Robbo: I knew we’d exceed expectations

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IT’S been a busy 10 days for Karl Robinson, who has not only secured Dons a place in the League One play-offs, but also secured his own long term future at the club too.

Defeat to now relegated Plymouth Argyle back on Easter Monday saw the manager lose his rag in public, but he’s since signed a three-year deal to remain at stadium:mk, and kissed and made up with his chairman following that surprising outburst in Devon.

Plus Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Notts County was enough to ensure Dons will be part of the emotional battle for promotion to the Championship. And now 13 months into his first job in football management, Robinson says he’s happy to have proven the early-season naysayers wrong.

“We always expected to achieve things beyond everyone’s expectations,” boasted the 30-year-old. “The realisation that we’ve finally done it is beginning to sink in, but I never doubted any of the players.

“I have belief in my own ability and faith in my players - and I think they needed that.

“We gave them hope that they could go on and achieve great things together this season. I wanted to stay here and I’ve had no hidden agenda about that. This job is completely unfinished.

“I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t think we could get here.”

Chairman Winkelman has admitted that he felt he left contract negotiations too long when wrapping up the services of his boss, and that he fully expected other clubs to make an approach for him. But Robinson insists he only ever had one job in mind.

“There were no official approaches to me but I’m pretty sure people would have been looking,” he said. “But my heart has always been with this club. I’m really not interested in going to a club people see as a bigger club in League One.

“I’ve started this job and I want to repay the fans. I want - in a number of years - to look back and think ‘that was a good time.’

“There is no club that could get me away from here - unless Kenny (Dalglish) resigns and I might move to Liverpool. But I don’t think I’m ready for that yet!”

His attitude towards the club is certainly one with a long term ambition, and while he remains fully focused on the play-offs in a little over a week, Robinson also has in mind a vision of where he wants the club to be in years to come.

“I do want to leave a legacy,” he said. “It’s unique, we all enjoy it here. The legacy the chairman will leave here will be incredible.

“They were going only one way, then he moved the club under extreme pressure and threats. I have got friends who were in the industry and have played at some massive arenas, and they come here and say that it’s phenomenal.

“I want to leave a footballing legacy that will stand the club in great stead for years to come. At some stage I will leave, sacked or whatever! But I want to leave Dons fans with something they can be proud of and I hope that are already proud.

“I think we have a crop of players here, that hasn’t cost us a lot compared to some of the teams around us, but that one day will grow up to be fantastic players.”

Winkelman has admitted that promotion will dramatically affect the club’s financial position - as much as doubling turnover by playing in the Championship next season.

And while Dons’ young squad may have a few more years in them yet, Robinson has set his sights higher still, and is determined to attract Championship quality players to the club in the summer, regardless of which division they will kick-off in come August.

“I believe I have players good enough for the Championship, but the players I want to bring in are good enough as well,” he said.

“We need to see where we’re at. Obviously us getting promoted this season is going to have a massive impact on the club. And that means a lot for us as we took a hit this year. We haven’t paid for a player in two years!

“I just want to bring in young players who excite people, but you’ve got to have that bit of experience too. We have this criteria that players must meet if they want to play in the team this time next year.”

Robinson hasn’t hidden the fact that he’s likely to rest players for Saturday’s trip to Oldham, where just a point will make sure of a fifth place finish and set up a play-off semi-final against Peterborough. A defeat could open the door to Bournemouth who would leapfrog Dons with a win at home to Rochdale, with Huddersfield then the likely opposition for a place in the play-off final.