MK Dons have been relegated from League One following their 2-0 home loss against Scunthorpe United. This makes it the Dons’ second relegation in three years after finishing second bottom of the Championship in the 2015/16 season.
MK Dons Relegated to Leauge Two
The Confirmation Game
The loss extended the Dons’ losing streak to six games since the 2-1 success away at Gillingham. It was another lacklustre performance in which they conceded twice in 15 first-half minutes. Rory McArdle put the visitors in the lead after 20 minutes, heading in Hakeem Adelakun’s corner, and the lead was extended a quarter-of-an-hour later when Ivan Toney superbly headed in Josh Morris’ cross.
Chances for the home side were limited after the break. Chuks Aneke, this season’s top scorer, came closest late on, but he headed his chance over.
To Be Expected?
The Dons have been in a downward spiral ever since their promotion to the Championship three years ago. Failure to invest in that campaign resulted in poor performances and an almost inevitable relegation. After switching managers from the under-performing Karl Robinson to Robbie Neilson part-way through their League One return season, they were guided to an underwhelming, but in the end, satisfactory, 12th place finish.
However, the current season was beyond any reasonable belief for MK Dons fans. Neilson was sacked right at the end of the January transfer window and replaced by Dan Micciche. However, his sacking was confirmed on Sunday after just 16 games in charge.
Keith Millen was given the responsibility of handling the final three games, the second of which was today’s encounter with Scunthorpe. He will have to manage the final game knowing that the Dons will be playing in League Two next season.
Who Can Take the Club Forward?
The club has lacked leadership since Robinson’s sacking. The hiring of Neilson was a risk and for a short time it paid off. However, what the club needed then, and what it needs more than anything now, is a manager who knows the lower echelons of English football.
When MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman addressed the media last week to discuss Micciche’s sacking, he made reference to the appointment of Martin Allen back in 2006. Prior to the appointment, Allen had guided Barnet to a fourth-place finish in what is now the National League in the 2003/04 season. He was then picked up by Brentford. Here, he guided the Bees to fourth in League One and then third in the season after.
Winkelman stressed that the club may be in a position where they need to make a similar appointment. It’s difficult to find anything wrong with that statement, as it worked so well last time. The Dons weren’t necessarily a successful team under Allen. However, after relegation from League One in 2005/06, he steadied the ship by finishing fourth, allowing Paul Ince to take the helm in the next campaign and guide them to the League Two title.
A similar effect will be needed from the next manager to walk through the doors at Stadium MK. This is regardless of whether they last one season, like Allen, or do the job of both he and Ince and takes the Dons up.
Former Scunthorpe manager Graham Alexander is currently the bookies favourite at 3/1. This is despite Uwe Rosler leading the race in the days following the sacking. Allen himself is also an outsider for the job. He is currently in his fourth different spell as Barnet boss and is attempting to save them from relegation to the National League.
It is a sad moment for those that support MK Dons. This certainly goes against Pete Winkelman’s plan of Premier League football in a Premier League stadium. Instead, he now has League Two football in a Premier League stadium.
Another thing he has though is one last chance. He has made two wrong decisions in managerial appointments. He has one more chance to find the right candidate to take this club to the next level. If he gets it wrong again, he will have to seriously consider his own position at the club.