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Club News

Mike Williamson appointed MK Dons Head Coach

17 October 2023

Club News

Mike Williamson appointed MK Dons Head Coach

17 October 2023

Milton Keynes Dons are delighted to announce the appointment of Mike Williamson as Head Coach.

Williamson arrives at Stadium MK following an impressive four-year spell in charge of Gateshead, during which time he established the Heed as National League promotion-contenders after taking over the Tyneside club following their demotion to the sixth tier.

A former Premier League defender with Portsmouth and Newcastle United who made 466 senior appearances, Williamson is a four-time promotion-winner across his playing and managerial career, including from League Two with Wycombe Wanderers in 2009.

Since retiring from the game, the 39-year-old has garnered a reputation as one of the brightest young managers outside the EFL.

His Gateshead team won the National League North title with 99 goals scored and they are known for their attacking, possession-based football - they currently lead all National League teams for ball possession (65.7%), shots per 90 (14.28) and passes per 90 (566.25), while ranking in the top three for goals scored (34), touches in the penalty area per 90 (21.33), PPDA (7.95) and fewest shots against per 90 (7.76).

“I’m excited and I can’t wait to get started,” Williamson said in his first interview with iFollow MK Dons. “It’s been a quick turnaround and it was a tough decision to leave Gateshead but when a Club like this comes in, it’s a no brainer.

“Everything the Club epitomises was really attractive to me and my team. For us, it was about finding somewhere that was aligned with the way we see the game and would back us in doing that - this is the right Club for us to do that.

“We have a talented squad, with strength in depth, and we’ll come in and start getting to know the group. They’ve got to trust us and buy into what we stand for - we have a lot of ideas that we want to implement, but it will be one thing at a time. It is going to be an evolution.”

Williamson continued: “Ultimately, we want to win. We want to win every metric. It will look a certain way but ultimately it’s about winning and that’s the outcome we’re looking to achieve.

“We want to be intense – everything we do we want to do with energy and enthusiasm. We want to play forwards as quickly as we can but we’ve got to have solutions and the players have to understand what we’re tying to achieve.

“A by-product of that is that we want to control the game, and that will equate to dominating possession, but our whole play is about disturbing the backline and when we work our way from back to front, it is with one thing in mind and that is scoring a goal.

“We wanted to be connected – on the pitch, with the Club and with the fans. The fans are the Club, they are the bedrock and we are coming in to guide and support their team, but we’ve got to earn their trust. Fortunately for us, the alignment is there throughout the club, which is exciting, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Williamson began his playing career with Torquay United, before joining Southampton in November 2001. The defender enjoyed loan spells away with Torquay, Doncaster Rovers and Wycombe Wanderers during his time at St. Mary’s, winning promotion from the Third Division while at Plainmoor.

Williamson’s loan spell at Wycombe came during the 2004/05 campaign and, at the end of that season, he made the move to Adams Park a permanent one. He went on to spend the next four years with the Chairboys, totalling 166 appearances and helping the South Bucks side to a League Two promotion.

His form for Wycombe earned him a move to the higher levels of English football. He spent some time with Watford in the Championship before joining Premier League outfit Portsmouth in September 2009.

Williamson would make a move to Newcastle United in January 2010 – a Club for whom he would play 169 times, the majority of which were made in the Premier League after promotion from the second tier in 2010.

Leaving to join Wolverhampton Wanderers, initially on loan, Williamson would only play another 28 professional games for Wolves and then Oxford, before signing a deal with Gateshead in August 2018.

Instilled as player-coach the following January, Williamson then took over as player-manager in June 2019 after the Club’s demotion to the National League North. He led the Head to successive top-10 finishes before leading them to the league title in 2021/22 – his side finished with 94 points and 99 goals scored.

Williamson guided Gateshead to consolidation in their first season back in the National League, though this season has established them as promotion contenders. They currently sit sixth in the table, four points clear in the play-off positions.

Chairman Pete Winkelman said of the appointment: “Given our current situation, it was important we moved quickly to identify and appoint the right Head Coach. In Mike, we believe we have found someone who is clearly aligned with what we want to see from an MK Dons team and I am very excited to welcome him and his team to the Club.

“It is clear to see, from the fantastic work he has done in his first managerial job at Gateshead, that Mike is a Head Coach who wants to play attractive, possession-based football – the ‘MK Way’ that we are known for and that our supporters expect to watch here at Stadium MK and when travelling to see their team across the country.

“Not only that, Mike is a winner. He has achieved promotions throughout his playing career and already as a manager. We will give him every ounce of support, as I’m sure the supporters will, as he looks to bring that winning and positive mentality to Stadium MK.”

Williamson will be joined at Stadium MK by Assistant Head Coach Ian Watson and First-Team Coach Chris Bell, whom he worked with throughout his four-year reign at Gateshead.

On his coaching team, Williamson told iFollow MK Dons: “They were the heartbeat of the Club at Gateshead.

“We’ve all had unique pathways to get to where we are today. Ian has had hours of coaching on the field, which has transferred into different areas, and in the last five years, we’ve worked really well together. Chris is very multi-faceted and brings a lot to the table.

“Football is an emotional, passionate game and these two bring that in abundance.”

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