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This time Dons columnist Dominic Damesick has some words of advice for boss Karl Robinson.
Karl Robinson has been in grating form this week. As regular readers of this blog (all five of you) will know, I have been a fairly staunch supporter of the MK Dons manager, and I still maintain that support, but I have found my patience tested over the last few days.
In an interview this week, Robinson bemoaned the fact that the team could not afford to fly to or from Carlisle for their game this Saturday. To me it smacked of lining up an excuse for a defeat before the game had even occurred. Carlisle is a long old trek, one I will experience myself tomorrow, but it is hardly travelling into another time zone. I would much rather hear the football club’s manager talking about on-field matters than petty griping about travel arrangements.
I appreciate that Dons have been dealt a poor hand on the injury and suspension front this season: Gleeson, Chadwick and MacKenzie have all missed long spells through injury, and the squad have had to content with seven red-cards this season (all straight red cards, too, which entails at least a three match suspension). Yet, I cannot think of an interview I have read, seen or heard with Robinson in recent times where these absences have not been mentioned, trotted out to bring to the attention of the fans that any on-field shortcomings have been undercut by circumstances out of Robinson’s control. It is a case of shifting responsibility – dare I say, of poor management.
I would much rather hear Robinson address issues he does have control over, namely the performance, discipline and application of those players he does have available – the injuries are what they are, and Robinson talking about will not improve the situation. It would also seem to belie a lack of faith in those players who are filling the voids left by the missing players.
While it is almost certainly the case that Robinson (along with the fans) does not have the same confidence in the likes of Ryan Harley and Chris Lines as he did in Gleeson and Chadwick, the Dons boss needs to support those players he has available, talk about their potential, champion their achievements and demand more from them where appropriate, rather than using his air-time to remind fans that he would be getting more out of this team if he had all of his squad at his disposal. We know Karl, but you don’t have them all at your disposal, so move on!
Robinson has used the injury excuse in recent weeks as some sort of ultimate trump-card, played to subdue any criticism of his management. Yet, the injuries to key players do not excuse some of the on-field shortcomings of recent weeks, and is something that will impact upon all clubs at one point or another this season – Robinson is not the only manager who will have had to deal with injuries to crucial players, but he is ever keen to portray himself as the eternal victim, constantly battling against cruel fate. Anyone would believe the Dons squad are travelling to Carlisle today by horse and cart, with pretty much their entire squad crocked.
If the side achieve a miraculous win tomorrow, Robinson will talk about his players’ strength of character, and doing things right for the football club. If his side fall to another defeat, and continue their slide into the lower echelons of League 1, expect ‘injuries to key players’ and ‘we had a long journey yesterday’ to make some appearance in the post-match press conference.
He is bordering on parodying himself, and that is never good. Karl, I have a lot of time for you, but you are beginning to test my patience.