Rob Tuvey has revealed how AFC Wimbledon’s management team maintained their League One status in style last season despite taking over a side that had been winless in 11 matches.
When head coach Mark Robinson was first appointed to replace Glyn Hodges on an interim basis, the Dons were 20th and spiralling towards relegation.
Assistant head coach Tuvey told the South London Press: “The biggest thing Robbo did was getting feedback from the players – he would always ask how they were feeling.
“What Robbo is really good at, in fact I’ve never met anyone better, is that he creates an environment which the players can trust and feel comfortable in – but it also challenges them. It’s also a learning environment where they feel like they are getting better.
“Players bought into that, and they felt that they were getting better. Everyone was coming into work and feeling as though they were improving every day.
“If you had come down last season, there’s music pumping, there are smiles on people’s faces, and people are having football conversations. We are trying to get away from that stereotypical football environment.”
Another crucial factor Tuvey highlighted was that the players were familiar with the routine of Robinson and his way of implementing ideas. A handful of first-team players – such as Jack Rudoni, Paul Osew, Paul Kalambayi and Ayoub Assal – all progressed through the academy under the duo’s tutelage.
“It helped massively,” admits Tuvey. “They knew Robbo inside out. It really helped that the players could almost sit down and drive the environment a little bit.
“We’ve seen people flourish. We’ve seen people really improve – that’s huge for us. We are developers at the end of the day, and although just because we’re in a first-team environment, we’ve come from a place of development – that will never change.
“Robbo makes sure that we’re always reflecting on ourselves firstly as staff, and then the players after that, but we have to get it right first and foremost. We have to make sure that the environment we are creating encourages development, where players and staff alike are always improving and striving to be better.
“It’s allowed the players to be themselves because they’ve got people around them that know them inside out and know them, not only as footballers and their strengths as footballers, but also their strengths as people.
“It’s a proud moment (to see academy players in the first team) because we will never forget that we came from the academy. To see these boys represent Wimbledon is something that we’ve always dreamed of.”
See Friday’s South London Press for an in-depth interview with Tuvey about his Wimbledon journey.
PICTURE: SEAN GOSLING
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