KARL Robinson has only one thing on his mind as he prepares for the biggest test of his managerial career so far - to win Dons promotion from League One.
The first leg of the play-off semi-final takes place on Sunday, and Robinson is adamant that nothing but a victory over rivals Peterborough at stadium:mk - and indeed across the two-legged tie - will be acceptable.
“Our plan is to win,” he said. “There is no other thought on my mind. I back my team against anybody, and I know they will not let me or anybody else down.
“They’ll make mistakes, but they will never give up, and that is the mentality we’ve got when you put that shirt on. The passion and drive we have will never fall short.”
Despite losing midfielder Peter Leven for the play-offs after the Scot broke his foot last week, the Dons boss insists the blow won’t change the way his side prepares for easily the most important five days of the season. They’ll go into the game just like it was any other, says Robinson.
“If we weren’t doing it right at the beginning of the season, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” he said. “I’d like to think that these players don’t care about the occasion. They really don’t worry about losing.
“When you eliminate fear, you become ultra confident. What will be will be, as long as we work hard and play the right football, fate will take care of itself,” added Robinson.
In previous play-off attempts, in 2007 and 2009, Dons have fallen foul of drawing in the opening leg away from home, before losing on home soil in the all important second legs.
However, Robinson doesn’t think there’s any disadvantage in playing the first leg at stadium:mk rather than at London Road as his side look to avoid the disappointment of those previous defeats to Shrewsbury and Scunthorpe. Both of those ties went beyond 180 minutes, and Robinson has targeted a win over Posh in normal time.
He said: “I don’t care about playing at home first. You have to play at each ground, but if it goes to extra time they’ll get an extra 30 minutes on their pitch... it won’t come to that though.”
With the huge prize of promotion at stake - with either Huddersfield or Bournemouth to come in the final at Old Trafford should Dons make it - the club is arguably better placed to move into the Championship than they were in 2009.
But Robinson admits he’s a little surprised to be in the mix for promotion so soon after taking over as manager a year ago, but now Dons are there, he doesn’t want to waste the opportunity.
“My job is to make sure we improve year in year out, whatever league we are in,” said the Dons boss. “This is just stage one, and it has come a lot sooner than I thought.
“But now we’re here, let’s not waste the opportunity. I think there have been more memorable games this year than there ever has been at this club. Let’s not waste some of those great goals and some of the great passages of play we’ve had this year, and use it in a positive way to get us into the final and into the Championship.”