Outgoing Hearts boss Robbie Neilson heading to ‘progressive’ club in MK Dons, insists Karl Robinson

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

ROBBIE NEILSON will join a “progressive” and “forward thinking” club in the form of Milton Keynes Dons, according to former boss Karl Robinson.

Robinson became the youngest manager in British football when he was appointed by the Dons in 2010 at the age of 29 and was backed to the hilt by chairman Pete Winkelman, ultimately winning promotion to the Championship in 2014/15.

However, they were relegated the following season and the malaise continued this term with seven defeats in 15 matches, prompting the Liverpudlian coach – now in charge of Charlton – to leave the club by mutual consent.

Robinson, right, and Gary Waddock overseeing MK Dons training (Pic: Glenn Salt)
Robinson, right, and Gary Waddock overseeing MK Dons training (Pic: Glenn Salt)

Nevertheless, Robinson does not bear a grudge and instead believes the football philosophy, passionate fan-base and supportive chairman at MK Dons will ensure they provide the perfect next step in Neilson’s career.

“It is a very forward thinking football club,” said Robinson. “It is a progressive club with a style and an identity. If you look at them over the last six years the club has fought hard to play a way that is recognisable.

“The chairman stuck by me for many years and it is a really enjoyable place to work. It is one where whoever goes in next will be very fortunate and will be presented with a very exciting challenge.

“The board are great people and want to help and support you. It is a good football club with a fantastic fanbase. There is obviously a controversial element to it with them only being 14 years old. That is unique and a challenge.

“But the supporters are superb, if you get 100 per cent out of your players they will sing and shout and back you.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are coming from Scotland or somewhere else in England, it is difficult. Everyone sees the amount of maneuvering and movement there is in management.

“But the thing about the chairman at MK Dons is that he is very supportive and loyal.”

MK Dons are currently toiling in League One, sitting in 19th place after a run of one win in their last nine games. They have not won a league match at home all season.

Nevertheless Robinson believes Neilson will be charged with masterminding a playoff push.

“I think the expectations will be playoffs,” he continued. “When I left, I thought that team could get into the playoffs but I think they will need to recruit in January

“Charlton, where I am lucky enough to be now, are a massive club, Bolton are in League One, so are Sheffield United. So many good teams are in the lower levels of English football and the competitive edge is getting better and better every year.”

The young Scottish coach will not, however, be able to spend his way to success when he swaps Gorgie for Milton Keynes.

“I don’t think it is about the budget,” Robinson told BBC Scotland. “There is an infrastructure in place and a business structure that everyone sticks to.

“I know the chairman will work hard to give the chairman what he wants and whatever he can. There is an honesty and a transparency from the board which I think is outstanding.

“I just hope that the next person who goes in there takes the football club forward and enjoys success.”

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