This article featured in the official Luton Town matchday programme for the game against Huddersfield Town (2/10/21), in the 'Dylan's Diary' column.
There are a lot of good things happening on the pitch for Luton Town. Even though the results might not be there to show for it, the Hatters are without a doubt showing performance levels that stand them in good stead to win games over the course of the season.
After last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth, manager Nathan Jones made a comment that reflected the magnitude of what Luton were trying to achieve this term -
“Do we come right off, be really negative and shut up shop, or do we want to turn into the side that’s front footed, that’s bold?”
In the early stages of last season, the Hatters wouldn’t have gone about competing with their ex-Premier League opponents in the same way. There would’ve been more players behind the ball in much deeper starting positions as the Town attempted to nullify their opponents and steal three points.
Nathan Jones has answered the very question that he posed after the Bournemouth defeat in the way he’s consistently set Luton up to play this season – man-to-man everywhere, trying to win the ball back high and impose themselves on their opponents at every opportunity.
It’s no surprise what Luton did to Coventry on Wednesday night - it was a performance typical of what Luton have done this season, but this time they had the goals to show for it.
All of this has been done amidst the backdrop of a mounting injury list the likes of which Hatters fans have never seen under the leadership of Nathan Jones. For all the talk of adding athleticism to the squad over the summer, Luton have lost arguably their four most athletic players who provide a dangerous blend of running power, skill and intelligence in Allan Campbell, Admiral Muskwe, Fred Onyedinma and Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu.
That’s Luton’s entire engine room on the treatment table, players who fit Luton’s style like a glove in their ability to get the ball forwards at speed, win duels and attack second balls.
Luton are becoming the front footed, aggressive, and “bold” side that they set out to be at the start of the season. The foundations are very much there – as I spoke about in my last column, the Hatters are one of the best teams in the league in their ability to create high quality scoring chances – but where Luton must do battle next is in the murky fine margins of the Championship.
They showed that that’s what they could do on Wednesday night, showing a cutting edge that at times has evaded them this season.
That final touch, that last block, that small movement that takes an opposition forward away from them – consistently overcoming those margins is the next step in this squad’s development, and an empty treatment room will help that process.
Time and patience is something that’s required after a summer of squad churn and rebuilding, particularly with the recruitment of a berth of relatively inexperienced players at Championship level. As Wednesday’s dominant victory over Coventry City showed, this group is taking steps in the right direction.