Without our belief, we’ve got nothing, says Karl Robinson

MK Dons celebrate Milton Keynes Dons midfielder Antony Kay(6) scoring goal to go 1-0 up  during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Milton Keynes Dons at the KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England on 12 March 2016. Photo by Ian Lyall. PSI-1701-0018
MK Dons celebrate Milton Keynes Dons midfielder Antony Kay(6) scoring goal to go 1-0 up during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Milton Keynes Dons at the KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England on 12 March 2016. Photo by Ian Lyall. PSI-1701-0018

Back-to-back wins over Easter put MK Dons within five points of an automatic promotion spot this time last season - what a difference a year makes.

The run-in would bear the ultimate fruit as Dons snatched a top two spot at the very death. And they’ll need something in a similar spirit this time around too.

Karl Robinson

Karl Robinson

The mountain isn’t as big this time around though, but the stakes are somewhat higher.

Dons sit in the Championship relegation zone, just a point behind Saturday’s opponents Fulham with eight games remaining.

Last season, Dons won nine of their remaining 10 games to overhaul Preston and secure automatic promotion, but few would be so bold as to predict yet another flying finish to the season. Instead, it’s likely to be a nail-biter, going down to the wire again.

In previous seasons, a point a game has been enough to keep teams in the Championship. Only once has it been harder than that, with Peterborough suffering the drop despite collecting 50 points along the way.

Realistically, Dons will need nine points from their remaining eight games to be safe. Of course, if all the other teams have a similar objective, Dons will need more.

But at this stage, with 24 points still on offer, the landscape is far from clear. But the next week could be telling.

With three games in the space of seven days, it’ll be a busy period for Dons, but more important are the opponents they’ll face.

After travelling to Fulham on Saturday, Karl Robinson’s men face back-to-back home games against Wolves and then Rotherham - another of Dons’ relegation rivals.

“We all knew coming into the Championship would be hard,” he admitted. “We’re under no illusions that it’ll be any different in the next month.

“We will do everything we possibly can.”

Something Dons have on their side though is confidence - confidence so unwavering that the manager is convinced his side will survive.

The mood around the camp, among the players and in the staff is one completely void of fear.

None of the players feel relegation is a possibility, regardless of the position they find themselves in.

“It’s important to have belief, because without belief, we’ve got nothing,” Robinson said.

“We will get beaten. But we need to look at how many games in the last eight that we can win.

“If we stick together and have that belief, hopefully, we’ll achieve our goal this year.

“We’ve been here before, albeit with a different predicament.

“But I think the pressure was more difficult last year because everyone expected us to go up.

“This year, people are telling us we’re going down, so it relieves the pressure on my players.”

If avoiding the pressure does ultimately help, time will tell. And if they can take anything from their run 12 months ago, maybe that air of calm and collectivity will see them over the line.

But if they are to avoid the drop, a bit of pressure might just add another element to their game that has helped many down the years - that of desperation.