Our last meeting was a thriller, settled by David Wheeler’s first Wycombe goal – against his former club no less – after a certain kitchen appliance had taken centre stage for much of the game. Will we be treated to the same kind of spectacle in North Bucks on Saturday? Maybe not says Liam Connolly…
Since the sides last met back in August, we’ve been on very different journeys. What went wrong for you under Paul Tisdale and how has Russell Martin started to put things right? The ‘MK Dons way’ has always been associated with attacking, exciting football that will get bums on the seats, and it is fair to say Tisdale steered the club away from this philosophy. It was always put on the backburner behind defensive solidarity, which upon our return to League One seemed to disappear as well. Martin has re-introduced this philosophy – which he had been focusing on with his Foundation off the pitch – to MK Dons, as well as knowing the players in the dressing room and ones recruited as people, not just footballers. This will go a long way in the months and, hopefully, years to come with Martin at the helm.
At the moment, you’re only six points above the relegation zone, having played two games more than 21st placed Tranmere. Are you confident that you will start to pull away towards safety and avoid a dogfight? When you are in the position that we find ourselves in, you have to beat the teams around you, and I certainly think we have the quality to do so. We beat Rochdale 2-1 on Tuesday evening, a result which, as well as trips to AFC Wimbledon and Tranmere and games at Stadium MK in general, could be vital to getting us out of this mess. I am confident we can give anyone in this league a game, but the players in the dressing room need to believe that too, which has often been an issue in the last few seasons.
Over the season as a whole, who have been your standout players and why? Goalkeeper Lee Nicholls has been without a doubt our player of the season so far. You only have to watch our highlights for the season or have a quick look at the numbers. Lee has been everything the club could have asked for in terms of a successor to David Martin and I would be surprised if Championship clubs do not come knocking in the summer for his services.
Right-back Callum Brittain also deserves a mention in this category. Once given the freedom of the right-hand side, Callum has often impressed with his attacking output, which everyone at the club knew was there and now is being showcased for all to see.
You’ve already done a fair bit of business this window, but do you expect any more? Is there anywhere you still desperately need to strengthen? Russ Martin and his assistant Luke Williams have been fairly open in stating that they are happy with the business made if the window was to shut now but are always exploring one or two options. With Brennan Dickenson departing for Exeter, perhaps a left wing-back could be of need for this side just in case the ever-reliable Dean Lewington becomes the opposite of exactly what he is. Some fans have also suggested the need for a winger, but the preferred system does not need wingers, so that seems a bit left field to me. So no, no positions are desperately needed, but it would be nice to fill a few holes if we can find the right fits.
Last of all, how do you see the game going? Score prediction welcome! I would hope that the Dons are a lot more secure defensively than when we faced each other in the league at Adams Park in August, and I think we will be with Luke Williams setting us up tactically. Wycombe’s form for the last month or so hasn’t been great. As for us, after a positive December run, we lost our two games before the win over Rochdale, despite decent performances in both.
I could see both teams wanting to push on here. I am sure Martin would take a point against second place every day of the week and Wycombe will be looking to end a spell of four straight away defeats. Dons could nick the three points, but I will go with my gut: MK Dons 0-0 Wycombe.
Header image by Dan Clark