MK Dons Head Coach Liam Manning spoke of his disappointment at the result and pride in his team as they were narrowly beaten by Wycombe in the play-offs.
Manning spoke to the media after the second leg at stadium mk, where MK Dons won 1-0 but were unable to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit in defeat to the team from South Buckinghamshire.
The result means that Wycombe will play at Wembley in the League One play-off final in 11 days, which will be against Sunderland after they edged out Sheffield Wednesday, while the Dons face a 4th season in League One.
Speaking after, Manning spoke of his mixed emotions.
He said, “There’s frustration, disappointment, but also a sense of pride in how the players applied themselves tonight. It’s a tough one to take. When you look across the two legs, we created more and better chances than them. We were outstanding tonight but it just comes down to whether you’ve got enough quality in and around the box, which we didn’t have. Mixed emotions – couldn’t be more proud of the players and how they applied themselves and the bravery they showed, but disappointed for them as they deserved more.”
MK Dons missed out on automatic promotion but one place and one point, and Manning said this was a negative experience for everyone to try and learn from.
He said, “It’s a double hit in terms of two disappointments. I said to the players that unfortunately sometimes that’s life and also the game that sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. You have to suck it up and come out tougher, harder and better the other side, and that’s what we’ll definitely do as a club and a group of staff and players. We have to go that we lost tonight but we must become better and must channel that frustration, disappointment and emotion into becoming better and kicking on in the future.”
Several MK Dons players have been linked with summer transfers and Manning said that the speculation was inevitable, but he felt confident the backroom team would be poised to react as they had been in January.
He said, “You’re never going to stop speculation and it should be a huge compliment for the club and the guys who have done the recruitment, the staff and the players for how hard they’ve applied themselves. You’re never gonna stop that. We’re in League One. There’s always going to be teams above us for that. It’s about being prepared for whatever happens. We showed that in January when Matt O’Riley and Andy Fisher moved on, Peter Kioso was called back, but what we showed is that we were proactive and work extremely hard behind the scenes for things like that to happen.”
Speaking about the game itself, Manning said Troy Parrott’s goal did help grab the momentum but it was unfortunate a second just wouldn’t follow.
He said, “First goal was really important. If they get it, it becomes a lot harder and with us scoring that first one when we did, it lifts the momentum and gets you on the front foot. It lifts the edginess and the nerves in them. So it was just unfortunate we couldn’t finish it.”
The game ended MK Dons’ season, with Manning confirming the players work for the season is over. He said it was time for the team to take a break then come again for the next campaign.
He said, “I think it’s difficult. You just need time, but I don’t think you can pick people up after that. We’ve got a group of players who have worked hard as they have over the course of the season and were so emotionally invested, and it’s going to be tough to pick them up. They need time to reflect and they need a break as it’s so intense in League One – it was something like game 53 of the season. It’s such a full-on season. You’ll be carrying emotional fatigue as well. I think the players need time away, and need time with their loved ones, and it’s about licking your wounds then going again.”