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Monday, 05 September 2011

The View Outside The Premier League - MK Dons Challenge Looks Strong


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With the Championship suspended for international week the spotlight fell on League One and MK Dons turned in another impressive performance to bag three points from the long trip to Carlisle. After reaching the play-offs last season Karl Robinson's squad are targeting automatic promotion.

For many football supporters MK Dons will always be 'FC Franchise' , the club that deserted its own fans and few teams outside the top flight attract so much illwill. However, they have been settled in Buckinghamshire for some time now and there's no doubt that Milton Keynes have local fans who are attached to their club.

A little bit of siege mentality can always be turned to advantage at football clubs and the Dons certainly look impressive at this level. Eight new signings is a statement of intent and after letting Sam Baldock go to West Ham, the Dons brought in Charlie McDonald from Brentford, and he's bagged three goals in as many games.

The consistent Dean Bowditch had already arrived from Yeovil and there's every reason to think goals won't be in short supply. Darren Potter supplies great experience in the midfield from his time at Liverpool and Gary McKenzie learnt how to defend at a high level in Scotland.

The old heads offer a pleasing blend with talent brought on by the club such as Stephen Gleeson and Shaun Williams. Robinson can also call on the mercurial talent of Luke Chadwick, a player once tipped for the highest honours but still well capable of providing something special to unlock defences at League One level.

The Dons are now on top, which will stick in the craw of many fans. It does seem that the club are going to be a fixture in the promotion race this season though and there's no doubt that Robinson is doing an impressive job for such a young manager.

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Plymouth Argyle went down 2-1 at Burton Albion but that represented a triumph of sorts for the fans who made the long trip to Staffordshire, at one time Peter Reid didn't know if his players would turn out until 40 per cent of their owed back wages were paid.

Argyle are yet another example of the 'snakes and ladders' nature of modern football. It's just a few seasons since they were pushing towards the Premier League for the first time and there was the glamour of being part of the England bid for the 2018 World Cup. Now like Portsmouth, Southampton and many others, financial implosion has overtaken the club in record time and from here on in it's a battle to stay in the league.

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In the Blue Square Premier Mansfield Town won 2-0 at Darlington to gain some revenge for their last-minute defeat in May's FA Trophy Final at Wembley. There has been a fair turnover of players since the early summer, so only three of the Stags' Wembley line-up were on duty on Saturday.

The win took the Stags into the top five and they appear to have a realistic chance of winning their league berth back this year. It's a prospect looked on favourably in Chesterfield where fans have missed what is an extremely bitter derby fixture since the North Nottinghamshire side fell to the Blue Square.

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" Paulo Di Canio in bust-up with striker" is one headline that will have surprised few people. Appointing the combustible Italian at Swindon Town was always likely to create news - whatever else can be said about his career, boring it hasn't been.

To be fair, Di Canio appeared to be consoling striker Leon Clarke during a midweek fixture, gently encouraging the player to take his grievances down the tunnel. Clarke didn't see it that way though and Di Canio isn't the type to back away from a confrontation.

The barney might have cleared the air - Swindon beat high-flying Rotherham 3-2 to register a first league win since the opening day, with Di Canio increasingly animated on the touchline. 'Creative tension' was never in short supply at any of his clubs and after the three points on Saturday, the squad might be wondering what Di Canio has in store during training this week.

Hugh will back again next Monday with his take on the major issues affecting football in the Football League.

Related Articles:

Middlesbrough make statement of intent

Southampton keep marching on

Yeovil are up for the fight

Blackpool's Kevin Phillips still has it

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Hugh Larkin

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