Despite my reservations about acknowledging MK Dons as a football club I feel that it’s far too late now to make a statement about the travesty that brought the ‘club’ into existence. I would like to point out though that I believe that this ‘football club’ should never have existed and are an abomination to English football. I continue to make my choice to not give any money to this club but I respect that many Coventry fans have chosen to treat this game like any other, despite the clear parallels between ours and Wimbledon’s situation. Additionally I hope that one day MK Dons will fold as a business and this shambolic episode in English football’s proud history can be brought to an end.
How We’re Doing
We’ve lost 2 games in a row for the second time this season, but more worryingly produced two poor performances in consecutive games. A number of players played far below the levels they have have shown themselves to be capable of which has made the collective much weaker. The injury to Leon Clarke has brought into sharp focus how dependent we’ve been on a number of strong individual performers this season and the lack of genuine replacements outside of the starting XI.
Fortunately the closure of the loan window has made back-up players from other clubs available and this has been utilised by Pressley to reinforce a creaking squad. Chris Maguire is probably the stand-out player from the 3 signings, he’s regarded as a highly talented player at Sheffield Wednesday unfortunate to not be given chances in the first-team. Danny Seaborne has come in at a time where the defence has clearly needed reinforcing, he provides the option of playing with two ‘natural’ centre-backs as well as allowing Cyrus Christie to be pushed further forward as a replacement for the out-of-form Carl Baker. Chris Dagnall may not be a like-for-like replacement for Leon Clarke but his energy and nous in the penalty area could be crucial in re-establishing our pressing game.
Ultimately the loans have added a number of options to both the starting line-up and the bench, not all will start but the added experience of this players should inject the squad with the game management skills that they have lacked at times this season. The strong away following should also help fire up the players ahead of a crucial encounter against another side with play-off ambitions.
Last Time We Met
It was at he apex of our form under Mark Robins during the festive period last season. Despite losing McGoldrick and James Bailey to suspension and an end of a loan spell respectively, the side played with character and courage to overcome twice going behind to beat MK 3-2. The game was also the high point of the season for Stephen Elliott who replaced McGoldrick in attack and led the line with intelligence and commitment, coming away with two goals. Although finances and injury were likely behind the decision to release him, Elliott is a player who would have been us very useful to us this season, despite the Irishman still being a free agent. Just to highlight how much confidence was going through the squad at the time, Roy O’Donovan played the final 20 minutes and looked decent.
How Are They Doing?
MK are one of the perennial favourites for promotion in League One, yet over the past 2 or 3 seasons they’ve been underwhelming. A large part of that is down to financial cutbacks at the club, due to poor attendances and the scaling back of their ambitions over the past 5 years. This has led to the club increasingly utilising academy players and commendably they’ve maintained top-half status in the league. You would even like them if their manager, Karl Robinson, wasn’t so odious with his pre and post-game comments and general smugness, especially as they attempt to play the closest League One has to ‘tiki-taka’ football, even if it sometimes is an over-exaggerated form of it.
The MK Dons are on something of a poor run of form at the moment, having lost the last 2 league games in less of an implosive manner than we have. The seeds of doubt are starting to grow in the minds of some ‘fans’ of the ‘club’ as to whether they can challenge for the play-offs and the blame is being directed in the generally smirking face of Robinson. They haven’t been helped in recent weeks by the injuries to keeper Dave Martin, winger Luke Chadwick, striker and last season’s top-scorer Dean Bowditch and centre-back Antony Kay who are all regular starters for the ‘club’. Additionally youth prospect Dele Alli could be missing for tomorrow afternoon’s fixture.
That is not to say that MK Dons will be without a threat for the encounter. One of their key players this season has been centre-back Shaun Williams who in addition to being their strongest player in defence is also their set-piece and penalty taker and is their second top-scorer this season with a ridiculous 7 goals. Their central midfield duo of former Wolves players Darren Potter and Stephen Gleeson is pretty formidable for this level of football, Gleeson having a penchant for long-range goals. Finally, up-front is the Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford who is their top scorer this season with 12 and is a player to watch out for over the next few years, most likely on loan at a Championship side, he’s quick but mostly a very good finisher.
Irrespective of the large travelling contingent of Coventry fans for this upcoming fixture, this has become an important match. Losing 2 games in a row is bad, losing 3 and we’re on a bona fide slide, with the improving fortunes of Bristol City and Sheffield United we cannot afford to lose so much momentum as that will go punished. On the bright side this is an important match as it’s against another side with play-off ambitions, if we can go and win here then our season’s back on track and we’re starting to repair the lost confidence.
MK Dons as a team who like to play out from the back may be more accomodating for our style of football. They’re not going to focus on defensive shape as much as Rotherham and Tranmere did, which will allow more space for our attackers to utilise. MK Dons are still a very good team for this level of football so they’re not going to be soft touch but they’ll definitely be less negatively orientated than our previous two opponents (not that I’m criticising any team for beating us).
It’s going to be an interesting one tomorrow but I anticipate something of a goal-fest, Coventry 3 MK Dons 2.