Ex-Watford manager Rob Edwards set to be appointed Luton Town chief
It’s not an easy task to replace Nathan Jones at Luton Town, but after reports surfaced that Rob Edwards dazzled in his interview with Luton Town, it has been reported by TalkSport that Luton Town are set to name Rob Edwards as Manager.
Rob Edwards was a free agent after his 10 game stint as Watford Manager, where he was publicly backed by scum CEO to be the man to oversee their project “through hell and high water”. Fortunately he has now moved to a project that will indeed give him the time to really get his feet under the table.
Edwards (39) had an extensive playing career, which started at Aston Villa, where he broke through to the first team in the 2002/23 season, making 8 Premier League appearances. Following loan moves to Crystal Palace and Derby County, he moved to Wolves, which is where we played the majority of his football, notching up 100 appearances. Edwards then played at Blackpool, Norwich and Barnsley, notching up a further 76 appearances, before being offered to train at Blackpool who were at that time managed by his former Wolves team mate Paul Ince. However, at this point Edwards, who had suffered from recurrent knee injuries, and decided it was time to focus on coaching, having been inspired by those he had played under, which include; Graham Taylor, Dave Jones, Mick McCarthy, Glenn Hoddle, Mark Hughes, Ian Holloway and Paul Lambert.
Climbing up the coaching ladder
Rob Edwards started coaching for the Wolves U-18s, after turning down the opportunity to coach the Manchester City U-14s. Rob Edwards recounts his time coaching the Wolves youth team, stating; “I had that great bunch of people around me, and what they did which was particularly valuable, was they let me crack on with the job, to make my own mistakes and learn from them. No one told me I should be doing this, or shouldn’t be doing that, and while the guidance was there when needed, they allowed me to learn on the job which was amazing and a really enjoyable experience.” Having impressed at the U-18 level, Edwards was promoted to first team coaching duties at Wolves, after Sam Ricketts who had been assisting Kenny Jackett, left the club. Wolves were then subjected to a takeover, and Jackett was replaced by Walter Zenga, who Edwards recounts as a great role model during his brief time at the club, once Zenga was sacked Rob Edwards took charge of two Championship games, before leaving at the end of the season to take on a role with the FA coaching the England U20s.
Edwards then took over at his hometown club AFC Telford in the National League North, which he recalls being his most difficult time during his coaching career, but the best learning experience he could have had. Being a semi professional team, there was not much time for Edwards to make his mind up about players with training only being held on Tuesday and Thursday, therefore Edwards set about his revolution. “We started doing some analysis, and changed it into as much of a professional set-up as we could, but looking back, I think I asked too much of people. I would hold my hand up and say I made it too complicated in trying to play a certain style of football, which probably didn’t work at the time, even though we had some great lads and great characters in the squad. To cut a long story short, it probably took us to the final 13 games to really get it right.”
Following his mutual termination at Telford, Edwards returned to Wolves to coach the U-23s. Edwards led them to highest level of youth football, by beating a strong Manchester United U-23s team 3-2, overcoming a 2-0 deficit, clinching the PL2 title and Championship. Edwards reflected on this as a valuable step on his coaching journey. “At 2-0 United were just popping the ball around and we were struggling, but we made some adjustments, and, knowing we had to win, we turned up the heat with our press and just went for it. To coin an Ian Holloway phrase, it was all about putting your hand in the fire and pulling something out – and that is what the lads did.”
Making his mark on the EFL
This was followed by a brief stint as head coach of the England U16s, before Dale Vince and Forest Green came calling. Taking over a team with a significant budget for League 2, and having lost in the playoff semi final in the 2020/21 season, Edwards needed to get his feet under the table fast, and he did exactly that. Forest Green shot out the traps, only losing 2 games in their first 30. Although Forest Green did experience a slight wobble after that, losing 6 of their remaining 16 games. However, Forest Green held on, and were promoted as Champions, with Rob Edwards winning the League 2 Manager of the Season award. This end of season wobble may have resulted from Watford tapping him up before the end of the season, as he was confirmed as Roy Hodgsons successor before the conclusion of the Premier League season, but two days after Forest Greens’ season had ended. Edwards time at Watford lasted just 10 games, but none of us are surprised by that, are we?
I was very vocal about appointing Neil Critchley, due to his coaching pedigree and experience working with Youngsters in the Liverpool set up. But having read up on Rob Edwards journey, which includes his work in the Wolves youth set up, and multiple levels with the England youth teams, I have to say I am now very excited. I feel Rob Edwards will have less of an inclination to jump ship if he experiences immediate success with us, as he has already done this once and been burnt for his troubles. At Luton Town everything is geared up for him to succeed, we have recruitment and an athletic squad in place that will suit his full throttle football displayed by Forest Green in their League 2 campaign.
In football, reputations can be destroyed faster than they can be built. Fortunately, he is local, having relocated for the “project” down the road, highly regarded, personable and a youthful coach, who 2020 feel is the right pair of hands for the next step on our journey.