Last week was certainly one to forget for MK Dons and Karl Robinson as they lick their wounds following three straight defeats.
From the bizarre at Gillingham, to the ‘shambles’ of Stevenage and the disappointment at leaders Leyton Orient on Saturday, fans and players alike must be scratching their heads wondering what they need to do to pick up a win.
The problem is tough to put a finger on though.
Robinson said he has not been able to pick his best team in 2013 - and he’s probably right.
It sounds like the same old record, but the stats speak for themselves.
Injuries to Stephen Gleeson and Luke Chadwick in the early months, David Martin’s long term lay-off at the end of last season, and now the ever-increasing spell on the sidelines for Dean Bowditch, which has ruled him out all season long, mean the quartet haven’t been on the pitch together since the 1-0 win over Hartlepool on December 12, 2012.
The constant game of Tetris, as Robinson described it, has been a learning experience for the manager, but it’s one he wishes he didn’t have to play.
“I wish I didn’t have to learn a lot, because I knew what my strongest team was. But in 2013, I’ve not been able to pick it,” he said.
“We’ve not been unlucky, but we haven’t go the fluency yet.
“I think the fans understand where we are this season. And they’ve, so far, seen a team that, when we have consistency, can be unstoppable.
“When we’ve had to make changes, they see a team that periodically does enough to throw a game away. We don’t have that blend at the moment.
“We’re working hard to mould the team around the players we have available.
“We understand what the problem is. Some clubs can go out and spend £500,000 and fix it immediately but that’s not the case here. I want to play they young players.
“George Baldock, Tom Flanagan and Ian McLoughlin have really come of age this season. Dele Alli has come of age. Brendan Galloway and Giorgio Rasulo have learned a lot from us by being with the first team in training.
“I want to introduce Milton Keynes boys into this team.”
For the first time in years, Dons have a striker to hang their hat on. Patrick Bamford has scored 11 times this season already, has reassessed and increased his targets and can’t stop scoring, which is just as well because the others just aren’t.
The striker, whose loan spell ends in January, admits he’d like to remain at stadium:mk for the rest of the season but knows his future is out of his hands, should parent club Chelsea wish to see him tested at a higher level.
Having already seen a £2 million striker in Sam Baldock leave the club, Robinson believes Bamford is the best striker to have played for MK Dons.
“With his all-round game, he’s the best striker we’ve had,” he said.
“He’s got the lot. Sam Baldock is up there, of course. Sam was lightning quick, but Patrick isn’t and he’s had to work on other elements of his game.
“He wants to be playing in the Premier League and he wants to play for Chelsea.
“A lot of people have been telling him it might not happen. But he believes he can do it and I’m not going to stop his dreams materialising.
“He’s special and will go all the way.”
Robinson will be hoping though that his journey to the top will begin as he leaves stadium:mk in May, rather than in two months time.