Dons’ backroom reshuffling might be the biggest win of window

Contingency planning and not hitting the panic button during adverse times helped Dons negotiate the transfer window

By Toby Lock
Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 1:30 pm
<p>Dons’ backroom reshuffle, including the hiring of head coach Liam Manning, may have been the best bit of business the club did this summer</p>

Dons’ backroom reshuffle, including the hiring of head coach Liam Manning, may have been the best bit of business the club did this summer

Transfer deadline day had a strange feel at MK Dons this year. In fact, the whole window did, but for Dons’ dealings behind the scenes rather than on the pitch.

Leaving things to the very death is never the ideal way of negotiating the landmine-filled environment that can be the transfer market.

Managers and head coaches want their pieces all in a row for the first game of the season to hit the ground running. It has been different for Dons this year though.

Beginning at the end - the signing of Peter Kioso on loan from Luton Town covers an area Dons needed bolstering.

After losing the likes of Ethan Laird and Matthew Sorinola from last season’s squad, the wing-backs were thin on the ground.

Kioso adds width to the team, and having impressed in the Championship this season, could have a similar impact to the one Laird made while on loan from Manchester United in the final five months of last term.

The signing of Kioso was Dons only business on deadline day, either in or out, but that was not for want of trying from other clubs who came sniffing around Liam Manning’s squad.

Rumours surfaced late in the day that Blackpool were interested in bringing Matt O’Riley to Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night.

Call it coincidence or convenience, but O’Riley had his mind elsewhere on Tuesday night - he came off the bench in the 2-1 win over Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium.

Keeping the squad in tact was something of a coup after an impressive start to the season for Liam Manning’s side, especially given the turmoil they have faced in the last few weeks.

With a lot of the work done earlier in the window, Russell Martin appeared to be going into the new season in good shape. Clearly anticipating strong interest in Scott Fraser, he snapped up Scott Twine early on so when Ipswich came knocking for the play-maker, there was not much panic in the ranks.

The groundwork for that reaction though was laid in the earlier restructuring of the club. Executive Director Andrew Cullen swapping Dons for Portsmouth meant Liam Sweeting and Simon Crampton were given new Director roles.

Contingency plans were already in place, and recruitment plans were drawn up. So when Martin and his backroom staff also left, the panic station remained pretty quiet.

In total, Dons can boast signing 10 players during the transfer window, and only one of them came on deadline day.

Crucially though, they added five coaches during that period too (Matt Gill didn’t last long at the club before joining Martin in Swansea), which arguably was the most important job to have pulled off in August.