Staying up is bigger than promotion

Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. PSI-1118-0004
Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Milton Keynes Dons at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove, England on 7 November 2015. PSI-1118-0004
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Keeping MK Dons in the Championship this season will be bigger than winning promotion, according to manager Karl Robinson.

Dons go into the international break sat one place and one point above the relegation zone, still struggling for goals and armed with a dossier of refereeing decisions going against them.

After the fanfare of last season, winning promotion on the final day after seven years in League 1, Robinson believes keeping Dons in the Championship will be an even greater achievement, given the mounting odds against them.

“If we avoid the bottom three, it’ll be bigger than coming up,” he said.

“We’re in a precarious position at the moment, but we were meant to be rock bottom, but we’re not. I’m really proud of that so far.

“We’ve adapted to life really well at this level. We look like we belong now.

“It is harder to stay up than it is to get promoted. If we can achieve that, we’ll have surpassed many hurdles, and it should go down as one of the club’s greatest seasons.

“We can only do our best, and we all are.”

All talk this week has been about a controversial refereeing decision which cost them a penalty against Brighton on Saturday, with Dons trailing 2-1 (see page 89).

While still frustrated with referee Dean Whitestone, Robinson said there was little he could do about factors out of his control, but knows his side have to take their chances when they come and leave the referee with no decision to make.

He said: “Referees, finances, decisions are all out of our control. That’s down to the PGMOL and the board. All I can control is the players.

“If we’re going to lose games through refereeing decisions, that’s out of my control and the club’s control.

“We need to take chances and keep clean sheets, but we need to pick up points sooner rather than later.”