Our Assistant Manager Nick Daws today talked enthusiastically about instilling a mentality that will enable our current squad to go away from home and get results.
The Dons showed plenty of promise in the victory versus Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, but taking on last season’s League One play-off finalists Oxford could arguably be tougher. The last visit to the Kassam Stadium for Wimbledon was one to forget, but Nick believes this squad – boosted by seven new signings – will be better equipped to deal with what is thrown at them.
“We were really pleased with the first Oxford game last season, but away from home we had a slight tweak in the team that didn’t quite work out, and they were firing on all cylinders. They were a very good side that night on full throttle, but we were still disappointed to lose the game the way we did. It was the only game in my time as part of the management team that we were really disappointed with. Hopefully there won’t be an instance of that again, but we respect Oxford and the way that they play. I think we are better equipped this season to deal with different opposition, different formations, different styles of play, and we will have the mentality to go away from home with the confidence to win.
“We’ve worked on a few things in training today, based on what we didn’t think was quite right on Tuesday and hopefully we will take that into the game against Oxford. Statistically, the number of chances we created in comparison to them (Charlton) was a positive. I don’t think there were many times last season when we had more shots on target or off target than the opposition. We forced their keeper into three or four outstanding saves and we restricted them to very little, so there were a lot of good things, but we are always striving for better. We know that’s the recipe to be a successful team.
“It’s going to be really difficult season with a lot of games – a lot of Tuesday night matches – but if you have that positive mentality and a fit, young, athletic group, it should stand us in good stead. There are going to issues along the way, we know we are not going to go through the season fit and fresh and having a fully fit squad available to us, but there’s nothing like winning games, and turning up in two days’ time knowing that you are trying to prepare for another game that you want to win.
"One thing we know is that this group is so positive and so enthusiastic that we will bounce back, as happened with the group that got beaten in the in-house game last Saturday. A lot of the players that played in the losing team played against Charlton. They certainly bounced back and didn’t have any residual disappointment. I think that’s a real plus point for us.”
The match at Oxford can be viewed live on iFollow and you can find out more about this by referring to our previous article.
The Dons will go to Oxford with just Jack Rudoni (concussion) and Jaakko Oksanen (international duty with Finland U-21s) ruled out.
“We are all good,” added Nick. “There are a few aches and strains from Tuesday night. Three of the boys had fully modified training, so they were taken off their feet, but it was nothing major. It was a great session today, everyone joined in apart from those three, but they are not any concern whatsoever. Glyn will pick a team at the weekend that he feels is capable of winning the game. Jack’s protocol is that he can’t join in training until Tuesday. He has a visit to a consultant to sign him off and then he will be back in. He’s a young, fit lad who has missed a few weeks, but he will pick it up quite quickly.
“Jaako is away, so he missed Tuesday night’s game. He is not available for the weekend, but he will be back with us by the middle of next week with a view to being in the squad for Northampton.”
Nick added that the management team are edging closer to boosting the squad after a busy summer so far. He also praised our scouts, sports science team, and medical staff for the work put in during the last few months.
“We set out at the end of March to get as much work done as possible with the scouts, but did we envisage that we would be at this stage? I don’t think so, if we are honest. We have done a lot of good work and it’s testament to the unseen scouts that have worked tremendously well for a four or five week period. All of the players that we brought in have been well scouted and given Glyn and the coaches a group of players to look at. As a result of that, we’ve got some really talented boys on board, which is great.
“We are getting closer by the hour to getting one across the line, which is great, and off the back of that we will see where that leaves us in terms of the budget, as to whether we can get another one in or not. We will have assembled a really balanced squad if we can get that done, so it’s really promising.
“When I started 18 months ago, initially as Head of Recruitment, it was to look at the future of the football club and to leave something behind when I moved on, or was replaced, that would be robust and would give us plenty of options. Obviously, Covid-19 hit and we had to focus as close to home as possible, but we have done some work behind the scenes on other markets. We have built some good contacts for the future of the football club. If in the next transfer window, or the following window after that, an opportunity comes for a player from abroad, or from Scotland or Ireland, we are certainly better positioned that we were in recent times.
“I think we’ve assembled an athletic group of players. The work done by Chris (McConnell, Sports Scientist) and his team, and the medical staff, throughout pre-season, has been huge. To have virtually a full group to work with has been fantastic.
"I’ve had experiences of pre-season and you only have to pick up a couple of niggling injuries, setting players back a week or two, and your whole pre-season is disrupted. If we are to be successful and take the club to another level, we need to have more than one way of winning. We’ve not seen Ollie Palmer yet and we know Joe Pigott can be a target man. We know we’ve got players that can show what they did against Charlton, but we need to be able to dig in and grind out results as well. We know it’s a long season and the best teams have many ways to win.”
Take a look below at Rob Cornell’s extensive interview with Nick.