Dons poised for the toughest month yet

Staying together: Karl Robinson hopes he can keep his squad in tact. Pic: JAR.
Staying together: Karl Robinson hopes he can keep his squad in tact. Pic: JAR.

January could be one of the most decisive months of the season for Dons with dealings both on and off the field likely to dictate their role in the promotion race.

With the transfer window thrust open once again for a month of madness, rumours will swirl around stadium:mk - most of them unsubstantiated - about the comings and goings in Karl Robinson’s squad.

On the pitch, Dons will face tough games against Crawley, Sheffield United, Barnsley and Crewe as they look to remain in the pack leading the promotion fight.

Sitting four points off the top of the League 1 table with at least a game in hand over the other three in the breakaway group, Robinson feels this could be the start of a great year at the club.

“I’m excited by 2015 and I hope it can be the year that we can achieve great things.

“I felt I got it right in my second year, I thought we were sensational.

“And even in year three, when we played QPR and AFC, we were just as good.

“But the back end of the last two seasons haven’t been good enough and we’ve fallen away.

“We need to learn from that and make sure we move forwards.”

To move forwards, Robinson has highlighted keeping his players as one of the key targets going into February - most notably, the keenly sought after Dele Alli.

“There’s obviously whispers all the time, but you’ve got to make sure they don’t affect him,” said Robinson.

“He’s still very young. But he’s a strong minded individual, and he can cope with all the demands and pressures put on him.

“What goes on around his life is something he’ll have to deal with, but at the moment, he’s an MK Dons player.

“We hope we can dance through January unharmed.

“That’ll be the biggest result of the season for us.”

January has notoriously been a difficult month for MK Dons and their fans to endure.

In the last three seasons, Dons have won just three league games in January, picking up 14 of 36 points in the first month of the new year.

Robinson though thinks a better recruitment policy this month will reverse that unwelcome trend.

He said: “I want more players and I’d like to be able to compete with Bristol and Preston.

“I’d like to add two or three to bolster the squad.

“We’re constantly in contact with players. We’re always working behind the scenes, there’s a number of things going on.”

The problem with that though, as it has been every year since Robinson took over back in 2010, is money or lack thereof.

Coming in after the lavish spending of Paul Ince and Roberto Di Matteo, Robinson has had to live on a shoestring budget ever since.

But with light at the end of the tunnel, and around 18 months to wait before the club can finally put a significant war chest under his nose, Robinson excited by the future.

“I know that in 2016 this club will be completely finished,” he said.

“I’ve had to work hard since my first year - I had to sell Jermaine Easter, Sam Baldock and Aaron Wilbraham to balance the books.

“I fought tooth and nail to make sure we stayed on an even keel.

“I know the plan was always 2016 for this club to be complete and self sufficient. I’ve worked so hard to make it sustainable.

“To work for so long, and not to be part of that would be something I’d regret for a long time.”