MK Dons chairman Winkelman to give 'every penny' he can to Neilson in January

Robbie Neilson will be given as much money as Pete Winkelman can afford to give him to help get MK Dons fighting at the right end of the table again.

Thursday, 12th January 2017, 3:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th January 2017, 3:57 pm
Pete Winkelman and Robbie Neilson

Having parted company with long-term manager Karl Robinson after six-and-a-half years in October, the chairman has been impressed with new manager Neilson after convincing him to leave Scottish Premiership side Hearts.

But with a threadbare squad, and four players already leaving during the January window, Winkelman believes he has to give Neilson as much support as he can, including in the financial sense, in order to back up the promises he made to land him in the first place.

"I cannot be around the club and put every ounce into it, every penny available into it unless I believe in it's future," said the chairman.

Neilson and Winkelman

"Changing manager isn't a cheap process, and we had to make sure he has the tools. But Robbie is very realistic and has been clear with the players. He will use every penny he gets, but if he needed more, we know we need the club going forwards and that we cannot afford for it to go backwards.

"Feeling it not doing as well as it was forced me into the biggest change in years.

"We're looking forward to the transfer window - it would be better if we had some players in though, but Robbie has been very clear with what he wants: this player can go, this player can't, this player we will sell, this player we won't even if he runs down the clock.

"It's very easy to deal with the situation because you know where you stand. He's got the every opportunity to bring in the best players he can.

Neilson and Winkelman

"He was calming me down the other day, insisting we've still got some very good players who could come in - our top targets. Anyone can make signings, we've been guilty of it in the past. Bodies don't help things in the long run. They help make the bench look better, but our ambition is in tact at the club."

It is now a little over a month since Neilson took over at the helm at Stadium MK, and already he is beginning to change things around the club - things that had been in place for a long time under Robinson's regime.

And for Winkelman, the Neilson approach is proving to be a breath of fresh air.

He said: "Football is about winning, not just the way you play or the philosophy, or the perception. It's about winning matches and Robbie has reminded us of that.

"We were in one situation for a long time, set in our ways, but you can't just change those things over night. It's not an instant fix but it's something we can start to get positive about.

"I'm really pleased with Robbie. It's a breath of fresh air, with new ways of doing things. I find him black or white - not grey. He has an opinion on what he wants to do and why, so it's easy to support that."

With Dons sat 18th in League 1 - a far cry from their ambition of bouncing straight back to the Championship after relegation last season - Winkelman has moved to ease the pressure on Neilson with targets this season.

However, by backing his manager this month, the chairman believes Neilson will begin to build a side far more suited to life in the Championship than the one that went up 18 months ago.

Winkelman said: "If we get our targets, we'll be a much better team come the end of January, but if we don't, we'll be absolutely fine. We'll be OK this year, but we're setting ourselves up for the future. The rest of the division had better look out for us. We have to be back on that upward trajectory."