The View From The Opposition
In the first of a possibly very-occasional feature, I have interrogated MK Dons fan Franco Volpe (who runs the wonderful Bucks Fizz website) ahead of Saturday's game at The Alexandra Stadium.
And here's what he had to say -
1. Obvious ones first - Who did you support before MK dons? What is the mix mostly like? Many ex-Wimbledon fans?
My uncle used to take me to games in and around London when I was a kid, I used to watch Arsenal, Spurs, QPR, Fulham and Chelsea, he was a 92`er and as he lived in Watford I definitely saw more `Orns games than the others. There`s a smattering of old Wimbledon fans who still attend what they still consider their club. It`s more noticeable in games around the South East, it`s hard to put a figure on it but I personally know quite a few old school fans and it`s always good to see Wimbledon replica shirts, hats and scarves in amongst the MK Dons versions. There are a hell of a lot of kids starting to follow the club…. And that`s a good sign.
2. You've been based in MK for a few years now, how is the club generally received in MK and how do other fans react now it's all settled down a bit?
There was a definite marmite situation at the beginning but that`s all changed, we`re still a second team for some but many get hooked after a couple of games and it's great to see more and more shirts around the town on non match days. As for other fans; well there are going to be those who`ll never accept us but many change their minds about us when they meet us in pubs before games or hear the support we give our players. Pop into a pub near the ground this Saturday ..go on, you know you want to.
3. How are you doing so far this season?
Better than I expected. I knew we had no cash to spend and I set my sights on 20th so not to get too disappointed if RDM didn`t work out, I did think a top ten was possible but we are only just showing some consistency. We seem to play better against the better sides and struggle against the poorer ones, so forgive us this Saturday, we really need to beat you to put us on course to making a play-off spot ours.
4. Di Matteo seemed a slightly strange appointment in several ways, are you happy with him in the very short period of time he's been in charge?
Our shy and retiring Chairman loves a celebrity manager. Martin Allen, Paul Ince and now Robbie. I was surprised as there were one or two experienced managers available. We needed to build on last years successes and Robbie was a bit of a risk but I`m more than happy at the moment. There are those fools who want managers sacked after a few games. Imagine if United had sacked Fergie when he wasn`t winning games back at the start of his reign? You sit tight and have some faith and give it more than five games.
5. Tell us your thoughts on Paul Ince.
I`ll be forever grateful to him for a season the like I`ll probably not see again. We won our first silverware and league title in our own right, he smoothed the rough diamond Allen left behind and set the foundation for the next phase. He got us playing a very attractive style that won us praise and made people sit up and take notice and then he spoilt it with the way he left us a bit but we knew we were a stepping stone. We did well out of the deal though didn`t we?
6. What do you know/think about Crewe?
I know you play darn good football and that you have had one of the best managers this country has seen in the last twenty five years (where did he start out…remind me) and that his ability to balance the books has made you a role model for lower league clubs to emulate. I think we owe you one for beating us last season.
7. What do you think of Ashley Cole?
He represents everything that`s wrong in the game. He`s in your face with his money and life style that interests me less than DIY colonic irrigation ever will. He treated Mike Riley with absolute contempt when he was supposed to be a role model and his arrogance is only equalled by his own self imagined importance. I`d never boo him though…I wouldn`t waste the energy.
8. Who is the best a. player and b. team (outside of your own) you have seen this season?
Graham Kavanagh joined Carlisle on loan in time to face us last Saturday and inside three minutes showed his class, he ran getting for 50 yds with the ball and they scored from the second ball, he was involved in every attack and defensive element of the game, not bad for a debut.
Leicester City brushed us aside on the opening day. I don`t think they broke sweat they played at walking pace although they had to wait for the opener they took their time. I missed Oldham away but I doubt they`re anywhere close to Crisp FC.
9. How do you think League 1 compares to last time you were in it?
It doesn`t seem as tough, perhaps because we were in freefall it seemed tougher three years ago or perhaps we`ve wised and toughened up in the last few seasons. It seems a marginally higher standard but we can now play teams at the passing game, were not a kick and rush outfit. We`re more established, our ground now intimidates some sides and our away following has grown and gives plenty of encouragement.
10. And finally, any predictions for Saturday and the rest of the season?
I`m going for a 1-2 Dons win, there`ll be 580 of us and we`ll be a good bet for a play-off place come May if we can string a few wins together and I predict you`ll buy me a beer at 13.57 precisely.
So thanks to Franco, and don't be afraid to check out his MK Dons site at thebucksfizz.com.