4 observations made as Luton Town's Rob Edwards era starts with a defeat at Middlesbrough
Luton Town were unable to get off to winning ways under Rob Edwards, with Middlesbrough running out as 2-1 winners at the Riverside Stadium yesterday.
Matt Crooks' injury-time winner sealed the three points for the hosts, with Jordan Clark opening the scoring in the 33rd minute and Chuba Akpom levelling seven minutes from time.
Here, are four observations made as Luton fell to a defeat on Teesside...
Slick passing movement going forward
For the first 35 minutes, Luton demonstrated great passing movement and speed, similar to what has impressed me with how Coventry progress the ball up the pitch. This is characterised by a ball being played into an attacker, who receives the ball with their back to goal, laying the ball off to a team mate who plays it onto another player, this is also known as a triangle and this sort of ball progression was missing from our attacking play under Nathan Jones.
Unfortunately we couldn’t maintain this tempo and passing discipline as Middlesbrough starting imposing themselves on the game. However, it was an impressive opening 35 minutes and providing we keep playing like that and shore up our defence, I believe we will carve out more opportunities as we get more comfortable with this style of build up play.
Defence is becoming a real problem
Another game, another defender bites the dust. As soon as Amari’i Bell received that first yellow card I knew he wouldn’t be finishing the game. Isaiah Jones was a thorn down our left hand side all game, and now that he’s been relieved of the shackles of playing as a right wing back, he will be a tricky adversary for every team in this division now.
Back to our defence, we have two fit centre backs in Osho and Lockyer, with Potts somehow getting back on the grass quickly after fracturing his spine as well as Bradley and Burke still to return. This is getting worrying now, and we will surely be limping into the transfer window to try get some defenders through the door, because right now the team is only as strong as the weakest link, and our defensive options are bordering on non existent. Going up against Millwall next, a team known for their aerial prowess, it’s likely James Bree will be bright in as a make shift centre back.
Allan Campbell is the 10
I noticed it mainly from the first half, which was the only point where we were attacking, that in this new role Allan Campbell was the furthest forward trying to press the defenders, as well as the goalkeeper (nearly resulting in a goal in the second half).
This was a far more advanced role than that seen in a Nathan Jones system, albeit there was fluidity in the 3-4-1-2 system when defending with Clark and Campbell often switching positions for the press when falling back into position. It appears that this new system doesn’t rely on a defined defensive midfielder, although this may change depending on when Lansbury is fit again and we benefit from having an orthodox DM that prefers to stay in his own half. With our defensive frailties right now, having a midfielder sitting in front of the back 3 would be advisable.
Forwards still not playing up top
The most frustrating aspect of our front line under Nathan Jones was seeing Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo not spearheading the attack as orthodox strikers. Don’t get me wrong, this a personal gripe, I am by no means a UEFA accredited coach, although I have had a lot of success on football manager, starting with CM97/98 (tongue firmly in cheek).
I feel to score goals, and to cause panic in the opposition defence you want your strikers pressing up right against them. When you play 1 up top, defenders will be occupied trying to deal with a potential threat breaking the lines, what we have are two big athletes up top. They should be striking fear into the opposition, getting mixed up, touching shoulders and ready to break after defence splitting passes. What I noticed in the game yesterday was Allan Campbell was often the most advanced, with Morris dropping into midfield and Elijah only going up top for the press. As I said, it’s a personal gripe because I’m not a fan of “false forwards”.