Academy boss Jon Goodman knew Russell Martin had what it took to become a first-team manager – even before the two worked together at MK Dons.
The pair first met prior to Goodman’s arrival at the Club, when the former Republic of Ireland international hosted a Q&A and presentation on a coaching course that Martin was attending.
“He came across as very intelligent and determined,” Goodman recalled. “It was clear he wanted to become a manager.”
A year later, and the pair are working together at Stadium MK to ensure that MK Dons can continue their rich tradition of bringing through players from the Academy and into the first team.
“He has been brilliant in terms of being open and sharing his view on the game – as have all the first-team staff,” Goodman said during his interview with iFollow MK Dons last week. “Even during this lockdown period, he did an online CPD event for our coaches.
“He’s tough and demanding because he wants Academy players in his squad. That creates a pressure on us, as an Academy, to deliver and we want that pressure – we should thrive on it.
“We want to enable him to have home-grown talent which will improve his squad and allow him and the team to be successful.”
He continued: “We’re 99% aligned in our views on the game. The fundamental principles that we preach across the Academy age groups are aligned with those views.
“They are stubborn in their desire to prove that you can play the open way the want to play and be successful with it.
“It’s a brave and aggressive way of playing and, as an Academy, we need to give our players the confidence to play that way.”
Goodman added: “We’ve taken this time during lock to focus our minds and re-evaluate the running of the Academy – things that are working and things we need to improve upon.
“Ultimately, we need to provide the Club with an Academy that functions and produces players.”