Liam Manning wants MK Dons to use Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win over Watford as a catalyst for the 2022/23 season.
Manning’s men produced a superb away display at Vicarage Road to beat the Sky Bet Championship Hornets 2-0 and secure the Dons’ place in Round Three of the Carabao Cup for only the second time in six years.
“We've played well and we’ve won so I'm really pleased,” Manning said in his post-match press conference.
“We knew we'd be up against it at times tonight, given their experience and quality, but we did us, we stuck to our style and we created the best quality chances.
“It was a young side, which is exciting for us. Development can be inconsistent, but we put it all together. We looked like a team tonight.
“I’ve always known the potential of this squad is high but our challenge has been connecting it all. We defended well against Port Vale; against Sheffield Wednesday we didn't finish chances. We have had a variety of experiences, but we needed to bring it all together.
“We were close to that tonight. We'll still go away and look at things that weren't right but there are so many positives to take.
“We have to now consistently reach that level and we can't let this be a one-off - we have to carry this on. We have to reflect on it, take the momentum from the last week and continue to build. We have to keep improving.”
Among the Dons’ stars was young Irish winger Darragh Burns, who capped a brilliant individual display with a goal and an assist.
On Burns’ showing, Manning said: “He is fearless, and you can see that when he plays. He was up against some hugely experienced players, but he still brought his qualities to the team.
“He took his goal well and crossed it in well for the first. He has had to be patient getting league minutes but he's given us a real headache now. The challenge is to keep doing it.”
Here is what else Liam Manning had to say in his post-match press conference…
On Will Grigg’s 37-minute appearance…
“It was terrific to have Griggy back. We spoke before the game to discuss whether it was better to have the first 40 minutes or the last 40, and we decided to do it this way around. We didn't want him to warm-up, sit on the bench for an hour and then come on. It doesn't make a huge amount of sense. It was a planned change but it was hugely pleasing to see him get through it – and he did about 90 minutes of running in the 35 minutes he was on!”
On remaining in control…
“We are at our best on the front foot, not when we're on the back foot soaking up pressure but there is a real difference between playing on the back-foot and being in a controlled block. Thought it might have looked like we were on the back-foot, I felt we were dictating the play. We also engaged them higher up, forced them long, and you could sense the atmosphere change for us in the second half.”
Liam Manning and MK Dons turn their attention back to Sky Bet League One this weekend as they travel to the Mazuma Stadium to face Morecambe.
Tickets, which are available to buy now online, are priced at £25 adults, £20 65+, £15 young adults, £7 under-18s and £5 under-14s. This fixture has been declared ALL-TICKET for away supporters meaning there will be NO away sales on the day of the game.
To book tickets/travel CLICK HERE, visit the Box Office at Stadium MK or call 01908 622922. Tickets will be available to buy online until 12pm on Friday, though they will remain on sale in the Box Office until 4pm.