The Football League Paper - - FA CUP FOURTH ROUND - By Chris Dunlavy

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.”

PICS: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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