Off-the-field issues as important to fix as those on them - Simpson

Robbie Simpson
Robbie Simpson

It wasn't just the on-pitch catastrophes MK Dons needed to fix this time last year, but also the atmosphere off it, according to Robbie Simpson.

The former Exeter man arrived at Stadium MK during pre-season, teaming up with manager Paul Tisdale again, but walked into a dressing room full of negativity and with the wrong attitude.

Simpson said the pre-season trip to Spain was vital in helping the dressing room, which featured several new faces draughted in by Tisdale, galvanise behind the new management staff.

He said: "I walked in on the first day, and my kit was between Robbie Muirhead, Aidan Nesbitt, Conor McGrandles and Lawson D'Ath – in the middle of those four I thought 'this dressing room could take a bit of sorting out!' But we soon did it.

"Pre-season was good because we needed to do a lot of stuff off the pitch. The long pre-season was good, and the Spain trip was vital because we started the season well. It got everyone on board and onside with Tis and the staff, it got the fans back to back in the team again."

Heading into the first game of the season away at Oldham, Dons were dealt serious injury blows to Peter Pawlett and Conor McGrandles, but picked up three points in a hostile atmosphere at Boundary Park - another vital moment in unifying the dressing room behind the scenes according to Simpson.

Robbie Simpson celebrates with Ouss Cisse

Robbie Simpson celebrates with Ouss Cisse

He continued: "Thinking back to that Oldham game, it's funny how little things galvanise a team and get team-spirit going. It was a battlefield. It was boiling hot, away from home, Peter Pawlett got injured in the first few seconds, I came on having only trained the day before, Conor got the horrific injury, Callum finished with cramp in every bone in his body.

"Afterwards, we knew we'd all look after each other, drag each other through, and it was a standout game for me. Every person will have a different moment that will have defined our season – there are lots of them. I'm just so glad we got it done."

Despite being there or thereabouts throughout the campaign, Dons dropped out of the play-off spots in February after a dreadful start to 2019. Simpson though said the team spirit made getting out of the mire much easier and helped the club back to League 1.

READ MORE: The unlikely moment Tisdale calls his highlight of the season
He added: "We had a wobble at Christmas but we finished well. With 14 games to go, we were out of the play-offs. But we looked at each other and said we had to sort ourselves out and get the job done. We did it with our performance of the season. It was such a great day for all involved.

MK Dons celebrate promotion

MK Dons celebrate promotion

"It's a club now that is going in the right direction. There is still a lot to sort out, but with the manager and chairman, players and fans all coming together now, it won;t be long before the club is right in amongst the best clubs in the country."