AFC Wimbledon interim manager Mark Robinson has expressed his pride at being given the opportunity to manage the club, after spending 16 years in various roles.
Robinson was appointed on 30th January, as Glyn Hodges was sacked following a poor run of form that left the club two months without a win.
Wimbledon‘s search for a permanent manager is ongoing, with speculation linking them to Chelsea FC Women’s boss Emma Hayes, but Robinson is delighted to have the mantle, even on a temporary basis.
He said: “I have just been given the interim role to be the manager of the greatest story in English football. I am just immensely proud and focused. I want to make a real impact while I have the chance.
“I love the club. This isn’t about Mark Robinson trying to prove himself as a manager. If I went into this interim role, feeling out of my depth or uncomfortable I wouldn’t have even gone for the interview.”
Robinson’s first league game for the Dons saw them end their poor form with a 3-2 away win at Wigan.
Since then, Dons have had a game against Rochdale called off due to a frozen pitch, leaving them 19th in League One, one point above the drop zone and still right in the thick of a relegation battle.
But Robinson isn’t feeling the heat.
He said: “I have never felt more comfortable in my life, if I am honest, even when the board went up with seven extra minutes, I felt confident.
“I like the pressure.”
For Wimbledon fans, Robinson is a well-known and well-liked figure, having been a part of the academy for 16 years and seen many talented young footballers progress through the academy to the first team.
Robinsons’ ethos has been well received by the players and fans, with Dons attacking midfielder Ethan Chislett coming out in support of his new manager during an interview on the club’s social media channels.
Developing players is what Robinson describes as one of his best attributes.
During his time at the academy, Robinson has seen many players come through the system and go into the first team and even to higher divisions.
Players like Toby Sibbick and Josef Bursik, who now play for Barnsley and Stoke City respectively, show what quality can come through the Wimbledon youth setup.
Robinson said: “I know I can develop players; I can make average players very good and I have proved that.
“The frustrating thing is once the players leave the youth team, they often don’t get the chance to go on and flourish and this is because of the learning environment.
“I’m not being disrespectful when I say this, but in most first teams it just becomes about the three points on a Saturday instead of making everyone better.
“What happens is you get these lads who have these real specific programmes at Under-18 level to make them better, but once they get to the first team, there isn’t that in place for them.”
You can read about how fan contributions helped AFC Wimbledon secure transfer funding for the January transfer window here.