Tisdale needs to unlock a nastier side to MK Dons

Paul Tisdale
Paul Tisdale

Winning nasty has never been MK Dons' forte. When it gets cold, the pitches get bobbly, crowds get close and vociferous, Dons go missing, and it is wearing thin on Paul Tisdale.

This is not a new phenomenon, it has just raised its head again. Notoriously poor when games get gritty, it was a familiar story throughout Karl Robinson's six-year tenure at the club, and is certainly a factor for Tisdale at the moment.

It was as angry as Tisdale had been in his tenure at MK Dons so far following the defeat to Exeter City on Saturday. Outwardly, it was just another game for the former Grecians boss, but returning to his old stomping ground, with whispers and a few choice chants aimed at him, inwardly he was desperate to prove a point. His team though let him down.

Dean Lewington said he he was embarrassed by the way the team performed in the opening 20 minutes, and he was right to be – it was as bad as Dons have been since Tisdale took over. Like a deer caught in the headlights, Dons were run over by a fierce Exeter side who raced into a 2-0 lead. While it may not have been a huge game on Dons' radar, it certainly appeared to be for the Grecians, desperate to get one over on the man who left them in the summer.

That passion, that desire is rarely a trait shown by MK Dons. Seen at Cheltenham, Bury and Northampton recently, Dons have shown signs of weakness.

Still harbouring hangovers from the move, there is a desperation at the club not to offend, not to bring any unnecessary bad press by targeting teams publicly, highlighting big games, saying they want to win one more than another. In a world of political correctness, Dons are the masters of it, still fighting an unwinnable battle to turn everyone's opinions of them around.

Tisdale blamed his side's inability to win in a League 2 style on the pitch on Saturday. They need to be nastier, meaner, angrier, more impatient. They need to ruffle feathers, they need to go into games more driven, it needs to mean more to them than their opponents. It meant more to Exeter to beat their former manager than it did to Dons to win it for their current manager.

League 2 football is not just a style, it is a mentality. Playing the nice, attractive football Dons became synonymous may appease some, but it has paid dividends only once. Now is the time for something harder hitting, especially away from home. If Tisdale cannot drag that out of this current squad, they will have to learn how to play League 2 football again next season.

Lewington called Dons' performance embarrassing at Exeter

Lewington called Dons' performance embarrassing at Exeter