‘The envy of many Luton without a superstar’ – Jones – Ghana Latest Football News, Live Scores, Results
Nathan Jones (right) was Luton’s only representative in a Championship Team of the Year with players from all four sides above them
Luton Town’s lack of ‘superstars’ is the secret to their surprise push for promotion to the Premier League, says Hatters boss Nathan Jones.
Jones was named Championship Manager of the Season at the English Football League’s awards ceremony on Sunday, but none of his players made the Team of the Year.
Luton, fifth in the table, are looking to end a 30-year absence from the top flight.
“Structurally we are the envy of many football clubs,” Jones, 48, told BBC Three Counties Radio.
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“We don’t have superstars and we have a group of players who want to achieve something – they’re far from their ceiling.
“Outside of Luton everyone would have thought it was a huge, huge surprise, that it couldn’t be done – but inside we had this confidence that we could push the envelope this year.
“Ideally everyone would like to do well without spending a lot of money. That’s not the case in football at all levels, but we do it very well.”
The Hatters know that two points from their last two games will seal a play-off spot and they could even afford to lose both if the teams chasing them drop points in their remaining fixtures.
“We don’t know what we need but we can’t leave anything to chance,” added Jones, whose side visit champions-elect Fulham before finishing the regular season at home to Reading.
Evolution, revolution and ping-pong ding-dongLuton finished second in League Two to gain promotion in Nathan Jones’ second full season in charge in 2017-18
Jones had big boots to fill when he arrived at Kenilworth Road in January 2016 – taking over from John Still, who ended a five-year non-league spell by guiding Luton to the 2013-14 National League title.
Having cut his teeth as a manager at Charlton and Brighton, Jones took Luton through to the League Two play-offs in his first full season and then earned automatic promotion the following year.
The Hatters would earn successive promotions, but Jones left for an unfortunate fate at Stoke amid Luton’s League One title-winning campaign, only to return 18 months later.
If that hiatus was a decision he might regret, it’s one of the few given the success he’s had in Bedfordshire – albeit the choice to burn down a table tennis table on the pitch. training ranks among the most bizarre management calls.
While the drinking and gambling cultures are often notorious for poisoning the locker room, it was a much more mundane pursuit that unsettled Jones.
“When I arrived I felt that some players were more concerned with being good on the ping-pong table than being professional footballers,” explained the Welshman.
“There was a big table tennis culture, so I thought I could either cajole them and try to get them into the gym or burn the ping pong table. It was a lot easier to burn the ping pong table.”
After returning to the club in May 2020, Jones guided the Hatters to 12th place last season with 16-goal top scorer Elijah Adebayo, a January 2021 purchase from Walsall, an example of advantageous recruitment.
“It’s really an evolution – we’ve been on a journey. This year we really wanted to challenge – we believed in it, we recruited that way,” Jones added.
“Recruitment is key because no matter how good a manager, coach or CEO you are, if you get it wrong you’re done. And we have the right recruiting – that’s probably the secret.”
Nathan Jones was talking to Roberto Perrone of BBC Three Counties Radio.