Category Archives: MK Dons

Interview with former Wimbledon, Brentford and Watford player Marcus Gayle

Former footballer Marcus Gayle has played for Wimbledon, Brentford and Watford amongst others in his footballing career. When he hung up his boots, he went in to coaching and for the past few years has been involved in a host of other projects.

Gayle has been enjoying some free spare time of late, due to the lockdown.

“I’ve quiet enjoyed the lockdown to be fair, I like the slowness of it, it’s calmed things down, I’ve used it as a time for reflection, sharpening my tools on my educational side and a bit more reading.”

Gayle has played for a host of clubs but it was his time at Wimbledon FC in the nineties that he remembers most:

“In the time of the mid 90’s when I started playing with them, I was there seven years and had a whale of a time and the crazy gang helped me mature from being a boy to a man in a short space of time because of the characters. It was a test every day mentally and physically at times.”

He was also fortunate to play international football for Jamaica:

“That was a brilliant period as well. I played for about two years. It was very colourful the characters again. It was a positive and historic moment as well. It was a beautiful experience playing in the world cup, you kind of dream off as a kid to represent Jamaica through my father.”

After his playing days were over, he turned to coaching and started on that path with a spell as Wimbledon’s reserve team manager:

“I played ninety-nine per cent of my career just focused on playing. I didn’t really give much thought into what to do next.

“The main thing was make sure you look after your money and if you’ve got time to do that you will have time to evolve into a different pathway. How it turned out at my days at Watford, I didn’t even see myself as a coach but others did. Indeed, the younger players were always tapping into my knowledge and I was unaware of what I could become.  They saw me as someone that they could go to in the club a senior statesman and they saw me as a coach before I even did.”

Gayle continued:

“The opportunity came around when I finished in 2008 to take over the reserve team, which I did for four years which was thoroughly enjoyable.

“It was just to prepare them because when you get into the first team environment it can be quiet harsh, like how are you going to cope with somebody telling you something, they are not going to ask for anything in the first team, they are going to demand or tell you and it won’t be in a nice way.”

Gayle eventually became manager of Non-League Staines Town, where he was based for two and a half years.

“I was well equipped for it.  I was happy in picking and choosing players and developing players, so I was really doing everything. I really did my apprenticeship at Wimbledon, so, to step into first team management was just like another move. You were playing in a decent league Conference South, you had a budget to deal with, which was totally fine but for me really it was giving young players an opportunity.

“There was always a reservation about managers not wanting to play young players as the their perspective is that he wants three points. He ain’t going to trust the youngsters but I was the complete opposite. I signed a lot of nineteen soon to be twenty year old players as the bulk of my squad just to trust me as a coach and I will be here step by step and let’s just give you the opportunity and that is what I did.”

Gayle is heavily involved with Brentford as a club ambassador, Kick It Out out and ambassador for Kick Off @3.

“I met the guys that founded that a few years ago and they just wanted my support for events and input as well. So, I was more than happy to do that so we have been doing that for the last couple of years. What they are aiming to do is to build up the rapport between young people through sport and the community police in general.

“I can see that there is a disconnect of trust, so they wanted to use sport as a way of unifying everybody at the same place same time and really build up trust and understanding between the two. I totally agree with this because I think there is the disconnect at times where the police may see youngsters as problematic . The aim is that we can all be united through sport and try and mend connections that are being broken at times.”

There has been a lot of talk recently of Black Lives Matter and the solidarity that everybody has shown towards this:

“I think the issue needs to be raised and the acknowledgement from the Premier League is great, having the slogans on the back of the shirts I’m not in full agreement with that as I just think that is going to open a can of worms and a wider debate and it clouds what’s really going on.

“It’s taken away what the message is, it’s not saying only black lives matter, we all matter however there is a disproportionate rate of certain teams that effect black lives in this country. That’s historical, systematic and those are the things that we need to have a big debate about.  This all starts with the leadership from the boardrooms etc.  and the people who make decisions in football there is hardly anybody of colour in these positions.

“They all, however, want to talk about race and equality but we are not even in the conversation, so we need to have our voice heard. How it is today, everybody is their own broadcaster. We don’t need to go to the mainstream media to put our voice out there as we have our own social media platforms as we all talk on that. I just think it is going to be problematic for the first twelve games or so but it’s going to open a can of worms later down the road, then, we will have different debates about different topics and where is it ever going to end.”

Incredibly, there are only six BAME Managers currently out of 91 clubs. This is a concern for Gayle:

“Even though it is six, it is better than how it was. To take six right now is an encouragement but my thoughts on that is again it is down to the leadership. The board room and the decision makers that appoint but ultimately, where is the transparency in the boardroom and openness. How are there black footballers playing for the top sides, winning titles, captaining those great teams and as soon as those players are retiring are deemed you are nowhere near good enough, compared to our white counterparts. The question is we want equality but we want equality to do the exact same thing the equal opportunity as a Wayne Rooney, a Frank Lampard, a Steven Gerrard and those are prevalent.  This is a fair debate to listen to!”

You can listen to the full interview with Marcus Gayle by clicking on the link below:

https://soundcloud.com/user-365414754/marcus-gayle-1

Is 3 5 2 The New 4 4 2?

This post looks at the emergnce if that is the right word of the 3 5 2 Formation.

Is it the new  4 4 2, which in recent years has become our default, almost formation in the English league?

The 3 5 2 Formation is not exactly new, and has been employed by a number of foreign coaches over the years, with great success.

How it works, is like this and it is accepted that there are variations of the formation, according to the coach or manager employing the tactic.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the teams who use this formation:

Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon

Wolves

Newcastle United

Sheffield United

Czech Republic

MK Dons

The formation relies on the use of very speedy, and effective wingbacks.

Those Wingbacks can either be, Wingers, or they can fullbacks pushed up operating as wingers. Ashley Young is a great example of a winger turned full back over time.

If you are using fullbacks pushed up as wingers, then effectively you are leaving wingers redundant, which is in the case of AFC Wimbledon, who use 3 Central Defenders, primarily because Wally Downes who implemented the system is a defensive coach, so you could almost say he was using a 5 3 2 version, though that is digressing from the point.

The general idea is to play two full backs and one central defender, so that you keep the players positionally as close to their favoured posistion as possible, without too much disruption to the team flow.

The 3 5 2 offers a lot of flexibility to the changing needs as the game unfolds, compared to other formations, such as the 4 2 3 1, or the 4 3 3.

Wolves and Sheffield United are two great examples of this, because both clubs, have progressed through the English Football League Championship and now are in the premiership playing this formation.

It is a system that is very difficult to play against, because when it works well, the team employing it, very often outnumber the defensive team and always have the flanks overloaded through the use of the over lapping ‘outer’ defenders.

This is the reason, that Arsenal, struggled last night against Sheffield United, England came unstuck in their recent match against the Czech Republic, Wolves were able to go to the Etihad and beat Man City 2-0, while Accrington Stanley beat Ipswich on Sunday 2-0 in League 1.

In fact Sheffield United are probably the best example of how this system works effectively, because together with Wolves they have used the system the longest, Sheffield United started using it in League 1, when Chris Wilder took over.

The defending team, have absolutly no idea, where the attacks are going to come from, especially as in the case of Wolves, who employ an attacking midfielder in their version of the system, while Sheffield United, newly promoted, don’t.

It will also be interesting to see, if Newcastle United, continue to use it, because they have just reverted back to it, to cater to the teams strengths and in doing so, their results have improved.

The one downside to the system, is that though you have numbers in attack, should you get caught on the counter attack, if you lost possession, then you are liable to potentialy concede goals, through lack of cover.

Either way the teams listed in this article who use the system, will be worth following and their progress noted this season.

Carabao Cup: Round One Draw Announced

The Carabao Cup Round One draw was made on Thursday evening from Morrisons, Colindale, North West London.

There were two stand out ties from the draw with AFC Wimbledon playing MK Dons, while newly-promoted Salford City will face Leeds United.

The draw was conducted by two former England internationals in John Barnes and Ray Parlour and was split into two regions – North and South.

Huddersfield Town, the hightest-ranked team in the Northern Section, will face Lincoln City while the highest ranked Southern side, West Bromwich Albion, will face Millwall.

Every club from Sky Bet League One and League Two enter the Carabao Cup in Round One, along with 22 Championship clubs.

Only Cardiff City and Fulham – who finished 18th and 19th respectively in the Premier League last season, will enter in Round Two, alongside the clubs from the Premier League, not in European competitions.

The first round matches are scheduled to take place week commencing Monday 12thAugust, with the final due to take place on March 1, 2020.

Full Round One Draw can be seen below:

North Draw

Tranmere Rovers v Hull City

Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers

Wigan Athletic v Stoke City

Port Vale v Burton Albion

Nottingham Forest v Fleetwood Town

Bradford City v Preston North End

Blackpool v Macclesfield Town

Blackburn Rovers v Oldham Athletic

Mansfield Town v Morecambe

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland

Scunthorpe United v Derby County

Rochdale v Bolton Wanderers

Huddersfield Town v Lincoln City

Middlesbrough v Crewe Alexandra

Shrewsbury Town v Rotherham United

Sheffield Wednesday v Bury

Salford City v Leeds United

Barnsley v Carlisle United

South Draw

Colchester United v Swindon Town

AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons

Oxford United v Peterborough United

Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City

Plymouth Argyle v Leyton Orient

Wycombe Wanderers v Reading

Charlton Athletic v Forest Green Rovers

Gillingham v Newport County

Stevenage v Southend United

Luton Town v Ipswich Town

Walsall v Crawley Town

Bristol Rovers v Cheltenham Town

Brentford v Cambridge United

Coventry City v Exeter City

Swansea City v Northampton Town

The Story of MK Dons…

This is the story of MK Dons and how they came into existence, which may surprise you, especially if you are a reader of younger years and just know the team as being

“The Franchise!”

You see back in 2003, a 3 man FA Commission gave, the then badly struggling and original Wimbledon FC, permission to relocate from their temporary ground share with near neighbours and South London Rivals Crystal Palace up the motorway to a new purpose built home, on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, called Denbigh That purpose built home is Stadium:MK

But how they got there, the actual story, behind the story is one most people are not aware of, this explains that In 1991, as a result of the findings published by the Taylor Report, commissioned as a result of the dreadful Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, it was recommended that all then Premiership Clubs, should convert their stadiums to All seater stadiums, so that a repeat of what happened at Hillsborough, didn’t occur again The report stated that these measures should be in place by August 1994 Wimbledon at the time, were in the Premier League and playing at their very cramped and essentially poorly equipped ground at Plough Lane, which due to the land it was built on, meant that it was not able to be developed to comply with the findings of the Taylor Report and so they were forced to look for alternative temporary accomdation, which because of their status as a Premier League club, had to be a stadium which complied with the Taylor Report Findings Because of Wimbledon’s links with Crystal Palace at that time, Selhurst Park as a viable and as it turned out only alternative, was the venue chosen to play home matches.

This was much to the dismay of the supporters and was only meant to be a temporary home, while a new ground was sourced within Merton So in 1991, Wimbledon moved to Selhurst Park Their then chairman Sam Hamman, attempted to work with Merton Council in sourcing a new ground within the borough of Merton, but this turned out to be disastourous, given his incredible and outlandish demands for the new ground Supporters who were not happy at playing at Crystal Palace, showed their disgust, by staying away in their droves and from Playing in front of crowds of 4,000 fans at Plough Lane, found themselves at one point playing in front of a crowd of just over 1,500 at Crystal Palace Sam Hamman meanwhile, frustrated in what he saw as obstructive measures by Merton Council, decided to cut his already massive losses and Sell Wimbledon to a Norwegian Group, who ironically at the time had a major stake in a certain team in Norway called Molde, yes the very same Molde who Ole Gunnar Solskajer managed they had a blueprint, which they intended to adopt with Wimbledon and repeat the process with them, by turning them into a going concern.

They also recognised, through constructive discussions with Merton Council and other parties that Wimbledon needed a ground of their own for this to happen various mergers were muted, including a relocation to Dublin, which was not allowed or permitted within FA rules and so against a backdrop of a fairly successful small team, doing well in the Premier League, despite being forced to sell their entire team, without replacing them, Wimbledon were coming perilously close to going out of business at this point, that Pete Winkleman, whose Inter MK group, had planning permission to build a Football stadium in Milton Keynes, put forward proposals to the then Wimbledon board, suggesting that the club move to Milton Keynes, or face the very real possibility of going out of business.Though this proposal created incredible resentment with the fans of Wimbledon, it was turning out to be the only real viable conclusion for the club.

It was a move that had first been sounded out, way back in 1977… Yes the year that Wimbledon entered the football league, from Non League and had Ron Noades as their chairman now love him or hate him, he was a businessman and a very good one at that, who recognised that though Wimbledon had done well to get into the league, had a very cramped ground, which was limited in how it could be developed, he was looking at other options even then and because he had links to Milton Keynes, through a now-defunct non league club called Milton Keynes City, Milton Keynes was identified then as a potential area that the club would move to. However at the time it didn’t happen but fast forward to the present day and the move was destined to happen initially the FA blocked the move, because it wasn’t in the wider interests of football, but Wimbledon’s board appealed against this, saying that by blocking the move, it would cause a restraint of trade and the club would go out of business, so in 2003, the 3 man FA Commission voted by 2~1 to let Wimbledon FC move to Milton Keynes, on the proviso that any potential or future name change, should incorporate part of the Wimbledon name This was also ironical, because many, many years earlier, Arsenal, had done exactly the same thing, when known as Woolwich Arsenal and moved from South London to North London, without  a murmur, due to the exact same situation hence the name MK Dons, or Milton Keynes Dons came about

And that is the story and history of MK Dons.

The Battle for Football League survival

With less than 9 games left in League Two, we here at 24/7 football decided to look at the final games for every club in the fight to retain their Football League status. This season has thrown up a few surprises and looks to keep that trend going into the final 8 or 9 games.

24. Notts County

Currently sat at the foot of the League Two table are Nottinghamshire based side, Notts County. County, who were preseason favourites for promotion, currently find themselves on the verge of entering the Non-League for the first time in their history. The oldest Football League club are also having a nightmare off the pitch with the club currently up for sale.

Notts County’s recent form – LDLWD

The Magpies head into the final 8 games in a slight rejuvenation of form with 4 points being acquired in their last two games. However, County have only picked up 5 points in their last 6 games and have struggled to string a prolonged run of form together all season. To add further salt to their wounds, County have been dire at Meadow Lane in recent weeks, with the Magpies having only picked up 7 points in their last 8 home matches.

Notts County’s final 8 games

Exeter City (H) 23/03/2019

Stevenage (A) 30/03/2019

Northampton Town (H) 06/04/2019

Crewe Alexandra (A) 13/04/2019

MK Dons (H) 19/04/2019

Crawley Town (A) 22/04/2019

Grimsby Town (H) 27/04/2019

Swindon Town (A) 04/05/2019

County have a fairly balanced final 8 games with Notts having to face 2 promotion-chasing sides in MK and Exeter. County also have to play an inform Northampton side and a playoff-chasing Stevenage. A tough easter weekend awaits on the horizon with the Magpies facing MK on the Friday before a long away trip to mid-table Crawley on the Monday which could be a deciding factor in Notts’ survival.

23. Macclesfield

Newly promoted Macclesfield town currently sit 23rd place under the guidance of former Arsenal and Spurs defender, Sol Campbell. Since Campbell’s arrival, the Silkmen have seen an improvement in their fortunes,  picking up 7 points in his first 4 league games. However, Campbell’s men have slumped back into their old habits over the recent weeks with Macclesfield winning just one of their last five league games.

Macclesfield Town’s recent Form – DDLLW

The Silkmen head into their final 9 games in good spirits after defeating 22nd placed Yeovil Town, 2-0. The victory over Yeovil ended a 7 game winless streak and has left Macclesfield only 3 points away from safety with the Cheshire-based side also having a game in hand on Yeovil.

Macclesfield Town’s  final 9 games

Stevenage (H) 23/03/2019

Lincoln City (A) 30/03/2019

Morecambe (H) 06/04/2019

Forest Green Rovers (A) 13/04/2019

Northampton Town (A) 19/04/2019

Newport County (H) 22/04/2019

Port Vale (A) 27/04/2019

Cambridge United (H) 04/05/2019

*Exeter (H) Date to be confirmed

Macclesfield arguably have one of the toughest final 9 games out of all the teams facing relegation with the Silkmen facing 3 of the top 7 teams. Furthermore, Macclesfield have to face both Stevenage and Northampton who will be hoping they can sneak into the playoffs. Macclesfield finally have two huge games at the end of the season facing 20th and 21st placed Port Vale and Cambridge who will be hoping to seal their futures as Football League clubs before the final two games. However, if the Silkmen can get results against the teams around them they can pull away from the drop zone.

22.Yeovil Town

In 2014, Yeovil Town were battling relegation from the Championship. Fast forward 5 years and Yeovil currently find themselves ominously facing relegation to the National League for the first time since they were promoted to the Football League in 2003. Yeovil, who had started the season in encouraging form, soon fell away and have subsequently been dragged into a relegation battle.

Yeovil Town’s recent form – WWLLL

Yeovil’s recent form makes for vexatious reading for Glovers fans, with the Somerset-based side sitting bottom of the League 2 form table. Yeovil have only picked up 9 points in there last 12 games and to add to their problems, have failed to win in their last 4 away games with the Glovers only scoring one goal in those 4 away trips.

Yeovil Town’s final 8 games

MK Dons (A) 23/03/2019

Newport County (H) 30/03/2019

Swindon Town (A) 06/04/2019

Crawley Town (H) 13/04/2019

Crewe Alexandra (A) 19/04/2019

Colchester United (H) 22/04/2019

Northampton Town (A) 27/04/2019

Carlisle United (H) 04/05/2019

Yeovil arguably have one of the toughest finishes in the League with the Somerset-based side face 3 playoff-chasing teams in their final 3 games. With Macclesfield facing Port Vale and Cambridge, it could be crucial that Yeovil stop the rot and pick up points earlier and secure their survival.

21.Cambridge United

Cambridge United currently sit 8 points clear of the drop, however could still get sucked into a relegation battle if the U’s fail to pick up points in their final 9 remaining games. United will be hoping to seal their fate as a Football League club and play a sixth straight season in League Two.

Cambridge United’s recent form – LLWDD

Cambridge have managed to pull away from the bottom two with a burst of positive results. The U’s have managed to pick up 18 points in their last 12 games, allowing them to pull away from the drop. Cambridge have also improved their home form, picking up 15 points in their last 8 league games at the Abbey Stadium.

Cambridge United’s final 9 league games

Carlisle United (A) 23/03/2019

Colchester United (H)  30/03/2019

Mansfield Town (A) 06/04/2019

Newport County (H) 13/04/2019

Swindon Town (H) 19/04/2019

Forest Green Rovers (A) 22/04/2019

Morecambe (H) 27/04/2019

Macclesfield (A) 04/05/2019

*Bury (A) date to be confirmed

With the U’s facing 3 promotion chasing teams in their next three games, Cambridge could get dragged into a relegation battle if Notts County, Macclesfield and Yeovil all pick up points. Furthermore, Cambridge have to face both Morecambe and Macclesfield on the final two games of the seasons both of which might be must-wins if the U’s are dragged into a relegation battle.

20.Port Vale

Sat 8 points clear of the drop are Staffordshire-based side, Port Vale. Vale have been dragged into the relegation battle following poor on-field performances and off-field issues that have plagued the club this season, similar to the situation at Notts County. If Vale were to be relegated, it would be the first time the side has played outside England’s top four divisions for 100 years with The Valiants last playing Non-League football in 1919.

Port Vale’s recent form – LDWWD

Port Vale have enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance of form over the past few weeks with the Valiants picking up 8 points in their last 6 games which has allowed Port Vale to create a sizable gap between them and the bottom two. However, Vale’s home form has been horrific with the Staffordshire based side only winning 2 of their last 8 home games.

Port Vale’s final 8 games

Forest Green Rovers (H) 23/03/2019

Northampton Town (A) 30/03/2019

Crewe Alexandra (H) 06/04/2019

Exeter City (A) 13/04/2019

Stevenage (H) 19/04/2019

MK Dons (A) 22/04/2019

Macclesfield Town (H) 27/04/2019

Bury (A) 04/05/2019

Vale have a gruelling final 8 games to play, with 7 out of the 8 still having something to play for. However, if Vale can put together a successful run in, the Valiants should secure their Football League status.

19. Morecambe

Morecambe appear to have retained their Football League status for 12 seasons in a row and have the astute guidance of Jim Bentley to thank for that. However, the Red and White army still could get sucked into a relegation dogfight if the Shrimps fail to pick up points in their final 8 games.  

Morecambe’s recent form – LLWDD

Morecambe’s resurgence of form has seen the Seasiders pull away from the bottom two with the Shrimps now having a 9 point gap between them and 23rd placed Macclesfield Town. Morecambe have picked three wins in their last six league games ranking them as one of the inform sides in League Two. Morecambe in recent weeks has picked up impressive results against MK Dons and playoff-chasing Forest Green.

Morecambe’s final 8 games

Swindon Town (A) 23/03/2019

Crawley Town (H) 30/03/2019

Macclesfield Town (A) 06/04/2019

Grimsby Town (H) 13/04/2019

Mansfield Town (A) 19/04/2019

Cheltenham Town (H) 22/04/2019

Cambridge United (A) 27/04/2019

Newport County (H) 04/05/2019

The Shrimps on paper appear to have one of the easier run-ins with the Red and White army only facing two teams in the top half of the table. The rest of Morecambe fixtures are against mid-table sides and fellow relegation candidates. Arguably looking at Morecambe’s final run in it is safe to predict that the Shrimps will be playing League Two football for a 13th straight season.

Who do you think will be relegated from League Two?