TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE GIVES KYLE HOPE FOR UPSET
KYLE McFadzean still remembers the gratifying moment when Sir Alex Ferguson’s patience snapped. Drawn at home to Non-League Crawley in the FA Cup fifth round, the Scot’s mighty Manchester United were expected to run up a cricket score.
Instead, a back four marshalled by the young McFadzean had stifled and frustrated a youthful Reds side and were threatening to embarrass the Premier League giants on national TV.
An exasperated Ferguson had no choice but to bring on talisman Wayne Rooney, the man he had intended to rest.
“It was half-time when we saw Rooney standing on the touchline,” recalls MK Dons defender McFadzean, whose side welcome Chelsea today.
“We were absolutely buzzing. We’d spent the whole game thinking ‘Come on, bring some of your big guns on, give us a test’.
“When you go to Man United, you expect to play against the best players in the world but obviously they were really confident, thinking ‘this is going to be easy’.
“It wasn’t and Richard Brodie actually hit the bar for us in the last minute, which would have made it 1-1. We definitely gave them a fright.”
McFadzean has a similar mindset when it comes to Chelsea’s superstars. A weakened side may give the Championship strugglers a chance but the 28-year-old – who joined the Dons from Crawley in 2014 – is desperate to pit his wits against the wily Diego Costa.
“We all know Costa,” he said. “He likes to get stuck in, throw a few elbows around. If we can suck him in, that’s something we can use to our advantage.
“I’d love to face him. I was watching the game against Arsenal on Sunday and when he came off inured I was gutted. He trained on Friday but it’s whether they’ll risk him. I hope so.
“All of the lads are the same. We want them to play a full team. Hazard, Oscar, Fabregas – those are the kind of people we want to see.”
For Dons gaffer Karl Robinson – whose side famously demolished Man United 4-0 in the League Cup last season – the visit of the Premier League champions is yet another step along the road to rehabilitation for a club still browbeaten and belittled for the events of a decade past.
“I think it’s great for Milton Keynes as a city,” he said. “It gives us a chance to tell our side of the story, to get a few more column inches than usual.To get a bit of respect for all the good things we do.
“We’ve been here since day dot and we’ve all heard about the stadium. The controversial upper tier not being finished. Gaps all over the place. Six thousand fans, sometimes five thousand fans sat in here.
And you get the questions – ‘Why is it so big? What’s the point?’
“Well the point is days like today. Like Man United. Like Yeovil. There have been some amazing occasions here. This place was built to aspire to afternoons like this one. It’s a privilege and an honour to manage this club in front of such a full stadium.” And it isn’t just those outside the city whose eye Robinson is hoping to catch. The Dons have run into mounns of red tape in their bid to build a training complex in Milton Keynes, with chairman Pete Winkelman currently exploring sites outside the town.
“We’re training on school pitches,” said Robinson, who has rejected his chairman’s offer of an advance on next year’s playing budget in favour of paying for better facilities.
“We’re training on 60x40 indoor courts. I’m coming into work asking ‘Where are we training this week?’ It’s not good enough.
“We need a training ground, somewhere we can base ourselves in Milton Keynes. The chairman has had to look outside, which is wrong when you think of the hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of pounds we bring to the local economy. Particularly today.
“I know my chairman is working hard on that but he just keeps walking into closed doors. If I could get anything from this game, it would be for someone in Milton Keynes to take notice and give us a hand because it isn’t fair on me or my players.”
As for the game itself, Robinson – who gave his side five days off to recuperate before the match – can best be described as a realistic optimist.
“On paper, it’s not a Chelsea victory,” he said. “It’s a Chelsea steamroller. But when you make it an FA Cup tie, all of sudden other things come into play. Doubt, excitement, unpredictability... Bradford.”
So can the Dons emulate Phil Parkinson’s side, who pulled off one of the competitions greatest ever upsets by trouncing the Blues 4-2 at Stamford Bridge last year?
“I have days where I wake up and think ‘We can win this’,” he added. “Then you have a coffee and think ‘No way’.
“They’ve got so many options to rotate and play in different ways. Any one of three or four players can be No.10. They play in a very unique way.
“But we think there are certain elements of their game that we can look at. I wouldn’t ever say they were weak, but they’re not ten out of ten. They’re maybe nine-and-a-half out of ten. We need to turn them into solutions for us.”
Robinson is urging his players to simply enjoy the day. “You’ve got to be excited,” he said. “And I don’t just mean Chelsea, I mean all the other games as well.
“You’re playing football for a living. If you aren’t excited about lacing your boots up or pulling a shirt on, dont play for me. Because they’re a very fortunate group of people and everybody in that stadium on Sunday would like to swap places.”
As for McFadzean, he is hoping that Chelsea make the same mistake as Manchester United in that 4-0 mauling.
“I’m sure they’ve watched videos of us,” he added. “Maybe they have and now they’re thinking ‘This is going to easy’. I hope so.
“Because It’s the same approach we took to playing United. If they play well, they’ll probably beat us. If we lose, we lose. Obviously we don’t want to get hammered, but nothing is expected.
“That mentality means you play with no fear. And when you play with no fear, anything can happen. Just look what we did at Crawley.”
GOT PREVIOUS: Kyle McFadzean celebrates after MK Dons victory against Manchester United in front a packed stadium:mk, inset top, and in action for Crawley against United, inset bottom FOCUSED: MK Dons boss Karl Robinson has given his players time off to prepare