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Last Chance Saloon - Interview
Tuesday, 14th Jul 2020 07:08 by Clive Whittingham

Up against it but hanging in there, we spoke to @LutonTownFans about the Hatters’ chances of survival and consequences of relegation ahead of Tuesday’s game at Kenilworth Road.

How would you assess Luton’s season overall? Why have you struggled?

I think a relegation battle is where we expected to be before the season started, so I don’t think that’s been a surprise. We’ve struggled because we’re a club trying to live within its means having come up from League 2 to the Championship in two seasons and we are now competing against clubs spending at a completely unsustainable rate.

Luton’s league results so far…
Luton 3-3 Middlesbrough (Bradley 17, Cranie 24, Collins 85 – Fletcher 7, Assombalonga 37, Wing 68)
Cardiff 2 Luton 1 (Flint 52, Vassell 90 – Pearson 86)
Luton 1 West Brom 2 (Cornick 15 – Diangana 48, 51)
Sheff Wed 1 Luton 0 (Harris 54)
Barnsley 1 Luton 3 (Wilks 72 – Butterfield 2, Collins 4, Cornick 31)
Luton 2 Huddersfield 1 (Collins 57, Shinnie 66 – Grant 47)
QPR 3-2 Luton (Eze 3, Wells 22, 28 – Cornick 35, Collins 48)
Luton 0-3 Hull (Stewart 63, 90, Grosicki 87)
Blackburn 1-2 Luton (Travis 37 – Collins 17, Pearson 57)
Luton 1-1 Millwall (McManaman 86 – Bradshaw 60)
Derby 2-0 Luton (Pearson og 11, Lawrence 70)
Luton 3-0 Bristol City (Ruddock 56, Cornick 62, Williams og 90)
Fulham 3-2 Luton (Mitrovic 16, 53, 67 – Potts 60, LuaLua 90)
Birmingham 2-1 Luton (Pedersen 45, Jutkiewicz 82 – Cornick 67)
Luton 1-2 Forest (McManaman 87 – Grabban 39, Ameobi 58)
Reading 3-0 Luton (Morrison 22, Ejaria 30, McCleary 79)
Luton 1-2 Leeds (Collins 54 – Bamford 51, Pearson og 90)
Luton 2-1 Charlton (Ruddock 19, Brown 53 – Leko 7)
Brentford 7-0 Luton (Mbeumo 7, Watkins 29, Jensen 33, Da Silva 40, 45, pen 87, Benrahma pen 71)
Luton 2-1 Wigan (McManaman 87, Moncur 90 – Moore 35)
Stoke 3-0 Luton (McClean 35, Allen 45, 50)
Preston 2-1 Luton (Gallagher 5, Stockley 84 – Collins pen 43)
Luton 0-1 Swansea (Ayew 82)
Luton 3-3 Fulham (LuaLua 5, Collins 28, Cornick 84 – Reid 9, 90, Mitrovic 77)
Bristol City 3-0 Luton (Watkins 4, Diedhiou pen 44, Weimann 66)
Millwall 3-1 Luton (Bradshaw 69, Mahoney 78, Smith 81 – Bradley 41)
Luton 1-2 Birmingham (Collins pen 62 – Jutkiewicz 4, Gardner 69)
Forest 3-1 Luton (Lolley 36, 57, Grabban pen 90 – Cornick 23)
Luton 3-2 Derby (Ruddock 67, Daniels 73, Bogle og 86 – Rooney 63, Martin 85)
West Brom 2-0 Luton (Daniels og 14, Ajayi 70)
Luton 0-1 Cardiff (Tomlin 73)
Luton 1-0 Sheff Wed (Collins 23)
Middlesbrough 0-1 Luton (Tunnicliffe 17)
Charlton 3-1 Luton (Taylor 34, pen 61, Lapslie 87 – Cornick 36)
Luton 2-1 Brentford (Baptiste og 9, Cranie 45 – Watkins 83)
Luton 1-1 Stoke (Collins pen 90 – Vokes 9)
Wigan 0-0 Luton
Luton 1-1 Preston (McManaman 87 – Sinclair 52)
Swansea 0-1 Luton (Collins 72)
Leeds 1-1 Luton (Dallas 63 – Cornick 50)
Luton 0-5 Reading (Meite 17, 18, 35, 62, Puscas 57)
Luton 1-1 Barnsley (Berry 13 – Halme 84)
Huddersfield 0-2 Luton (Bradley 49, Lee 71)

Why didn’t it work out for Graeme Jones?

Graeme Jones inherited a tricky position. Fans had become used to success in recent years and he came in and lost our two full backs (James Justin and Jack Stacey) that had been crucial to the way we played to Premier League clubs. So he had to try and find a new way of playing at the same time as playing against a much higher calibre of opponent. From the interviews with players after he’s left it seems the dressing room wasn’t as happy and together as it had previously been.

What are your feelings on Nathan Jones return? Lot of acrimony around his departure it seemed…

My personal opinion was that I didn’t care that he was back - it seemed like a good idea. He knows most of the players and they have always been very positive about him. I felt initially when he left that it wasn’t the last we’d see of him and it felt like an Eddie Howe moment when he left Bournemouth for Burnley. However he then accepted a Manager Of The Month award won at Luton whilst wearing a Stoke City training top and that combined with how the move to Stoke happened came out into the open and at that point it did seem like he’d never be back, as even the board were publicly critical of how he had conducted himself.

Some positive results and still in touch, what’s he changed?

I think he has the trust of the players now and they believe in him and he believes in them. Our football has been more pragmatic than under him previously, as it is all about getting results now. We’ve been very good with our game plan in our away matches - winning seven out of nine points so far. However at home we’ve not quite found the right game plan and have only taken two points from a possible nine. The circumstances have changed everything around since before lockdown, as at one point we went on an 11 game losing run away from home and had been relying on our home form to pick up points. Now it seems to be reversed.

Summer Ins: >>> Simon Sluga, GK, 26, HNK Rijeca (Croatia), £1.3m >>> Martin Cranie, CB, 32, Sheff Utd, Free >>> Brendan Galloway, LB, 23, Everton, Free >>> Ryan Tunnicliffe, CM, 26, Millwall, Free >>> Callum McManaman, RW, 28, Wigan, Free >>> Jacob Butterfield, CM, Derby, Free >>> James Bree, RB, 21, Villa, Loan >>> Luke Bolton, RM, 19, Man City, Loan >>> Izzy Brown, CF, 22, Chelsea, Loan

Summer Outs: >>> James Justin, RWB, 21, Leicester, £6m >>> Jack Stacey, LWB, 23, Bournemouth, £4m >>> Arthur Read, CM, 19, Brentford, Free >>> Luke Gambin, LW, 26, Colchester, Free >>> Alan McCormack, DM, 35, Northampton, Free >>> Aaron Jarvis, CF, 21, Sutton, Free >>> Jack James, RB, 19, Released >>> Jack Senior, LB, 22, Released

Winter Ins: >>> Peter Kioso, 20, DF, Hartlepool, Undisclosed >>> Eunan O’Kane, 30, MF, Leeds, Undisclosed >>> Cameron Carter-Vickers, 22, CB, Tottenham, Loan

Winter Outs >>> Alan Sheehan, 33, DF, Lincoln, Free >>> Marek Stech, 30, GK, Mansfield, Free >>> Lloyd Jones, 24, DF Northampton, Loan

Player of the year candidates?

I think the player that has made the biggest difference for us since coming in during the January transfer window is centre back Cameron Carter-Vickers (on loan from Tottenham). He’s been a class act in his stay so far and his composure has improved the defence a lot compared to the first half of the season. Over the full season I’d probably say midfielder Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu has been our most consistent performer.

Weak links in the team?

The weak links have probably been the full backs this season. We’ve had a lot of injuries and have been chopping and changing in both positions, so it’s been really evident just how much James Justin and Jack Stacey had brought to the team. A lack of an available out-and-out defensive midfielder for most the season has also been a blow.

Do you think you’ll survive? Consequences if you don’t?

If you had asked me after Tuesday night’s draw with Barnsley I would have given us less than a 10% chance, however Friday night’s win at Huddersfield combined with Saturday’s results has put us right back in the mix (especially if Wigan’s points deduction is upheld). I would say the odds are 40/60 now. If we can work out how to play at home in these behind closed door matches then the odds may even be in our favour, as we have to of the three left at Kenilworth Road. If we don’t survive then the consequences will be pretty big for the club. We’ll manage but we’ll losing £6m in income, which is a massive amount for a club with Luton’s budget.

Links >>> Luton Town official website >>> Hatters News – Blog >>> Luton Outlaws – Message Board >>> Supporters Trust

The Twitter @LutonTownFans, @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

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TacticalR added 18:18 - Jul 14
Thanks to LutonTownFans.

Overall it sounds like Luton got more organised since we blew them away in the first half at Loftus Road, and they've only lost one game post-lockdown.

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