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…
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 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.
The Twitter @LutonTownFans, @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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