FOOTBALL managers are forever waxing lyrical about the need to make gradual progress year on year - although most of the time they don’t have the hard evidence on their side. In fact ‘baby’ steps’ was a term I remember one former Dons boss alluding to on a number of occasions.
Of course Karl Robinson is in his first year as the club’s manager - and his first anywhere - so he has no comparison to make. But as Dons have now surpassed last season’s points total, it seems a pretty good time to give him a pat on the back.
The 30-year-old’s record as boss this term reads 19 wins from 40 League One games - so that’s a win ratio of almost 50 per cent. And when Dons won 3-1 at Colchester in March they moved their points tally past the 60 mark that the club finished on last year. That’s significant evidence of progression, and the proof is in the pudding - the pudding being the league table.
With six games left to play this season Dons could yet finish with as many as 83 points. Forget baby steps, that would be more like giants leaps forward.
We’ll have to wait and see about that, and before Dons go eyeing up their highest ever points finish, there’s still work to be done to guarantee the season continues beyond May 7.
In three of those remaining games Dons take on sides battling to keep their place in the division and neither Swindon, Plymouth or Notts County are likely to surrender the points easily.
Past League One tables show us that 80-points is generally the benchmark for making the top six, so another four or five wins will probably be needed to make sure of the play-offs, with Rochdale and Leyton Orient in equally as fine form as Dons going into the home straight.
Although last year’s 12th place finish was a bit of a shock to the system because it lacked the end to the season promotion or relegation drama finish that the club is accustomed to, 2011 looks set to be a year fans will remember.
Whether it ends in joy or disappointment, the good news is that Dons HAVE progressed from last season. And as managers up and down the land will tell you, that’s all you can ask for.