Job well done - Interview
Thursday, 6th May 2021 18:20 by Clive Whittingham
Despite having little to play for Luton Town are finishing the campaign strongly, cementing a year of excellent progress made under Nathan Jones after 2019/20’s last gasp relegation escape - @LutonTownFans gave their assessment…
How would you assess Luton's season overall?
It’s been a very good season for us. I think most Luton fans realistic expectations were to finish higher than last year (19th), but that avoiding relegation was the most important target. So to be guaranteed a top half finish with our highest points total at this level since we won the league back in 1982 is quite some achievement given our very limited resources compared to others in the Championship.
Luton league results so far…
Actually in pretty decent form despite little to play for, any particular reasons for the strong finish?
I think it’s a sign of the character of the squad and manager. They wanted to prove they can finish in the top half of the table, so whilst many mid-table sides don’t care too much once the play-offs are out-of-sight, we’ve always had a more modest target and don’t have any egos that get disinterested.
Opinion of the job Nathan Jones has done?
He’s done brilliantly since his return. We’ve pretty much got a bottom three budget in this league, but between players and the board everything just seems to click for him at Luton. I think his experience at Stoke was a learning curve that we are only benefitting from, especially at this level.
Player of the year candidates?
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (on loan from Leicester) will win this award with ease I expect. He’s a superb midfield player who is very comfortable on the ball and can create chances and he has also embraced being at Luton, which is always nice to see from an on loan player. I expect him to go on and play in the Premier League for many years and it’ll certainly be very difficult for us to replace his quality next year.
Summer Ins >>> James Bree, 22, RB, Villa, Undisclosed >>> Joe Morrell, 23, CM, Bristol City, Undisclosed >>> Tom Lockyer, 25, CB, Charlton, Free >>> Jordan Clark, 26, RW, Accrington, Free >>> Gabriel Osho, 22, CB, Reading, Free >>> Dion Pereira, 21, CM, Atlanta, Free >>> Rhys Norrington-Davies, LB, 21, Sheff Utd, Loan >>> Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, 22, Leicester, Loan>>> Sam Nombe, 21, CF, MK Dons, Loan
Summer Outs >>> Marek Stech, 30, GK, Mansfield, Free >>> Frankie Musonda,22, CB, Raith Rovers, Free >>> Jake Jervis, 28, RW, Seinajoki (Finland), Free >>> Donervon Daniels, 26, CB, Crewe, Free >>> Lloyd Jones, 24, CB, Released >>> Jacob Butterfield 30, CM, Released >>> Callum McManaman, 29, RW, Released >>> Harry Isted, 23, GK, Wealdstone, Loan >>> Tiernan Parker, 19, GK, Hitchin, Loan >>> Gabriel Osho, 22, CB, Yeovil, Loan >>> Josh Neufville, 19, CF, Yeovil, Loan >>> Peter Kioso, 21, RB, Bolton, Loan >>> Andrew Shinnie, 31, CM, Charlton, Loan
Winter Ins >>> Elijah Adebayo, 23, CF, Walsall, Undisclosed >>> Kal Naismith, 29, MF, Wigan, Free >>> Tom Ince 29, RW, Stoke, Loan
Winter Outs >>> Harvey Isted, 24, GK, Wealdstone, Loan >>> Peter Kioso, 21, RB, Northampton, Loan
Weak links in the side?
The side is very much a team of equals for the most part who all work hard for each other, so individual wise there’s not really any one person or position I could pinpoint. Collectively however it is obvious that our main problem is that bit of quality in the final third, as we struggle to score goals with only 40 goals this season and 19 matches where we’ve failed to score.
Does this recent run of form give you confidence for better things next season? What are your hopes and expectations?
I think our recruitment will be key to next season. As I said above, replacing Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall will be very hard, but also a lot of the players who have established themselves at Championship level are out of contract and may now be able to get a better payday elsewhere. On the flip side there are some players who haven’t made their mark at this level who will be moved out and hopefully players with more quality and potential can come in. Elijah Adebayo (signed in January) is an example of this and is proving to be a handful for opposition defenders already. I know Nathan Jones’ target will be to try and improve on this year’s league position as progression is key for him and since he first joined the club in League 2 in 2016 we’ve progressed and finished higher than in the previous season, so he’ll want that trend to continue.
The Twitter @LutonTownFans, @loftforwords
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Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
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