Key player: Max Watters
The impressive signings of Mo Eisa and Max Watters have shown Martin’s attacking intent for the season ahead, switching from 3-4-2-1 to a 3-4-1-2 formation with the two aiming to fill the void left by Cameron Jerome who joined Championship side Luton. The veteran notched an impressive 13 goals in 34 appearances last term.
Whilst many will know Eisa from his prolific stint at Cheltenham, Watters is the more unknown quantity of the pair. The 22-year-old joined Crawley from Doncaster on a free transfer in October 2020 and went on to be signed by Championship side Cardiff just a few months later for a reported seven figure fee. His form at Crawley saw the former Thurrock man score 13 goals in 15 League Two matches, including an impressive hat-trick against Barrow.
Following his move to Cardiff, he was surprisingly limited to just three appearances, totalling 89 minutes and was an unused substitute on 13 occasions. He will be hoping to show his employers exactly what they are missing this campaign.
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At the time of writing (last weekend), MK Dons are managed by Russell Martin. However by the time this piece is published it could be someone completely different or simply nobody at all. It is testament to how well the 35-year-old has done in his two-and-a-half years at the club with Championship side Swansea circling. Martin led the Dons to a 13th placed finish last season in League One.
The former Derby player has instilled a possession based philosophy at the club, averaging an eye-watering 60.3%, ranking them alongside Manchester City and Barcelona in terms of possession statistics last season.
Captain: Dean Lewington
Since assuming the position of Wimbledon in 2004, MK have played 782 games in the Football League. Captain Dean Lewington has played in 695 of those across in the Championship as well as predominantly League One and Two.
The 37-year-old is just one of 16 players to have played for the Dons and Wimbledon. Former Plymouth Argyle duo Jamie Mackie and Jason Puncheon are two of the others. The tough-tackling centre-back was named Player of the Season for the 2020/21 campaign.
Key departure: Scott Fraser
With 20 goal contributions (14G, 6A) in 44 appearances last season, attacking midfielder Ryan Fraser will be a massive loss following his move to fellow League One side Ipswich. This the former Burton man was top for both goals and assists at the club. The upside that many MK Dons fans will acknowledge is that nine of those goals came from the penalty spot.
According to Opta, no-one across the top four divisions had a better record when to came completed passes in the final third. Such is the success Fraser has had over the past couple of seasons, it seems surprising that a Championship club hasn’t taken a punt on him.
Target: Avoid relegation
Whilst the losses of Scott Fraser, Cameron Jerome and Mathew Sorinola are significant, there’s a feeling that MK Dons will go one better this season, provided that Russell Martin sticks around. The acquisitions of Mo Eisa, Max Watters and Josh Martin should go some way to replacing them in terms of creativity, goals and assists.
Their 5-0 Carabao Cup defeat at the hands of Championship side Bournemouth is probably not worth reading into given the strength of opposition and the impeding uncertainty of the managerial position at present. Should Martin leave, provided the right replacement is brought in, there’s no reason why MK Dons can’t still challenge with the calibre of players they have at the club for the forthcoming season.
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