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What we learnt: Robbie's presser

3 March 2017


What we learnt: Robbie's presser

3 March 2017

Robbie Neilson has called for his MK Dons side to be more aggressive when dealing with set-pieces.

Four of the last five goals the men from MK1 have conceded have come as a result of a set-piece and it’s an area of the game that Neilson wants his team to improve on.

“The set-plays are disappointing at the moment,” Neilson said in his Thursday press conference. “We’re not aggressive enough when the ball goes in – we need to be aggressive.

“We’re not the most physical team and we haven’t got the biggest players in the league so it’s always going to be difficult but it’s something we need to continue to try and work on.

“A lot of goals get scored from set-pieces. If you can shut that out then great but if you look at all of the teams, the majority of goals they lose are from set plays – we looked at the 70 goals scored in last week in the league and I think it was 30% came from corners.

“Every team has got one or two players who have got really good delivery and can put it on the money. Most teams have also got three or four boys who are 6ft 3in that are aggressive in the air.

“We’re trying to shut it down but I don’t expect to go through a whole season without conceding a goal from a set-piece.”

Here’s what else we learnt from Neilson’s press conference ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet League One clash with Millwall at The Den...

Variety in formations...
“You have to be able to change your systems. The big difference in football is when you go from playing three at the back to playing four at the back – that totally changes the flow and style of the game. Players being able to adapt into those two systems is huge for me. Having the option with the players on the pitch to be able to do it, without making a sub makes a big difference as well. We did it at Bradford. It’s important to me that we keep working on that.

“We’ve worked on it since the first couple of days of me coming in. We worked on being able to slide into a different formation. That’s something we work on a lot. We’ve not had a great amount of time to work on it recently because we’ve had a lot of games but it’s something that we’ll really focus on in the coming months when we go Saturday-Saturday.”

Summer shake-up...
“I think there’s always a shake-up when you get to the summer. At our level, teams don’t generally keep hold of their players for long periods of time – there are no four-year contracts, it’s one or two-year deals which means that players move on to different things.

Business done early...
“I think there are areas we need to improve. We’re making headway already – speaking to people and trying to get players tied up on pre-contracts. What I don’t want to do is start pre-season and only have 10 people here. We need to make sure we have a good squad – it won’t be a complete squad but it’ll be a squad good enough with 15 or 16 first-team players that we can build on.”

Expect outgoings...
“It’s natural for that to happen in football. People come and go, wherever it’s up or down. I know what I need to do. At this period of time we’re waiting to see where we end up in the league – do we make the play-offs or do we not make the play-offs? It makes a big difference so we need to make sure we prepare for both sides of it.”

Millwall test...
“It’s going to be really tough. It’ll be difficult to try and break them down. They don’t open up a lot and they keep their back four sitting there with the midfield in front of them, allowing their attacking players to go and win the game. It’s a tough place to go at the best of times but I think we’re in decent form at the moment. We’re looking pretty strong after a tough game during the week and we’ll go down there with confidence.”

Enjoying first visits...
“It’s been great. I’m really looking forward to going to The Den on Saturday. I’ve heard a lot about it – the atmosphere and intensity of it, which is great. I thought Bradford was really good on Tuesday night – a big crowd in a huge stadium. It felt like a proper game with the intensity of it. The pitch wasn’t great but that added to it as well.”

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