Tisdale expects an emotional time against Exeter City

Paul Tisdale
Paul Tisdale

Paul Tisdale hopes he will get a fond reception from the visiting fans when Exeter City arrive at Stadium MK on Saturday.

The Dons boss spent 12 years with the Grecians prior to his summer switch to Stadium MK, and was the longest serving manager in English football following Arsene Wenger's departure from Arsenal.

With no fewer than nine former Exeter players and members of staff now amongst the Dons squad, tensions could run high when the sides meet, and Tisdale hopes he will be fondly remembered by the supporters who used to sing his name but he says his focus will be on sending them home with nothing.

Asked whether he is expecting a good reception from the Exeter fans, he said: "I hope so, but I cannot control that. Who knows? I'm looking forward to the game. Of course there are players in that team that I know, but I'm 100 per cent focused on the players I've selected and the subs who can change the game and the supporters supporting MK Dons - that's the way it has to be.

"When I thought about leaving Exeter, I didn't think I'd be coming up against them in the same league in the future, but here we are. More people outside are talking about it than we are here, but I can't ignore the fact that I've got 12 years of history there so of course there are emotions. But generally, it will be a football match, me with 11 players against another manager with 11 players."

Both clubs have made undefeated starts to the season, with Exeter topping League 2, two points ahead of Dons prior to this weekend's clash. And with both sides fighting at the sharp end already, Tisdale hopes it will be a season-long battle for the top spots, starting this Saturday.

He said: "It will be a fiercely fought game, and already it looks like a game with a promotion rival, and I hope that remains the case and that we're a part of that promotion battle.

"These first dozen games could potentially be against competitors - we don't know yet. You know when you're in April that games will be six pointers.

"Already, Exeter have shown themselves to be organised and disciplined and hard to beat. I've already experienced two or three home games, I've really enjoyed it, the fans have been really encouraging and we've enjoyed giving them something back. We haven't scored a lot of goals yet, but we've given them some energy and fight."