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Liam Manning named MK Dons head coach

Milton Keynes Dons v Blackpool – Sky Bet League One – Stadium MK
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

MK Dons have unveiled former Ipswich and West Ham academy coach Liam Manning as their new boss.

The 35-year-old, who becomes the Dons’ first ever head coach, replaces Russell Martin after the Scot departed the Sky Bet League One club earlier this month to take charge of Championship Swansea.

Dean Lewington was in caretaker charge for last weekend’s season-opening 3-3 draw at Bolton but gives way to Manning, who will be in the dugout for Saturday’s visit of Sunderland.

Manning is an ex-academy director at Major League Soccer side New York City who oversaw Belgian club Lommel SK’s third-place finish in First Division B in his only season in charge.

“This was too good of an opportunity for me,” he said on his new club’s official website. “This is an ambitious football club that believes in playing a certain way – a way that the fans are used to and demand and one that I believe in too.

“We also have a squad full of quality and exciting players, who I can’t wait to get to work with.

“Me and my family are going to move here to live within half an hour of the area so that we can integrate ourselves into the community. That is important to me because, as we learnt last season, football is for the fans.”

Under Martin, the Dons finished 13th last season and came within seconds of starting this league campaign off with a win, only for the Trotters to equalise deep into added-on time last weekend.

Chairman Pete Winkelman said: “We are really excited to welcome Liam Manning. It has been a hectic couple of weeks but we are delighted to now be in a position to introduce him as our new head coach and be able to look forward to what the future can bring.

“We will give Liam and his coaching team all the support they need as they navigate their way through the frantic nature of EFL football and I am sure our supporters will do just the same, starting Saturday.”

Manning will be reunited with Chris Hogg, who has left his position as Newcastle’s Under-23s coach to take up a role as Dons assistant. Manning and Hogg worked together at Ipswich’s academy.

“I am delighted to join such a fantastic football club and to work with Liam as well,” Hogg said.

“Me and Liam were in the same youth team at Ipswich – although that was some time ago now! We share the same vision and belief in how we want to do things, on and off the pitch, and he is somebody I am excited to work with.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge here. I spent a lot of time watching MK Dons last season as an outsider – this is a young and exciting squad, full of players with real potential.”