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A ‘vibrant’ start for Robbo as he reinforces club story ahead of Oxford

In-depth interview with Mark Robinson

1 February 2021

It’s 17 years since Mark Robinson first joined us as a coach and he was quick to remind the current squad about ‘the greatest story in English football’ after taking on the role of Interim Manager.

Preparations for the Papa John’s Trophy quarter-final match at Oxford on Tuesday night started with a 45-minute presentation to the players at our New Malden training base today.

“I’ve just been given the opportunity to be the manager of the club with the greatest story in English football,” said Robbo. “That was part of the presentation to the boys. We were talking to them about what they need to do, and how they do things, but people often forget why. Sometimes you know what you are doing, and in some respects how you do it, but you forget why you are doing it. The ‘why’ is your purpose. My purpose has always been for the people who I know and love at the club, they have driven me to produce players. For whatever time it may be, I’m the manager of the greatest story in English football and the players need to understand that they are playing for the club with the greatest story in English football. That’s been the underlying message, underpinning everything, along with the values that go with that, both on and off the pitch.

“I also did some things at the training ground to get the players stimulated. I spoke to the groundsman to put down pitch markings to indicate how we are going to play off the ball, in terms of our intensity and our pressing. I also had a presentation ready for the boys, just to set out our stall really. We did a 45-minute presentation, and I spoke to the boys about where I see them needing to go, but it was very interactive, it wasn’t just me talking. It was getting them talking too, which is really important.

"I have brought in a set-piece coach, so he also did a presentation for the lads. There are other things that won’t change, things that have gone really well. I’ve just been planning with lots of preparation as I wanted to have a really good and vibrant start. I feel that is what happened. Everyone has been absolutely fantastic. Bayzo will assist me, he has known me for years and years. He knows how I think, and the academy coaches are fantastic young coaches.”

After joining our youth section back in 2004, Robbo was asked to be a part of the first-team coaching set-up two years ago and he’s determined to play his part in getting the Dons back on track.  

“Wally initially brought me closer to the first-team, but Glyn brought me in, so we had a great relationship," added Robbo. "We had all hoped that things would go fantastically well, so it was emotional, but at the same time I’ve been asked to do a job. Glyn was fantastic, which tells you everything about the man. He spent 20 minutes with me after the game, even after he had been told his news, talking to me about implementing my ideas. Then your brain starts whizzing and you think about what you are going to do. I don’t know how long it’s going to be for, but I’ve got to implement what I think is important, so it has just been really busy – all hands to the pump. I wanted to make an impact on the boys when they came in today, so there was just lots of preparation and planning, and trying to get the boys excited to go again.

“The mental and psychological side of things is absolutely huge, it’s what stops good players not being able to perform, so the human side of it is key. Once belief goes out of it you can get in that rollercoaster and it becomes very difficult. The lads said they feel they are giving everything. I have just had to look at that and go through things and ask them their thoughts. I gave them direction on where I think we need to go to get that spark back, to freshen it up. For me, it’s about getting them to think in a different way. I’m not a quick-fix coach, I’ve always been a builder, from building the academy, to stuff outside of football. There is no quick-fix. If we are going to get back on track it’s about a change of mindset with the staff, the players, and everyone around.”

Click on the link below to watch our extensive interview with Robbo, which includes team news ahead of the trip to Oxford.

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