• Billy Mulley

Opinion: Nathan Jones' flexibility and adaptability will take us to the very top

Flexibility and adaptability are perhaps two factors that go under the radar in the context of management and are ideas that can be pivotal both on and off the field.


Often, we see managers who are so fixated on operating a particular way or adopting a particular style, shutting out any alternate solutions.


This notion of a sole focus when it comes to a playing style can sometimes be dictated by a Director of Football, someone who has great influence over the playing style, recruitment and always has an eye to the future of the football club.


One limitation that can arise from a football club operating in this way is that friction can occur between these figures and the ’head coach’, whilst this idea of being adaptable can be lost.


There is certainly no set-in-stone, correct way to structure a modern-day football club, and lots of clubs will succeed going down this route, however, it is not something that I can see Luton Town doing, not least under Nathan Jones’ stewardship.



Jones is someone who has a huge impact on the recruitment side of the club, whilst he is someone who will constantly meet the demands of the next match from a tactical and stylistic perspective.


Take a club like West Brom for example, and whilst they have scrapped having a Sporting Director/ Director of Football, they barely, if ever, stray away from Val-Ball, which entails playing in a 3-4-3 formation, where wing-backs are given attacking freedom and the wingers are narrow.


You cannot argue that he worked wonders at Barnsley operating in the same manner, however, his lack of stylistic flexibility has come under a lot of scrutiny amongst the West Brom faithful.


Then, you take a look at us, a side who have been on the opposite side of the spectrum.


We started the campaign, and started it in style in a 4-2-3-1, where Harry Cornick and Fred Onyedinma provided the width in a 3-0 victory over Peterborough United where we dominated the football, before the 5-2-1-2 formation kicked in against Barnsley, enabling us to get more direct and soak up possession.


We also performed well whilst in a 4-3-3 formation, in our narrow loss at Bournemouth, whilst we somehow looked absolutely devastating in attack in our 5-0 victory against Coventry City, an occasion where we played five defenders and Glen Rea in a holding role.


Whilst we are adaptable and meet the demands of a particular test, our philosophy and identity, which is centered around pressing high and out-competing our opponents, has remained the same.


Opting to change things up from a tactical perspective, is for me, why we always respond well after a disappointing performance or two, as Jones is so tactically switched on that he can pinpoint where things need to change.



He has got team selections wrong in the past and has approached games in the wrong manner, but his ability to address that within the 90 minutes, or in our next game, makes him a top-level manager in this division.


Ultimately, Jones is a manager who has taken us up 53 places in the Football League pyramid, facing the difficulties of steadying the ship in League 2, breezing through the fourth and third tiers, ensuring second-tier survival, and progressing us in the extremely competitive division that is the Championship.


The different and completely contrasting situations that Jones has been in and solved is a big credit to him as a manager, with his ability to adapt and be flexible filling me with confidence as we continue in our ultimate objective of being a Premier League side in the next few years.



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