BY SAM SMITH
AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Tom King has admitted that the Dons needed a fresh face in the dugout.
The South Londoners parted company with long-serving Neal Ardley last month after a poor start to their League One campaign and appointed former player Wally Downes.
And King – who has won his place back as first-choice shotstopper – feels it was a welcome change.
“We just needed a fresh face, we’ve got that now and it’s given everyone a lift,” said the on-loan Millwall man.
“On and off the field, everyone is right behind the manager, we want to do it for him just as much as he wants to do it for us. We’re all pulling in one direction now which is a good vibe to have around the club.
“On a personal level I don’t think it’s got anything to do with him being unlucky. You earn your luck by how hard you work. I know Neal Ardley is well respected at this football club – so I won’t say anything too damaging. For some of the lads it just wore thin a little bit.
“We’re not doing more hours on the training field, it’s just more specific things [that have changed]. He [Ardley] is a well respected manager so I’m not going to say anything derogatory.
“The players that we have, the way we are playing now is more suited to these players – and the ones that he signed. There were too many lads who were given too many decisions to make.
“Those decisions have now been taken away from them, they have been allowed to concentrate on their football. The defenders can concentrate on the defending, the midfielders can concentrate on what they’re good at, and the strikers can now do what they’re good at.”
The 23-year-old is midway through a season-long loan from Millwall and has regained the number one spot from Joe McDonnell for the last three matches – his first League One appearances September.
But for King – who was excellent in the Dons’ 0-0 draw with Blackpool on Saturday – his priority is not impressing his parent club, instead it is to move Wimbledon out of the relegation zone.
King said: “Millwall know what I can do. That’s not my focus right now. My focus is getting AFC Wimbledon out of the situation that we have found ourselves in. That was the most frustrating thing for me when I wasn’t in the team, when the team wasn’t doing as well as we know we can.
“It was frustrating because I felt I could add something to the team, I’ve managed to prove that now to the fans and the manager.”