On the back of five straight league defeats and just one win in all competitions over the past month, Paul Tisdale has come under fire from sections of the MK Dons fanbase ahead of entering another difficult set of fixtures.
The Dons face Mark Robins’ high-flying Coventry City – sitting just outside the play-off places despite their difficult circumstances – at 3pm on Saturday before trips to Rochdale (17th) and Fleetwood (5th) over the following week.
With injuries to key players such as Rhys Healey, Alex Gilbey, Jordan Houghton, Kieran Agard and Sam Nombe among a host of squad players, Paul Tisdale has struggled to pull results from the hat with his largely depleted force over the past month.
Shocking displays against Southend United (0-1), Burton Albion (0-3), and Bristol Rovers (0-1) have caused some fans to turn against the Malta-born gaffer.
3-0 actually flatters Dons. Could have been 5. Hopeless yet again, awful tactics and subs, totally unbalanced squad. Only heading in one direction at the moment. #TisdaleOut @BBC3CR https://t.co/NDoke3X7In
— Ed (@EdMK04) October 5, 2019
Called a loss when the lineup was announced, even with the injuries we can be so much more positive especially at home. It's not just this game or even this season i had issues with Tisdale through the promotions season with being passive and boring, he needs to go #TisdaleOut
— Daryl "DROFDER" Redford (@DROFDER_) October 5, 2019
— Brett (@brettbrock11) September 21, 2019
Perhaps most frustrating for the fans is Tisdale’s insistence on using the same 5-4-1 system despite its fruitless outcome over recent times.
With Jordan Bowery playing as the lone striker and Hiram Boateng as a makeshift number 10, the Dons have struggled to create any real chances despite dominating possession in many of their games, resulting in one goal in their past five outings. Posting just a 0.3 expected goals figure last weekend against Bristol Rovers, time has surely come for a change in system from Tisdale.
Chances have certainly been made, although very few have been of real quality. The Dons have often dominated proceedings but been put to the sword by more effective, ruthless League One outfits. A sharp contrast to many opponents of last season.
Many fans have called for Tisdale to move to a flat back four, saying that the current system is too defensively minded – although others would argue that the Dons’ best chances come from their wingbacks pushing high and getting crosses into the box.
Some have suggested that the key could be moving to a front two or even three – the Dons’ system relies heavily on having firepower within the box to capitalise on the impressive amount of chances they normally create, but this clearly hasn’t been working with Bowery as the lone striker. Could Tisdale turn to youngsters Brennan Dickenson and Dylan Asonganyi to form a front three to boost the Dons’ firepower?
Kieran Agard is back in training, albeit still a doubt for Saturday’s fixture. Alex Gilbey follows suit, although the former Colchester man will likely be rested longer to prevent further aggravation after a string of injuries over the past year. Ben Reeves will play a part on Saturday after featuring against the Gas last time out.
What is evident, is that the Dons are longing for the return of star man Rhys Healey. The forward found the net three times in both league and cup before being ruled out until the new year, but his overall presence was what was most impressive. Tisdale’s outfit looked far more calm, able and confident with a quality offensive outlet up top and the Mancunian will certainly make a huge difference upon his return in January.
Tisdale will almost certainly be given plenty of time to turn things around at Stadium:MK under patient Chairman Pete Winkelman.
However, were he not to make a conscious effort to change system to exit this rut, he will quickly find himself under increasing pressure – and even the most patient Chairman will eventually come to the end of his fuse.
Tisdale needs to step up and address the issue that Bowery isn’t working as a loan striker – whilst he brings other players into the game, he is by no means a natural finisher at this level and desperately needs someone alongside him.