Milton Keynes Dons are delighted to announce the appointment of Mark Jackson as the Football Club’s new Head Coach.
Jackson, 45, has spent the past seven months as a first-team coach with Premier League side Leeds United, having previously held roles within the Academy and Under-23s set-up at Elland Road.
A former defender, who played for Leeds as well as Scunthorpe United, Huddersfield Town and Barnsley, Jackson is well respected within the game for his work in developing young talent and building strong relationships with his players.
He begins his role as Head Coach with immediate effect and led training on Friday in preparation for the Boxing Day clash with Forest Green Rovers at Stadium MK which will be his home debut.
Speaking to iFollow MK Dons, Jackson said: “I am extremely excited and proud to be named Head Coach of MK Dons. We have a busy few weeks ahead but it’s an opportunity I’m looking forward to and I’m ready for the challenge.
“It is clear what the short-term targets are, and I will be emphasising that to the players, but I want to help build something special in long term as well, and I believe we have the togetherness and the people here to achieve that.
“The Club has a clear identity and it’s one that fits in with my idea of how the game should be played. There are certain areas where I think I can enhance that, through my experiences and knowledge, but, ultimately, we will look to play an attractive style of football, where we dominate the ball, play on the front foot, aggressively go after teams with how we press and influence our style on the opponent's game.
“Building relationships is also very important to me and that’s not just throughout the Club but with the supporters and the community as well. The fans are really important to Club and they are the ones who will always be here - I want to engage with them and the community and give my 100% commitment to helping us all build and move forward.”
Jackson began his playing career with hometown club Leeds United, making his debut for the Whites as a substitute in March 1996. He spent the next five years at Elland Road, totalling 23 appearances while also enjoying loan spells at Huddersfield Town and Barnsley.
In 2000, the defender joined Scunthorpe United and went on to make 159 appearances for the Iron across five seasons, winning the Club’s Player of the Season award in 2002. He then went on to feature for clubs such as Kidderminster Harriers, Rochdale and Farsley Celtic, before hanging up his boots in 2015.
After retiring, Jackson returned to Leeds United as a youth coach and has since risen from the ranks, progressing from Under-15s coach through to being appointed first-team coach under Jesse Marsch in March 2022.
Jackson has been credited with the development of a number of young players during his time coaching at Elland Road as well as keeping the Whites in the Premier League last season, while he also led the Under-23s to a Premier League 2 Division 2 trophy during an unbeaten 2020/21 campaign.
Chairman Pete Winkelman said of the appointment: “We are thrilled to capture the services of Mark Jackson and we are excited to see what the future brings with him at the helm.
“Throughout the process, which has been led professionally and methodically by our Sporting Directly Liam Sweeting, we stuck true to our club values. We wanted a Head Coach who could not only turn us around in the short term but could take us forward in the long term and we firmly believe Mark has the experience and qualities, on and off the pitch, to do just that.”
Sporting Director Liam Sweeting added: “At the start of this process I was focused on three key areas; Leadership, Experience and Style of Play. I feel in Mark we have someone with qualities and a proven record that hit all three.
As well as a playing career to be proud of, Mark has achieved tremendous success at Leeds Utd, working across various age groups and playing a key role in the development of players such as Joe Gelhardt, Crysencio Summerville and Sam Greenwood. This development success led to a move to the First Team in March 2022 where Mark assisted Jesse Marsch in retaining Leeds Utd’s Premier League status last season.
We now feel he is ready to step into a Head Coach role and have the opportunity to implement his own beliefs and way of working. Mark has jumped at this opportunity which shows the type of mentality he has and that we require. I am excited to be working with him and our immediate attention turns to improving our situation and making an impact in the upcoming January transfer window.”