A point above the relegation zone. Second lowest amount of goals scored in the league. Not a single goal in October. A fanbase turning on its manager. Could things get worse right now for Paul Tisdale’s MK Dons?
After a successful first season in charge – seeing the Dons back into League One at the first attempt – Paul Tisdale’s side have made a meagre return to the third tier.
A season so far lacking in quality, ambition and goals – yet plentiful in disappointment, defeats and cries for the manager’s head – Tisdale is likely coming to the end of his tenure at Stadium:MK, and in some fashion that will happen.
Tisdale has largely placed the Dons’ misfortunate down to a string of unfortunate absences – Rhys Healey, Ben Reeves, Jordan Moore-Taylor, Kieran Agard and Russell Martin have all spent time in the treatment room whilst Regan Poole has spent time away with the Wales’ first team.
Summer marquee signing Rhys Healey has been the biggest miss so far – after having contributed three goals throughout August, the Mancunian-born forward will be out until the new year with a knee injury.
Tisdale instead turned to academy graduate Sam Nombe – just 20 years old – who had scored three goals in second string games in the EFL Cup and Trophy, however the Croydon-born striker also later suffered an injury that will see him out until 2020.
But despite the returns of Moore-Taylor, Reeves and Agard over recent weeks, there has been no upturn in the Dons’ results and the majority of the Dons’ fanbase has turned against the Maltese-born manager. Defeats to fellow strugglers Rochdale and Southend United have been mixed in with toothless performances against the likes of Burton Albion, Fleetwood Town and Sunderland.
He has to go, it's not attacking setting up every game to play defensively will only get you draws and if you're lucky get the win on the break but we don't even have the pace to do that, enough is enough #tisdaleout
— Paul Goddard (@GoddardPaul96) October 26, 2019
— Glenn Salt (@GlennSalt) October 26, 2019
He clearly has no idea what to do- move aside for someone else, even last year his football was sooooii dull. #tisdaleout
— Andy (@Andy18089166) October 26, 2019
Questions have been asked about the methods of the manager, and whether they are contributing to the concerning amount of injuries to the first-team squad: are the players overtraining? Are the exercises not properly risk-assessed?
The Dons also faced such an injury crisis last year – albeit at the other end of the pitch.
Injuries to Joe Walsh, Baily Cargill, George Williams, Callum Brittain and Jordan Moore-Taylor saw Tisdale being forced into naming makeshift back lines featuring midfielder Conor McGrandles at right-back – the most notorious of those games being away to Bury, where the Dons threw away a 3-1 lead to their promotion rivals.
The Dons lost numerous games throughout this short spell, a spell which made many believe their play-offs credentials were at stake, let alone their automatic hopes.
The truth is that the Dons have not been good enough at all in recent times, regardless of an injury crisis. Results have been poor, there has been little direction and co-ordination in their play and even players are now turning against their manager.
With the Dons facing fellow strugglers Tranmere on Saturday, Tisdale will almost be certainly be dismissed if the result is anything other than a win.