Dean Lewington Interview: MK Dons’ Solidarity on Rhythm, Management and Why Peter Shilton’s Appearance Is Safe | Football news

On 31 July 2021, ahead of their first-round Carabao Cup trip to Bournemouth, MK Dons released a statement revealing that Swansea had approached head coach Russell Martin.

Posted on the club’s official website, it reads: “To our great disappointment, this was received less than 24 hours before the first fixture of the season. To reduce To minimize disruption to our players and our match preparations, we have decided that this will be discussed after today’s game.”

A modest 5-0 precedent confirmed Martin’s departure the next day, making for one of the most forgettable, most forgettable 24-hour periods in the club’s short history.

The timing was far from ideal as one might imagine – and it brought captain Dean Lewington into the spotlight.

With a week before the start of the 2021/22 drawdown at Bolton away, an interim plan has been drawn up and, as the most senior member of the team – has been with the club since. upon its founding in 2004 – he was asked to step up to steer the ship.

“We knew Russ was going and I talked to [sporting director] Liam Sweeting and he asked if I could lead the team next week, just for practice, until they can find someone else to replace,” the 37-year-old said in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports.

“I know I’m going to prepare everything for that week, so I’m just trying to plan the week and do the right things to get the boys ready for the first game on Saturday.

“We have a very young squad and with the experience I’ve gained I can totally do it, but it’s not something that I volunteered to do myself. When you look at the composition of the team, it’s like that. fell on my shoulder, really.”

Luckily, he has the perfect man to turn to for advice: his dad, Ray.

Not only did he have a long professional career in the 1970s and ’80s, he currently works in the Premier League as assistant to Roy Hodgson at Watford and, in 1986, was the youngest manager. of the Football Association, when he took over as player manager at Fulham at the age of 29.

Not long after, junior Lewington picked up the phone.

“When Russ left, he took the entire backroom staff with him, so it was just me and a strength and conditioning coach left and we were boneless.

“I relied on my dad in terms of the fact that I knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to achieve, but I hadn’t coached on a match scale before, so I had to ask ‘Are you going to do this in how long because?’ and ‘How long will you do it’.

“He was out of work at the time so I relied on him as much as I could for the practical things you need in coaching that sometimes, as a player, you often overlook.”

The match was interesting. The Dons twice from behind took a 3-2 lead at UniBol, but in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Alex Baptiste scored an impressive goal for Wanderers.

Looks like he’s going to call his dad anyway. Even now, Ray is the first person to call him for advice or guidance.

“Most Sundays, I take the kids out and we have dinner,” he says. “We always talk about the game and different things in football. If anything big happens, he will be my first point of reference because he’s the one who has been there and done it. there.

“He’s sitting on the other side of the fence, which is always helpful to get a different perspective. In your playing career you look at things from a completely different perspective than what a manager does. visible.”

Speaking of playing career, Lewington is currently in his 20th professional season – 18 of which have been spent at MK Stadium.

He has been promoted from League Two twice, once from League One and played every first game of the club and, to date, only won the 2015/16 season. Even his career continued to go from strength to strength.

And, with another promotion on the card, it doesn’t look like it’ll end anytime soon, especially given the fact that he’s currently working on one of the most talented young managers in Liam Manningwho is one year younger than his captain.

“Liam comes in and has a really good attitude about him. We talk regularly about games and coaching and he’s very open with me. Age doesn’t really matter because there’s another strength. when he’s the boss and I’m the player.

“He knew what was here and what he wanted to achieve, so he tweaked it from the start, rather than making wholesale changes. He’s been consistently doing that and We tried to improve every game and make ourselves better.

“We’ve tried to be a more well-rounded team this year; we’ve tried to get ahead from behind when we can and do things that fit our brand of football. But we’re not. slave to it; if we need to switch groups and buy some space, we can do that too.

“It’s about finding that mix and balance, and throughout the second half of the season we got it right more often than not.”

Before next Saturday’s visit, Shrewsbury Manning’s men are third in League One, three points behind second-placed Wigan, despite having played two more games.

And, by playing the final seven decisive games, Lewington hopes to help write another positive chapter in the club’s history books.

“At the beginning of the season, it [promotion] “He admitted it.” We are growing as a team and as a club, and when Russ leaves, that raises suspicions even more. Since Liam joined, we’ve come together and deservedly where we are.

“Any success is great and promotion would be great, especially to get the club back in the Championship, this is a huge step forward in the leagues. When you see the caliber of the teams there, it’s a huge step forward and it would be great for the club to get there.

“Fingers intersect, we’re moving in that direction and we can try to get there.”

On a personal note, by playing in MK Dons’ 1–0 win over Cambridge on 19 March, he brought his total EFL attendance to 761. Only 14 players had a high total score. more, with legendary England goalkeeper Peter Shilton leading with 1,005 .

At this point, playing another 246 games seems unlikely – but can Lewington hope to come close?

“One of the press people showed me the numbers and Shilton had over a thousand – there’s no way I’d come close to that record,” he grins.

“He’s definitely got that safe. It’s an incredible amount of games, but definitely not on my radar.”

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Sky Bet League Highlights A match between Cambridge United and MK Dons.

However, with a total of 877 appearances in a career that bears his name, hitting a thousand in all competitions is not entirely out of the question.

“I got lucky with the injury and I don’t need any special training regimens or days off, so I can train normally with the rest of the team.

“I just find that rhythm helps a lot as you get older. I think some players take time because they think they need to rest, but I like it the other way. That’s what I do, Just keep practicing and keep a normal rhythm when it comes to Saturday.

“I’m still feeling healthy and I’m playing good football too, so while that goes on, I’ll carry on.”

Lewington’s longevity is something of a rarity in modern times; only two other current professionals – Adebayo Akinfenwa and Kevin Ellison – have made more than 600 appearances in English football.

With every game he plays, the rich tapestry of his career grows – and it will be a long time before anyone comes close.

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