A window to salvage or savage MK Dons’ season
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The mission facing Sporting Director Liam Sweeting, the man charged with recruitment at Stadium MK, at the start of the window was a simple one – add immediate quality to get the club away from the bottom four.
Mark Jackson taking over as head coach just before the window opened may have given Sweeting a slightly different steer heading into January, and after adding five and cutting four from the squad could prove to be key.
It was a window that could not come soon enough for the struggling Dons. A frankly miserable opening five months of the season has made Stadium MK a more toxic environment, with goals, let alone wins a rarity. Sweeting’s role as recruitment boss has been thrust under the microscope after a poor summer window saw the side go from third from top last season to third from bottom.
With a lot of potential rather than proven quality added in the summer, Sweeting needed a string of positive signings to win back favour with his doubters, and the majority of the five brought in have that. The likes of Jonathan Leko and Sullay Kaikai give Dons an extra attacking and creative edge which they did not have in abundance in the squad.
Paris Maghoma, on loan from Brentford, may lack experience but has the physicality and athleticism Dons have missed in the centre of the park, while the late night signing of Aberdeen skipper Anthony Stewart, formerly of Wycombe Wanderers, adds a bit of nous and knowhow when it comes to the defensive grind they are facing more often than not.
The capture of Max Dean from Leeds too not only scratches their itch for signing young potential stars, but also proves there is a bit of malleability in the process as he came highly recommended by the new head coach.
On the surface then, the window looks a decent one. As ever though, and as Dons were stung with in the early season, the proof will be on the pitch.
Still hovering dangerously close to the drop zone – currently outside it on goal-difference – Dons face an ominous February, and need points on the board. Afforded the good graces of chairman Pete Winkelman in December when Liam Manning was sacked, Sweeting’s work will once again be examined closely between now and the end of the season.
If Dons can escape the mire, Sweeting’s reputation will be somewhat repaired. The alternative does not bear thinking about.