The signing of Jordan Spence caps a strong summer of recruitment from the MK Dons back room staff.
The 24-year-old defender joins Danny Green Kyle McFadzean, Tom Hitchcock and Samir Carruthers on the permanent playing staff, while the acquisitions of proven strikers Will Grigg and Benik Afobe on season-long loan deals has given manager Karl Robinson the happiest headache of his tenure at the start of his fifth campaign.
But it has been a long an arduous task - one that began back in May, following the 3-0 defeat at home to Leyton Orient.
Robinson said: “After the Leyton Orient game at the end of last season, I came back to my office, had an argument with an agent, went home, came in the following day and that’s when the new season started for me.
“The way we’ve done our business on and off the field has been the best we’ve ever done it.
“Bringing in Danny Green early was good. I always wanted to bring in Samir Carruthers. I wanted to bring him in at the same time as I got Green, so it shows how long these things can take.
“All I kept reading what ‘it’s a good signing, but there’s still no strikers.’ I probably went two months without having a striker. But I knew who I wanted. I didn’t want to make it public because then everyone would know who I wanted, and I didn’t want to compete with other teams.
“Kyle was brought in at a good time, but it still wasn’t a striker. While everyone was asking about the strikers, I was meeting Will, meeting Tom, meeting Benik and two others. We got the ones we wanted.”
In the last 12 months, several of Dons’ top earners have moved on to pastures new. Stephen Gleeson, Shaun Williams, Gary MacKenzie, Alan Smith to name but a few, were at the top end of the wage bracket when they departed stadium:mk for the final time, and it opened up some much-needed headway for Robinson, his recruitment team of Bobby Winkelman and Andy King, and chairman Pete Winkelman, to tinker with.
“Players were falling by the wayside,” he said. “There were a lot of players at the top end of the pay scale that have suddenly gone. We’ve replaced them with young players.
“Danny Green was the right age, ready to kick his career on again.
In defence, we needed reassurance - and I still want another in there.
“I knew what I wanted, but it was hard because we play differently to other teams at this level. You can’t shop at Asda if you like the food in Tesco! We had to shop in the right place.
“The chairman was great, we were in constant dialogue. We hadn’t increased the budget, but we had bigger headroom. We wanted to bring in seven players to replace five.”
The added bonus of a big-money tie with Manchester United has also freed up a little bit more cash for Robinson to help leverage the club in the remaining week of the transfer window, and Dons are keen to add a couple more faces to their squad, rather than the first team.
“We’re looking at bringing in a few more in the next few weeks. I’ve never been able to do it before. We’ve been within our means until now, but we can add to that. It’d be nice to do that.
“We weren’t good enough last year, so we knew we needed to improve and freshen up. I could see when it was time to change.
“We’re writing a new chapter now and I think it’s a lot fresher this year, a lot more energetic. They’re certainly more together. We can certainly kick on now.”