Earlier this week, Russell Martin met with the media for the final time this season and it provided an opportunity for the MK Dons boss to reflect on the highs and lows of the past 10 months.
The Dons battled through a slow start, a huge turnover of players and injuries to key players to put together a run of form during the second-half season which saw them consolidate themselves in the middle of the Sky Bet League One table – all while dealing with the protocols and restrictions in place due to Covid-19.
Speaking in his end-of-season press conference, Martin was asked about the peaks and troths of the 2020/21 campaign and what it was like experiencing those while playing behind closed doors.
“For me, first of all, I look at how far we’ve come this season as a group and how much we’ve learnt,” Martin said.
“We’ve evolved and improved in terms of the way the guys train and play and that gives me a lot of confidence and excitement looking ahead and it’s up now to improve on our league position next year.
“I stood there, during a training session recently, and just watched, and I was in awe of the guys and how they trained – especially when we know how it started and how much hard work it has taken to get to this point. They now understand what training hard looks like and what being professional looks like.
“Those are the highs - seeing a group of young men grow as people and as players, and to grow as a team as well. Also, seeing the older guys offer so much value, putting their egos to one side to try and help the young players and the staff. Then, of course, sharing those moments with my colleagues.
“The lows are the games that are tough to take. When you go away to Plymouth and you don’t play very well – those are frustrating days. In terms of those, there haven’t been too many, but there have been days when I’ve been really disappointed. Over the course of the season, though, the positives far outweigh the negatives.”
On playing behind-closed-doors, Martin added: “I hope we never experience a season like this again. It’s been the strangest 18 months for everyone, not just in football.
“We’re very grateful we’ve been able to carry on this season but it’s taken a lot of hard work to go through this whole season without Covid affecting us at all, really. That’s testament to Andrew Cullen and Simon Crampton and the work they have put in.
“It’s been really tough for our players too, as it has been for all of us. We. They’ve not been able to get home and their families haven’t been able to come and see them play. The young guys haven’t been able to have a release either.
“It’s been a tough year but that’s why I’m excited for next year when we can have our supporters back and our players can have their support network back as well.
“They can also spend more time together as well - the togetherness they’ve already been able to harness has been fantastic so it makes me excited to see what can happen next season.”
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.