THERE will be no rash moves into the transfer market in January according to Dons boss Karl Robinson, but he does admit that he has his eye on a few new players.
With cash still available after Sam Baldock’s big-money move to West Ham United in August, Dons may have some financial clout when it comes to landing the players the manager has set his sights on,
The swift purchase of Charlie MacDonald from Brentford in the wake of Baldock’s move is proof that Robinson’s recruitment department have a keen eye for a shrewd signing, and Robinson knows that it will take a lot more than just a big fee to lure some players to stadium:mk.
“There are areas I want to improve,” he said. “I’ve got my eye on a few people, but it’s got to happen. I’m not just going to delve into the transfer market just for the sake of it. That’s not the philosophy of how I want to do things.
“We’re after players who want to keep the shirt and once they’re in the team, they want to work hard.
“It’ll also depend on keeping some players as well. That’ll determine how I move in the transfer market.”
While Dons can boast strength in depth for most positions this season, Robinson’s squad is still relatively small compared to some clubs in League 1.
And talk of losing players is one Robinson is quite open about, but he knows that his side are ideally placed to make sure they’re still part of his plans when the transfer window closes at the end of January.
He said: “There’s always going to be interest in most of our players because of the way we play. We have overachieved, so we have to work hard to keep them.”
The loan agreements for Colombian winger Angelo Balanta (QPR) and defender Mark Beevers (Sheffield Wednesday) expire on January 1 and Robinson is in talks with both with a view of extending the pair, but he doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to keep them beyond their current deals. Full back Adam Smith’s loan deal expires at the end of the season.
“It’s difficult to judge at the moment,” Robinson said. “We’re in the process of speaking to parent clubs and asking the relevant questions about keeping them.
“If they do they do, if they don’t they don’t and we will have to adapt accordingly.
“I feel the club is in a fantastic position, with or without certain players, to go from strength to strength.”
Saturday’s 2-0 win over Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park marked Dons’ seventh win in a row.
Since their blip in September and October, where the club picked up just one win in 10, Dons have fought back up to third place in League 1 – a sign of spirit and strength among the players, according to Robinson, as theyfight to get into the Championship next season.
“I think we’re a better team than last year. I think we’re a strong group, a better group of people I feel and the proof was in the result.
“The chance we gave away to Showumni was poor, very poor. We didn’t let them have another chance and we’ve got to be happy with that but we shouldn’t defend like that. In big games, big players will punish you and it could’ve been a worse result.
“The performance on Saturday was excellent, we defended well, went long when we needed to, and passed it when we needed to. All the components we wanted to come out did come out.”
Managerless Preston North End are next on the agenda for Dons in a late kick off at stadium:mk on Saturday. Robinson’s men are still unbeaten at home this season, and making stadium:mk a fortress has never been far from the manager’s plans. But while that piece in the puzzle is looking firmly in place, Robinson admits there are other areas they need to improve on.
He said: “We are miles away from being a perfect team. We haven’t got the budget or the strength in depth to get where we want to be but we’re getting there slowly.
“I think we have a crux of players at the club who can take us all the way.
“It has been a slow 18-month process where we have been working on a system and a tactic. There are times that we can’t always use it, but our whole game understanding is starting to improve and we are only going to get better with the more we grow and mature together.”
But while they still aren’t a perfect team, they sit third in League 1, behind Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday and well in the hunt for an automatic promotion spot.
“I’m very proud that we’re in there,” said Robinson. “We could’ve only dreamed to be in this position three or four years ago, with the league as competitive as it is this year. We’ve proven to everyone that we’re not a flash in the pan.
“Under Roberto di Matteo, I thought it was the easiest league to get out of, the easiest League 1 has ever been and the club let themselves down by not getting into the Champonship that season.”
And with Robinson’s behind-the-scenes work beginning to take shape, he believes that the groundwork is there for the club to go forward for years to come.
“We know there is an awful lot of hard work still to be done. In the last 18 months, we have evolved into a proper football club. We have an analysis department, recruitment department, sport science and medical departments, we’re building new suites, new theatres and they’ll be done in the next two months.
“That’s the foundation. When I took over at the club, I knew that I wanted to start something that would be my lasting legacy. “