Robbie Neilson has been appointed as the manager of MK Dons after agreeing terms with the League One side. Neilson’s assistant, Stevie Crawford, will also join him at Stadium MK.
Neilson emerged as one of the leading candidates for the job very late in the race. The Dons had previously been linked with Steven Gerrard and Steve Cotterill. However, Neilson, who is leaving Scottish Premiership side Hearts for the job, came into the running at the start of the week.
His Time at Hearts
The 36-year-old former defender guided Hearts to a league title in his first season in charge; the Edinburgh side won the Scottish Championship in the 2014/15 season. This resulted in promotion back to the Premiership at the first time of asking. In their first season back, Hearts finished third; this secured them a spot in the 2016/17 Europa League.
During his time at the club, he was nominated for the Manager of the Month competition on at least four occasions. He was awarded the accolade for August 2014, after Hearts won their opening five games. They went through the first half of the season unbeaten, but were finally undone by Falkirk in a 3-2 home defeat. He was awarded the Manager of the Month award a further two times in Hearts’ unbeaten run; in October and November. Adding to their already impressive season, Hearts gave out a record 10-0 defeat to Cowdenbeath on 28 February 2015.
A New Challenge
Neilson’s last game in charge at Hearts was a 2-0 win over Rangers. The win took Hearts to second in the Scottish Premiership; a big contrast to the team he is joining.
MK Dons currently sit 19th in League One after a disappointing start to the campaign. They are yet to win at home in the league this season, and their away form is depleting too. The Dons’ win at Coventry last weekend was their first in almost two months. A brace from Ed Upson gave the Dons a 2-1 victory at the Ricoh Arena.
The club have been in a poor run of form for a long time now. Since their promotion season of 2014/15, the Dons have struggled for any sort of consistency. They were relegated after just one season in the Championship, where just nine wins and 12 draws gave them a finish of 23rd place.
This campaign got off to a decent start, with three wins from their opening five games, however poor home performances saw this drop sharply down the table. Even leading positions against Bristol Rovers and Chesterfield couldn’t provide them with much needed home wins. A solitary 3-2 win over Spennymoor Town in the FA Cup is the only respite the Dons have had at home.
These are all bad habits that Robbie Neilson will be looking to turn around. He is a young, exciting manager, similar to Karl Robinson, but perhaps with some fresher ideas that other managers in England may not have seen before.
Neilson’s first game in charge could not be more ironic. He takes his side to south London to take on Charlton Athletic; who appointed former Dons boss Karl Robinson last week. He recorded a 1-1 home draw with high-flyers Sheffield United in his first game in charge, courtesy of Patrick Bauer’s 93rd minute equaliser.
After this, Neilson will have to prepare for the visit of AFC Wimbledon on 10th December, a game that is sure to be a feisty affair.