As we look forward to our only home game over the festive period, we caught up with Dom Damesick, who kindly provided some interesting answers to a few testing questions.
Dom has followed the Dons since the age of seven and has blogged about them for Sky Sports and Teamtalk. He previously wrote a regular column for the MK Citizen.
He'll be at the Proact for what will be an important game for both teams.
Both sides have had a disappointing season to date.What was your expectation at the start of the season?
To push for an immediate return to the Championship. However, we recruited poorly in the summer, ending August with only one out-and-out striker in Nicky Maynard, who has not managed to score so far this season, and seriously lacking in physical presence across the side - we have been too easily bullied on too many occasions this season. By early October I was revising my expectations to top-half, and now I just want to make sure we're well clear of the bottom four come May.
Management changes. Was it the right call for Karl Robinson to move on?
Yes, I think it was the right time for all concerned to have a clean slate. Robinson has some very good qualities as a manager - his brand of football; his nurturing of young talent; his passion for the game - but he had done nothing to improve on his shortcomings over six years at the club. The teams he creates are one-dimensional. They seek to pass their way through the opposition, and sometimes in League One there is a necessity to win ugly, and Robinson was unable to achieve that. His teams also tend to suffer from a mental fragility that he could not seem to eradicate. He also has to take responsibility, at least in part, for the very poor summer recruitment. The squad is criminally lacking in depth and we've paid the price.
Your new manager, Robbie Nielsen, said on his appointment that "MK Dons have Premier League potential" - is he right?
A long way down the line, perhaps, but I don't expect to see the Dons gracing the Premier League in the next ten years. The infrastructure is gradually being put in place - the stadium could host top-flight football, and that is pretty much finished now, but there is still a need for a high-quality training facility (as opposed to the park the team currently trains in) as well as continued evolution of the academy, and to try and make the club a profitable entity. And, even when all those aspects are in place, there needs to be an injection of cash from somewhere. I think the club saw last year how big an investment is required to even compete in the Championship, let alone push for promotion, and I don't think the club has the finances to make that leap at present.
Can we expect to see a big turnaround on the pitch in the New Year?
I think we'll see some, but I'm not expecting anything more than a mid-table finish. Neilson has made it clear he wants to bring in 3 or 4 new players in January, particularly to add a physical presence to the team, and I think that will help matters, but building a successful squad is going to take more than one transfer window. This side needs some fairly wholesale changes, and I'm not sure January is necessarily the time to try and completely overhaul a team. It will be about making the right additions to see us through the rest of this season, and then having a more fundamental reassessment in the summer.
Did you become a fan of MK after the club left London? Are you surprised that the fan base hasn't grown more rapidly. Apart from success on the pitch what can the club do to boost support?
I was actually a Wimbledon fan, and was one of the few who followed the club from South London up the M1. Initially, MK Dons would have been a second team for most fans, perhaps a more local option, and it will take time to build a committed, 'die hard' fanbase. The club does a lot of good community work trying to entice new fans though, particularly young fans, who can hopefully get hooked early and become Dons for life. It's also worth saying that the club has one of the higher average attendances for League One, so the picture isn't all that bad. How do the club boost support further? Succeed in a higher division!
The new club played its first game in August 2004. Is it now time to put the past behind and remove the "Dons" suffix?
Personally I don't think so. The name perfectly embodies the identity of the club. Where it came from and what it is now.
What was the mood after the recent home win over AFC Wimbledon?
Positive. There's undoubtedly a rivalry of sorts there, albeit a rather unconventional one, and so it's always nice to beat your rivals. More important than that it was our first home league win of the season, and now that rather undesirable record has come to an end it will hopefully pave the way for a few more home wins in 2017.
Your predictions for the top three and bottom four in League One this season...
I think Sheffield United and Bolton will take the top two spots, with Scunthorpe having to settle for the play-offs in third.
At the bottom, things look pretty dire for Coventry. I expect Oldham and Shrewsbury to join them in League Two next season, along with AFC Wimbledon, following a remarkable 20-game winless run in the second half of the season.