KARL Robinson reminded his MK Dons players that no-one remembers a giant killer, but they do remember champions, after his side lost 2-0 to Sunderland in the League Cup on Tuesday night.
Goals from Craig Gardner and James McClean sent the Premier League side through to the fourth round of the League Cup, but while Robinson was disappointed to lose, he reminded his players of what their priorities are for the long season ahead.
“Not many people remember the giant killers,” he said. “They’re very rarely remembered. What people remember are champions. And that’s our goal this year. That’s what we want to be remembered for, not beating Sunderland.
“If you beat a Premier League team, you go on to the next one. But championships don’t come along often, and that’s what we’re fighting to do. We’re so driven to get success at the club.
“The players are gutted. I said that I’m so happy too, because if one player had been laughing and joking, they’d have got it. The fact is that they’re hurting as much as me, and that makes me proud. I hope we use this and move on and concentrate on Crewe on Saturday.
“We worked hard, we worked on our team sheet, but ultimately we weren’t good enough on the day. I don’t care if they’re Premier League or not.
“I thought we did enough, even at 11 v 11, I thought we were the better team, we just didn’t take our chances.
“When you’re playing a team as good as they are, you’ve got to take your chances. (Daniel) Powell had two great chances. He got in on goal, but he took a touch and got tackled. (Dean) Bowditch had one, Charlie (MacDonald), Adam Chicksen had one. The margins are so small for the chances, so when they do come along, you’ve got to take them.”
Sunderland had to play for an hour with 10 men after Lee Cattermole was sent off, which from the stands looked questionable at first, and Robinson admitted he wasn’t sure either.
He said: “I didn’t see it to be honest, and I didn’t think it was a red card at the time. We’ve been dealt harsher sendings off than that this season.
“I just don’t want to end games coming to talk about red cards, the best team should win and the referees should get decisions right.”
Gardner’s strike in the 53rd minute was a remarkable free-kick which swerved through the air, giving stand-in keeper Ian McLoughlin absolutely no chance. The Dons boss said it was an unstoppable strike, and changed the whole context of the game.
“I thought their goal was a wonder-strike,” he said. “I was right behind it, and it was going three yards over the bar and then it dipped. If that didn’t go in, it was a different result.
“We tried to change things tactically afterwards, but it just didn’t work. But they’ve shown us tremendous respect tonight.”