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Struggling at the wrong end of the League One table, MK Dons have turned their attention to a player with several years of Premier League experience: Nigel Reo-Coker.
Sitting just inside the relegation zone, level on points with rivals AFC Wimbledon in 20th, Dan Micciche was keen to sign the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder, who was once worth £7.5 million.
Miccichie felt the need to add to his squad to continue the Dons ascension out of the relegation zone, and to give them the best chance of League One survival, MK Dons have turned to the former Premier League stalwart Reo-Coker.
The move may not be popular amongst the fans of MK Dons rivals AFC Wimbledon, as Reo-Coker was signed up at the age of 12 by the old Wimbledon F.C. After impressing and developing through the academy and youth teams, it wasn’t long before Reo-Coker made it into the first team, and as a local lad, he was eventually named club captain.
After a good start to the 2003-04 season, he was snapped up by fellow Londoners West Ham United, where the Englishmen spent 3 years, playing regularly in the heart of midfield, making over 100 appearances in the Premier League and scoring 11 goals. Again, his strong influence and leadership saw him named as West Ham club captain too.
After a less successful 2006-07 season, Reo-Coker left London and moved to Aston Villa for £7.5 million, where he’d stay for 4 years, and even experience European football, playing in the UEFA Cup (known today as the Europa League).
One more Premier League transfer was to come for Reo-Coker, as he moved to Bolton Wanderers ahead of the 2011-12 season. During his time at Bolton, he scored against MK Dons’ Bank Holiday Monday opposition, Blackburn Rovers, albeit Reo-Coker didnt make it off the bench. After a short one year spell at Bolton, Reo-Coker moved again, dropping down a level to spend less than 10 months at Ipswich Town in the Championship.
He then joined the trend of moving to the States, making 98 MLS appearances for Vancouver Whitecaps, Chivas USA and Montreal Impact over a three year period between 2013-2015, before deciding to return to Europe.
On his return to Europe, he has found playing time difficult, spending time on trial at Granada CF in the Spanish La Liga before signing for Norwegian club IK Start in May 2017, but his career here failed to start and just one month and 3 appearances later, he was released from his contract in June 2017.
In the past few weeks, the Englishman has been training with MK Dons, and signed for them on 22nd March on a short term deal.
An interesting fact about Reo-Coker is that despite never playing for the senior team, he was the first Englishman to captain an English side at the new Wembley stadium, leading the U21’s out to face Italy in 2007, a record that no-one will ever take from him.
Strengths & Weaknesses
A box-to-box midfielder by trade, Reo-Coker specialises in bringing the ball forward, with his skilled dribbling and ability to create opportunities major strengths of his. He likes to keep things simple in midfield, often keeping possession and looking for the simple pass rather than always attempt the ‘Hollywood-esque’ ball, and in a relegation battle sometimes stripping it back to basics is what it takes! .
As an experienced midfielder, Reo-Coker will also help with the defensive aspects of the game, as throughout his career he has demonstrated his love for a strong challenge and his ability d assured tackler who can win back the ball and cancel out opposition chances – excellent traits for a relegation battle!
He has his weaknesses, however, which MK Dons would have taken into account before deciding to offer him the contract. The obvious is the doubts over his fitness – since leaving the MLS in 2016 he has only managed 3 appearances in the Norwegian league for IK Start. This would no doubt have been a problem for Dan Miccichie, but he will have seen enough in training to warrant offering him a short term contract.
Furthermore, his physical stature may not be suited to a League One relegation battle, as standing at 5 ft 7 makes him a very short player, meaning he won’t win many aerial duels, which quite often serves as the bread and butter of a relegation scrap.
Another weakness could be his disciplanary record, as despite only seeing one red during his Premier League career, Reo-Coker was booked 41 times and committed 298 fouls in 205 games, and giving away cheap free-kicks in a relegation scrap could be fatal.
There is no doubt that MK Dons have made a statement of intent with this signing, and should he prove his fitness, Dan Miccichie has some player on his hands, and his wealth of experience will be vital in the final stretch of this season.
What They Say
Owen Coyle – former Bolton Wanderers and Ross County Manager
“He has the quality, drive and desire to compete at the highest level,”
Dan Micciche – MK Dons manager
“His attitude’s been excellent, he’s got excellent leadership qualities and he’s been great around the lads,”
Martin O’Neill – Republic of Ireland manager
“He is vibrant and raring to go; and I think he is an exceptional player,”