Wednesday, 1 February 2012

January Blog

The New Year and the first of the January fixture's saw us play Colchester a side who have the same size squad as us.

All season I have looked at the sides we are playing and without fail we have had the smallest squad so it was a surprise to see us matched with a team of equal size.
Colchester had recently lost a player on loan and we had lost two and we waited to see how we would line up or even if we would get anyone in before the game as the window had opened.

Id seen the week before a player training with us in the dome but but couldn't get his name partly as I never hang around long in the dome as its quite a dangerous place with the balls hitting you pretty hard if your not careful and partly because Robbo hadn't arrived before I left so I couldn't ask him. but we were definitely looking to get players in.

The game was a dreary affair especially first half and I couldn't see any team scoring, second half we managed to bundle one in credited to MacKenzie but more likely an own goal, it was that sort of a match but three points is three points as they say but not worth wasting to much time writing about.

But the week was all about Queens Park Rangers and the Colchester game was soon forgotten as we looked forward to the Prem new boys arrival Robbo had told me last month we would get fifteen thousand and the ticket sales were reportedly that by time we entered the week of the game with QPR taking all their allocation or near as.

I know a group of locally based QPR fans and they were in the home end and I imagined they would not be alone.
The game was a real cracker and we were easily the better team playing some great football a fact echoed by my guest for the match a Spurs fan who still goes to the occasional game when work allows but also follows the Dons results, he is also a family friend of Adam Smith the Spurs loan player we have here at right back his son called during the game to ask where he was and when he said at the Dons watching Adam the son was gutted lol

As you all know we were robbed by poor officials who failed to spot a blatant offside for the goal and an earlier Penalty for handball and a replay was the result.

With Queens Park Rangers Loftus Road only having an 18,360 capacity they wouldn't have been able to fit in the 19,500 that were at S:MK a record gate for the Dons and I wondered if we would sing your grounds to small for you in reply to the QPR chant of your grounds to big for you !
But before that there was another news and another game in the league

Long time favourite with the fans Paul Mitchell went off to Southampton and left his Ambassador in the Community and scout role for a similar position but with reportedly three times the money to be replaced by Alex Rae who came back after following Ince to the doomed job at Notts County.
I spoke to our management team and staff and there were two sets of opinions but I wont say who said what but they were good luck to him he has a family and the money is too good to turn down the other was this club stood by him after his injury and found him a job in the club and he goes first chance he gets !
Another comparison was players Mitch had brought in Lewis Guy and McNamee were two mentioned and Rae's Bowditch and MacKenzie but obviously they must have been recommendation's and the manager must have rubber stamped both sets of deals so I don't take to much notice of that.

Lewis Guy and Harry Milton were released by the club and Angelo Balanta and Mark Beevers went back to their parent clubs, the Beevers news the one that upset me the most as I thought he was a good player and cant see him featuring much for Wednesday if at all but Megson wanted too much for him, Id heard 400k but that's not confirmed or official so don't quote me on it.

Other news was the rumours of players coming in and I always love these, there was Clinton Morrison, Hogan Ephraim, Darel Russell and Dean Cox amongst the early shouts, with Izlale also tipped to leave Barnet and come back.

Ahead of the Carisle game the only player I saw was David Thompson ex Liverpool,Coventry, Blackburn, Wigan, Portsmouth and Bolton player who was here on the Thursday also present was Ian Wright back for another training session and this time I got to have a chat with him he was accompanied by former Luton, West Ham and Tottenham player Mitchell Thomas.

I said to Wrighty I thought Karl was the best manager we had had and Ian said better than Ince or De Matteo and I said yes because Karl "gets " the club and has not run off for the first job offered. I also said that he is interested in the whole club including the academy and the future of the club and I liked the way he included the young academy lads in the sqaud for training and gives them the match day experience in the cup games.

I said how like a lot of fans here Id been priced out of the Prem and that I used to go to Highbury back when you could get a ticket. I joked with him that he probably didn't have that problem and that Wimbledon moving here was great for a lot of us who had followed the local sides only to see them fold or in MK City's case who were owned by the Wimbledon directors only for them to pull the plug back in the eighties, he probably wished he's ignored me as I tend to ramble on a bit when I get going lol.

The week before the Carlisle game I also had a word with Charlie Collins who said that he was going to Aldershot as the embargo was going to be lifted and he was looking forward to going and playing first team football and I wished him good luck.

Aldershot are currently in 16th place in the League 2 table and just six points from safety although they have a game in hand. Charlie will be available for five games including the home games against Accrington Stanley, Southend, and Bristol Rovers but dauntingly a trip to AFC not in Wimbledon also awaits, his manager will be a former player here Dean Holdsworth.(Charlie didn't feature in the end).

The Carlisle game and the last home game for a while saw a crisp bright morning but a distinct nip in the air there had been an overnight frost but I was still looking forward to the game and got to the stadium at 1pm to see players arrive.

I got chatting to some Carlise fans and one I spoke to said he had left at 6am and had been here since 11am he was an older guy who used to look after John Gorman's father when John played for Carlise John is still a legend there even after thirty eight years and the guy told me about one time when John's father once got locked in the bar before the game and at the end of the game he came out a bit worse for wear and asked "how did John play" after persuading the bar steward to let him have drink while the bar was closed. After the Carlise team had arrived just before 1.30pm another Carlisle fan a lady who's husband was a keeper for Carlisle back in Johns day told us that the game was in doubt and she had had a phone call from a guy called John Coleman, that was the first anyone had heard and none of the Dons fans had heard anything. I walked round to MacDonalds to hear a tannoy announcement just before 2pm that the game was off !!

Apparently covers were put on the night before but only in places it had in previous seasons frozen which seemed a bit crazy as Id have been safe and covered the whole pitch but hey what do I know, it would seem nobody thought to check the pitch first thing and everyone assumed the morning sun would thaw the pitch a momentous balls up all round and the game will have to be moved to another more congested month. The Carlisle fans that travelled were worst effected and Chairman Pete did try to make it up to them giving some free food and promising to do something about getting them down for the replay which he didn't have to do of course.But the overall opinion was the club had dropped a clanger and embarrassed itself to the footballing world something this club more than most has to be acutely aware of.

The Dons or Pete Winkelman released an unreserved apology and offered a full refund on all tickets purchased for the game whether fans could attend the rearranged game or not.
In addition he said the club will cover the cost of travel for two coaches and will issue Carlisle United with free tickets for the rearranged fixture. The United fans will be able to get two tickets each (one plus one for a friend) when the new batch of tickets are made available also not to forget the home fans Pete said the MK Dons fans will also get an additional free ticket for a friend to attend the game.Carlisle's Managing director John Nixon said: "I think it goes without saying this is an extremely generous offer from MK Dons,"We've certainly never seen anything like it before. It goes above and beyond what we expected and I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that we really appreciate it.

In other news I heard from one of our fans that Willy Gueret is now a wine merchant apparently Willy lives next door to the fans friend and they speak over the fence as it were.

Some more rumoured signings were Robert Earnshaw Jason Koumas and Hamilton Accies forward Dougie Imrie also David Weir and striker Tamas Priskin had been on the rumour mill the big one was toward the end of month when Alan Smith the Newcastle striker was tipped as coming here.
So the QPR game was upon us and ITV had said it was on ITV4 which was good for those that couldn't get to Loftus road like me as I had the kids till six, but it was announced just after we had asked for extra tickets doh.

A win would mean a trip to MK for Chelsea and of course £67,000 for third round winners with a chance (very remote) of beating Chelsea and another £90,000 prize money or whatever you call it ! The game was a much more even affair compared to the first one but we were still the better side losing out to a corner being headed through the crowd of players by Gabbidon in the last few minutes of normal time, and if only Charlie Mac and Jabo had buried thier chances the dream tie would have been ours but it wasnt to be and we did ourselves proud the teams lined up:
QPR (4-4-2): Kenny, Young, Gabbidon, Ferdinand, Hill, Mackie, Derry, Buzsaky (Helguson 72), Wright-Phillips, Macheda (T Smith 62), Bothroyd (Orr 86).Subs not used: Cerny, Hall, Campbell, Ephraim.Goal: Gabbidon 73
MK Dons (4-2-3-1: Martin, A Smith, Kouo-Doumbe, S. Williams, Lewington (c), Potter, Gleeson, Bowditch (O'Shea 83), Ibehre, Chadwick (Powell 73), MacDonald.
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Baldock, McNamee, G Williams.

I spoke to Karl at Woughton on the Thursday after the game and he was delighted with the positive reaction the club got during the QPR run and the press reaction to us he said its great being liked isnt it ! I said well I quite liked being hated really, never did Leeds or Man Unt any harm but like I said to him it never really has been anywhere near as bad as the keyboard warriors would have you believe and its provided us with some good songs and a hardcore fan base lol.

Ahead of the Notts County game Williams turned his ankle in training and it really did swell up quickly and looked painful. Charlie Mac was missing but never found what was up with him ! He lined up for the team and played but missed chances again and not really looking on his game in a hard fought battle on and off the field with John Gorman getting sent to the stands after an altercation with Allen .

A draw away from home is always a good result and against Allen's tactics I'll take a point Flanagan again scored and kept Hughes quiet but I think Id prefer a fit Doumbe or MacKenzie still as first choice centre backs dont think Tom is quite ready yet. Team lined up 4-2-3-1 Martin, Smith, Doumbe, Flanagan, Lewington (c), Potter, Gleeson, Bowditch (Powell 66), Ibehre, Chadwick; MacDonald. Only the one substitution and MacNamee and O'Shea must wonder when they will ever get a look in MacNamee must wonder why he was ever signed.

I spoke to John about the incident at Notts or rather he said when he saw me I suppose you want to know what happened and laughed, he told me he was sticking up for the manager after Allen pushed Robbo and it was nothing really just Allen playing his games.

In other results Sheffield Wed drew ,Charlton beat United and I still await their usaul end of season slip up and fall away but I think I'll be waiting a long time this season. And Huddersfield won so nothing changed at the top with Stevenage five points behind us there's a gap to keep the others at bay and we have two games in hand on everyone.

And it was Stevenage we played next. Sadly we didn't take advantage of our games in hand and despite an early goal we were soon pegged back and then behind against the run of play at times but Stevenge were fitter better organised and took the chances they had. When Doumbe got sent off for a second yellow there was only going to be one winner, we racked up the yellows which will cost us later in season and with Williams out big Mac not totaly fit and Doumbe banned it is not looking good for the next game.

Robbo had said on the BBC that he would keep faith with Powell yet played O'Shea,said Charlie Mac and MacKenzie were doubts but both played,Gleeson had tweeted he was ill but played.So all in all it looked on paper that we were desperately short of players and playing players not really fit because we had too, reports of Robbo not getting players he was after made the whole thing look pretty desperate and many questioned with the games coming up whether we would be in the play off spots come February let alone the Auto's.
The team lined up the usaul 4-2-3-1) Martin, Smith, MacKenzie, Doumbe, Lewington (c), Gleeson, Chadwick (Powell 78); Bowditch (Flanagan 65), Ibehre, O'Shea; MacDonald.the subs not used were McLoughlin, Baldock, McNamee(why did we buy him if he never gets a look in). Booked Doumbe, Ibehre, Smith goals O'Shea 3, Flanagan 86 attendance was 3345 510 were Dons fans.

On the Friday before the Sheffield Wed game the players were given the day off but Williams and Martin came in for some extra training with Williams desperate to get back to match fitness.I spoke with Shaun Williams who hails from Malahide about his time at Drogheda Shaun was the 2010 Players Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) Young Player of the Year as voted by his peers in the Airtricity League and he had an accomplished season for Sporting Fingal and has also represented the Ireland Under-23s, as the captain of Sporting Fingal Shaun was the midfielder and the mainstay of Liam Buckley’s side which finished fourth in their first foray into the Irish Premier Division Shaun was the only player in the league to be nominated for both the Senior and Young player categories and he is a player I really rate and also he a is really nice bloke to talk to, he was being coached by Adam Ross.

I also managed to have a talk with Paul Heald and David Martin and the stick goalies get when they have a bad game but virtually unmentioned when they have a match winning performance. Paul said it comes with the job and that most keepers have broad shoulders I said that defencive howlers that lead to the goals are barely mentioned but if the keeper got a hand to it everyone says he could have done better not he did well to get a hand to it, Paul said that he gets annoyed when a teams own fans get on the keeps back as confidence plays as huge part we both agreed its so much easier to blame the keeper than look at why he was put in the position in the first place.

On Sunday the 29th the club announced the "marquee" signing Robbo had been after was Alan Smith the thirty one year old has been loaned to us from Newcastle and will be available to play for the rest of the season including the play off's Smith will wear the number 11 shirt at MK Dons.I had a word with Robbo about the signing and he really happy to have got Alan I then managed to talk to Alan and welcomed him to the Dons shook his hand and then prattled on about the weather being milder here than Newcastle and totally forgot all the things I wanted to say lol but he seemed a nice bloke and was down to earth which always surprises me when I meet the top players I suppose you get influenced by the crap the press write and expect them to be prima donna's but I have found of the players I have met that they all seem normal!and the one's with attitude are the one's who really have no right to be.

Sadly as is often the case the day of Sheffield Weds game we learnt that Adam Smith had been recalled by Spurs with immediate effect leaving us without cover at right back Id spoken to Adam the day before and joked about having two A Smith's in the team and he joked about one of them being called smudger so I don't think he know anything about the recall then and from what Karl was saying he didn't either as he was in a good mood !The whole month of January has not been good and we have only one win in the whole month ahead of the Sheffield Weds game which I have to say I am not confident about after the reverse fixture ended in defeat and our home record is not as good as it should be in fact slightly worse than our away and Wednesday strengthening the team since then although the squad is an average twenty six they have done a fair bit of weeding out.The game was pretty even affair I thought with few chances either end and two own goals either end reflected that. I would have happily taken a draw before the game even at home so combined with the fact we had lost Adam Smith hours before and had no reconised Right back in that position I thought we did okay.

I would like to wish Matt Cove good luck as he leaves the Dons to start a new career,Matt is a familiar face around the club having started here when the club moved and was seen in the old box office at the NHS when it seemed him and Gayle virtually did everything from selling tops and badges scarves and cuddly toys as well as selling the tickets, lately Matt has worked for S.E.T and has been involved with the Ladies team on match days always a cheerful bloke and I'll be sad to see him go.

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