Russell Martin was disappointed to see the season in defeat but doesn’t want the result to cast a shadow over what has been a positive campaign for his MK Dons side.
The Dons were beaten 3-0 by Rochdale in their season finale at Stadium MK – a result which sees them finish the season in 13th place in Sky Bet League One.
While upset not to sign off with a win, Martin says it doesn’t change how he’ll look back on the season and on the progress that has been made to date.
“It’s a disappointing way to finish,” the manager said in his post-match press conference. “Ideally we'd have finished with a better result and performance but I won't let it taint the way I feel about the group or the season.
“I actually quite liked the first half. We had a great chance early on and should have scored. We started the second half so poorly.
“I think Ethan getting injured changed the game. He was a real threat and him going off hurt our intensity a bit, but also, and it’s no excuse really, but I think the lads saw him getting injured and it had an impact, mentally, with it being the final game of the season.
“Hopefully for Ethan's and Manchester United's sake he'll be ok, but it just typifies the game really. He has been brilliant has grown so much, like we have, but his season ends like that and our season ended like that too.
“Credit to Rochdale. I've got a lot of time for their manager and the way they want to play football. I really liked how they played today and I think our players felt like how a lot of teams feel when they play us.
“We just had too many individuals having a poor day. There were a few positives today – Brooklyn (Ilunga) getting on and David (Kasumu) getting 90 minutes - but it's a frustrating way to finish.
“Still, I'm incredibly proud of this season. We've battled a lot - the pitch, finances, the amount of change in personnel and culturally as well.
“We finished 13th which is a big improvement from last season but we have to improve on that next year, and that's what the summer will be all about - making sure we finish even higher than that.”
As Martin mentioned, one positive for MK Dons was a league debut for 17-year-old Brooklyn Ilunga, who came off the bench with 22 minutes to play and showed great intensity and energy during his cameo.
“Jon Goodman speaks really highly of him and he's been really good in the youth cup games this season. He has real energy and has trained really well with us this week.
“You've got to earn your place in the team and to get on the pitch which he has done, as has Jay Bird.
“The way Jay has trained in the last few weeks has been brilliant. When you're injured for a long time, you can often come back in and try to ease yourself in too much, but he's over that now and has done well too.”
Watch a season of football at Stadium MK for no more than £10 per game by purchasing a 2021/22 MK Dons Season Ticket!
The Club have made the decision, for one season only, to cap the maximum price of an Adult Season Ticket in all areas of the stadium at £230.
What’s more, concession prices in several areas of the stadium have been reduced to match the 2020/21 concession prices for the Family Area - the lowest priced area in the stadium. Under-12s will also continue to go FREE along with a paying adult*.
For more information click HERE, call 01908 622922 or visit the Box Office at Stadium MK.