OPINION: Home win or bust for MK Dons
Seriously questions are already being asked of the current MK Dons squad, but anything but victory on Saturday should send alarm bells ringing in the home dressing room at Stadium MK.
Non-league Spennymoor Town make the journey from Durham for their moment in the spotlight in the first round of the FA Cup this Saturday. An upset though has shorter odds than it should - not just because keeper Dan Lowson can score from his own penalty area.
Saturday will mark the eight-month anniversary of Dons last victory at home - a pitiful stat which has seen the club relegated from the Championship, plummet to 20th in League 1 and cost Karl Robinson his job.The dawn of a new era, under the caretaker guidance of Richie Barker, didn't get off to the best of starts with 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United, but taking on a side four steps below them on the footballing pyramid must be a given for Dons - surely?
For everyone receiving a payslip from Dons, a win is imperative. A convincing win ideal, but a win would at least reward those who have endured the last 243 days without one. Chairman Pete Winkelman needs a win to vindicate his decision to part company with Robinson, showing any potential candidates at the game that the current league position is false.
But it isn't just the chairman who needs to put on a show for a new manager - the players are probably under more threat from this game than any other they'll have faced at the club. The players aren't oblivious to the statistics. They're all well aware their home record - six wins in 12 months and none in the last 13 matches - is nothing short of embarrassing. And what should have been an opportunity to rest key first team players has become a must-win game where no-one can afford to hide.
Robinson's favoured players must now justify their spots in the starting line-up. A failure to fire against Spennymoor, a failure to shine, stand out, a mistake here or there could prove costly as a new leader potentiallywatches on, scribbling mental notes of what, and critically who, needs to change to stop the rot. As the old saying goes - you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Anything but victory on Saturday will make managing MK Dons a far more daunting prospect. Then it won't simply be a club down on its luck - it'll be a club in disarray.