Lewington - Captain, leader, gaffer?
The Dean Lewington legend looks set for another chapter
There's not a lot Dean Lewington hasn't done at MK Dons during his 17-year career at the club, but on Saturday, it'll be a first for him as he manages the side from the dugout.
The 37-year-old is taking interim charge of the club he has made more than 800 appearances for after Russell Martin's departure to Swansea City, but he has made it abundantly clear to Sporting Director Liam Sweeting and chairman Pete Winkelman he does not want the job long-term.
Management has never appeared to be on Lewington's radar. His on-field career has showed no signs of slowing down, so considering it at any point thus far probably hasn't crossed his mind. Previous departures from Stadium MK have also been swiftly filled, so calling on the skipper to take any form of responsibility on that front has been quite a way down the list. But with no backroom staff of which to speak left following Martin's exit, Lewington has made the step up.
For club legends to switch from the pitch to the dugout can bring about mixed results, but for Lewington, the likelihood is that it will only further cement his legacy at Stadium MK. Player of the Year, all-time leading appearance maker, captain and first team regular throughout his time in Milton Keynes, talks of a stand, bar or a statue in his honour are conversations fans and media have had plenty of times already. The players have had it too.
And it's that respect for the skipper which should help Dons bounce into action at Bolton in their League One opener on Saturday. Galvanised by their frustration, anger and disappointment in the way Martin handled his exit from the club over the weekend, the players needed little extra motivation to put in a performance this weekend. And if there was a man the players would go the extra yard for, it would be Lewington.
Not just the players though, the fans travelling to Bolton on Saturday will want to see their skipper succeed and will be singing a bit louder, with a bit more vigour and gusto, knowing one of their own is in the dugout for the first time. There's almost an irony in the geography of the game too - Martin's first league fixture in November 2019 came at the University of Bolton Stadium too. A win would do one better than his predecessor too.
Intent on handing back the reins when his services as manager are no longer called for, Lewington will return to the fold as a player, giving even those (admittedly few) doubters of the man little choice but to applaud his service to the club once more. Irrespective of his record in charge, stepping into the breach - again - when the club needs him the most just adds another feather to his cap and adds another six inches to the inevitable statue in his honour.