“From the first game, he told me ‘if you see something, don’t be afraid to jump up and do something about it.’ It’s good that he has that belief and faith in me.”

Barker, who scored more than 120 goals during his career as a striker, believes his time spent as a manager can help relieve some of the pressure on Robinson, as well as offering another eye on situations.

He said: “I think it can help. I had three different coaches in my time as a manager, and the one I learned most from was a former manager. Having had a go at it myself for three years, I feel I can help by recognising some of the pressures Karl is under, and getting him to take a step back.”

And despite spending the last six games at stadium:mk, Barker admits he still hasn’t worked with a lot of the team because of injuries, but feels by getting to know them off the field, it will help on the training pitch.

“I’ve not seen a lot of them play while I’ve been here, but I’ve played against them,” he said. “I’ve worked with them on a day-to-day basis. It’ll be new to me in the summer, working with players I’ve not had out on the training ground before.

“I’ve worked with Darren Potter everyday, despite not having him on the training pitch, and people like Ben Reeves too.

“I know them as people, which is important because you need to know what makes them tick, and what motivates them.”

Robinson too is excited by having Barker alongside him on the touchlines again next season, and believes they can hit the ground running.

He said: “It helps having the last six games together, to get to know each other and how we work. We’ll start the season in a better frame of mind than we have in the last two seasons.

“We know what roles we need to do, and it gives us extra time to get things sorted. We’re so excited about the forthcoming season.

“Over the last few years, everyone has tipped Richie to become one of the best young English managers in the country, so we have a very young backroom staff. I’m very excited by it.”