For lower league clubs all over the country, Norwich City are the team they are hoping to emulate and as the Canaries travel to MK Dons for their latest pre-season friendly, Karl Robinson’s men have made it perfectly clear how they want to copy the Carrow Road blueprint for success.
The League One outfit have promotion on their mind after a series of near misses in recent seasons and having watched on with a fair amount of envy as Norwich climbed the league ladder all the way from the third tier to the Premier League under Paul Lambert, the Dons have their eyes on a similar feat.
Under the ownership of the incredibly ambitious and ever so slightly odd Pete Winkelman, the Dons have been geared up for success ever since they robbed Wimbledon of their football club in the most disgraceful manner (the majority of football league fans have nothing but disdain for the way in which this ‘franchise’ went about its business) and with a shiny new stadium already in place, MK Dons see themselves as a Premier League club in the making.
Robinson, their bright young manager, spoke this week of Norwich’s success, built largely on players who had plied their trade in the lower leagues, and urged his charges to take inspiration from the meeting of the two sides on Friday.
Norwich are the favourites to win the match at 67/100, with the draw at 13/5 and Milton Keynes at 13/4, and I fancy the home side to get a result here.
It is perhaps a surprise that Robinson, just 31 years old, is still at the Dons: his reaction to the fans after losing to Huddersfield in the play-off semi-final last season, when a teary-eyed Robinson seemed to be waving an emotional goodbye, suggested he would be off in the summer but he appears to be staying put and that is a huge plus for MK as they head into the new season.
Robinson is a talented coach and his young team will go close again this year. He has bought well so far this summer, bringing in ex-Leeds man Alan Smith and Ryan Lowe, formerly of Sheffield Wednesday, and MK Dons will be there or thereabouts come May.
Norwich have enjoyed a good pre-season themselves, with some decent transfer business alongside some good results, including a draw against Ajax last time out. New boss Chris Hughton has settled well as he readies the Canaries for a second year in the Premier League, but he might not win this one.
The Dons actually thrashed Norwich in a Carling Cup tie in September, winning 4-0 at Carrow Road. Lambert rested his entire team that night and wasn’t bothered in the slightest about getting knocked out, but it goes to show that the Dons possess quality and with that result fresh in the mind, I’ll have a go on the 19/20 that MK Dons avoid defeat.
The hosts have won three and drawn one of their four pre-season matches, scoring 19 while not conceding a goal. This represents a step up in class, but their first home game of the season might not end up in defeat.
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