With League One football guaranteed at Plough Lane for next season, Mark Robinson has done what a lot of Wimbledon fans thought was impossible.
After his arrival as interim manager at the end of January, Robinson was the fans’ choice to take the full-time role.
The Wimbledon faithful have not looked back since, with a brand-new style of football, that is pleasing for the neutral and gives the Dons a real edge to their attacking game.
The transformation of the team has not been an easy process however.
The Wimbledon head coach said: “Changing the culture and the learning environment has been key in giving the players a purpose behind what they are doing and to get the players to believe in themselves.
“They were all very low in confidence, I didn’t have much time to do loads of sessions because we were playing every Saturday and Tuesday.”
Robinson, known to the Wimbledon fans as ‘Robbo’, emphasised the ‘processes’ that he has implemented into the team, to get the results that have propelled the Dons away from the relegation zone and earn himself a nomination for Sky Bet League One manager of the month for April.
For most managers securing safety for their club is a moment of pure elation but ‘Robbo’ explained the focus is on improving further.
He said: “I don’t think that sunk in until a few days later, I don’t take too much time to sit and think about those kinds of things, my mind is always on what’s next and how we are going to get better.
“Even after the game against Portsmouth, I didn’t feel too much emotion, I was frustrated that we had lost but when the messages came in from fans and other people and then I felt immensely proud, privileged and excited about the future.”
Robinson does not want the club to just focus on safety like it has done for the past few League One campaigns.
“I don’t understand that kind of outlook, for me I just think it is a small club mentality to celebrate survival, although I am massively pleased for the club and the fans because it was needed,” he said.
“As a fan, the last thing you want to do is wake up in the morning and think that the manager and the players think we can’t do it. We just have to work really really hard to find ways to punch above our weight,” he added
It is just unfortunate that there have been no fans to witness the latest run of form unfold under the floodlights of Plough Lane.
This is something that Robinson wishes fans could have seen.
He explained: “There have been some games that would have been so exciting for the fans, even from the beginning.
“There have been so many games that have had late, last minute winners, there weren’t many games that were mundane and having fans in the ground would have been crazy and maybe even a couple of pitch invasions, those kinds of moments are what football is all about.”
He is hoping to emulate those kinds of performances when the fans can experience Plough Lane for the first-time next season.
With fans only watching on through iFollow, AFC Wimbledon’s performances have not been fully appreciated as of yet, a fresh style of football, positive attitudes to the way they play and more importantly it is exciting to watch.
When asked about looking to the future, Robinson explained: “I want the players to produce a brand of football that can grow the club.
“From what people are saying, we should fill it with the first game but that worries me. I want people to be queuing up outside Plough Lane for every game. I want us to be putting in performances that mean people bring their friends and they want to stay and come back for more.”