Is it time to remove the old guard for the new?

Established names at MK Dons could be heading towards the exit as Karl Robinson embarked on rebuilding a war-torn and relegated squad for next season.

Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 10:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th April 2016, 11:09 am
MK Dons midfielder Darren Potter discusses tactics with MK Dons defender Dean Lewington 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. Photo by Bennett Dean. PSI-1119-0060

The patchwork team, made up of emergency loans and cover players has only highlighted Dons’ shortcomings all season, giving it an unfamiliar and an uneasy feel.

But after Dons failed to beat the drop, Robinson, should he remain in charge next season, now has the chance to ring the changes.

And that could spell the end of the road at stadium:mk for some of Robinson’s longest serving man.

“That might be the case, yes,” he said. “I look at different elements of the club, because there are some players we need to keep for certain scenarios.

“I have to ask questions of certain players. I need to know what they’re made of. There needs to be a youthful exuberance again.

“We had that lull at the end of the fourth season, and then we manoeuvred things around in the middle of last year so we could be successful. It’s time to change.

“This is a very important time. This club, over the next four weeks, will have some of the biggest decisions to make. We’re at the end of a cycle. I said that all the way through.

“It’s about the future, not right now, and finding the people who can drive us forward.

“I’ve perhaps been too nice to some players.

“To the young ones, if you’re good enough, you’ll stay.

“There cannot be any more grey areas.

“Everything has to change in the summer. We’re not built for the Championship just yet, but we’ve learned valuable lessons by being here.

“We can’t waste time now. I’d like to think there will be fundamental changes. We need to freshen the group up. We can’t go down with a losing mentality.”

Arguably, given the players lost at the end of last season - the likes of Will Grigg, Dele Alli and Lewis Baker - this should have been a project launched 12 months ago. But with a lack of money, that has been impossible.

All season long, Dons have lacked a midfield talisman, a creative spark and a goal-scorer, and it has culminated in a bottom three finish and an immediate return from whence they came.

Robinson now feels Dons need to lift the blueprints from other clubs who have suffered relegation, but have been able to bounce back in order to see light at the end of the tunnel.

He said: “If you look at Bournemouth, Southampton, Swansea or Norwich - they all had a drop down and it helped them go forwards.

“We couldn’t change everything going into the Championship because we would have been a million miles away.

“Now, at the end of a negative year, which I still think is a positive year, I can shift the mindset and internal development of people.

“We have to look at players aged 21 to 25 who have played games and are ready, to go and buy the best players in League 1 like Bournemouth did.

“We’ve got some of the best coaches and developers in the business, just look at Dele Alli, Benik Afobe, Patrick Bamford, Lewis Baker. Look at the way George Baldock is developing, the way Josh Murphy will leave us.

“We can develop young people, and while we have that at our disposal, we need to go out and get the players who aren’t quite there yet, they might but have a lot of room to improve, rather than spending a lot of money on a developed player where he can’t get better.”