Not all wins will be pretty, says Manning after Burton victory

MK Dons 1-0 Burton Albion

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 6:27 pm

MK Dons celebrate Max Watters’ winning goal against Burton Albion. The on-loan Cardiff City striker has scored six goals in six matches.

Liam Manning said the aesthetics of football aren’t always important after his side had to grind out their victory against Burton Albion on Saturday.

Max Watters’ 65th minute strike - his sixth goal in as many games - was the difference between the sides at Stadium MK as Dons won for a third successive League One outing to remain fifth.

Having played some visually impressive stuff during the course of the season so far, Saturday’s performance against the Brewers was a test of patience, grit and determination from the home side, who saw a handful of first-half opportunities go begging before Watters finally made one stick.

Manning admitted his side were not at their best visually, but in keeping only their fourth clean sheet of the season, can chalk it up as a learning experience that not all wins have to be pretty.

He said: “It’s almost football snobbery – we talk about how it looks. Could we have played better, or had more control, use the ball better, be braver or take more care? One hundred per cent, but bigger picture, we hadn’t kept a clean sheet for a while, and we maintained control out of possession, not conceding a shot on goal.

“It’s finding the right balance, and playing a certain way to win a game. It will not always look like that. The opposition came here to stop that, to nullify that, it’s then about making sure you don’t lose. Credit to the guys, they really dug deep.

“For such a young group, it’s another new experience we can tick off. Learning to win matches is as important as learning to play a certain way. Having moments like this throughout the season will be important all season.”

That said though, Watters caused a lot of problems for the Burton defence, especially in the early going, and it could have been a completely different story had he made those chances stick.

“I think we could have been 3-0 up again at half-time,” Manning admitted. “We created four or five really good chances, Max had a few which last week he took and this week he didn’t. But typical of Max, he carried on and took one later. He didn’t let it faze him.

“It was a really difficult game in terms of the way they set up. We’d prefer to improve our style and get better at controlling games when we win than we would to play to terrific, dominate, look fantastic but lose.

“They didn’t have a shot on target, so we’ve shown again as can be comfortable out of possession as well. There are a huge number of positives to take into Tuesday.”