Relegation confirmed, League 2 football next season - things cannot get an awful lot worse for MK Dons.
Two relegations in three season, playing in the fourth tier for the first time in 10 years, without a manager beyond next Saturday and the laughing stock of football fans from most other clubs in the country isn’t painting Stadium MK in a very good light at the moment.
But while there are a lot of issues from the outside which need addressing, there are some fundamental, in-house issues which also need to be sorted as soon as possible.
Speaking after relegation was confirmed on Saturday, captain Dean Lewington said: “In the immediate aftermath, we need decisions on players out of contract, probably decisions on players who are in contract too, clearing away the debris, what we don’t want, what isn’t going to stay so then when someone comes in, they’ve got a clean slate to go forward with.
“That needs to happen as a soon as possible, giving someone as much of a chance to make a change, bring in news faces and start next season in a positive way, rather than still dealing with this one.”
The biggest question though is who is going to make those decisions.
With Keith Millen’s contract ending after the Shrewsbury game on Saturday, MK Dons will be left without a rudder.
Chairman Pete Winkelman, speaking to the media last week, said player recruitment, who stays and goes, falls solely on the shoulders of the manager.
Millen’s brief cameo of an audition hasn’t panned out quite as he would have hoped, with back-to-back 2-0 defeats sending Dons down. But the situation was nigh-on impossible when he took over from the ousted Dan Micciche last week.
He still has one more game to prove himself though, with this Saturday’s some-what overlooked season finale away at Shrewsbury, whose third place finish has already been secured. Dons will finish 20 places below Shrewsbury with a vastly superior budget.
It makes Saturday’s clash at the New Meadow something of an annoying obstacle, a match which neither really need and neither want. Both have far bigger fish to fry than a dead rubber at the beginning of May.
Whether Millen wants the job full time next season or wants rid of the first club to put a relegation on his CV will be discussed when the dust settles on the campaign, but for Winkelman, the manager search began the moment he put Micciche out of his misery.
Knowing he needs to make a bold statement after two ‘disastrous’ managerial appointments in Micciche and Neilson before him, Winkelman wants to take his time, but that can only be afforded for so long.
In an ideal world, Dons next boss will be installed by the end of May at the very latest, giving the new man as much possible time to run rule over the squad before they depart for their summer breaks.
But without a few weeks casting his eyes over the squad in work surroundings, Lewington’s desire not to carry their problems into next season may be an impossibility.