Stuart Murdoch was promoted from goalkeeping coach to become the caretaker manager of Wimbledon FC (now MK Dons), after impressing the board during his time he got the full time post on June 25 2002, Murdoch assumed control of team affairs after Terry Burton's sacking in April, with just six games of the 2001/02 season remaining. He managed to lead The Dons to four wins in that period, which threw his name into the hat for the permanent position. Although Peter Taylor and Steve Coppell were both linked to the vacant post, the Wimbledon board put their faith in Murdoch, who joined the club in 1996. His previous coaching experience came at Watford.
Speaking immediately after his appointment, the new manager said:
"From the end of the season and the time that Terry Burton left I've met with the chairman (Charles Koppel) regularly and discussed the position. I'm thrilled to be given this opportunity, it's something that I wasn't expecting. At one stage the chairman said he was looking for someone with experience, and I'm really thankful to him for giving me this chance."
Chairman Koppel, who has come under fire from Dons fans for pushing through plans to move the club to Milton Keynes, defended his decision to hand Murdoch the position, insisting he was confident the new boss can take the club forward. He told the club's official website:
"Originally we were looking for a manager with a proven track record, and we had a lot of interest from managers at all levels of the game. The club is going through a period of change and we felt it was important for the players and staff to have continuity. Stuart has proven that he can step up to the mark as a manager. We believe Stuart can do a good job, he's made it clear from day one that he would relish the opportunity to manage the club and he's worked hard to put himself in contention."
Despite Stuart Murdoch's best efforts his Wimbledon side ended the 2003/4 season with relegation from the First Division. The move to the National Hockey Stadium has seemingly had an unsettling effect on the club and the Dons ended 25 points from safety. As is football's way, another challenge was to present itself; a new start in a lower division meant an attempt at immediate promotion. The season did not go well, and by November he became the 14th managerial casualty of the season.
Chairman Pete Winkelman explained:
"This has been one of the most difficult parts of the adventure to bring football to Milton Keynes. I would like to thank Stuart for his efforts in helping to secure the future of Milton Keynes Dons FC."
The Supporters Association were a little more forthright, with their chair, Paul Wright, saying: "I think we've given him the benefit of the doubt for the first few games of the season because of last year when he was restricted and did have his hands tied, but now he's more or less got freedom. He can't go out and buy a Ronaldo or anything but he's got the freedom to use the team he's got and it's just not working."
Either way his time was up, and now we await his next move.