Why a head coach, rather than a manager, can help future-proof MK Dons

“A big part of my obligation is to make sure I do what’s best for MK Dons long-term”

Monday, 16th August 2021, 4:25 pm

Liam Manning

A lot of change has happened behind the scenes at MK Dons in the last few weeks, not least the departure of a manager and the hiring of a new head coach.

With a sporting director and a performance director operating in the first team as well, Dons are setting themselves apart when it comes to their approach to League One football. And with the hiring of Liam Manning as head coach rather than as manager, they are continuing on that separate path.

For Manning, the position is one he is familiar with - after all, he was one in his previous job at Lommel in Belgium.

The differences, on the whole, are relatively minor. He remains the man in charge, ultimately, of the first team and the buck stops with him too. He will still be the driving force behind who he wants to bring into his side, will lead training in his vision of the game and pick the players who play.

But he believes the role of head coach, rather than manager, means the club will have more assurances when it comes to the future of the club, which will prevent them being left in the lurch if and when he should leave.

“The traditional manager is involved in everything, they oversee everything,” he said. “The big danger with that is when the manager leaves and takes some of his staff, you're starting from scratch again.

“The structure I worked in in Belgium, and now here, it's inevitable you'll get change and moments of transition. But it's about disrupting the club as least as possible.

“A big part of my obligation is to make sure I do what's best for MK Dons long-term. This structure allows that to happen. We want to set the club up for success in the long-term.”

One of the first items on his agenda will be to hire a new coaching staff, following the departures of Luke Williams, Dean Thornton, Matt Gill and Matt Willmott who followed Russell Martin to Swansea.

Manning said moves were already underway to bolster his backroom staff, adding: “We need four members of staff across all the departments. We can't rush though, we've got to bring in the right people for the club, to help us improve.

“We want people in sooner rather than later, but they have to be the right people for what we're trying to do. People here already go above and beyond what their job requirements are.”