Russell Martin is proud of the journey he and MK Dons have been on up until this point – a journey that he is excited to continue next season.
The Dons have certainly improved on last season’s relegation-threatened campaign, with a top-half finish in sights for Martin’s men if they finish strong over the next seven matches.
Battling through a huge turnover of players, injuries and the growing pains of embedding a new philosophy, Martin is both delighted with the work that has been done over the last 16 months, and optimistic for what the future may hold if they continue in the same vein of progress.
“I think we’ve come a really long way,” Martin said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet League One fixture with Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
“We were realistic, behind closed doors, that it was going to be a real fight to consolidate and improve on last year. We’ve battled through a lot, with the pitch and the amount of personnel change, so for the guys to produce what they have on a consistent basis is a credit to them.
“It gives me a lot of excitement for next season. In terms of the future, I’d love to get this club fighting at the top of the table. Should the expectation be promotion? We won’t necessarily have the budget for that but the way we’ve adapted gives us hope and gives us excitement.
“We want to keep hold of our best players. We’ve got a core group of young and hungry players that will be regular starters if they maintain their levels. There are contracts for players on the table and a few will be offered very soon.
“We are looking to add too and what we’re doing will help us attract players. The ones that come in have to be coachable and they’ll come into a group that is coachable and have real pride in playing for MK Dons - that makes it easier for those to arrive and fit in well.”
And on a personal level, Martin says he is enjoying life at Stadium MK despite a tough year on and off the pitch for the Dons boss.
“It’s not been easy - it’s been one of the toughest years of my life both on and off the pitch as a lot has happened,” he said. "It’s been a big year for me, learning, finding and clarifying where I want to be.
“I’m working with a great club and with an incredible group of people who I love working with. They’ve all been there for me and Luke (Williams) and Deano (Thornton), especially – I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.
“We’re all really honest with each other and that’s why I love it. We’re desperate for success because we are so connected with the players and staff, what we’ve created off the pitch is as good as anything I’ve been involved in. I love what we’re building.”
Russell Martin's MK Dons face Ipswich Town this Saturday, looking to bounce back with a victory at Portman Road.
Due to the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions, the game will take place behind-closed-doors but MK Dons fans will still be able to watch the action courtesy of iFollow MK Dons.
With an iFollow MK Dons Video Match pass, you will be able to watch Martin's side in action on your laptop, computer, tablet or mobile device! Want to watch on your tablet or mobile device? Download the new EFL iFollow App and watch on the go, wherever you are!
To purchase a £10 Video Match Pass, click HERE and select Buy A Video Match Pass. Then simply log in to your iFollow MK Dons account and follow the instructions or register for an account, which can be done for free.