Robinson needs to back up talk

Friday 21st June 2013 17:38

Karl Robinson: MK Dons boss has plenty of work to do

Karl Robinson: MK Dons boss has plenty of work to do

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MK Dons FanZoner Dominic Damesick is worried for the future with numerous players being linked with exits and none having joined the club.

Last season was a somewhat underwhelming one. After two consecutive fifth-place finishes, Karl Robinson could only guide the Dons to eighth in his third campaign in charge.

Following this the manager promised changes on the pitch and behind the scenes. The Dons are yet to bring in any new faces, although one assumes that Robinson is working hard to secure some fresh blood: he may already have agreed some deals.

The only departure from the club, so far, has been Mathias Kouo-Doumbe, the long-serving defender whose contract has not been renewed by the club. However, Gary MacKenzie looks certain to follow the Frenchman out of the door, joining Blackpool on a permanent basis, after a successful loan there last season.

Ryan Lowe's future in Milton Keynes is also uncertain. The Liverpudlian finished as the Dons' joint top-scorer in his debut season for the club, but has spoken of his desire to move to a club in the north west, to take him closer to home.

Doubts also persist over Stephen Gleeson and Shaun Williams, who must have attracted attention from the Championship with their performances over the last couple of seasons.

These potential departures are not ideal: all the players involved are first-team material and will be difficult to replace.

True, the club should receive a handy transfer-fee for MacKenzie - and would, similarly, only sell the likes of Gleeson or Williams for good money - whilst there is no point in keeping Lowe if he wants to be elsewhere.

Yet, the fear is that any money the club receives for outgoing players will not be spent to fund an influx of quality, but will be used to stem the steady loss of money that the club currently endures.

Robinson has spoken of turning to the loan market: potentially a cheap option that can reap rewards. Yet, the loan system has often been a source of disappointment and frustration for the MK Dons: players who are not ready for first-team football; who are uncommitted; who are recalled to their parent clubs at short notice.

A major issue for Robinson last season was the small size of his squad. With as many as four or five players set to leave the club, and no sign of an imminent arrival, this is a problem that could persist.

If the squad size is to remain small, it would have softened the blow if it had been a product of Robinson having a clear out of underperforming players.

The MK Dons' boss spoke boldly in the final weeks of last season about clearing out the dead wood. Yet, the likes of Jon Otsemobor, hugely underwhelming for the vast majority of the season, has been handed a one-year extension.

I praised Robinson's fighting talk in the final weeks of last season, but on the condition that he followed through with his pledge to cull those who had underperformed. The manager has so far failed to deliver on that pledge; his rhetoric not backed up by his actions.

Robinson has, however, begun to take steps shake things up behind the scenes. Mick Harford has left the club, after just one season as assistant manager, and former Wycombe boss Gary Waddock is rumoured to be joining the club staff for next season.

Robinson should perhaps also terminate the employment of Ian Wright, unless the ex-Arsenal striker begins to show some commitment to the club. Wright could never attend games on a Saturday last season due to media commitments, and was said to be an infrequent presence at training.

This is not good enough for a man with the official title of first-team coach. Perhaps the time is ripe for Alan Smith, whose playing career seems to be winding down, to step-up his coaching responsibilities.

The early signs, then, for the MK Dons' 2013/14 campaign are not particularly rosy, as the squad is at risk of lacking in quantity and quality, especially if Gleeson or Williams was to depart.

Still, judgement must be reserved for now. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, some exciting new additions will be made which compliment, rather than replace, the quality already at the club.

You can follow Dominic on Twitter at @DominicDamesick - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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