Here's Jack Ross' pre MK Dons presser in full
You seemed very proud post Sheff United
“Yeah. My satisfaction was for our players and the staff. It’s not easy to go to a Premier League team and win but to do that twice shows we do things right, and we have good players and good staff at this club. When you’re asking people to believe in you and buy into what you do you need tangible rewards, and when you get a result like we got on Wednesday it’s an obvious reward. It was a good night for us, but always in football that sense of enjoyment only lasts a small period of time and then our preparations now begin for Saturday.”
You must be happy with the strength of the squad, given the eight changes?
“That’s what we’ve tried to put together. We’ve tried to add a good balance to our squad. I think a lot of players have done okay this season, but we make demands of them to say can you go and be even better and then that consistency becomes even easier. But the good thing about Wednesday is that we knew we had a side going into the game who’d already played a decent amount of minutes, with the exception of Joel [Lynch] and Laurens [De Bock}. So we had a team that was match fit, and that showed in our levels.”
You must be happy with Lynch and De Bock?
“Yeah. It was nice to get an opportunity to get them both on the pitch. It’s been difficult so far because they came in so late on in the transfer window with very little pre-season behind them. They’re playing catch-up in and amongst us playing so many fixtures. And then you’re looking at the ideal opportunity to try and bed them in, or trying to get them in the side, and a cup competition allows that a little bit. It was nice to have that opportunity. They then both have to take it, and they did that at Bramall Lane. Their fitness levels were good. I always thought Joel would be okay but Laurens was a little bit behind. So i think for him to get through the 90 minutes was encouraging, overall, both performances were really good.”
Can a cup run like this feed confidence into the group?
“Our priority is the league this season, and that supersedes any of the cup competitions and will continue to. I don’t think our squad lacks in confidence and belief, I just think in terms of the club as a whole and what’s happened over the course of the last few years, for us to go away to a Premier League team and win again, hopefully for all those who have a passion for the club will enjoy that. It’s nice to have those days. I’m not saying they make up for any of the bad ones, but it’s nice to all win that for the short period and take the satisfaction from it.”
Does it help playing a PL side and playing perhaps without the weight on their shoulders?
“It’s a difficult question to answer fully, because you can’t always gauge how much pressure a player feels individually. To play for this club, they have to learn to deal with expectation to help us get to where we expect to be. The games are different, in terms of the tactical make-up of the game because we would have less of the game territoriality than we ordinarily would in a league match. That lends itself to the game being played a different way, and our preparation reflected that. So yeah, it’s different games, but we just have to always find ways of winning.”
Are you happy with the cup draw (Oxford A)? Or were you hoping for another big gun?
“I’m sure Karl will say the same, in any cup competition you’d prefer to avoid a team that’s in your own league, just simply because of the frequency of playing them. However, when the dust settles, both sides will look at it as a realistic opportunity of progressing to the last part of the competition. There was no real bad draw for us really. It would have been nice to draw a big side, but this tie gives us a good opportunity to progress.”
What are you expecting from MK Dons on Saturday?
“It will be a very different challenge to Sheffield United. As we know, teams enjoy coming to the Stadium of Light, but we have a record that which we should be proud of in the last 16 months, and we want to continue that. In recent matches we’ve created a lot of chances and if we continue to do that, be more ruthless and get some more clean sheets then hopefully we can go on a good run. If we get both of those things right then we give ourselves a really good chance of winning the game.”
The Sheff U win should hopefully mean fans arrive in a positive frame of mind...
“All my focus is ever on is preparing the team as properly and thoroughly as I can, and that remains the case for every game. If you do that, you give yourself the best chance of winning the game, which ultimately will satisfy the supporters. So, it’s exactly the same for this weekend. It’s a quick turnaround for us. We only got back home in the early hours, and we were back in first thing this morning to prepare for Saturday. We’ll be ready to go, and I’m sure the players will take a huge lift from both the result and the performance at Bramall Lane.”
Has the up win given you a few selection headaches you weren't expecting?
“When we went into the Sheff United game I hoped all the players that were given a chance to play would do well, and they did that. That’s great for me. We’ve got a number of players who couldn’t travel to the game on Wednesday, some of them trained today, some of them didn’t. We’ve not got a full squad, and then we’ll have to assess the ones who played at Bramall Lane and how they recover. We’ll not really be able to do that properly until tomorrow morning. Then we’ll go from there in terms of our selection. But I’d much rather have good performances from all the players that came into the team at Bramall Lane.”
Do Joel and Laurens come in to contention for league selection now, or are they still slightly behind?
“Subject to them recovering from the game in time, they’re very much now part of the first team squad. They were part of the squad anyway, but in terms of available for selection, they were playing catch-up all the time, but they’re now getting there in terms of training - Joel’s had four weeks and Laurens three - and they’ve had some behind-closed-doors friendlies and a tough outing on Wednesday. So as long as they’ve recovered from that then they’re very much now, just like every other player who’s fit and healthy, available for selection.”
A few days on from Saturday, how have you so far processed the reaction you got from fans at Bolton?
“How do i describe this properly? It doesn’t have any impact on how I do my job. That’s maybe the best way to describe it. Rather than be blasé and make a throwaway comment about it not bothering me, it’s probably best described by saying it doesn’t impact the way I do my job and the way I go about my job. From day one when I came here I’ve put a huge amount into this, and my drive and determination to bring success to this club will remain the same. And the consistency of what we do work-wise will remain the same. There was no part of Wednesday’s performance that made me think, yeah that was satisfying after Saturday. It’s not. It’s about my players and staff getting reward for the work they do. It’s just football - it’s modern day football, and the turnaround between being praised and criticised is quick, not just for me, but for every other manager. It’s okay, it’s part of the industry and if you can’t deal with it you’re probably in the wrong job. I am still learning though, so in terms of experience-wise, it will be a benefit to me as well.”
It must be nice to see every player coming in making a case for themselves?
“Yeah. I think that’s testament to the character in the group, but also how much they believe and trust in what we ask them to do. There’s always going to be players unhappy when they’re not playing, and believing they should be playing, and I’ve said often enough, I don’t mind that at all. But the willingness to keep buying into what we do has always been there, and I think that only happens if you’re thorough in what you do, and that lends itself to producing the kind of individual performances you saw at Bramall Lane. Their application and desire to win the game was really good, and the level of performance was excellent as well. That was the most satisfying thing about Wednesday’s performance. All these good players, that you believe are good players in your squad, produce a good level of performance.”
MK Dons play good football and will pose a threat won't they?
“Yeah. I know well enough now there are no straight forward games in this league. It was nice to have the opportunity to speak to Chris [Wilder] after the game to hear his experiences of managing Sheffield United and coming up through the leagues. There are probably a lot of similarities and it was nice to have that conversation. But they’ve made a solid start to their return to this level, and we know how teams respond to coming here and playing in this environment, so it’s up to us to bring a similar type of performance to what we brought to Bramall Lane.”