Luton Town have been here before with Nathan Jones but this time it is different
Luton Town have confirmed that they have granted permission for Southampton to speak Nathan Jones regarding the vacated role at St Mary's.
The Saints opted to part company with Ralph Hasenhuttl with the club sitting 18th in the Premier League, with 3 wins, 3 draws and 8 losses from their opening 14 games. This comes as a surprise with the Southampton board having backed Ralph in the summer by overhauling the coaching staff as per Ralph’s specifications, and backing him in the transfer market with their new head of recruitment, former Manchester City head of academy recruitment, Joe Shields, who has signed players with a lot of potential who have already bedded into the Premier League and impressed, such as; Romeo Lavia and Gavin Bazunu, both formerly of Manchester City and Armel Bella-Kotchap.
Betting sites have placed Nathan Jones as the favourite candidate to replace the big Austrian, ahead of Marcello Gallardo, currently at River Plate, Kjetil Knutsen, at FK Bodø Glimt and Sean Dyche, who has been out of work since being sacked by Burnley last season.
Nathan Jones being linked to the Southampton job has quite rightly caused a lot of concern amongst the Luton fan base, due to the last time Jones was linked to a job in a division higher than our own, he did leave for his ill-fated 10 months in charge of Stoke. However, I believe Hatters should look at this speculation differently than before as times are different now.
Primarily, last time we were in League 1 and Nathan Jones was in his maiden job as a solo manager, during his first stint with us, we did indeed play scintillating football, sweeping teams off the pitch in both his second season at League 2 level and the first half of League 1. However, one criticism was that he was tactically inflexible, often sticking to his preferred diamond formation. At that time in January 2019 when Stoke approached, Jones’ stock was high, and moving to bigger clubs is not unheard of, even if the timing was inconvenient both on and off the pitch.
Secondly, having finished in the playoffs last season, only to fall at the penultimate hurdle, whilst beset with an unprecedented injury crisis, was a statement of intent for where the Nathan Jones and the board believe the club should be. Jones genuinely believed we should have finished higher, and this season has continued to bolster the squad with more depth up front, and with youth players that he believes can make a mark on the Luton squad.
Since returning Nathan Jones has rightly apologised for the manner of how he left it with the club, and it’s clear to see from anyone observing our play that he has returned with more tactical flexibility and with a more humble demeanour. Last season Nathan Jones signed a new 5 year contract with Luton Town, which runs till 2027, in his statement upon signing the new contract, Nathan Jones said “I think we are in a wonderful place, and we know where we want to get to. We know all the things that need to happen along the way for that to happen, and we are in a real good stage of that. I would love to be at the forefront of taking us to the Premier League, which is something that we believe is more than realistic.” Although speculation is currently rife, and Luton Town fans believe they are getting a strong sense of déjà vu. It is important to remember that times are different now, with Luton having been knocking on the door of the Premier League since the end of last season, Nathan Jones committing with a long term contract as well as having been burnt before after jumping to what is perceived as bigger and better things. Whatever happens, we are all behind this glorious club, and we will continue to stick around.