The story of MK Dons' relegation to League 2

MK Dons will play League 2 football next season
MK Dons will play League 2 football next season

After weeks of inevitability, MK Dons will be playing League 2 football next season.

Two of the club's most influential figures have called the drop 'unthinkable', 'embarrassing' and ultimately the worst thing to happen to Dons in their history, and defeat to Scunthorpe United on Saturday confirmed their place in the bottom tier of English professional football almost 10 years to the day after they were crowned League 2 champions.

It is the second relegation in three seasons for Pete Winkelman's club.

Keith Millen, Dons' third man to stand in the dugout this season and fourth since October 2016, wasn't expected to save the club when he was handed temporary charge on Sunday after the dismissal of Dan Micciche. But as his predecessor rightly said in his final interview at Southend: "If it came to the worst and we don't survive, it won't be because of today - this is because of the games before."

Dons haven't looked at the races all season long. Robbie Neilson made sweeping changes in the summer and started the season poorly, citing a gelling issue. The team would come good, he insisted. But the longer it went on, the gelling issue no longer fit. Neilson never lost more than two games in a row and his sides had the knack of picking up a point in uninspiring circumstances, but the lifeless performances were wearing thin. Wins were few and far between too.

His departure came after losing to 2-1 to Northampton at Sixfields in the middle of January, having won just two league games in three-and-a-half months. It was the first time Dons has sunk into the bottom four.

Robbie Neilson was sacked in January

Robbie Neilson was sacked in January

Micciche was thought of highly at MK Dons. Tributed as the man who helped Dele Alli through his academy years, Micciche went off to coach England's U16s before returning to take his dream job. But it wasn't to be the fairy tale ending. In fact, it was a nightmare for everyone involved.

Losing his first five games, Micciche saw Dons sink as far as seven points from safety. But a recovery in March gave the impression his methods were working. Dons picked up 10 points from a possible 12 and they were out of the drop zone.

But four more defeats saw his tenure come to an abrupt end, just three months after he took over. His record in 15 games read not to disimilar to Neilson's - Micciche earned 12 points, Neilson 13.

Millen, given little to no hope of keeping Dons up, but it's his name above the door as League 2 football was confirmed.

Dan Micciche lasted just three months in charge

Dan Micciche lasted just three months in charge

Winkelman blamed two poor managerial appointments for Dons' slide, only heaping more pressure on his next big decision - who to take on this summer. It's a decision which needs to happen quickly too, perhaps even quicker than the chairman would like. The squad needs gutting and starting again. There can be no more experimentation, no gambles or pot-shots. The manager will need experience, know-how and must hit the ground running.

There can be no more pie-in-the-sky ambition, no arrogance, no sense of entitlement about being in League 2. MK Dons are in the fourth tier through a catalogue of errors this season - nothing to do with a big budget, inventment or infrastructure.

Next season cannot be about decisions off the field, what happens on the pitch is more important than anything else at a football club. As painfully obvious as that reads, it's something MK Dons seem to have lost sight of.