After MK Dons suffered relegation to League Two at the end of the 2022/23 season, they parted ways with previous coach Mark Jackson and invited Graham Alexander to replace him.
Alexander had a great start with the Dons in the 2023/24 League Two campaign, winning four of the five opening matches and being named Manager of the Month in August. However, what followed was a eight-match winless streak which resulted in his sacking on October 16. The club dropped all the way to the 16th spot in the league standings despite sitting first at one point in the season.
Now, the club is in the search for the next MK Dons manager, with one candidate standing above the rest.
List of Possible Next MK Dons Manager
As per reports in the media, Mike Williamson is the runaway favourite to become the MK Dons next manager. In case the negotiations with the Gateshead coach fail, we have presented a list of potential alternatives.
As we mentioned above, Mike Williamson is viewed as the top candidate for the job opening at Stadium MK. That is despite the 39-year-old currently being employed by Gateshead in the National League and his team being placed sixth.
If MK Dons appoint Williamson, it will certainly be a brave choice since the Englishman has never coached at the professional level (fourth-tier and above). In fact, Williamson started his coaching career as recently as 2019 in the sixth tier when he had to combine the player-manager role. Only this summer he decided to fully focus on the coaching aspect.
With Gateshead, Williamson managed to achieve promotion to National League in 2021/22 and was named Manager of the Season that year. In their first season back in the fifth tier, the Heed achieved a respectable 14th-place finish while playing an attractive brand of football.
Unlike Mike Williamson, Karl Robinson has a lot of experience in the English Football League. Moreover, MK Dons is a club near and dear to his heart as he led the Dons between 2010 and 2016.
Back when Robinson was only appointed at Stadium MK, he was only 29 years old which made him the youngest coach at the professional level in England. Under his command, MK Dons won promotion to the EFL Championship for the first time in their history at the end of the 2014/15 season. However, the second-tier proved too tough for the Dons and they suffered relegation the next season, with Robinson eventually being relieved of his duties.
The Englishman would go on to work with Charlton Athletic and Oxford United where he also achieved high finishes in League One. His latest experience was as an assistant to Sam Allardyce at Leeds United, although they were sacked by the Whites after just 30 days. At the very least this means that Robinson is available for instant hire.
If experience is what MK Dons are after, then there are not many better candidates than Steve Cotterill. The 59-year-old started his coaching career all the way back in 1995, and he's been coaching in the English football pyramid since 1997. His long career has included spells at such clubs as Burnley, Nottingham Forest, Bristol City and, most recently, Shrewsbury Town.
Some of the top achievements in Cotterill's career include the promotions he won with Cheltenham Town, Notts County and Bristol City. His success over the years has brought him the privilege of coaching in the EFL Championship on several occasions.
Thanks to his adaptability and willingness to work with what he’s given, Cotterill definitely has the means to turn the situation around at MK Dons and lead them to a high finish at the end of the season. The 59-year-old has been on the job market as he departed from Shrewsbury this summer.
Kevin Phillips, on the other hand, is not the most experienced manager. The former Premier League striker had held assistant roles at Leicester City, Derby County and Stoke City but his managerial career only started in 2022 when he was appointed by South Shields in the sixth tier.
In the 2021/22 term, Phillips took charge of South Shields mid-season and made them runner-ups. The team could not achieve promotion via play-offs, though, losing in the semi-finals to Warrington Town. The long-awaited promotion came at the end of the 2022/23 as Phillips’ men won the league.
However, the 50-year-old left the club by mutual consent once the season was over and is now looking for a new club. Although unproven in the professional leagues, Phillips still showed some modern, high-intensity football with South Shields during his time.
Leam Richardson is a free agent as well as he left Wigan Athletic back in November 2022 when the Latics were sitting in the EFL Championship relegation zone.
However, this doesn’t mean that Richardson’s spell at Wigan Athletic was a disaster – quite the opposite. The Englishman arrived as an assistant coach in 2017 and would hold that position under Paul Cook and John Sheridan. In 2020, he had a brief spell as caretaker and was later instituted as head manager.
Richardson saved Wigan from relegation in his first year. And building on the momentum, the Latics won promotion to the second tier as 2021/22 League One champions, with Richardson named Manager of the Season.
Prior to Wigan Athletic, Richardson worked as an assistant at Portsmouth and Chesterfield, and also as a head coach at Accrington Stanley between 2012 and 2013. The 43-year-old combines a vast knowledge of the lower leagues with an attractive playing style, which would make him a top appointment for MK Dons.