MK Dons is not a step down from Hearts, insists new boss Neilson

MK Dons boss Robbie Neilson
MK Dons boss Robbie Neilson

Making the switch from second in the Scottish Premiership to the bottom end of League 1 is a career step for new MK Dons manager Robbie Neilson.

The 36-year-old was unveiled to the media on Monday afternoon after agreeing to take over at Stadium MK last Friday.

But with his new club languishing at the wrong end of League 1, Neilson insists swapping high-flying Hearts for Dons isn't a step backwards.

"It's a big move for me to move to England but I felt it was the right place to come," he said in his news conference. "It's a great opportunity for me.

As soon as I heard about the interest, I knew it was time to move. I don't want to put a limit and say this is as far as the club can go.

"There were options in the last six months, but the most important thing for me was having a stable chairman and one that will give you time and support. It's not just about the next two weeks, but about the next two years, four years, and that was key for me.

"I was leaving a really stable environment in Scotland, it was a difficult decision but it was the right club at the right time.

"I want the club to go up, to start progressing in the league. I'm not putting any expectation on the players, but there has to be improvement. Whether that improvement is enough to take us up, time will tell. The players who are here believe we can progress. It's now up to me to make that happen."

He only had a watching brief for Saturday's 0-0 draw with Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup, but gave both the pre-match and half-time team talks and his first official training session on Monday.

He said: "I was really impressed with the team, and with the way they played. I spoke to them prior to the game and at half time. I'd watched a lot of them but it was nice to see them in action.

"There's a good group here, and if we can do a little bit of business in January, we can improve. If we can do that, we'll have a chance.

"It's a discussion we'll have to have, but it's important the players here have a chance to impress me and stake a claim to a place in the team."