MK Dons boss Karl Robinson says he is working through the toughest period of his managerial career after a third defeat in seven days.
There’s no denying that Dons are going through a torrid run of form. Picking up just six points from the last 30 available in League 1, Robinson’s side are now just five points from the drop zone.
In what has been a forgettable week, Dons have conceded nine goals, three each to Bradford, Colchester and Coventry, while scoring just four – a run which has seen them slip to 12th in the table, nine points from the play-off spots.
And a gap is beginning to open up between the upper echelons of the division and where Dons currently find themselves, several positions below where they would like to be.
“It was the worst week I’ve had at a club,” said Robinson this week. I can’t dress it up – it’s been as bad as it’s going to get. I just don’t understand why.
“Colchester wasn’t acceptable, but we’ve been beaten by freak goals against Bradford and Coventry.
“I really feel for the players because they were devastated after the game,
“We have got an FA Cup game coming up, but then the hardest test in Wolves away.
“There aren’t many harder, but where is an easy game with our away record?
“People want to question me and that’s their right, but judge me when I’ve got all my players fit.”
Robinson ranks the last few weeks in the Dons hotseat as the toughest of his young career, even harder than the first six months of his tenure at stadium:mk when he took over the remains of Paul Ince’s team which limped home to 10th place, 18 points off the play-offs.
Struggling to find away form until well into January, questions were being asked about whether Robinson, a relatively unknown quantity outside of MK1, was up to the task.
Three years on, Robinson feels their runs in the play-offs have heightened the expectation of fans and onlookers.
“In the first six months of my time in charge here, we had had a dreadful season the year before,” he said. “We’d spent a lot of money. And I had to pick the bones.
“I was an unknown quantity, other than my coaching credentials and that was it.
“This time, we’re a victim of our own success, but we know now what it takes to be successful. I also realise how much the players mean.”
After a handful of boos echoed around the inside of stadium:mk after Saturday’s defeat to Coventry, Robinson urged fans to keep their heads up, and get behind the team now more than ever.
He said: “Depreciation in attendances aren’t going to help. You can point your fingers at me, and hate me – that’s fine and part of being a fan.
“It’s hate one minute, and love the next. They have the right to voice an opinion because they pay their money.
“But it’s going to take the fans, and myself, to get them back. Physically, they will be ready. We will prepare them perfectly.
“They (the players) will be fitter and better, but me and the fans have a massive job to lift their confidence.
“If we want a successful team, now’s the time to stand up. It’s easy to point fingers and question their mentality.
“When things aren’t going right, it’s so much harder to stand up and be counted.
“The players are not getting the luck, and we have to keep them motivated.”
Saturday’s FA Cup second round tie at home against non-league outfit Dover Athletic could be the perfect medicine for Dons’ recent ill nature, but then tougher tests await in the weeks ahead, starting away to Wolves a week later.