As the dust settles on another crisis episode at Stadium MK, it’s perhaps a good time to take stock and look forward to what the future could look like next season.
Pete Winkelman told us earlier in the week that he’s not a fan of big squads. Well ours is pretty big and certainly unsustainable in League Two, so I suspect we’re going to see changes and a reduction in playing staff.
Let’s take a look at the squad, their ages and contracts:
Lee Nicholls (25) – Contract: July 2020
Decent season by Dons low standards but not faultless. Has to take responsibility for needlessly injuring his hand and with it our chances of survival.
Wieger Sietsma (22) – Contract July 2019
Given a chance to shine in the first team but blew it in spectacular style. Eight senior appearances and 19 goals conceded.
George Williams (25) – Contract July 2020
An extraordinary 50 appearances from last years Player of the Season. Hasn’t come close to last years highs but has remained connected to the fans.
Dean Lewington (33) – Contract July 2019
Has cut a controversial figure this season following his exclusion from the club by Neilson. Age not on the side of the club captain and coaching may be the future now.
Joe Walsh (25) – Contract July 2020
Only played 19 times this season, missing the second half through injury. Dons only lost 3 times out of the 10 league appearances made by the Welshman.
Scott Wootton (26) – Out of contract
Played 42 times as he returned from injury but has struggled to find any sort of form. Neilson indicated his future was not secure and that appears to remain the case.
Scott Golbourne (30) – Loan (Bristol City)
Impressed early on but form dropped away. Suffered a bad injury but came back to feature in last 4 defeats. Out of contract at City but contract not certain at the Dons.
Elliott Ward (33) – Loan (Blackburn Rovers)
Decent contributions and has shown leadership but returns to Blackburn Rovers. Unlikely to see a return as doesn’t have age on his side.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell (25) – Loan (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Haven’t seen anything to impress me all season. Apart from his disconnect with Dons fans, he hasn’t particularly added value to the defence.
Josh Tymon (18) – Loan (Stoke City)
Eight appearances for the Dons and yet to be in a winning side. Spell out through injury. Showed flashes of quality but not enough for me.
Ben Tilney (21) – Out of contract
One of the first players to endure the wrath of Neilson, but returned to the under 23 fold after the Scot’s departure. Nothing to indicate that he will be given a new contract.
Callum Brittain (20) – Contract July 2020
A breakthrough season in the midfield for Brittain, and one player mentioned in positive terms by Pete Winkelman. Will be in the squad next season if we can keep hold of him.
Oran Jackson (19) – Out of contract
Whilst not making it into the senior side, Jackson has put in some decent performances in the under 23 side. Will that be enough to secure another contract though?
Ed Upson (28) – Out of contract
Hasn’t had the best of seasons but still brings a lot of experience to the table. However that is at a cost in terms of wages. Could this be the last we see of him?
Nigel Reo-Coker (33) – Out of contract
Can’t understand why we wasted a wage on a player who was never going to play in the senior side. Maybe has a future coaching but doubt he’ll be at the Dons next season.
Ousseynou Cisse – Contract July 2019
Personable character but a complete liability in the midfield. Hasn’t endeared himself to fans with his constant mobile phone use whilst driving.
Peter Pawlett (27) – Contract July 2019
One of the more impressive contributions to the Dons season… when he’s been fit. Would be a massive player in League Two but can we keep him and keep him fit?
Marcus Tavernier (19) – Loan (Middlesborough)
Seven appearances for the Dons and another player never to experience a win. Again, could develop into a decent player but not done enough for me.
Conor McGrandles (22) – Contract July 2019
No goals scored in 26 appearances. Some fans rate him but I don’t share their enthusiasm. Far too lightweight in the cut and thrust of the lower EFL.
Aidan Nesbitt (21) – Contract July 2019
Signed specifically for development in the under 23’s, he’s made 25 appearances in the senior side. He’s widely impressed and could be one to watch next season if he stays.
Giorgio Rasulo (21) – Out of contract
Not sure how many more chances he will get. Only the three appearances in the senior side. Decent contributions in the under 23’s but may well be on his way.
Connor Furlong (20) – Out of contract
Hasn’t made a breakthrough into the senior side and may become the victim of the Chairman’s decision to reduce the squad size next season.
Alex Gilbey (23) – Contract July 2020
One of the stand out performers this season, it’s easy to forget that Alex is just 23 years old. Out injured until December so certain to be here next season but only for the second half.
Hugo Logan (19) – Out of contract
Decent performances in the under 23 side and three appearances for the senior side in the Football League Trophy. Has been on loan at Hitchin Town but will be sweating on a new contract.
David Kasumu (18) – Contract July 2019
Having been offered a pro contract in December 2017 I suspect he will be hear for another season. One senior appearance against Stevenage in the Checkatrade Cup
Osman Sow (28) – Contract July 2019
Dons have only lost 8 of the 20 matches Sow has featured in. However as a marquee signing he’s contributed just 2 goals and is fragile beyond belief.
Chuks Aneke (24) – Contract July 2019
Ten goals in 34 appearances from someone who has looked thoroughly frustrated with his team-mates. Quality player but I would be amazed if he was still here next season.
Kieran Agard (27) – Contract July 2019
Club record signing rumoured to be earning £6k per week. Contribution of just 7 goals this season and has appeared anonymous for much of the time.
Robbie Muirhead (22) – Contract July 2019
Three goals in 35 appearances and another who can be summed up by the word “inconsistent.” Not sure he has the physicality to perform well in League Two.
Ikke Ugbo (18) – Loan (Chelsea)
Decent enough but I expected more along the lines of his goal against Doncaster. Definitely one for the future though.
Sam Nombe (19) – Out of contract
Didn’t trouble the scorers in his 11 senior appearances but scored for fun in the under 23’s and for Oxford City. Has to be given a new contract and chance in the senior side next season surely?.
Brandon Thomas-Asante (19) – Contract June 2019
One goal in 21 appearances but most have been late substitutions and he’s generally impressed with his energy and ability. Another who could make an impact in League 2.
Dylan Asonganyi (17) – Contract July 2020
Made his senior debut against Stevenage in the Checkatrade Trophy and has excelled in the under 23 side. Could be the next big thing with rumoured interest from Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool. Currently injured but has potential to take League Two by storm.
33 players represents a large squad and won’t be maintained in League Two. Obviously the six loan signings will return to their parent clubs leaving a contracted squad of 27 players, 9 of whom are out of contract this summer.
If we only retain contracted players the squad will look like this:
Keepers: Nicholls and Sietsma
Defence: Williams, Walsh and Lewington
Midfield: Brittain, Cisse, Pawlett, McGrandles, Nesbitt, Gilbey (injured) and Muirhead
Forwards: Sow, Aneke, Agard, Kasumu, Thomas-Asante and Asonganyi
I’ve highlighted 8 players in bold because (in my opinion), they’re the only ones I can be sure will perform at the top end of League Two. The new manager is going to be VERY busy this summer, trying to sell some players and bringing in others. Players are going to leave this club – of that I am certain. Talking of which…
Lets have a look at the latest odds on our new manager:
Early money is being split between Graham Alexander (3/1), Keith Millen (5/1) and Steve Cotterill (6/1). Big movers in the last 24 hours are Grant McCann (7/1) and Keith Curle (16/1). This pretty much mirrors the views of Dons fans on Twitter with Graham Alexander the most mentioned name and Steve Cotterill also favoured by many.
46 year-old Alexander was born in Coventry and went on to have a long playing career. A combative right back, he played for Scunthorpe, Luton, Preston and Burnley.
In 2012 he was appointed manager of Fleetwood Town and the following year guided the club to promotion from League Two via the play offs. He was sacked the following season after a poor start in League One.
In March 2016 he became manager of Scunthorpe United, taking them to the League One promotion play offs within 12 months. Alexander was sacked by Scunthorpe in March 2018 despite the club occupying 5th place in League One.
With a career win rate of 42.2% from 263 matches employed as a manager of League One and Two clubs, he is a proven winner at this level.
But what about the negatives? Well here’s some of the comments made by fans at his former clubs:
“The main gripe with supporters has been Alexander constantly playing players out of position.”
“Many felt that Alexander had gone too defensive”
“Made baffling tactical decisions”
Born in Cheltenham, 53 year old Cotterill had a 10 year playing career at the opposite end of the pitch to Alexander. Former clubs include Cheltenham Town, Burton Albion, Wimbledon, Brighton and Bournemouth.
He first dipped his toes into management with Irish side Sligo in 1995 and has since managed clubs such as Cheltenham, Stoke, Notts County, Burnley, Notts Forest, Bristol City and Birmingham City.
Cotterill boasts a management win rate of 40.70% over 688 matches and therefore has a proven track record.
He started by winning two promotions with Cheltenham Town, taking them from the Conference to League One. In 2010 he achieved promotion to League One with Notts County. In 2015, Bristol City won promotion to the Championship under his guidance.
But what are the negatives from fans of former clubs?
“Steve Cotterill doesn’t bond with Birmingham fans”
“Shouting at fans who have expressed an opinion he disagrees with” (Bristol City)
“No man management skills, no tactical nouse, no motivational ability, no brain” (Notts Forest)
Two of the early favourites at the Dons, and two contrasting styles of management. If nothing else it makes you consider what type of manager you want.
A younger manager who has achieved success whilst cutting his management teeth in the lower leagues or an older manager who is less concerned about fans opinions but knows what it takes to get out of the lower leagues. Someone who will manage in the “MK Way” or someone in the Martin Allen mold.
Strangely, by writing this blog I’ve changed my mind. I was initially drawn by the greater experience of Steve Cotterill, but am now concerned about his detachment from the fans. If I had to choose (and thank God I don’t), I’d probably have to favour Alexander now.
But you will all have your own opinions.
The purpose of a blog is to share personal opinions and generate discussion and thoughts. Imagine how difficult it is for Pete and the board to make their decision!