Promotion is essential

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KARL Robinson doesn’t want clichés of three points this Christmas – he wants to get out of League 1.

After losing their first home game of the season against Preston North End on Saturday, the Dons boss is determined to get their promotion push back on track with a win at Leyton Orient on Boxing Day.

But the defeat is just a speed bump in the road along the way with the club still in a very strong position as they prepare for the second half of the season.

And having tasted disappointment of promotion heartbreak last year, Robinson says he has not signed a new contract to taste it again this time around.

He said: “I want to get out of the league. We are going for it with a lot of passion. After the defeat against Peterborough last year, I went back to my house and had a drink, and I just sat there. I don’t think I said anything for an hour. It was horrible and I don’t want that again.

“I think it’s the best side this club has ever had and a lot of the players would agree with me too. They’re all here because they love the club and they want to stay here. We’ve got a group of people who are willing to put their bodies of the line for the cause and we’ve got the fans behind us to support us. This is as strong as we’ve ever been.”

Saturday’s defeat came after the announcement that would have put many Dons fans hearts at rest – Robinson signing a new three-year rolling contract.

The deal comes after several months of speculation, linking him to managerial jobs in the Championship.

And after admitting that rumours of him replacing Billy Davies at Nottingham Forest in October were a distraction, he says that he has unfinished business at stadium:mk, and doesn’t want to let anyone down.

With news that his assistant John Gorman is staying by his side for the next 18 months, Robinson is pleased with the way the club is shaping up.

“I’m very pleased to sign the new contract,” he said. “I signed the contract for the right reasons. I want to be with this club and I hope it has put a lot of ghosts to bed that I was going.

“The chairman gave me the chance and I owe it to him to get him out of this division, whether it be this year or next or the year after, I will do it. I never leave a job half done.

“It’s massive to keep John, but whatever happens the club carries on. John wanted to stay here with me.

“But I want to be like Sir Alex Ferguson – I don’t know how many assistants he has had over the years, but John is one of the best I’ve ever seen. But there are a number of people at the club who work hard here to make us so successful.”

Despite slipping to fifth in League 1, Dons are still well in the hunt for the automatic promotion spots, and they were lucky enough on Saturday that, despite losing, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield shared a dramatic 4-4 draw at Hillsborough, and do not lose too much ground on their rivals.

But Robinson is still content to be in the play-off hunt at this stage in the season, even if it is not where he’d ideally see his team.

He said: “If you asked any MK Dons fan at the start of this season if they’d like to be where we are now, seven points clear of seventh and four behind second, most of them would’ve taken it.

“I’d much rather be up there to be shot at but we’re not and we’re chasing. Wherever you are in the league, we’re there to be shot at – someone will be looking at us as a team to aim at.

“This is the hardest this league has ever been and it’s been one of the best starts we’ve ever had.

“We’ve got to make sure we can channel all our strength. We’re not going to leave any stone unturned or one bit of effort left behind.

“We are fighting stronger than ever, and we’re leaving nothing. We are going for it 100 per cent.”

The defeat to Preston was their first in eight games, and came off the back of seven straight victories.

While Dons are still the hot favourites for the game, Robinson said that Orient themselves will be carrying confidence into the clash as they hope to recreate the form they showed last season, which saw them go more than 20 games unbeaten.

Robinson said: “We didn’t create many clear cut chances in the game, but when a team parks the bus in front of goal, you’re not going to get many of them.

“We’ve been on an unbelievable run but it’s up to us now to go to Leyton Orient and get something out of the game. We have got to get out of this league.

“But Leyton Orient have some excellent players who can hurt you on any given day. They’re probably on their best run in the league at the moment and our ability to bounce back will be tested by their confidence.”