Milton Keynes Dons manager Karl Robinson has mapped out a blueprint for his side’s style of play after a series of promising performances in pre-season.
MK, 7/1 to win promotion from League One this season, beat non-league Rushden & Diamonds 5-0 on Saturday before losing to Premier League Birmingham City 3-2 at Stadium:MK on Tuesday, employing thoughtful passing tactics on each occasion.
“We work teams out and when we pick the right time we go and hurt them,” Robinson said. “I want the players to paint a mental picture of that because that is something they have to replicate.”
The side stagnated somewhat last season, finishing 12th after appearing in the play-offs the year before, with the backroom debacle surrounding Paul Ince’s departure casting a cloud over proceedings.
In appointing 29-year-old Robinson to the post in May, from his role as assistant, the club made him the youngest manager in the league and it’s clear the former Blackburn Rovers coach wants to bring a fresh perspective to how the team goes about business.
MK (25/1 to win League One) are 15/8 to beat Walsall at the Bescot Stadium on Saturday and with Jermaine Easter (20/1 to be top scorer), Aaron Wilbraham, Luke Chadwick, Dean Lewington and new player/coach Dietmar Hamann in their ranks that is a distinct possibility.
Colchester United (7/1 to get promoted) and Brighton & Hove Albion (4/1) are two other League One teams with designs on making it out of the division in a positive manner.
Gus Poyet has been in charge at the Withdean since November 2009 and since that time the former Tottenham and Chelsea player has built a strong squad.
The 42-year-old Uruguayan guided Brighton away from the relegation zone and into mid-table safety last season, and with new boy Gordon Greer being announced the captain of the side, they should feel confident of a play-off challenge.
An opening match away to last year’s play-off final losers Swindon is a difficult way to start the campaign, though (Brighton are 21/10 to win).
Colchester came eighth last term but have lost the services of Kevin Lisbie this time round. Their chairman today warned of the need to reduce the wage bill if they fail to go up. Such an disincentive could get the players motivated to win the division (28/1).