Players must enjoy what they do and play with more freedom

Russell Martin
Russell Martin

Russell Martin is concerned his MK Dons side are still playing with an anxiety on the ball and wants them to play with freedom again.

After a disastrous run in the last two months, which cost Paul Tisdale his job in charge, Martin has lost his three games in charge, but Dons already look visibly better on the field, with performances improving significantly.

They were unlucky to lose against Bolton on Saturday after being reduced to 10-men (see page 71) following George Williams’ red card, but Martin already sees a change in the players’ mentality.

But after three defeats, he still sees where his side need to improve.

“All I’ve been telling them is to play with freedom and to enjoy their football,” he said. “There has not been enough enjoyment for however long, and I can sense that anxiety.

“I want them to enjoy it and express themselves, and there has to be an environment where they can do that.

“They are still unsure at times about taking risks on the ball and there’s too much angst. We’re rushing, forcing things at times. We need to relax.

“Having Luke (Williams, assistant manager) here is great because he is pushing that message.

“What they’ve given me in term of mentality, it has shown we’ve become much harder to play against. We need to build on that, and play with more freedom, less fear and more expression.

“We just need a win to get everyone feeling better. If you watch the last three games, it has cranked up every time.

“The lads are buying into what we’re doing, the stats show we’re doing it right.”