Desperate Dan has to cure Dons' case of mistaken identity

Dan Micciche
Dan Micciche

Buzzwords and jargon are among the most hated thing in the workplace, but there’s a new term floating around Stadium MK - identity.

It has been one of Dan Micciche’s key phrases since arriving as manager two weeks ago. It is something he, Pete Winkelman and Dean Lewington believe Dons lost sight of under the previous regime.

READ MORE: The final chance for the MK Way

The treasure hunt for the all important X marking the spot hiding that ‘identity’ though hasn’t started well.

Defeat on Saturday to Walsall in Micciche’s first league game in charge saw Dons drop to 22nd in the table, while a week earlier, they lost to League 2 opposition in the form of Coventry City in the FA Cup.

In losing at the Banks’s Stadium to Walsall, Dons’ desire to pass out from the back caused them more problems than it solved, particularly in the early exchanges.

Dean Lewington

Dean Lewington

Micciche said: “In the first 20 minutes we created our own problems. That wasn’t us, wasn’t our identity and we addressed that at half time.

“I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but if we keep persevering with the style and working hard every day, it will turn for us.

“I believe in the players. It has to turn at some point.”

Keeper Lee Nicholls and the back four in front of him looked uneasy with it on the slick, bobbling, frankly typical League 1 surface in early February.

Some believe Robbie Neilson cost Dons their 'identity'

Some believe Robbie Neilson cost Dons their 'identity'

It wasn’t the right time nor place to experiment with it, even though it didn’t directly bite them, thanks to some equally woeful finishing from the home side.

“The first 20 minutes, we looked shaky trying to play out and there was some sloppy passing,” admitted Lewington afterwards.

“But after that we dominated the game.

“We’re trying to play out so we need people who can handle the ball. There’s a lot of work been done on the ball-work.

“Hopefully, if personnel change people can just slot in to a system we’ve all been working on.

“We just have to nail it down so it’s seamless.”

Throughout League 1, Dons were known to play passing football, playing out from the back in a style Karl Robinson pioneered at Stadium MK.

Robinson, now at Charlton, refused to budge on his principles, but when teams worked it out, there was little movement in the plan to change things up.

And towards the end, there wasn’t enough variety in the squad to make those changes, and it resulted in the downfall of the Robinson era, and for a year at least, his philosophy.

If Dons’ new identity is to revert back to the Robinson way, to stick rigidly to a philisophy - another Robinson buzzword - and to find what they seemingly lost under Neilson, they will need to establish what they’re missing quickly.

There are 17 games remaining, but the gap is already beginning to grow. On Boxing Day, Dons’ opponenets Plymouth Argyle were below them in the table. Now, they are 11 points clear of them in 11th, with Dons having picked up just four points from 15 since.

Micciche though recognises his job at this stage is two-fold, just as it was for Robbie Neilson before him - fight the relegation fire then build a team for the future. He has to lay the foundations for his new identity, his new plan now, but more pressing is the need to win games. That should be the ultimate identity.