‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ is the phrase oft uttered but there were an awful lot of clouds hanging over the MK Dons team bus as it left London last night, and absolutely no silver lining. And they need to remember it painfully.
Out-played and out-classed in every single department against Brentford, the only thing Dons could potentially take as positive would be that it was only 2-0 and not significantly more.
The ‘performance’ at Griffin Park was as bad as it has been from any Karl Robinson side. Usually full of spirit and desire to a man, Dons showed none of that on Saturday. Second to every ball, Brentford simply wanted it more, and two men epitomised it: Alan Judge and Lasse Vibe.
It wasn’t just their goals, but their all-round game. Judge, a long term target for Robinson, was in control in the area of the pitch Darren Potter usually reigns supreme, and Vibe showed Dons exactly what they are missing in a potent front man. Both were unplayable, and both humiliated Dons in ruthless fashion.
While the defensive display a week earlier against Wolves was praised as their clean sheet secured a point at Molineux, there was none of the determination, boldness and do-or-die against Brentford. Such was the loss of faith, even the Dons fans - who have been nothing but understanding and sympathetic of the plight of their side - were ironically celebrating a tame shot on target in stoppage time.
After the final whistle, both Robinson and his skipper Dean Lewington warned of complacency but with hindsight it’s easy to say: more performances like that, and Dons might as well plan for League 1 next season. The difficulty will come in trying to do something about it.
Saturday’s torpedo shouldn’t just cause a breach in the hull of the players’ minds, but also those upstairs in suits with the chequebook. With no money, Robinson’s search for the X-Factor may be restricted to ITV on a Saturday night. With no goals forthcoming, the reliance upon the defence to keep a clean sheet to ensure the minimum of a point is palpable, but no team can get by relying on 0-0 draws to keep them up.
But with no spirit, no drive, desire or even a feigned interest like that shown at Griffin Park, there will also be no hope of this side establishing themselves as a Championship side, but a yo-yo destined to go back down.
Time will tell whether it was just an off day, but it should be one pinned to the walls all around stadium:mk as a stark reminder of what simply cannot happen again.