Schumacher's Milton Keynes Preview
It feels as though Steven Schumacher’s tenure as Argyle manager has been punctuated by games against Milton Keynes Dons.
Schumacher’s first game in charge, a day after his appointment, was a 1-1 draw at Stadium MK, and at the end of a season in which the Pilgrims amassed a noteworthy 80 points, the campaign ended in disappointment with a 5-0 defeat against the Dons, at home.
Earlier this season Argyle ran out impressive 4-1 winners away in Milton Keynes, and now, for the first game of 2023, MK are the visitors to Home Park.
The game follows quickly on the heels of a 1-0 win against Wycombe Wanderers, during which a sold-out crowd roared the Greens on to victory – something that did not go unnoticed with the gaffer.
There was no chance to celebrate afterwards, with a worrying injury to Wycombe’s Tjay de Barr rather dampening things. Both sets of fans respectfully applauded de Barr from the field, who has been given an all-clear after medical tests.
“I thought the atmosphere the other night, before the incident at the end, was great,” said Schumacher. “I thought our fans were incredible all night. From the Janner Song, and all the way through the game, the support they gave the players was great. It felt like a really good atmosphere, back to what Home Park can be like when it is full, so thank you for that. It helped us get over the line.
“It’s the start of a new calendar year, and it’s important that we get off to a good start if we can. It’s going to be another tough game, and a different style of game to the other night. It’s one we are really looking forward to.”
The first challenge of the new calendar year comes from an MK Dons side who have recently swapped manager Liam Manning for Mark Jackson. Although MK are in the relegation places, recent wins against Portsmouth and Forest Green Rovers have revitalised them a little, although they did lose against Peterborough United last time out.
Over recent years, Milton Keynes, who missed out in the League One play-offs last season, have become associated with a passing style of football under various managers, and Schumacher expects Jackson to retain this philosophy.
“I think that runs right through MK Dons,” he said. “When Russell [Martin] was there before Liam, that’s how they played. Liam then did the same. It’s part of their DNA; they like to pass the ball. From what I have seen of Mark Jackson’s team so far, that is what they are doing. We’re not really expecting too much difference.
“You always get a bit of a reaction when a new manager comes in, which they have had. They had two really good results, then a tough night against Peterborough, but they are still a good team and it will be a hard game for us. If you are not defensively right against MK Dons, then as we saw last year, you get punished.
“We need to make sure that without the ball we are really organised, and when we have it, try to pass it to the best of our ability. If we do that, we’ve got a chance.”