MK Dons boss lacks style

Karl Robinson let himself down on Tuesday night after my Stevenage side played well to beat his MK Dons team 2-1 in the JPT.

He described his team’s performance as ‘a shambles’, ‘embarrassing’ and a ‘waste of 45 minutes of my life’. He described their display as ‘playing their (Stevenage’s) way’.

Well I take issue with Karl. My lads worked very hard. They put Mk Dons under relentless pressure with and without the ball. Our set plays were inventive and well executed. And our general play was fast, forward focused and purposeful; on a different day, the result could have been more convincing.

Our display was neither embarrassing nor a shambles. I thoroughly enjoyed our performance and our fans did too. Especially off the back of four defeats, we showed real strength of character.

Karl is a lucky guy; he gets a lot of praise for someone who has fallen short of his targets so far. The reality is that he has some outstanding players at his club.

Luke Chadwick, Stephen Gleeson, Darren Potter, Shaun Williams and Dean Lewington know the game inside out and play it exceptionally well. MK Dons ought to do very well. A fellow manager told me the other week just how good finances were at MK.

Karl would do well to stop trying to take cheap shots and trying to belittle a fellow manager’s team.  It is poor form.


In Brian Clough’s interview with David Frost following his 44 day dismissal at Leeds, he talked about the difficulties of taking over a big club with a relentless desire for success.

Even the great Brian Clough got sacked

Even the great Brian Clough got sacked

David Weir has just discovered much of what Clough learned. You generally get no time to get things right; unless the club is Manchester United, where they understand that a manager needs proper  backing to have any chance of  the respect of his dressing room.

I feel for David and his assistant Lee Carsley. I watch a lot of games. And I kept seeing those two at games. They were clearly working hard to get things right. I met David and I know Lee; both strike me as good football people and I am sure given time they would have found a winning way.

They can take comfort from knowing that even Brian Clough got sacked.


Martin Samuel interviewed snooker king Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Daily Mail this week. He pointed out that Ronnie was similar to Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Sir Steven Redgrave, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Andy Murray. To the masses, it is only a run, a row, a bike ride, a game of tennis.

To be a champion, Samuel points out, you have to go nuts. You have to practise to the point of exhaustion, work until the body can stand no more. You do treat the game as ‘life or death’. It becomes everything.

I have written so often myself about the profound effect that Daley Thompson had on me. Daley reached the top of the world and Olympic gold medal status because he was obsessed with being the absolute best he could be.

His philosophy was to make sure that his 80 per cent was better than anybody else’s 100 per cent. He worked relentlessly and studied his opponents ferociously to get there. As a young football manager when I first met Daley, I realised just how obsessed you need to be to get to the top.

This week I watched Rush, the film showing the  Formula One rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Lauda used obsession to get to the top, while Hunt got there through a cocktail of wine, women, song and courage. The man who repeated his world victory was Lauda while Hunt was the single victory champion. The message about the necessity of obsession and relentless ambition came through.

My challenge is to help my players discover genuine ambition. And to support that with a brutal obsession.

In my experience, it is only when that extreme hunger is present that trophies and medals get won. It isn’t easy to persuade players to give that much to their careers. Daley was astonished at what he saw as a lack of professionalism in the extent of footballers’ obsession with becoming the best they can be. I remain convinced that the sky is the limit for a young player with an open mind, healthy obsession and an understanding that Rome wasn’t built in a day.


The world of football never ceases to amaze me. I read this week that the FA were ‘defending’ their decision to appoint John Beck as a coach educator at St George’s Park. It left me staggered.

Here is a man who guided Cambridge United from the old Fourth Division to the brink of the top flight. That is the same Cambridge United that are now doing really well in the Conference. John Beck pushed them way beyond their natural level.

New, young and aspiring coaches should be delighted to be given the opportunity to learn from such a master of the craft of management.

But no; we are told that Beck had a reputation for gamesmanship and long-ball football.

And the FA feel the need to apologise for taking him on. We need to get real. Men like John Beck who have won promotions should be regarded much more highly than men with lovely theories but no end product.


It is described as the perfect starting point for a good pub argument and it asks questions such as  ‘Was Sir Alf Ramsey really a good manager?’

Is he all that? was sitting on the bookshelf this week and I couldn’t resist picking it up.

Its author, Talksport’s Adrian Durham, first came to my attention back in 2003 when he absolutely battered me on air following my Farnborough Town team’s FA Cup tie being transferred to Highbury.

Controversial: Adrian Durham always ruffles feathers

Controversial: Adrian Durham always ruffles feathers

In later years, when he actually understood the behind-the-scenes wrangles that led to the change of venue, AD almost apologised to me! I respected that.

He is a most opinionated presenter and his show with Darren Gough is a really good listen.

I am hoping the book is as provocative as his radio presence. If it is, it might become the autumn’s compulsive read.

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