By Alfie Marlborough

Trash Talk is back yet again for the new 2022/23 season, and we begin with what looks to be a thrilling encounter with Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium. Before we get the new season underway, we asked the guys over at UnderTheAbbeyStand some questions ahead of the match, many thanks to them!

With the new season beginning shortly, what do you think the expectations will be regarding your position in the league?

I think realistically the objective is to just stay in the league again. In my opinion, League One is going to be so much harder this season with the likes of Derby and Barnsley being thrown into the mix. However, the U’s managed to beat some top teams last season so if we can build on that we could be hovering around mid-table once again.

Are you happy with your clubs’ activity and business in the transfer market?

Coming into the season, the main position that needed filling was at left back after the departure of Jack Iredale to Bolton. Brandon Haunstrup was quickly signed to fill that massive void on the left side of defence, as well as the addition of striker Saikou Janneh from Bristol City and more recently centre back Zeno Ibsen Rossi from Bournemouth. All three are very good signings on paper and will be key to the squad depth as the U’s struggled with injuries throughout last season.

How do you think your team will approach the game? Will it differ from our previous clashes last season? (style of play, sit back/press etc)

I don’t think our approach will be too different to how we played last season. If anything, we’ll try to attack more and make a real statement against one of the league’s big hitters. Expect a high press and a direct style of football. 

Which player do you think the Dons should watch out for? 

Watch out for Sam Smith. Linked over the summer with a transfer away, the striker was a revelation for us last year scoring over 20 goals in all competitions. His primary position is up front, but I think his best position is as a right winger as that’s where he scored most of his goals from last season. Other players to look out for are our Newcastle giant-killing heroes Joe Ironside and Dimi Mitov.

In March, the Dons were backed by an impressive 1,448 fans and are likely to be backed by a similar amount this time. Can you see the Dons fans having an impact on the game and the result?

I’d say, along with Sunderland, that the MK fans were the best set of fans we had at the Abbey last season. They were noisy throughout and helped the team come home with a valuable three points. But it’s the opening day of the season, so who knows… our opening day fixture v Oxford last season was a raucous one so let’s hope for a good atmosphere from both ends of the Abbey.

Where do you think the Dons will be aiming to finish this season and will the departures of Twine and Darling have a big impact on achieving their aim?

I think anything less than playoffs would be a disaster for MK. Even after losing Twine and Darling, they still have a capable enough squad to compete at the top of the table and plenty of money to play with after those transfers. Though like I said previously, League One will be even harder this season and MK will really need to hit the ground running if they want to achieve promotion.

Who do you think will be getting promoted this season, and who do you think will be going down?

Although my opinions change every week, I’m going for Sheffield Wednesday to win the league. Their signings so far have been excellent, and they already have good depth to their squad. I think Bolton will snag the other automatic place, their recruitment has been great, and they play a good style of football too. For the playoffs I think it’ll be a shoot-out between Ipswich, MK, Wycombe, and Oxford, with Wycombe probably just sneaking it. For relegation, I’d say Port Vale and Forest Green as they have both lost and not replaced key players, and Burton Albion and Cheltenham as they don’t have the quality that the other teams around them do. 

Which game are you looking forward to most this season?

The overwhelming majority of fans will be saying Peterborough United home and away as we haven’t played them in a competitive fixture in over 20 years, but for me personally it’ll always be our games against Ipswich. Having grown up just down the road and having Ipswich supporting friends, the stakes are always high for me personally when we play them. Also, we beat them in their own backyard last year, so I’d love for us to do it again!

If you could have any current Dons player, who would it be and why?

Before it would have obviously been Harry Darling or Hiram Boateng after their links with United, but now it’d be Daniel Harvie. I’d say he’s one of the division’s best left backs and he’d add real quality to our back line especially after losing Jack Iredale.  

How highly do you rate former Don George Williams who made an impressive 142 appearances for the Dons?

I think George Williams has been one of our best signings in recent years. He came to the club to replace Kyle Knoyle who was a huge loss after our promotion season, but George was a rock at the back for us last season. He is a real fan favourite already after just a year with us, I can see why he is still thought of very highly at Stadium MK.

Who or What made you support your team?

My dad moved to Cambridge in 2007 so one weekend we went along to watch the U’s play the then-Conference Champions Dagenham and Redbridge. United won 4-2 that day which was crucial in their bid to avoid relegation to regional football, and I was hooked ever since. I’m now a season ticket holder in the Newmarket Road End and go to as many away games as I can.

Finally, what do you think the score will be?

I think it’ll be a tough game for both sides. Cambridge will be looking for a win in front of what should be a near sell-out crowd whilst MK will be hoping for a win to kickstart what should be another good season for them. I’m going for a Cambridge win obviously but it won’t be an easy win. Let’s go for a 1-0 scrappy win, George Williams to score.

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