EXCLUSIVE: Micciche was the safest gamble Winkelman could afford to take

Pete Winkelman and Dan Micciche
Pete Winkelman and Dan Micciche

Pete Winkelman isn’t a gambling man. Despite putting in a bid to home the casino at his MK1 complex, he openly admitted he wasn’t keen on the idea. And in the hiring of new Dons manager Dan Micciche, he said it was the safest bet of them all.

Seeing his club in the League 1 drop zone again after defeat to Northampton, a year after parting company with Karl Robinson for suffering the same slide, Winkelman sent Robbie Neilson packing on Saturday night, moving swiftly to bring in Micciche - Dons’ former Academy boss - by Tuesday morning.

But with the club sliding dangerously towards League 2, Winkelman felt Micciche was the safest option, despite some big names in the hunt for the Stadium MK hotseat.

“I looked at everything,” he said. “We have had to do it really quickly this time. I had a good idea what I was looking for after last time, so we were able to shortcut the process this time.

“I looked at the alternatives. But there are so few managers with a good track record more than being in the right place at the right time.

“I’m taking a risk with someone I really know, I really respect, someone with incredible success with limited resources here.

“But it’s also the smallest risk I could have taken because it’s someone I trust and I know he’ll give me everything. This is a risk worth taking.

“Dan is more prepared for this job, he has people surrounding him who are better than anyone else I could have walk through my door. Without the absolute platinum recording artist, Dan was my man. And he’s the one who excites me the most. It’s the biggest risk with the biggest upside.”

Winkelman also admitted while he has plumped for, in his opinion, the safest option, Micciche wasn’t his first choice in the immediate aftermath of sacking Neilson on Saturday night but knows he is the right man to turn the ship around to avoid the drop.

“Dan was always very high on my list, but not for this moment in time,” he said.

“I always suspected he’d be back as a manager.

“He was always a serious proposition but given our current position, I think I’m being incredibly unfair to him.

“He’s taking a job where every result will matter and he’ll have that pressure from day one. No pre-season to drill the players. He has to take a team going backwards and make them go towards.”