Seeing MK Dons’ survival hopes fade away in the rear-view mirror

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Why it feels like all hope is lost for this MK Dons side with 11 games and 33 points still on offer
Defender Jack Tucker is one of the players scapegoated for Dons’ poor season, but he is far from top of the list of people to blameDefender Jack Tucker is one of the players scapegoated for Dons’ poor season, but he is far from top of the list of people to blame
Defender Jack Tucker is one of the players scapegoated for Dons’ poor season, but he is far from top of the list of people to blame | Getty Images

Driving up and down the country following MK Dons as I and many of you do, the car journey home is a time of reflection and of post mortem. On Saturday, driving home from Port Vale, it was an angry route back to Milton Keynes.

Tuesday night’s game with Lincoln City was supposed to be the start of the mini league to get Dons out of the scrap, out of the mire they’ve played themselves into. Mark Jackson said he saw a hunger in his players’ eyes after the defeat to Ipswich a few days prior, but that hunger might just have been for something to eat because they made a right dog’s dinner of the first-half at Sincil Bank, escaping with a last-minute equaliser.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Knowing he needed to see a reaction from his players on Saturday at Port Vale, the players instead took that dog’s dinner from Lincoln and made it gourmet - one of the worst hours of football the club has turned in for many a year. To say they downed tools would be unfair, because they didn’t even pick them up in the first place.

Daniel Harvie’s assessment afterwards was fair, saying his team-mates didn’t want it enough in the opening stages of the game as Port Vale - a team with one win in ten prior to kick-off - ran rampant, albeit only winning 1-0.

I’m not usually one for sweeping statements to come back to bite me later, but on Saturday, my last modicum of belief in this team fizzled out. I know for a lot of fans that ship sailed long ago, but at the moment, I cannot see a way out of trouble, only the way to League Two. Even with 11 games still to go, I’m writing this post mortem like they’re already relegated.

And that’s where my anger stems from, I think. From a team finishing third last season, on the brink of automatic promotion and following on from one of the best years of football anyone associated with the club has ever seen, to this. How did they get it this wrong?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

For the record, I don’t think any of this blame lies at the door of Mark Jackson or indeed the players. Offered the opportunity to move to Stadium MK off the back of that campaign last term, of course you’d jump at the chance to make the move. The squad though just is not good enough. The blame then lies at the top of the food chain.

Tasked with building a team to challenge for League One supremacy, they built one instead heading out of the division in reverse. Not just that: plethora of fan gripes; a pitch only half installed; a football club feeling like the third most important party in their own stadium. It all mounts up to a dismal and morbid feel around the place.

There is only so much the players and staff can say to us in the media when they draw the short straw for interview - they’re not going to come out and tell us all hope is lost. They tell us to keep the faith, stick with it and look to the next game. But nothing has changed all season long, so for it to about-face now would be quite something.

Perhaps this is Harbinger of Doom moment is premature, and the next three games against relegation scrappers does see Dons’ fortunes dramatically change. After thinking ‘things can’t get much worse’ driving home from Bolton last month though, they did and emphatically so... even more than we expected, actually.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I want to be proven wrong though. I want people to cite this in May when the dust has settled and Dons are secured in League One telling me how badly I got it wrong two months earlier. And I’m certain I’m not alone.

So, please. Please prove us wrong.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.