Luton Town Season Review 22/23
Wow wow wow wow wow. Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming. Ow ow ow ow ow, stop pinching me, OK, I'm obviously not dreaming.
We actually did it. We managed to get promoted through the playoffs. It's absolute madness. I had watched us compete in 6 playoffs, and who would have thought that 7th time is the charm!
Before I start you can read the 21/22 season review here from our season where we finished 6th and got dumped out the playoffs by Huddersfield.
You can also read the 22/23 season preview here where I predicted a very optimistic top 8 finish. No one could have predicted the season we were about to have. I'm not going to discuss promotion in depth here, because it's been a week, and it literally still hasn't sunk in. It most likely won't sink in until the fixtures are released on June 15th.
In case you didn't know, this is what our away end looks like from the outside.
Overview and Pre season thoughts
As mentioned above, I knew we would manage to keep the momentum going into this season. I just didn't expect us to gain this much momentum. Having finished 6th and on 75 points in the 21/22 season. Everything was kept steady in the off season, we recruited well, and only lost one significant player (discussed below). Throughout the off season though social media was awash with speculation that Luton Town would do a Barnsley (meaning losing in the playoffs and then battling relegation/getting relegated the following season, which Barnsley did in the 21/22 season), this was speculation was further fuelled by the signing of two of Barnsley's relegated front three (more on that later). However, one bright spark in the off season was the lads from the Second Tier Pod who went bold and predicted a solid season for Luton Town, with Ryan predicting 2nd and Justin predicting 3rd. These guys know ball. Nathan Jones was keen to kick on with the squad, and was 110% committed to the cause...
Nathan Jones was 110% committed to the cause at Luton, before leaving for Southampton | Photo courtesy of Gareth Owen
Who left, and who did we sign?
The most significant outgoing was that of Kal Naismith, who was the fans player of the season in 21/22. The manner in which he joined Bristol City left a sour taste in the mouth of the Hatters, with the club not knowing he had agreed terms, with the Welsh wannabes announcing him a whole 24 hours before Luton Town. Also the fact that he was chatting some boilerplate shite in his introduction interview, about being excited about getting to work with "the best manager in the league". A truly absurd statement that even Stevie Wonder could see was the dumbest thing that anyone could ever say in the history of mankind. Regardless, Hatters were annoyed and concerned, mostly because Kal was a good player, he made that LCB role his own, and was a vital cog in our 21/22 playoff machine, and scored a significant and wonderful goal against Bournemouth that pretty much kickstarted our playoff push after the long covid/midseason break - hey guys, remember covid?
Less significant outgoings on the pitch were Peter "I should be starting every game" Kioso (to Rotherham) and Danny Hylton (to Northampton). With Kioso leaving, we were losing depth in the defensive unit, whereas with Danny Hylton, we were losing part of the furniture at the Kenny. Sure Danny had never hit the heights of his League 2 bagsman days after his nasty injury in League 1, but he scored some vital goals in 21/22 - grabbed the point at Bristol City and sealed the win against Derby with a wonderful strike. Also his head of hair is one of the greatest come back stories in modern times.
We brought in some numbers in the off season, although as discussed on social media, these players seemed to be "for the future":
Alfie Doughty (undisclosed) - From Stoke, he hadn't hit the heights expected following his transfer from Charlton, having spent the season on loan at Cardiff in 21/22 (along with Cody Drameh - more on him later). Regardless he was one Nathan Jones was tracking for a long time.
Cauley Woodrow (undisclosed) - From relegated Barnsley, it was a little homecoming for Cauley having come through our academy and left us for Fulham as a fresh faced 16 year old.
Matt Macey (undisclosed) - From Hibernian, the former loanee raised eyebrows amongst the fan base. People said, well he's shit, and then others said, nah that was Stuart Moore, Matt Macey was the decent one. Spoiler alert - they are both shit.
Louie Watson (undisclosed compensation) - From Derby, we capitalised on the financial straits at Derby and came out with one of their prized academy assets. He was seen as one for the future.
Luke Freeman (free) - From Sheffield United, he was seen as a broken thing, with injuries having caught up with him during his time at Sheffield United, again one that Nathan Jones was very keen to work with, having played together at Yoevil.
Carlton Morris (fee in region of £1.5m) - From relegated Barnsley, we didn't know what to expect from him considering he was a striker that had never scored more than 10 goals in a season. Also he had just been relegated with Barnsley. However, he added much needed depth and support up top for Elijah. At this point we knew him as the player that scored that wonderful goal in our 2-1 victory over Barnsley in 21/22, where he skinned Naismith, and sat Osho down before dinking it over Shea.
Ethan Horvath (loan) - From Nottingham Forest, fresh from having won promotion through the playoffs with Forest last season, he was seen as a good keeper to have in the team, and he was desperate for first team football. Rumours were that there was an option to make the loan permanent. After last season where we went through 6 keepers, we needed consistency between the sticks.
Then we had some strictly developmental signings; Tobias Braney (who looks a proper player and has been bagging goals out on loan), Daniel Idiakhoa (who has since been released in the retained list), Jayden Luker (who remains under contract at the club), John McCatee (who was immediately loaned back out to Grimsby) and Aribim Pepple (who was loaned to Grimsby, but they sent him back, regardless, he's been good in our development squads).
Carlton Morris goes down as signing of the season, costing just £75,000 per goal | Photo courtesy of Gareth Owen
How did we do?
I write this with a big smirk on my face. Because it still hasn't sunk in.
Like the 21/22 season, it was a season of two halves (and two managers), unlike last season whereby there was a covid break, this season we had a conveniently placed World Cup. I always thought Winter World Cups were the greatest idea, and certainly never ever criticised FIFA, The Qatar WC bidding buddies, or the countless executives that have become incredibly wealthy from the previous World Cup who effortlessly and repeatedly moved not only the goal posts but mountains in order to give us what we all wanted, the first World Cup in the Middle East - in the middle of fucking winter.
Anyway, I'm veering off topic. I'm not doing a monthly breakdown by the way, you can get that off wikipedia. I'm sure the 10 people who read this will be wildly disappointed.
We can break the season down in two ways - Luton under Nathan Jones and Luton under Rob Edwards. I'll do the stats after this overview.
Nathan Jones took us almost the whole way to the World Cup break, but he was just itching to move. Our start to the season was mediocre, we were struggling to win games. In fact we didn't win a game until our 5th game of the season against Swansea, with 2 draws and 2 losses to start the season, including the second worst performance of the season against Bristol City, leaving us 23rd in the table. After that we had a mini purple patch, completing the welsh double beating Cardiff and drawing with Sheffield United. Which took us up to 9th in the table. Before throwing the game away against Wigan "prompt wage payment" Athletic. Fortunately we then hit a 7 game unbeaten run, which shot us up to 4th in the table. Which took us into the match against them lot down the road. We were in great form, they were already on their second manager (more on that first manager in a bit), everything was aligned for us to go there and turn them over. But disaster struck, we were utter shit and lost 4 - 0. On the bright side it gave them a high point for the season. Post match, Nathan Jones had plenty of excuses, mentioning stomach bugs, he couldn't fill the bench etc, but the eventual reality was more concerning. We only picked up 1 win from the next 4 games, culminating in an abject display against his former side Stoke, where it all but confirmed that Jones would be leaving the club. This would take us to the end of Nathan Jones' tenure. Jones moved (amicably and with massive compensation) to Southampton - where he wouldn't stay for long, but reports surfaced after his move that Southampton had been in negotiations with him for 5 weeks prior. No surprise he didn't give a shit post match against Watford. Regardless, he moved in in better faith than when he did against Stoke, He left the club in 9th place, and paved the way for Mick Harford to coach for the last game before the World Cup break, a 1 - 1 draw against Rotherham. We entered the World Cup break in 10th place, and it gave us time to pick our manager properly.
Nathan Jones stats P20 - W7 - D8 - L5 - GF 22 - GA 21 - Pts 29 - WinP 35% - PpG 1.45
Mick Harford stats P1 - W0 - D1 - L0 - GF 1 - GA 1 - Pts 1 - WinP 0% - PpG 1.0
At the end of last season (I know this narrative has been done to death, but keep with me here). Watford appointed Rob Edwards from Forest Green Rovers, a young up and coming manager, to take over from Roy Hodgson, a legend who got Watford relegated at Selhurst Park, and then had the balls to clap the Crystal Palace fans (as his last season there was behind closed doors), whilst ignoring the Watford fans who had travelled to South London, because they were too far away. This is made even funnier due to the fact that he returned to Palace, and absolutely turned their season around. Anyway, Rob Edwards was the man to replace the Hodge. Scott Duxbury, Watford CEO stated "Rob will be backed through hell and high water". It turned out that translated to 10 league matches, of which he had only lost 2, this included beating Burnley, who would go on to leave the Championship quivering in their wake.
During the winter break, the Luton board were very impressed with Rob Edwards as a candidate, and made the bold decision to employ him. In addition to this our January window included the loss of James Bree, who moved to Southampton to join up with Nathan Jones and Harry Cornick to Bristol City, fair play to them, they signed our best striker. Cameron Jerome also left by mutual termination, as he wanted to move back up North to his family. We replaced Bree with Cody Drameh on loan from Leeds and replaced Cornick with Joe Taylor, an unproven striker who was yet to break into the first team at Peterborough. However, Big Mick swore by him, and has been tracking him for years. We also brought in Marvelous Nakamba on loan from Aston Villa (who would turn out to be the difference maker, more on him later). Although, the general consensus was that we were too threadbare at the back, and up top, as injury could expose our lack of depth.
But in Rob we trust, and we haven't looked back since. Since his appointment, we have only lost 3 matches in the league, one of which was his first game in charge, and even in that game we played sensational stuff for the first 35 minutes against Middlesbrough, our eventual opponents in the playoff final. After that loss we had a great Christmas period with 3 wins against QPR, Norwich and Huddersfield. Before a loss against WBA who were in phenomenal form. They managed to overturn a 2 nil deficit in the second half, and fair play to them. We then won another 3 in a row, drew 2 in a row before a hard to take defeat against Burnley, where the fair result would have been a draw. But then we didn't look back, finishing the season with a 14 game unbeaten run, which led us to our highest finish in the Football pyramid since, well, last season. Which was our highest finish in the football pyramid since the 1981/82 season where we also got promoted to the top tier. This was made all the more sweeter by getting some payback against Watford, sure it wasn't 4 - 0, but it was a significant moment for the fans and Rob Edwards, as that was when a lot of us felt, we would be making the playoffs. We eventually finished 3rd, thus making it 8 successive seasons where we have finished higher than the previous season.
To cap off a totally wizard season, then came the playoffs, and the rest as they say is history.
Rob Edwards stats P25 - W14 - D8 - L3 - GF 34 - GA 16 - Pts 50 - WinP 56% - PpG 2.0
*Excluding playoff results
Rob Edwards had that magic touch, guiding us to third in the league and up through the playoffs | Photo Courtesy of Gareth Owen
Time for some RAPID STATS
Luton Town lost 18 points from winning positions under Nathan Jones
Luton Town lost 9 points from winning positions under Rob Edwards
James Bree still leads the team for chances created (60), he left in January. Next highest is Alfie Doughty with 54.
Luton Town had the second best away record in the league (41 points), only behind Burnley (47 points).
Carlton Morris is the first Luton player to score 20 or more goals in the second tier since Brian Stein (1981/82 season).
Luton Town were joint second in clean sheets with Coventry, our eventual playoff final opponents, with 20 apiece.
Luton Town had the second lowest xG conceded (44.6), behind Burnley 39.1. Meaning we didn't give away many chances to the opposition.
How did our players do?
As per my writer idol Mister PDW, these ratings were picked on a whim, don't shoot the messenger. This shows appearances (sub appearances), minutes played, goals, assists and WhoScored rating. I'm using a letter grade system for the squad, this is down to a whim and may contain some bias, take the ratings with a pinch of salt. Stats from WhoScored - League stats only (including playoffs). Sorted by most minutes played.
Ethan Horvath 47 appearances/4261 minutes 19 clean sheets - 6.48 B It was a steady enough season from the US Stopper. He did make some absolute howlers at some points during the season, but never went full 19/20 Sluga (look it up, his howlers were legendary). Although he finished with 19 clean sheets, a lot of his shortcomings were covered up by how the team defended as a whole, shown by our very low xG conceded. I appreciate his time at the club, but I wouldn't take him back here permanently.
Amari'i Bell 46(1) appearances/4167 minutes 1G/1A - 6.78 A+ Amari'i is quite literally the unsung hero of the playoff winning campaign. Having played at left wing back last season, and filling in for Alfie Doughty when he was unavailable this season. He played the majority of the season at left centre back, the position vacated by Kal Naismith. He was spectacular and offered so much more from that position than Kal did. He could carry the ball infield, he had the athleticism to make penetrating underlaps into the box and after all the stick he got from Blackburn fans, he can now stick two fingers up at them, and show off his medal.
Carlton Morris 44(3) appearances/3693 minutes 20G/7A - 7.21 A+ It was a slow start for Carlton as he bedded into the Luton lineup. He didn't make an impact until he scored his first goal of the season against Swansea, which was also our first win. But, after that goal he didn't look back. He also managed to kick on further under Rob Edwards. He is simply a player that has a bit of everything in his locker, able to score from 3 yards or 30 yards.
Tom Lockyer 42 appearances/3638 minutes 4G/1A - 7.13 A+ Considering Locks couldn't buy a game at the beginning of the season, having only come in to the squad for the Carabao Cup game against Newport, where we lost. Swansea was also a watershed moment for him, just like Carlton. This season Hatters saw the finest defensive displays courtesy of Locks, and absolute colossus at the back. It was very concerning when he collapsed during the playoff final. However, we have been told that he is absolutely fine, and will be ready for pre season. Hopefully meaning we will tie him down with a longer contract.
Elijah Adebayo 42(3) appearances/3523 minutes 8G/4A - 6.72 A Sure Elijah didn't hit the heights (goalwise) that he did last season. However, he formed a solid partnership up top with Morris. Fortunately it meant that the heavy burden didn't all sit on Elijah's shoulders. If anyone doubts what Elijah brings to the team, just watch his assist for Jordan Clark's goal in the playoff final. His run, his feet, his turning Kyle McFadzean inside out before his pass to find Clark, shows you what he brings to the team. Even playing a three at the back system, any defenders are going to have a shit day trying to stop Elijah and Carlton from executing their movement. Also, it was great to see him get a stab at the playoffs this season after cruelly missing out last season.
Jordan Clark 37(4) appearances/3390 minutes 3G/4A - 6.83 A This season, we all saw what Clicker was about, his movement, intelligence and passing were fully on display. It's remarkable that he was signed as a right winger and has been reboxed as an attacking midfielders, he brings the attributes and movement of a winger and takes it between the lines, making him nigh on impossible to pick up for the opposition. Having a similar trajectory to Luton, having been playing for Hyde against Luton in our final conference match. He deserves a shot at the Premier League, and his journey is also remarkable. Just like Luton making it from conference to Premier League in 9 seasons.
Allan Campbell 38(5) appearances/3273 minutes 3G/2A - 6.52 B+ I'm being incredibly tight with these scores. Sorry Wee Al. He had a good season, not as stellar as last season, but he brought the same attitude on the pitch, he runs and presses like he has 5 lungs. He also has an eye for goal from midfield with some spectacular hits, most importantly putting the cherry on top of the Watford game, and forever writing himself into Hatters folklore. Unfortunately, with Nakamba entering the fray in January, he was the unfortunate one to miss out on those two remaining midfield spots.
Alfie Doughty 28(3) appearances/2438 minutes 2G/5A - 7.14 A+ What a player we have on our hands with Alfie, he will seamlessly move up to the Premier League like he's easing himself into a nice warm bath. Pace, trickery and a delivery to match, he has been a joy to watch play this season. Fans were concerned about the speed at which he was being eased in at the start of the season, but I guess when you have had the injury record that Alfie has, it just makes sense. Also, that goal against QPR was just spectacular.
James Bree 27 appearances/2430 minutes 0G/4A - 6.99 A Football can be a cruel game, it can also be incredibly ironic, and that irony can be absolutely hilarious. James Bree was both promoted and relegated this season. He did well for the first half of the season, needing to fill in right centre back, which he did well, whilst also contributing many key passes to the Hatters cause. However, the simple fact is, when Osho came in to the right centre back role, we looked a lot better defensively, and that showed with our climb up the table. I'm still disgruntled about the fee being £750k, what with his contract expiring. But sometimes the grass isn't always greener, is it, James!? Well, at least he's getting a promotion medal.
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 27(6) appearances/2394 minutes 3G/1A - 6.62 A This man is a modern Luton Legend. He gets better every season, and he has been worth every penny of the £50,000 that John Still paid for him as a 19 year old back in the Conference. Did you know if plays one minute in the Premier League, he would be the first player in history to have played in the top 5 levels of the English Pyramid for one club? Of course you did, it's been all over the news. He deserves everything he gets, and I'm delighted the club have offered him new terms, Pelly deserves the world.
Gabe Osho 25(5) appearances/2273 minutes 3G/0A - 6.64 A The only reason this isn't an A+ is because of his first half of the season. He is the biggest beneficiary of Rob Edwards coming in at Luton. Under Nathan Jones he looked edgy and shit scared to make a mistake, however, under Edwards he was calmness personified with his big runs out of defence with the ball seemingly glued to his foot. He also scored some vital goals, the first against Watford, and then the goal against Sunderland in the away playoff leg to get us up and running. He is another that his currently being negotiated with for a new deal, and he deserves it.
Dan Potts 24(2) appearances/2020 minutes 1G/0A - 6.84 B Another player who has been on a spectacular journey with Luton after being signed by John Still in League 2. He started as a left back, but with our formation change over the last two seasons has been re-engineered as a left centre back, which in my opinion is a much better position for him. He doesn't give you the athleticism that Bell gives, but if a ball comes into the box, he will get his absolutely beautiful head onto that ball. He had solid performances this season, however, the emergence of Bell as well as a pesky back injury kept him out for a good chunk of the season. He also scored what turned out to be the winning penalty in the playoff final.
Marvelous Nakamba 19(1) appearances/1726 minutes 0G/0A - 6.93 A+ I remember saying on the Oak Road Hatter podcast when Marv came in, he was the difference between getting into the playoffs and not getting into the playoffs. How wrong I was. He was an instrumental cog in the machine that got us promoted. I hope Villa are sensible with their valuation for a player that they simply don't want, so we don't have to shoot our transfer load prematurely on a player that wants to be at Luton. Marv also stepped up in the playoff final shootout and cooly slotted away his pen, which was remarkable considering during games he would always pass the ball rather than shoot.
Cody Drameh 19 appearances/1581 minutes 0G/2A - 7.19 A We were all very nervous when Bree left, because were losing a solid option at right wing back. However, enter Cody Drameh. Another bitten by the cruel irony of football, with Leeds being relegated as he makes the step up to Premier League. However, Cody will be alright, with Luton attempting to re-sign him as well as Burnley having a go too, he's got a Premier League move lined up. As he started with Luton you could see he had not played a lot of football, but he found his feet very quickly.
Reece Burke 15(7) appearances/1417 minutes 2G/0A - 6.71 B+ At the start of the season, if you had asked me who our best centre back was, it would have been Reece Burke. However, he seemingly has hamstring issues that have prevented him from being a top defender. Remember Hull signed him for £2m as a highly rated 21 year old. Regardless, this season he has scored 2 sensational goals; the piledriver against Blackburn, and then the intricate passing play against Huddersfield where he was instrumental throughout the build up. It would have been a B, if it had not been for his display in the playoff final, where he came on much earlier than expected for Tom Lockyer. If we can stay injury free, we have a Premier League quality defender on our hands.
Sonny Bradley 14(5) appearances/1219 minutes 0G/0A - 6.56 B- Sonny is leaving Luton Town at the end of his contract, and he has been a stellar figure for Luton Town. We won promotion to the Championship in his first season at the club, he was key in stabilising the club in the Championship, before pushing on up the league, and eventually winning this second promotion. However, it is known the personal issues he has been experiencing off the field, with his father Ray passing, suffering from long covid and issues with his child's health. No matter who you are, if you are hit with that many gut punches, you will stay down. But Bradley didn't because he's a hard bastard. The cherry on this cake was, a disgusting aerial challenge from Yakou Meite, from which Bradley landed horrendously, and it looked like a season ending injury. But Bradley being the hard bastard he is, he recovered, and plugged gaps in our defence towards the end of the season. Regardless, Sonny was getting exposed by some of the better strikers in the league, Gyokeres and then Archer had a lot of luck running beyond him, but in all fairness, they are both exceptional players. I'm delighted he's leaving us on a high, as he deserves it, and I hope he stays in the Championship and gets a move that works for him.
Luke Freeman 10(16) appearances/988 minutes 2G/1A - 6.41 C+ I wasn't expecting Luke Freeman to pull up trees this season, we all know about his injury history that restricting his appearances at Sheffield United. He showed glimpses of what he could do, the goal against QPR was a highlight for me. However, a troublesome groin kept him out for the majority of the season. He does a good job of looking busy on the pitch, without he had a flurry of creating chances at the beginning of the season, but went off the boil fast as his groin caught up with him. The + is purely because he managed to bag some goals and an assist.
Cauley Woodrow 5(22) appearances/741 minutes 2G/1A - 6.35 C+ I was expecting a lot from Cauley this season. Certainly more rotation with the front two, who ended up playing a tonne of games, because Cauley was picking up niggling injuries, with the last one keeping him out of the playoffs completely, he couldn't get any momentum during the season. He offers something completely different to our attack and his special touches can be seen at times. Regarding Nathan Jones deciding to play him as a 10, no. Just no. He is not a 10. Look at the goal against Norwich, what a strike. I hope he stays fit next season, because he has unfinished business in the Premier League.
Harry Cornick 7(12) appearances/740 minutes 1G/3A - 6.31 C- After his barnstormer of 21/22 I thought maybe Harry would kick on, but unfortunately not. He has always been very streaky in front of goal, but his finishing looked to have gone up a notch. Regardless, he wasn't getting enough first team minutes here and Bristol City needed a striker. So they signed Harry. Allegedly he went for more money than James Bree, which is absolutely criminal, considering they both had 6 months remaining on their contracts. Regardless Bristol City got a good, honest, hard working lad, and I hope he has a good season next year. Fortunately we sold him for more than we bought him, which is a great return on investment.
Fred Onyedinma 6(13) appearances/696 minutes 0G/2A - 6.35 C There is most certainly a player in there. Unfortunately with Fred, he is such an athlete he is prone to many injures. When he sets off one on of his sprints you just worry that he's going to pull a hamstring. If he can get through an entire season without injuries he would be flying. Perhaps his best role is as an impact sub, because currently he is unable to string back to back 90 minutes together.
Luke Berry 4(19) appearances/695 minutes 3G/0A - 6.43 B We know that Luke Berry is now mostly an impact player, who will happily step into the starting lineup when required. He is yet another that has been on a fantastic journey with us from League 2, and for him it's even more impressive because like Clark and Pelly he has made it from Conference football too. He is a scorer of vital goals, his three vital goals this season were; the late levellers against Rotherham and Millwall, as well as the winer against Blackpool. Love Bezza.
Henri Lansbury 6(4) appearances/458 minutes 1G/0A - 6.65 B When required Henri did a job, however, it is clear to see that he has lost his legs and maybe his passion for football, considering he has a new passion, mowing lawns. Although, he will be remembered this season for his absolute shitpinger against Hull City. He's now leaving the club, I don't see him joining another team, I reckon he's going full time lawn lad now.
Cameron Jerome 0(21) appearances/333 minutes 1G/1A - 6.22 C+ Considering his extremely limited role purely as an impact sub, Cammy J was an exceptional professional. Unfortunately the distance between his family up north was too much, therefore we agreed to mutually terminate his agreement. Shame he missed out on promotion with Bolton. I feel he would have continued to be a great depth option for us in the second half of the season. His legs have most certainly not gone, he is still a supreme athlete at 36 years old.
Louie Watson 3(2) appearances/220 minutes 0G/0A - 6.51 B- Most definitely one for the future, but in his little flurry of starts around the time of Rob Edwards first games was a great indicator of the tidy passing he could bring. However, the signing of Nakamba pretty much put a ceiling on his minutes with the first team, also I think the Grimsby FA cup replay might have given Rob Edwards second thoughts about playing him, I don't know, I'm not part of the Luton coaching staff! He can still continue to develop, and I would like to see him get first team minutes next season in the Championship.
Joe Taylor 1(5) appearances/130 minutes 0G/0A - 6.02 B- Definitely the best beneficiary of Cornick and Jerome leaving in January and Cauley's injury issues, as it immediately propelled him to third choice striker. However, Edwards was very reluctant to chuck him on the pitch. He was highly spoken of by Mick Harford and Darren MacAnthony, I don't put stock in what DMac says (although he does have an eye for attacking talent), but Mick knows recruitment and had been tracking him for years prior to the move. Joe was unfortunate to have his strike ruled out in the playoff final, but he showed great big balls to step up and take the second penalty. I reckon a championship/league 1 loan is in the pipeline for next season.
Admiral Muskwe 1(1) appearances/105 minutes 0G/0A - 6.51 F I'm at a loss with Muskwe, considering he is more senior than Joe Taylor and was recalled from Fleetwood on the same day we signed Joe, why wasn't he anywhere near the squad? He's most definitely one that we will be looking to cut our losses on next season. He had one flurry of good form, prior to AFCON last season, and since then, he has not hit the heights expected. His loan spell at Fleetwood consisted of 14 games, 3 goals (2 of those being pens). I wouldn't expect to see him here next season.
Harry Isted 1 appearance/90 minutes - 5.78 D I like Harry, but his only match this season was the 2-0 loss against Stoke, sure the rest of the team didn't do him any favours, by letting Stoke score two unmarked strikes from two crosses that were allowed to be sent in. I feel the club have done him a disservice, he has obvious talent, reflexes and shot stopping ability, he has shown that at Barnsley, and against Chelsea last season in the FA Cup. However, we opted to bring in emergency loans instead of giving him a chance (I know it was risky considering in 21/22 we were going through keepers like Spinal Tap go through drummers). He's left the club now, and I hope he gets a chance with a Championship club, he could do it.
James Shea 1 appearance/90 minutes - 6.54 C Shea got a chance with the final game of the season against Hull and managed to keep a clean sheet. He did really well to come back from an awful injury. However, I do not see him being first choice next season. Potentially second or third choice depending on how good Jack Walton is...
Elliot Thorpe 0(3) appearances/68 minutes - 6.19 C His season got off to a shit start, being loaned to Burton and not played. However, I don't know what we do with Elliot Thorpe, he was brought in with high expectations from Tottenham, he dropped down so he could stand a better chance of playing first team football, and he's ended up getting shunted out to the right wing back position. He look great in his cameo against Hull, but I thought we were getting a box to box midfielder. We've triggered an extension in his contract, I don't know if that means we are looking to get a fee by selling him, or whether we want to keep him about for further development.
Joe Johnson 0(2) appearances/38 minutes - 6.28 B I'm very excited about JJ, he's 17 and managed to not only break onto the bench, but get some vital first team minutes, with his first minutes coming in a high pressure game against eventual playoff winners Middlesbrough. Lots more to see of him, and possibly the start of the academy assembly line roaring back into gear.
Gary Sweet has that magic touch, long may he remain CEO | Photo from Gary Sweet's LinkedIn
One thing that is guaranteed is that we will be finishing higher than we did this season, Even if we finish 20th. You know what, I'm sure we are going to give it a good go. I don't think we will try and sign proven Premier League talent, but we are more likely to hoover up some of the hot talent in the Championship and League 1/League 2 for further development.
I expect quite a big clearout with lots of the players who haven't gotten near our squad to be moved on; Glen Rea is all but gone (well done to him for recovering from his horrendous injury too), Aribim Pepple needs a loan and Dion Pereira, who Bradford were begging to rejoin has barely played this season. Carlos Mendes Gomes is one I would like to see around the first team squad next season. Lots of headaches for Rob Edwards, Richie Kyle and Paul Trollope.
Exiting news to look forward to, the renovations are under way at the Kenny to welcome Premier League cameras and media teams, and ground will be broken at Power Court on 19th December 2023. These are amazing times to be a Hatter.
Bold early early early pre pre season prediction. Luton Town are finishing 17th next season!
I hope you enjoyed reading this, there's only one way to go. The Town are going up!