ANOTHER manager of the month award nomination is nice, but not important to Karl Robinson as he sets his sights on the busy Christmas period.
While he and Jabo Ibehre have been short-listed among the candidates for awards after their performances during November, picking up a win at Tranmere on Saturday is a far bigger priority for the manager as he looks to dispel the ghosts of last season.
“It wasn’t a good performance by any means,” Robinson said, speaking about last season’s 4-2 defeat at Prenton Park. “But we are going there with a point to prove.
“These things are always nice to be nominated for, but I’m not interested in personal awards.”
But while Robinson says he isn’t interested in adding to his Manager of the Month award for August, he is proud that Ibehre has been nominated for the Player of the Month award.
The 28-year-old front man has looked an ominous threat up front for Dons in recent weeks, impressing on the road in the 5-1 win against Colchester and earning the man of the match award in the 4-3 home win over Wycombe Wanderers.
“He has been rewarded for his efforts and his determination,” Robinson said. “He has become like a cult hero at the club. The fans love him because he always puts in the effort, he always leaves it all on the field and it’s there for everyone to see.
“And when I speak to other managers after the game, they heap praise on him.”
While Ibehre has contributed two goals to his personal tally through the last month, Dons have netted an impressive 21 times in their last five outings, bringing their season total to 60.
And yet despite the number of goals, no Dons player has reached double figures for the season so far.
Robinson said: “It’s scary when you think that we’re just into December – it’s remarkable.
“It shows how far we have come in the last 12 months. The way that we have developed our system means that there isn’t going to be just one goal threat, they’re going to come from all over the pitch, and we’ve shown that we can do that.
“We want to play free-flowing, attacking football to get out of this division. Sometimes, we know we’re going to concede goals because of the way we commit to attacks, but we have so much quality going forward.”
And goals will need to be forthcoming throughout the busy Christmas period as Dons face the usual busy fixture list over the festive season.
The stadium:mk pitch will be used just once this month when they take on Preston North End on December 17 in front of the Sky TV cameras, and also face some tough journeys too, taking on Leyton Orient on Boxing Day and play-off chasing Brentford on New Year’s Eve.
Robinson said that his side know their Christmas period is hectic every year and that they have got to get their heads down and pick up points to keep in the hunt for the automatic spots.
“We’re in the entertainment business,” he said. “We know that our holiday periods are going to be different to those around us sometimes.
“But that doesn’t mean we aren’t fully focused on the task at hand. We’ll be approaching the games in the same manner we always do, and we’re going to these places to win.
“It’s always a busy time of year for footballers with the games coming so quickly, but we’ve got strength all over the pitch and people eager to get into the team and stay there.”
Two players who may be given the opportunity to get a game on Saturday against Tranmere are Ian McLoughlin and Shaun Williams, with Darren Potter and David Martin still unable to train following their injuries picked up in the 3-1 FA Cup win over Barnet.
Robinson said: “They may be fit in time, but we’ll have to wait and see. We’ve got squad players desperate to play – Tom Flanagan is a great example of that. He was given his chance and has proven himself and is keeping some big names out of the team.”
One game everyone will be especially keen to be fit for is the FA Cup third round tie at home to Queens Park Rangers in early January. And Robinson wants to see a full-house at stadium:mk when the Premier League club come to town.
“I want 16,000 there,” he said. “They are one of the best sides in the country as it stands at the moment. They’ll want to take it seriously, but so do we.
“We’ve got a good record against Premier League sides in the last few years, and have always given a good account of ourselves in those games too.
“I don’t care what sort of side Neil Warnock puts out on the day, all I know is we’re going into the game knowing we want to win it.”