A Luton Town microcosm of a week
It’s not very often that the words of an ex-manager stick with you just as much as they did with John Still. “Never too high, never too low” he once said. I don’t think those words are more relevant to a club than Luton, and this past week is proof of that.
It began with the long-awaited return of fans to the Kenny. 10,019 of us to be precise, both home and away, crammed into “The Old Girl” after no less than 525 days away. The atmosphere was definitely up there with the Middlesbrough’s and Portsmouth’s of recent times.
On the game itself, I can’t see any opening day performance topping the 8-2 vs Yeovil, but boy did it run it close. For a so-called makeshift defence, we didn’t give Peterborough a sniff. Newly promoted or not, making League 1’s top scorers and League 1’s top scorer in Clarke-Harris look blunt sums up a magnificent defensive performance.
I mentioned Osho in a recent ORH pod as my “One to Watch” for Luton this season, stating that he has a good chance of replacing Rea in that defensive midfield role. Whilst I think long-term that’s where he’s best suited, he’s making it incredibly difficult for Lockyer and Burke to claim their spot on the right side of our centre-back pairing. Amari’i Bell was impressive too, especially when you consider he missed every pre-season game due to his Jamaica representation.
However, it was the attacking performance that took away everyone’s breaths. “Athletic” was a buzzword used by Nathan throughout pre-season when it came to recruitment and where he’s trying to improve us, but I don’t think anyone expected quite how athletic we’d look so soon. The second goal summed us up. Elijah pressing the Posh defender high, forcing a loose pass which was latched onto by Fred, who then had no thought other than to get to the by-line and lay it on a plate for whoever had the initiative to get themselves into the six-yard box. It’s important to not get carried away though, Peterborough weren’t great and may struggle this year, so it’s tough to judge just how good a result that is until a couple of months in.
On Fred, it seems as if his signing had gone under the radar a little bit, especially when you think about the reaction to the signings of both Campbell and Mendes Gomes. With the benefit of hindsight, he may turn out to be one of our most important signings this summer, impacting straight away whilst giving time to the younger CMG to bed in.
The good feeling following the Posh game, however, almost seemed to vanish at around half past 10 on Tuesday night. What initially seemed like a strong second string, with Osho the only man standing from that fantastic performance three days prior, turned out to not quite be at the races against a solid League Two side. If I’m being honest, I don’t really want to say anything more about the game, and just as I said it’s important to not get carried away after Peterborough, the same is true of Tuesday. People can say that we can’t afford to put in the same performance against WBA on Saturday, and they’d be right, but it just simply won’t happen under Nathan.
“Never too high, never too low”. People’s natural reaction after a thumping win is to talk up our chances and dream of the seemingly impossible, and similarly, people naturally get down after getting knocked out of the first round of the League Cup to lower league opposition. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, football’s filled with emotion, but it’s important as fans of the football club to try to not get carried away.
Nathan speaks of an eight-year plan, split into two parts. The first part was to become a Championship side from League Two in four years, something that he (with the help of Big Mick) completed in three. There’s nothing to suggest that this second part won’t be just as successful. Under the stewardship of Gary and 2020 and the management of Nathan Jones, we as Luton fans are being taken on the journey of a lifetime. We’re currently sat at point A as an established Championship side, something that would’ve been a pipe dream just a mere few years ago. The destination, point B, is the Premier League. The journey from A to B will, as following Luton Town always is, be a rollercoaster. The only thing guaranteed is that there will be highs, just as there will be lows. All we can do is strap ourselves in and enjoy the ride.