Being a stepping-stone is not a part of Dons’ transfer policy
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Scott Twine became the latest in a line of players to have left Stadium MK in the last few seasons to progress further up the footballing pyramid. Callum Brittain, Rhys Healey, Andrew Fisher, Harry Darling and Matt O’Riley are just a few of the other players to have stepped up a level after leaving the club too.
That opportunity has made a move to Dons an attractive proposition, according to Manning, especially with their third place finish in League One last season allowing them to attract some of their top transfer targets to make the switch.
However, Manning does not want Dons to become a club players sign for with a view to a move. Instead, he wants players who are intent on staying to drive the club’s promotion ambitions.
“When you look at Matt O'Riley going to Celtic, Harry and Fish going to Swansea and now Twiney - we're moving players to higher levels,” said Manning. “That has to be a huge compliment to Liam Sweeting and his team, but also to the coaches here and how they progress the players. And that makes us a really attractive prospect for players to join.
“But we're clear - we don't just want to be a developing club, we want to retain players to go up. That's the aim. We'll reinvest in the squad to do the best we can.”
Manning likened the process to that of Dutch giants Ajax, who have seen some of the country’s top talent come through their doors en route to the world’s biggest stages, and close to home, Brentford too, who just finished their first season in the Premier League.
He continued: “It's a constant plate-spinning process to get it right. But we're not the first team to do it - Ajax have done it forever, Dortmund do it on a different scale, and then here in the UK, Brentford. It took Brentford quite a few years to get to where they are.
“The game has transitioned now. Clubs can't operate by having an owner who just pumps a load of money in. We're working for the short and long term of the club.”