“I don’t think I had a choice”: Winkelman on Dons sacking of Alexander

The MK Dons chairman spoke about his firing record over the last 12 months
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Chairman Pete Winkelman felt Graham Alexander, who he sacked on Monday, was not the right fit for MK Dons.

The former Motherwell boss lasted just 142 days in charge at Stadium MK after taking over at the end of May. But after taking the club to the top of League Two in August, the drop to 16th six weeks later was enough for the chairman to pull the trigger.

Alexander was the third manager sacking in less than a year, following Liam Manning and Mark Jackson out the door since last December, and though the 51-year-old had experience and promotions on his CV, Winkelman felt he didn’t ‘fit’ with the club.

“We want to be a powerful club at this level, but this is the lowest we've ever been, I don't think I had a choice,” he said. “I don't think Graham got anything wrong, I think it was the fit of the manager with the club.

“Graham is a winner, he knows what he's talking about and has been there and got the t-shirt. But as the weeks went on, I felt maybe he wouldn't be successful at this club.

“Look at Robbie Neilson (Dons boss from 2016-18) - he wasn't successful at our club, but he wasn't a bad manager. There has to be an alignment or a click.

“I think Graham will be a big success at his next club, and I think we've all learnt something from this.”

After seeing Manning sit at the right end of League One now with Oxford United, and Jackson taking up a role in Australia and making a record-breaking start to life Down Under, Winkelman defended the fact Dons have been trigger-happy with head coaches over the last year, and defended the appointments despite the lack of success they have brought.

He said: “I don't think there have been mistakes. Liam Manning is a fantastic coach, and he's proving it again. I didn't want to lose him, he's a top coach in the Football League.

“When Mark came, he didn't come with the backroom team he wanted, and I think that was crucial and made him very lonely which didn't give him the smoothest chance. He has a fighting spirit and a positivity and an energy which was really good, but it didn't work here.

“I'm not embarrassed by what we've done in the past, but what I have to be prepared for is that when it goes wrong, we have to make a change.

“It's an easy thing to say. What has become clear to me is that certain managers suit certain clubs, and certain managers can do really well at a club, but it doesn't work at the next place. It's about the dynamic, and how everyone aligns.”