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MK Dons aim to reach the promised land... if they can keep 11 players on the field

Milton Keynes Dons have shown plenty of potential in recent seasons but thanks to regular heartbreak in the playoffs, they have failed to reach the promise land of the Championship.

The League One side have everything in place to launch a title assault this season, if they can keep 11 players on the field.

It is remarkable consistency but must be bugging manager Karl Robinson to the point of wanting to tear his hair out!

Four games into this season and the Dons have chalked up four red cards successively, which can’t be put down to dodgy refereeing all the time either.

There seems to be a complete lack of discipline on the field and although it is very early in the season, it is setting a bad trend for the year to come.

Lewington the latest to see red

Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Paolo di Canio’s Swindon Town brought about another silly dismissal, this time involving the experienced Dean Lewington.

Lewington (pictured), who is the fans favourite in MK and one of the last remaining players from the old Wimbledon days, was shown the red card in the 41st minute for violent conduct.

A further altercation on the touchline as he headed down the tunnel means the left back could face a lengthier suspension.

A candid Lewington spoke to MK Dons Player yesterday and admitted he shouldn’t have got involved.

He said: “I have grabbed the ball and their man has come to grab it and he’s grabbed my arm and my natural reaction was to push him back.”

“The linesman has said I have elbowed him directly in the face with force – it is one of those things, that looking back at it, I shouldn’t have even got involved in it.”

The red card looked slightly harsh from the video highlights but at least Lewington admitted his guilt and when there is a situation where hands are raised in the game, you are putting yourself at risk.

Skipper Lewington’s red card follows Stephen Gleeson’s dismissal in the Capital One Cup opener at Cheltenham, which the Dons won on penalties.

New signing from Huddersfield, Antony Kay saw red in the closing stages of the opening day victory at home to Oldham, before Alan Smith was dismissed in a draw at Bournemouth, for a wreckless lunge inside 20 minutes.

Not a dirty team

Passionate chairman of the club, Pete Winkleman decide to speak to the media after the match on Saturday and defended this appalling statistic against the players.

He said: “From our point of view, we have suffered another sending off today, it is something that I can’t really believe.

“We are one of the best footballing teams in the Football League, many press comments, especially since we have had Karl Robinson as our manager, have pointed that out.

“We’re not a dirty team, we don’t play to get players sent off, we don’t play to hurt anybody and instead, we try to play the better football.”

Both Robinson and Winkleman have defended the players vigorously over this poor disciplinary record and have lamented the lack of consistency by the referees within League One.

That’s a true point throughout England but the buck has to stop with the players. In the heat of the moment, a player can dive into a risky challenge, raise an elbow and they should know the consequences that could face them.

I would agree that MK Dons are not a dirty team and many of the regular visitors to Stadium mk would agree with that sentiment.

However, finishing with 11 players on the pitch, regardless of the decisions, is better than winding up with ten and dropping crucial points in the battle for automatic promotion.

Plenty of potential

Away from the issues with red cards and the progress that MK Dons has made as a football club is mightily impressive.

They were created following Wimbledon’s move to Milton Keynes in September 2003 and although there was a load of controversy, the name was changed to MK Dons for the start of the 2004-05 campaign.

Although early days were dark under Stuart Murdoch and Danny Wilson, which ultimately led to a relegation to League Two, the club bounced back in 2007-08 under the management of Paul Ince, winning the League Two title and the Football League trophy.

Current Chelsea boss Roberto di Matteo made his breakthrough in management here in 2008-09 and Robinson took charge in 2010-11, keeping the club within the top six but unfortunately, not quite yet able to make the step up into a higher division.

This season, plenty of potential has been underlined, with the arrival of Kay, Smith on a permanent basis and ex-Liverpool right back Jon Otsemobor from Sheffield Wednesday.

On the coaching staff, former Wimbledon striker Mick Harford has become Robinson’s no.2 this season and Ian Wright has also joined the coaching team for midweek encounters and training sessions, alongside his Absolute Radio commitments.

The club has been made joint favourites with Sheffield United to gain promotion and the foundations are in place, with an excellent staff, improving playing squad and a fantastic modern stadium on the outskirts of Bletchley, which can hold over 30,000 spectators.

It has been a rocky start for Milton Keynes Dons to the 2012-13 campaign but the promise is there for another exciting season.

As an MK resident myself, it will be great to see higher level football arrive very soon to a club that is rapidly growing.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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