Karl Robinson feels MK Dons may have been promoted a year too soon after the club slipped four points from safety in the battle to avoid relegation.
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to relegation rivals Fulham left Dons staring at a 10 point turnaround - from six points clear to dour adrift - in six matches.
Despite getting off to a flying start back in August with a 4-1 win over Rotherham, a win which saw Dons top the Championship table on opening day, life has been hard for the side from MK1. Unable to string back-to-back wins together all season long, they narrowly avoided the indignity of being both tom and bottom of the league when they salvaged a late draw at Bristol City in October.
And though they’ve spend most of the season delicately hanging just outside the relegation zone, back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Fulham have seen them drop in to the bottom three, and get cut adrift.
Fans are growing ever more concerned with their side’s inability to hold on to a result, picking up 10 points from their last 10 games and Robinson acknowledges that frustration.
Given Dons poor recruitment in the off-season - four of his summer signings were shipped out by January - Robinson feels serious questions need to be answered at the end of the current campaign, regardless of whether they remain in the Championship.
“Of course we’re all frustrated, no-one is dodging that or hiding from it,” he said on Monday. “We’re so close. I understand the frustration.
“Maybe we got promoted a year too early.
“We accepted the praise last year, but we have to accept the criticism this year. We have to look at why that is, and we have to be honest internally. Was bringing in the players in the summer and letting them go the right thing to do? Should we have put all that money into one player? We know the answers, but we have to sit down now and take a look at what direction we’re going in.
“In the summer, we really have to assess and evaluate which direction we go in. Sustainability is the most important thing here. We’re still very controversial, and I think because we are who we are, we can’t do it any other way.
“We can’t just go out, find another investor, spend millions and have it fail. We can’t afford to do that. We can’t afford to go out and do what the fans, staff and chairman want to do either. We’re still building, 12 years on. The stadium is still being finished, the club is still being built.
“Right now, it’s not just about the football. So many things have to come together to allow us to flourish.
“But the experience we’ve had has whet the appetite. The fans are frustrated because we’re so close every week. If we were losing 3-0, 4-0, 5-0, 6-0 every week, we’d be going out there just to have fun. But we’re so close.
“We could easily have a lot more points, and we’d be massaging egos again. But now we’re looking for people to blame, and pointing fingers.
“A frustrated person is better than a defeated person. There isn’t a defeatist attitude yet.
“I don’t want to be at the bottom of the Championship. I want the experience of being where we were last year, but fighting to get into the Premier League.
“I’m ambitious. That’s what we all want but we’re a long, long way from that.”