Tangerine nightmares off-the-field are well known to Millen

Off-the-field issues are becoming bigger talking points than the on-the-field matters at some clubs, and this weekend's opponents Blackpool are certainly victims of that.

Saturday, 24th March 2018, 7:01 pm
Updated Saturday, 24th March 2018, 7:05 pm
Blackpool fans protest Oyston's ownership of the club

With supporters at odds with the club's owners, home attendances have plummeted, as have the team, since their heady Premier League season back in 2010/11.

But the battle between fans of the Tangerines and the Oyston family is nothing new. Dons assistant manager Keith Millen was number two to Ian Holloway at Bloomfield Road back in 2012 and said off-the-field issues were just as prominent then as they are for Gary Bowyer and his side now.

"I worked there in 2012 so I know what sort of club it is," said Millen, speaking ahead of Dons' clash with Blackpool this Saturday. "There have been a lot of problems behind the scenes with the owners, and that has been going on for a number of years.

Blackpool owner Owen Oyston

"It is difficult, but it's not just Blackpool. You look at West Ham and all the stuff happening off the field there - as a manager or coach, your job is to keep the players focused. You can't control anything outside. You can use it as a positive, but it can drag you down.

"Blackpool fans have been protesting and not going to games so they've lost the atmosphere, and that's not great for the home team, but they'll have a siege mentality on the field and will try not to let it bother them on the field.

It was always interesting working for Ian Holloway - he's full of energy and you never know from one say to the next what he was going to do. It was tough but the environment brought the group together because it felt like us against the world. Ian was very good at playing on that too and he had a few good seasons there."

Despite their off-the-field issues, Blackpool are sat mid-table in their return season to League 1, six points outside the drop zone in 15th, and by no means safe according to Millen.

Keith Millen was at Blackpool in 2012

"Gary has done a great job there," he continued. "The fans have been in dispute with the club, but Gary has kept the players quite focused. They are reasonably safe, but not safe yet."

And while results on Tuesday night meant Dons are now two points from safety, he said the momentum they've picked up by winning two games in a row should give them confidence heading into the final nine games of the season.

He said: "You can't fear the position we're in, whether you're fighting for promotion or relegation. You've got to take the challenge on. The players seem very positive considering where we are.

"We've got nine cup finals, and we know we won't play well in every game - it's about getting points now. We need to focus on how to do that. We want goals and attractive football, but we need to win games. We have to keep the pressure off the players and enjoy the challenge."

Blackpool owner Owen Oyston
Keith Millen was at Blackpool in 2012