Mark Jackson Begins a New Journey as Head Coach of MK Dons
Seven years of dedication and coaching progression at English Premiership club Leeds United have now earned Mark Jackson the Head Coach role at League One MK Dons.
The 45-year-old Football Careers client takes over from predecessor Liam Manning in what is a fiercely competitive division. Mark took charge of the team for the first time at home to Forest Green Rovers on Boxing Day, emerging with a 1 – 0 victory. He stressed:
“I am extremely excited and proud to be named Head Coach of MK Dons. We have a busy few weeks ahead but it’s an opportunity I’m looking forward to and I’m ready for the challenge.
“It is clear what the short-term targets are, and I will be emphasising that to the players, but I want to help build something special in long term as well and I believe we have the togetherness and the people here to achieve that.”
The highly respected Jackson, a former England Under-20s defender who played for Leeds, Scunthorpe United, Huddersfield and Barnsley, has had a fascinating journey at Elland Road. He progressed through the U15s, the 16s and the 18s to be given the U23s Head Coach role and won the Premier League 2 title at that level.
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch recognised the talent he had within and promoted Mark to First Team Coach and he helped steer the club to safety last season after the departure of Marcelo Bielsa.
Now Jackson has a survival mission ahead of him as he becomes a manager in his own right. And he said:
“This club has a clear identity and it’s one that fits in with my idea of how the game should be played. There are certain areas where I think I can enhance that through my experiences and knowledge.
“Ultimately, we will look to play an attractive style of football where we dominate the ball, play on the front foot, aggressively go after teams with how we press and influence our style on the opponent’s game.”
Jackson’s reputation for developing young talents at Leeds – where the likes of Joe Gelhardt, Crysencio Summerville and Sam Greenwood have come through the ranks to the first team – was a key facet in his appointment. And he reasoned:
“Building relationships is also very important to me and that’s not just throughout the club but with the supporters and the community as well. The fans are really important to club and they are the ones who will always be here.
“I want to engage with them and the community and give my 100% commitment to helping us all build and move forward.”
Last season Manning had led MK Dons to a third-place finish in the table but they lost out in the Play-Off Semi-Finals to Wycombe Wanderers. This time round, though, it has been a struggle, leaving the club near the bottom of the table and seeing the former manager pay the price.
Chairman Pete Winkelman believes Jackson can both turn the campaign around and provide stability in the technical area moving forward. He stressed:
“We wanted a Head Coach who could not only turn us around in the short term but could take us forward in the long term. We firmly believe Mark has the experience and qualities, on and off the pitch, to do just that.”
Sporting Director Liam Sweeting was the man in the middle of the search for the new boss that ended with Jackson’s Football Careers CV being the most impressive one on his desk. Sweeting revealed:
“At the start of this process I was focused on three key areas; Leadership, Experience and Style of Play. I feel in Mark we have someone with qualities and a proven record that hit all three.”