Four weeks after being unveiled as MK Dons manager, Paul Tisdale took charge of his first training session at Woughton on the Green on Friday and there were plenty of smiles around the camp as the 45-year-old put his new team through their paces.
Tisdale orchestrated several passing drills as he and his squad began preparations for the 2018/19 Sky Bet League Two campaign which begins on Saturday 4th August at Oldham Athletic’s SportsDirect.com Park.
It was the first of many sessions that Tisdale will lead between now and that trip to Greater Manchester and he hopes that those to come will also involve the players baring grins on their faces.
“We're at the starting point,” Tisdale told the media, who were in attendance for the first training session of the summer. “It's a fresh start for everyone and hopefully they can all enjoy being back in, being back as a team.
“I'm assuming this hasn’t been the happiest of places in the last couple of seasons - that’s not a slight on anybody but that’s what happens after relegations.
“So much goes on at times, you can often forget that we all got here because we enjoy the game of football. Today you could see the players were enjoying themselves and if we can be engaged and productive from Monday to Friday, we'll be an effective team on Saturdays.”
Friday was the first opportunity for Tisdale to see his players in action, including his four new recruits who all took part in their first training session as MK Dons men. Tisdale discussed what goes into building the right squad.
He said: “Putting a squad together is a craft that requires a balance. It's not just about the big signing or about the young player coming through, there's no magic thing which makes it all works.
“Generally it's about getting a clarity through the squad of what players can expect and where they sit in the pecking order. It's about putting a squad together who can play in the wind, in the rain, in the sun, up the hill, down the hill, 1-0 up or down.
“I'm not just going to wipe everything clean. There are lots of players here. I need to know the context of last season but first we just need to just get through pre-season and things will settle from there.”
Here’s what else we learned from Tisdale’s pre-season press conference…
On taking his first session…
“The players will have been wondering what I'm like and they got a small insight into that today. I want to get to know the players. I've spoken to pretty much everyone - be that on the bus, at lunch or just in the corridor. That's probably the easiest way for me to introduce myself and for them to know I'm okay and I'm not going to bite their heads off!”
On the pre-season training programme…
“This is only our first day on the grass so we have to be patient. We won't win any medals in the next two or three weeks and we don't want to run before we can walk. We want to be fit in five weeks, not next week. We have to do it sensibly, and I won’t be making any judgements on performances yet. We want to keep the injury room empty and we'll do that by being sensible.”
On making assessments…
“I have to be cautious not to listen to all the information I'm given. There's certain information I need which will help me shortcut some things but, generally, I need to get the balance between what people are telling me and what I can see for myself. There is so much here to work with at the Club, including the players, and I don’t know how it will manifest itself on the opening day of the season. Fortunately, we have four or five weeks to sort that.”
On the World Cup…
“I have hardly watched a game. My life has been so busy recently. I've managed to catch the last 15 minutes of some games, after putting the kids to bed. I'm delighted England are through, but I'm a lot more interested in what goes on in the MK Dons dressing room.”
MK Dons return to Stadium MK action on Tuesday 24th July to take on Ipswich Town in the first of two home pre-season friendlies.
Tickets for the match with the Tractor Boys are priced at £10 adults, £8 seniors and £3 under-18s while under-12s go FREE*. In clubRed, tickets are priced at £15 adults, £12 seniors, £5 under-18s and £2 under-12s.
Supporters can buy tickets for both pre-season friendlies (Ipswich Town and Oxford United) in a bundle deal, with prices just £18 adults, £14 seniors and £5 under-18s while under-12s go FREE*. The bundle deal prices for clubRed are £25 adults, £20 seniors, £8 under-18s and £3 under-18s.
To book tickets click HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK/kiosk at centre:mk or call 0333 200 5343. Tickets will remain on sale right up until kick-off for both games. Please note, the bundle deal is not currently available to buy online. This will be available shortly.
*All under-12s go FREE. A maximum of two under-12s per paying adult.