Relegation wouldn’t be the end of the world for MK Dons, but staying up and failing to learn their lessons from this season would be a step backwards, according to Karl Robinson.
The Dons boss has been vocal throughout the season about having the smallest budget in the division, but has also admitted the finances required to compete in the Championship have taken everyone at the club by surprise.
Having released all but one of the players Dons signed in the summer, the manager feels Dons need to improve significantly next season, whether that’s in the Championship or League 1.
“I don’t think it will cause any great shakes if we weren’t to stay up, but it would be worse if we stayed up and were in the same position next season,” he said.
“We all know how important staying up is, but we can’t be in the same position next year. And the chairman feels the same.
“If we went down, we’d be in a good position to come back up. The players already signed up for next season would be able to sustain a good challenge in League 1. We know the league inside out.
“Any of the teams going down would be well equipped to come back up, but we’re probably not as well equipped if we stay up. We have to become equipped in the summer.”
Dons find themselves just a point outside the relegation zone, despite picking up five points from a possible nine last week.
And while those below them keep winning to close the gap, Robinson hopes his side can harness the spirit of last season’s late push for promotion to keep their heads above water.
He said: “We take the rough with the smooth here. Last year, we didn’t talk about promotion, we just thought about the next game.
“That single-mindedness probably gives us a stepping stone, and it won’t be too different this time around.
“Our mind-set has to be very similar (to last season), even though the challenge is very different and harder than ever before. We have to be grounded.
“We are used to nervous endings here.
“I worked under Sam Allardyce when Blackburn were fighting relegation from the Premier League - I know what it’s like here.
“I’ve learned from him, and some things we did at Blackburn won’t work here because of personnel, but we have to mould that ethos to make it work with these players.
“Right now, we’ve done all we can on the pitch.”