KARL Robinson has admitted that being linked with the vacant post at Nottingham Forest was a distraction as he tried to rectify MK Dons’ stuttering form during October.
The 31-year-old was the bookies’ favourite to take over at the City Ground when former England boss Steve McClaren resigned, before they opted for Portsmouth manager Steve Cotterill to replace him instead.
Robinson wouldn’t go into much detail about how close he got to leaving stadium:mk, but Dons did say this week that “It never got as far as a formal approach from Forest.”
Following Forest’s interest, Robinson’s name was then thrown into the hat to replace Cotterill at Fratton Park, and he was most recently linked with the Hull City job when Nigel Pearson declared that he wanted to return to former club Leicester City.
The KC Stadium job is still up for grabs now, but Robinson admitted that while the last two didn’t move him, the Forest link was something he looked at.
He said: “I think when the Forest job came up it was a distraction because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didn’t want people to think I was doing something against what I had said. I didn’t want people to read it and think ‘he’s going because he’s said all this.’
“I can’t speak to thousands of people at any one time, so what I was saying internally didn’t filter out. People questioned what I said, but I was worried that people felt I’d let them down.
“That was distracting, but the Portsmouth job and the Hull job – I was linked until I said that I didn’t want to go. I don’t want to leave. The last two have meant nothing to me.”
And Robinson has vowed to stay at the helm at stadium:mk as long as he and the board have the same aspirations for the club.
“I’ll stay here as long as our ambitions stay parallel,” he said. “There were fans who doubted me, there were fans who thought I was the most ridiculous signing after Paul Ince, Martin Allen and Roberto Di Matteo. I want to stay here and build something strong.”
But while his short term will almost certainly see him remain with Dons, Robinson’s personal ambitions as a manager are much higher than his current League 1 playing field.
“I want to manage in the Premier League, that’s my goal,” he admitted. “I want to be the best one day. But that’s not something that happens overnight. But I’m not big headed, I never get ahead of myself. I’m not going to jump at the first job that comes along because I think I can better myself.
“There are managers out there that are a million times better than me. If I want to be the best, I’ve got an awful lot of learning to do. And if I can get this club to the Premier League, I can walk away with my head held high.
“Is it an unachievable goal? It’s very distant dream at the moment, but I’m more than willing give it everything I’ve got. My ambition is to manage in the Premier League, and then I want to win it, and then the European Cup – I want to win everything. I want my daughter to say ‘fair play dad, you’ve done alright!’
“You don’t know what’s around any corner. I know I’m going to be sacked at some point in my career. But it’ll be how I bounce back from that will determine how my future will go.”
After the managerial carousel stopped spinning, for now anyway, Robinson has seen his Dons side score 11 times in their last two games – with seven of those goals coming in second halves against Nantwich Town in the FA Cup and most recently against Colchester United last Saturday.
And after a lacklustre first 45 minutes at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Robinson said there are very few sides that would have reacted in the manner his side did as they emerged for the second half.
“The players’ reaction on Saturday was one of winners,” he said. “We are close enough to say to each other what we really think. We always knew how good we are, but it’s so important that we go into these next three games full of confidence.
“The problem we have at the moment is that because we are very good, sometimes we feel we can drop down a gear and that is not the case. When we go into the next gear, we are untouchable. There are very few teams in our league that could’ve done what we did in the second half on Saturday against Colchester.
“Sometimes we can be a bit lacklustre at times, but you can’t always be at your best.
“We do try and be, but maybe it’s a plan of ours to catch them out in the second half!
“We feel we can sustain a high level of performance, and when we go out in the second half, we know how fit we are.
“We’ve scored seven goals in the second halves of the last two games. That’s an amazing statistic when you put it into the context that we’ve scored 11 in total. We can really hurt people in the last 45 minutes when teams tire.”
This Saturday sees county rivals Wycombe Wanderers visit stadium:mk. Promoted back to League 1 this season, Wanderers are struggling to find their feet at the higher level and are second from bottom, level on points with basement boys Chesterfield.
But Robinson is wary of form going into the clash, knowing that Wycombe will be looking to get one over on their neighbours who have taken over the crown as the best side in Buckinghamshire.
“I think Wycombe hate us even more than Peterborough,” he said. “Because they were the best side in Buckinghamshire, and now we are.”