No targets set by Winkelman for the 'hottest young manager north of the border'

There will be no expectations placed on new Dons boss Robbie Neilson this year other than to turn around MK Dons' fortunes - and he'll be given the time to do it.

Monday, 5th December 2016, 7:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:43 pm
Robbie Neilson with Dons chairman Pete Winkelman

Languishing in League 1 and without a home league win in nine months, the job facing Neilson is no mean feat, but he takes over at Stadium MK with a clean slate and no expectations on his head as yet, as promised by chairman Pete Winkelman.

Speaking at Neilson's unveiling on Monday, the chairman heaped praise on his new manager but insisted there are no targets for him this season.

"This is a massive coup for us," he said. "He's the hottest young manager north of the border. We've had an eye on him for a while, but it was harder to go after him because he was in work and doing really well. I'm pleased he's willing to take the chance - it shows a fearlessness.

"There are no targets for Robbie this year other than to progress. We're going backwards and we need to start going forwards. That's not an over-night thing. Robbie will be given the chance and the time to be able to put things into practice.

"We've been doing things one way for a number of years and that needs to be looked at, but this is the most excited we've been for a couple of years.

"This club is an oil tanker and it has been going in the wrong direction for a while now, and it will take a long time to turn it around but I absolutely believe that given the support and time we can start moving forward again.

"Clubs need to progress at the same rate as the manager if they want to keep hold of them. I want Robbie to have stability as he did at Hearts, and I want us to move that on. There's a big focus on him, and a lot of people to impress. But I've found him to be a very considered man and I really look forward to working with him."

Dons finally confirmed their successor to Karl Robinson on Friday - 39 days after the former manager left the club. Winkelman defended the time it took to replace Robinson, insisting he had to make the right choice, not the first choice.

He said: "We don't make knee jerk reactions and take the first person on the merry-go-round. We've taken our managerial decisions really seriously every time, and we've managed to do something a bit different.

"Robbie was the most complicated guy to go and get but he was absolutely the right one. I have done a really great piece of business getting Robbie Neilson to this club.

"We're a young club, and the manager choice is the single most important decision I have to make, that's why it took so long. But I've think I've done it right. I believe he can really take us in the right direction."