Dons paying the price as money talks
All is quiet at Stadium MK but it's hard to hear over the sound of money.
With a little over two weeks before the season starts, Karl Robinson is desperately scratching around trying to find bodies to bring to the club.
Three new faces were present on the opening day of pre-season training in the form of Ed Upson, Paul Downing and George Williams - all of which competed at the top end of League 1 last season. Signs were positive.
But since, only one player has been added and that came in the form of Nicky Maynard, who technically only left for about a month - missing, at most, Damien Doyle’s opening fitness sessions.
Earlier this week, Robinson said he was facing a lot of closed doors in the transfer market, being out-priced for players he feels would be capable of mounting a challenge in League 1 this season.
Dons were faced with a similar story seven months ago, when the January window opened. Desperate to bring in recruits to keep his side in the Championship, Robinson was offered money to spend out of now current budget in a bid to land the high calibre players he wanted. After turning the money down, Dons were ultimately relegated. This money, however, is still yet to surface and they’re getting dangerously close to crunch time.
As the season approaches though, this fabled money must make an appearance to ease the fears being shouted from the Cowshed. Given the promises, the hope and expectation of the same war chest in January, the longer it hides under wraps, the more likely it is indeed to be mythical, even with the added cash from the Kyle McFadzean sale deposited in their accounts.
The manager hinted at a new face before Saturday’s friendly with Aldershot, but one new face won’t cut it. By his own admission, Robinson said needs four or five more at least to give his squad a depth and a range of options, but options won’t come cheap.
Money, or the lack thereof, is clearly a big stumbling block. With some targets lost to the Championship and others to League 1 rivals, Robinson is having to look further and further down his list of candidates to seek out someone who could make a difference. He doesn’t want to be left with a similarly ramshackle squad he was left with at the end of last season as Dons look to mount a serious promotion challenge. Ironically, neither he nor Dons can afford that.
Dons haven’t had a spending splurge since Robinson took over at the helm. Under Roberto Di Matteo and then Paul Ince, Dons spent, and spent big on players. Striker Jermaine Easter didn’t come cheap and was probably the marquee signing of the era, but returned 19 goals in a team that ultimately fell apart as the season progressed. Another signing - not a loan - of his ilk is no more than the fans deserve at this stage. And it is long overdue.
While sustainability has always been the name of the game when it comes to Dons’ dealings in the recruitment department, at some stage, Dons have to put their money where their mouth is if they are to build a squad not just capable of getting out of League 1, but of lasting more than a season in the Championship. That was ultimately their downfall last season.
If money talks, Dons will need whatever they have in their coffers to shout over the deafening silence currently being emitted.