MK Dons must bring an air of unpredictability back to their play after years of playing the same football, says Robbie Neilson. But it won’t happen over night.
Having played the hind legs off a 4-2-3-1 formation that for some time set them apart from so many teams at this level, the style of play that made them so hard to defend against has penned them into a corner and has in fact had the direct opposite effect in the last 12 months.
Without a depth of quality in the squad, without an alternative option, Neilson finds himself with a squad built solely for one formation, one plan of attack.
“People know when they play MK Dons - 4-2-3-1, passing ,expansive, steal it, score,” he said.
And that’s exactly what happened when Charlton, ironically managed by the man who put the plan in place, as they snatched a goal late in the first half before shutting up shop and stifling Dons in the centre of the park.
Neilson continued: “The key is variety. The way you’re going to start the game, formations in and out of possession - can we change it from the bench?
“The period MK Dons have had for a long time is 4-2-3-1, so the recruitment has been 4-2-3-1, therefore the squad is 4-2-3-1.
“When you look at the squad, it’s so heavily balanced in that three behind the striker. We need to take some away from there and move them around and we can have a different way of playing.”
Changing the culture and philosophy at a club after six and a half years of playing one way won’t be an overnight thing, and Neilson knows that.
While he has his eyes on at least three recruits in January, to begin the process, the Scot says the window in the New Year will just be the beginning of a rebuilding process.
He said: “The squad has to be built with variety in it, with a big striker, a centre back who can play as a defensive midfielder and two wide players who are quick in the channels and get crosses in.
“It’s not all going to happen in January. We’ll try and add to it in January, but we’ll create a team we can constantly add to.
“We’ve got areas we want to strengthen, there’s no point in just diving in on January 1 at the first person who comes along because you end up with a problem.
“We’ll try and get someone in early, but it has to be the right person. If there’s one early, good, if there’s none early, then so be it.”