Why Karl Robinson Should Move On

Karl Robinson is seen by many pundits as one of the most successful, talented, up and coming managers in the Football League. Every time a role comes up, his name is linked to the job. Whether he ever gets to the offer stage, or whether he pulls out at offer stage is unclear. The fact is that he has remained ‘loyal’ to the MK Dons for three and a half years now and has given the Dons a degree of managerial stability that had been sorely lacking with the big name recruitment strategy previously practised. 

“Key to the club’s success is 
the retention of Robinson”
(Image © Dudek1337 2014)

Whether he has been successful is a subjective point. He guided the Dons to the playoffs in his first two seasons and had an impressive cup run in the last season. There are those that point to Robinson’s lack of success in moving the MK Dons into the Championship as evidence that he is not as successful as his media rating suggests but I think this misses the real detail. 

Despite the outward lucrative image the club does not have money to spend on the team.  MK Dons is firmly focussed on being profitable (a laudable aim in the current spend now climate) and is currently contracted to make improvements to the ground and the surrounding environment as part of the original planning terms. It therefore has to operate as a ’selling club’ nurturing youngsters and scouting little known players before moving them on at profit. Sam Baldock and Sean Williams are good examples of this.  Other players have left to cut wage costs – Sean O’Hanlon and Gary MacKenzie for instance.  

This creates a situation in which to all intents and purposes, Robinson’s hands are tied. He is not in the position to sign new players, he is rarely in the position to reinvest transfer money raised into new talent. So he needs to utilise the pretty impressive youth set up (on the understanding that once a player becomes proven he will be sold) and be active in the loan market. The loan market of course creates significant problems for a club in terms of stability.  The club built its game around Patrick Bamford for instance in the first half of the season but Chelsea’s (understandable) decision to move him up a level means Robinson now has to start again. 

My view is that Robinson has proved himself at this level. He has proved he can deliver results in a cash strapped environment whilst playing the style of football that would not look out of place at a much higher level. He has also proven he has an eye for players and clearly has some great managerial relationships with other clubs. He is perhaps found wanting when teams adapt to his sides passing styles (although having watched Forest get completely shut out by Preston at the weekend he is not alone.) He is young though and has many years of learning ahead of him. How many of us, so early in our careers had had so much interest in us?

The MK Dons have a strategy for ridding itself of debt and of meeting its contractual ‘planning’ commitments by 2015. At that point, the club can start to keep and attract players, invest in a longer term squad and move forward. With that in mind, although promotion would be nice, it is probably not the clubs main aim at the moment. In fact, realistically whilst it would provide a short term injection of cash, it is likely that the club would come straight back down as it cannot compete financially at that level. The aim therefore is more likely to ensure that their league one position is consolidated until 2015 and that where possible they start to create the sort of stability amongst players and staff that creates long term success. Key to this is the retention of Karl Robinson and his managerial support team.

But…Robinson should accept his next realistic offer. That could easily be from Blackpool – the team where he already has a man on the inside in the form of Gary Mackenzie, and a team which, having been managed by Paul Ince would in theory be similar in styling to the team he inherited from Ince in 2010. If not there, then there will be plenty of others.

The decision to go will be his. As outlined above, the club would be mad to push him out. From his point of view he has proved himself at this level. He has proved he can operate in this type of environment. He has proved his loyalty to the club in staying with them over the past few seasons when he has had other offers.  In a new environment he can move forward to the next level now. To stay at MK Dons would mean waiting for two years to do that. How many of us in our own careers would pass up the chance of progressing to the next level now in favour of waiting for two years. I’m guessing only those of us that are not especially ambitious. And Robinson is. It’s in his make up. That’s why he will succeed. 

In the Head

One of the most inspirational people I have ever met once told me once to “be brilliant”. In essence, I took that to mean don’t worry about whether you have the ability to do something. Take that as read, as a given.  It said instead that your ability to give your best that day was down to your mental state. It was how you presented your talent, the attitude that you took with you into work that day.

“Hardest Step is the First”
(Image © lazojoey 2013)

That stays with me as I set off to run. Because put simply running is not about the physical restrictions. It’s in the mind. And yet we use the physical as a reason not to run every day. Too tired, have an ache. We use the physical as a reason to stop, to slow down whilst on a run. But it’s not the physical that tells you to stop, it’s your mental approach. Your head can come up with a million reasons why you are too busy to run, too tired, too achy to run but your legs never well. Conquer the mind and your legs will always follow. 


Think about it, when was the last time your head didn’t want you to get out of bed to run? When was the last time your head told you to leave it till tomorrow. And then when was the last time your head said to you after a run “that was a bad idea”. Guessing never.

So physically you can do it. Take that as read. Believe you can do it. Believe you can be brilliant. And you will be. 

A Fair Tax System

Is Paying More Tax Than Others Any Fairer?(Image © agrilifetoday 2013)

As discussion begins in the media about the rich paying their fair share of taxes once more I am once more interested in the definition of that fair share. I’m not talking here about the actions of corporations who exploit loopholes in the complex tax laws to reduce their tax burden. I am talking about the peculiarly British problem of ensuring that anyone who is successful gets portrayed as having the easy life. The concept that one should be punished for being successful.

There are various degrees of being fair. On the (slightly flawed) assumption (there is actually an inverse correlation to tax paid to services used) that everyone uses tax funded services to the same level, at its simplest one might say that fair would be to all pay the same amount of tax. So everyone pays a flat fee of say £20k per year. Fair then in that we all pay the same. Socially unfair though in that if one earns £100k one has £80k left to enjoy life but if that person only earns £20k per year, they are almost in debt before they are even living. Clearly that’s not going to work.  Thus this proposal is actually unfair the other way although anyone with any sort of social morality would surely discount this element! 

So, maybe it’s fairer if we all pay the same proportion of our income as tax. That seems to work, with a few allowances so that those on extremely low levels of income are offered an increased exemption we are left with all taxpayers having the same proportion of income left. At a flat rate of say 20%, a worker earning £20k still retains 80% of their income as does the worker earning £100k. The richer one is the more one pays. In the above example the £100k earner pays five times as much as the person earning £20k. Even with our slightly simplistic assumption above, that is five as much to use the same tax funded services.

I guess that is at the limit of fair for me. The financially successful massively subsidise the lower earners. Fair though as in any society, there needs to be a degree of social responsibility to enable it to work.  This allows for that without deliberately targeting and penalising the rich, I would argue that this definition of fairness is the impression that many people have of where the tax system is at present.

But no. There is a further concept of fairness which, even as a child I have always failed to comprehend. That goes beyond the idea where the richer you are the more you pay to use the same services. It says that the more you earn, the higher proportion of that income you should pay. under this regime the multiplier above goes crazy. Let’s assume for simplicity a flat rate tax rate of 20% for the first £40k of earnings and then a further 20% for anything earned above that level.  With our example above, the lower salaried example pays £4k in tax. The higher one, £32k. The more financially successful is therefore paying 8 times as much to use the same services.

Clearly the tax system is, and needs to be far more complex than this. It needs to safeguard those on very low wages. It needs to incentivise certain professions or segments of the population to work. It needs above all to provide the income necessary to keep the country functioning.

However, it’s the definition of fairness that I struggle with. I agree with an argument that says that the more one earns, the more one should give back to society. The proportional tax rate achieves that. To take that further though penalises people for being successful. The media in this country currently seem on a witch-hunt to penalise the wealthy.  There is a concept out there that they should be paying more, far more proportionately than those less well off. a concept that if you are successful at what you do, you should almost feel guilty for those less successful. I’m not sure when that crept in. I know that when I was at school, the mantra was work hard now and it would create success in the end. If you wanted to work in the areas where jobs roles were going to be in short supply then you worked hard to ensure that you secured those roles, and the accompanying financial rewards. It feels now like we are supposed to apologise for that and pay guilt money to those who didn’t fancy that choice.

To my mind, that’s just not fair.