Exeter's playoff final defeat hits the gas in Dons' managerial hunt

Paul Tisdale
Paul Tisdale

Pete Winkelman's self-imposed deadline is looming, but it looks like he may have his man.

Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale has been out in front of the betting for a long time to take over the vacant manager's spot at MK Dons. And losing in consecutive playoff finals, as Exeter did on Monday, has only added fuel to the fire that he will begin next season at Stadium MK.

While Tisdale is believed to be holding talks with Winkelman this week, there is an offer on the table from Exeter for the 45-year-old to extend his 12-year stay at St James Park.

Speaking after the playoff final, Tisdale said: "There's an offer there for me but I'm within my rights not to sign that and wait for the end of the season.

"It's a disappointing way to finish the season so it's probably not the right time to discuss my future.

"I think there will be discussions soon if the club does want to elevate its statute, it can't just rely on me bringing players through all the time.

"The level of work long term as well as short term to get success on the pitch and create enough to generate enough income is a very difficult balance to have.

"Maybe it's been taken for granted how difficult it is - maybe someone else will try it one day and know how difficult it is."

It is certainly the talk of a manager feeling undervalued in his position. Two years ago, Tisdale was served with notice on his rolling two-year contract. But two playoff finals later, the Exeter City Supporters' Trust who own the club are keen to keep the longest serving manager in the country. And though his contract runs until November, if he does leave, it would likely be this summer ahead of the new season.

Earlier this month, Dons chairman Winkelman said he was keen to get the right man in place by the end of May - Thursday - however, he admitted he would wait a bit longer for the right man to come along.
And Tisdale's record certainly suggests he may be the right man for the job. Vastly experienced, two promotions from League 2 on his CV, promoting youth, selling for a profit and excelling with one of the smallest budgets in the division - it fits Dons' requirements almost to the letter.

Whether Tisdale uses his talks with Dons as leverage for more resources at St James Park or whether he genuinely has eyes for pastures new, the next few days will tell.