Read the full interview with Conor McGrandles which featured in last Tuesday's edition of Red Dot.
Conor, confidence must be high heading into tonight’s clash, with two consecutive league wins under our belt?
“It was really good to get back to back league wins for the first time this season. We’ve had some good Tuesday performances in the cup but then not backed that up at the weekend. I think it was also important to get that first win away from home too. Everyone was really pleased after the game with that.”
What a display at Blackpool too! Would you say it was almost a complete performance?
“It was a really good performance. I think scoring early helped because it gave us something to hang on to and from then we defended really well and countered well. Our two goals in the second half were both really good goals and we probably could’ve added to that. I’d agree that it was probably a perfect away performance from us.”
That game marked your 50th league appearance for MK Dons. How much are you enjoying your football here at Stadium MK?
“I’m really enjoying my football with MK Dons. The first season here was obviously a real struggle and then at the start of last season I had that nasty injury. To get back playing consistently is really good for me. I’ve had a few seasons where I’ve not played as much as I wanted too due to one reason or another so to get these games in is vital for me. I think the way the manager and the coaching team wants to play suits me and I’m loving working under them. I knew right away that they were exactly who I wanted to be working with and they are who I want to play my football under. I don’t know about the others, but they have all improved my game massively. I’m more confident, I’m tougher and I still feel that they are improving me tactically as well. I’ve loved every second of it.”
Fans have clearly recognised your talents this season and often sing your name, home and away. Is it nice to have a chant dedicated to you?
“It’s really nice because I’ve never had a chant before. It’s really weird hearing my name sung from the stands but I’m really grateful for it. I hope I can repay their support and get them singing it more.”
Staying on the subject of supporters, how good have they been this season? It must have really helped having 300+ at Blackpool cheering you on all game?
“They’ve been really impressive and carried on from where they finished last season. We had two poor away performances prior to Blackpool but they still travelled in their numbers to support us. When games get tough, like it was at 1-0 on Saturday, they do really give you an extra lift and it pushes you through. The lads do talk about it as well. We’re really grateful that they do support us so well home and away.”
Their backing at Stadium MK is going to be really important, isn’t it? As shown against AFC Wimbledon…
“This season we will have a lot of tough and tight games, especially here at Stadium MK, so we’re going to need them to give us that extra five or ten percent that can push us over the line. Their support can really help you run that extra yard or do something more positive with the ball. I’m looking forward to playing in front of them again on Tuesday.”
You played at right wing-back against AFC Wimbledon and in central midfield against Blackpool - how important is it to be versatile in today’s game?
“I think it’s really important. The manager here likes players who can play in more than one position as he likes to change formations during games. You need to be versatile and be ready to play different positions. Obviously, midfield is my favoured position but I’ll play anywhere for this team and everyone else is the same.”
You’ve scored two goals in eight appearances so far this season. Are goals something you’ve looked to add to your game this season?
“It’s something that I’ve been really conscious to improve on. I want to be better at scoring and creating goals. To have two goals already this year, I’ve beaten my total from last season but I want to add more. I want to get into the positions so we don’t have to rely on the strikers as much as he did last season. It’s nice to add goals throughout the whole squad and there have been a lot of goals spread-out throughout the team so far and that’s been a conscious addition by everyone.”
It’s quite a young dressing room this season so how important do you think the experienced players – the likes of Dean Lewington, Russell Martin, Ryan Harley and Kieran Agard – are for this team?
“Really important. I think everyone can see that with how well the young players have played this season. David Kasumu sits just in front of Russell and Lewie, so he’s always learning from them as they are helping him through the game. Sam Nombe is alongside Kieran and Jordan [Bowery] up-front and is learning new things every week. Even with people like myself, having players like Russell and Lewie in the changing room is priceless.”
You’ve been playing alongside David Kasumu in central midfield. How impressed have you been with him?
“I’ve been really impressed but I’m not surprised at all. I’ve trained with him a lot during my time here and I love playing alongside him. You know exactly what he’s going to do and he’s got bags of talent. There are not a lot of players that can do what he can do. He’s got better over the last few seasons and he’ll only get better too. I think he’s took his chance when he’s got it. Fair play to him.”
Despite some changes over the off-season, the togetherness which was so evident last term appears to have carried over – would you agree?
“Yeah, it can be tough to retain because you have so many new players arrive but this squad and last year’s have been the best I’ve been a part of. I think you can tell that on the pitch because when things get tough, you can always rely on the teammates. If the squad is together, you’ll work harder for each other and they’ll dig you out if you make a mistake. Even though it’s early in the season, everyone is working hard for each other and I think that will continue.”
We welcome Ipswich Town to Stadium MK tonight and they are one of the favourites for promotion. Do you enjoy playing in these big games?
“Ipswich are a very good side and they’ve started the season really well. I think these are the games that you look forward to the most. You always want to set a marker against good teams and show you can compete against them.”
Away from MK Dons, how do you like to relax when you’re not training or playing?
“I like playing PlayStation with a few other lads in the team. We’ve got a wee squad that jump on Fortnite together. My girlfriend comes down sometimes so I like getting out and doing things with her. If Celtic are on TV, I’ll tune in. There a few a few things, but mostly Fortnite.”
Finally, do you have any regrets in your career?
“None at all. Obviously, there are things that you look back on and you feel you could have done better or chosen a different option but I think everything that has happened in my career so far has made me the person that I am and the player I am. I wouldn’t change any of it.”