Players deserve to finish in the top 10
Russell Martin wants MK Dons to finish the season strongly
A top 10 finish in League One this season is exactly what MK Dons deserve for their efforts this season, according to Russell Martin.
While over half the division played last night (Tuesday), Dons remained ninth in the standings with two games to play. Though mathematically still in contention for a play-off spot, talk of a top-six finish has long been out of the question for Russell Martin's side, but improving significantly from last season's 19th place is a feat the manager believes is just reward for his squad.
"It’ll be nice for the guys as they’ve battled so hard, it’s for them," he said. "It doesn’t change how I feel about where we need to go. It’s nice for others to look back on the end of the season and see a huge improvement from last season and gives us a big target to aim for next season.
"We knew the tough situation we were coming into, a group struggling with confidence, so we had to give them something to believe in. We had to change it and add the people we wanted to add, the way we work and the style attracts some really good players. It’s been the same this season.
"I’d have liked more change at the start, but as the season progressed, we’ve been really young, but that gives us less fear as they’ve not experienced some stuff the older guys have. They probably have naivety but that helps them get over mistakes quicker. The mentality has changed, the way we train is incredible with just two weeks to go, its’ their mentality. It’s normal for them and it’s a huge difference from where we were a year ago, even six months ago.
"That’s the mentality the leaders in this group have demanded, it’s down to their hard work and the fact they are buying into what we are trying to build."
Such is the tight nature of League One though, even at this late stage, that Dons could drop as many as six places with two games still to play, should they fail to pick up any points in their final two matches. But they head into Saturday's final away day of the season at Fleetwood Town - the lowest team that could possibly catch Dons - off the back of three wins in a row. Martin wants to make it five though and round out the season in style.
He said: "We need the same level of commitment and intensity with the mentality they’ve shown in the last three. They’ve really enjoyed the last three games so we need to continue that into the last two games. It’ll be nice to finish inside the top 10, this group deserves it. We need to focus on maintaining what we’ve done in the last three games."