Success and failure in football can be judged on countless factors, not just winning or losing.
Karl Robinson knows his side have been, and still are, heavily tipped to be in the Championship’s bottom three come May 7. For some, that would alleviate any sort of pressure potentially building on a manager. But Robinson would consider himself a failure if Dons play League 1 football next season.
There’s no reason why Dons, with a bit of luck, can’t stay in the Championship. At the moment, they sit 19th having picked up excellent, and equally different points at home to Fulham last weekend and then away at Wolves on Saturday.
Dons have proven more than a match for the teams below them in the table - perhaps bar the defeat at Huddersfield - but they’ve lacked a killer instinct which has separated them from the likes of Leeds and Derby, games which Dons deserved far more from than the two defeats they were dealt.
But given the resources offered to Robinson and the resources offered to Paul Clement at the iPro Stadium, should Robinson be judged on the same scale? It’s hard to argue they should.
But even with the smallest budget and losing the players who fired his side to promotion last season, Robinson would still consider himself a failure if Dons got relegated.
“I’d consider it a failure because I’m a proud man,” he said. “I like turning odds around. I know we’re good at what we do.
“We know where we are, but I’d deem myself as a failure if we got relegated. But I’d have to search for the reasons why we didn’t do what I wanted to do. Then I’ll take stock.
“I’ll never give false excuses, but honest reflections. We’d have to take it on the chin, but I’m enjoying being in the Championship.
“You can only really reflect on it at the end of the season. Finishing below your budget constitutes failure. This year we could finish bottom and not fail. There’s a flippancy to our approach, because we have no demands on the group as everyone expects the worst.
“You don’t get anything in any walk of life without wanting to be the best. We’re the minnows in this league. The teams with the bottom budget, by now, should be cast adrift. But we’re not, and that’s down to our talent and desire. All I ask is that they give everything to the shirt.”
The differences between success and failure then must be judged from club-to-club, situation to situation and even pound for pound as the spend differential between Championship clubs varies so significantly - something Robinson agrees with.
He said: “Sometimes though you have to judge success and failure differently. Take Teddy Sheringham for example. It took incredible bravery to take the job at Stevenage on the budget they have, but he’ll be judged. But should he not be judged for showing the willing to want to cut his teeth at that level?
“We sold Dele Alli for £5 million, and I remember Benik Afobe knocking on my door, begging for me to take him. To see him at the level he is now is a success.
“One day, we’ll have the chance to spend three or four million pounds on a player. I’ve sold £13 million and spent probably £400,000. It’s a success for the bank balance!
“But having that money brings different pressures. At the moment, I don’t have that pressure because I haven’t got that money. I’d like the opportunity though.”