The final chance for The MK Way
Football can change in the blink of an eye. A 1-0 lead can quickly become a 2-1 deficit, a hero can become a villain and the man in the dugout can change in a heartbeat.
This week, MK Dons parted company with Robbie Neilson, and within 72 hours had replaced him with Dan Micciche.
'The MK Way' is a strange, unquantifiable concept. Waving to the fans before and after a game, building a 'connection',vowing to play attractive football and 'getting back to the club's DNA' - things fans seldom saw under Neilson, but things which also saw them plummet from top of the Championship in August 2015 to the League 1 drop zone 15 months later, prompting the Scot's appointment in the first place.
For right or for wrong, Dons want to do things differently, their own way, but that way worked only briefly during the Robinson dynasty. Neilson's ruthlessness in trying to drag 'The MK Way' and 'the way everyone else does it' together was a bit too much of a shock to the system and saw his tenure ended after 13 months.
But while players and staff are instantly disposable, don't expect Dons' problems to be solved quite so quickly. Micciche takes over a team with just two league wins in 17, in the League 1 relegation zone and low on confidence. Heading into this weekend's FA Cup clash with League 2 Coventry City, they may be out-numbered in their own stadium by 8,000 travelling Sky Blues baying for a fifth round spot, and with the same players who slumped so disappointingly to defeat against Northampton on Saturday, the odds of an upset are significantly reduced.
New manager syndrome is a funny thing. A new man to impress, a new lease of life; it brings out a new side in players. It's as frustrating as it is relieving, and Micciche will need a lot of it in the coming weeks. Micciche, for his inexperience at senior level, will naturally have a grace period. Any bad results in the opening six weeks of his tenure will still be blamed on the previous regime.
But with a little under half the season remaining, there is plenty of time and there are plenty of points still on offer, so survival is the absolute minimum requirement for the new man this season. Few would be near-sighted enough to predict play-offs now, but finishing as high up the table to have something to build on next season is imperative. Staying up by the skin of their teeth won't be enough.
The chairman and the manager have plenty of history, but both insist it's not a 'jobs for the boys' situation here. Micciche gets 'The MK Way' or at least understands what is expected of him under that gazebo. The proof of the pudding though will be in the eating.