The Nathan Jones rollercoaster continues
It’s not often that football clubs do their best business on the first day of a new transfer window but, in agreeing a new five-and-a-half-year deal with Nathan Jones, Luton have done just that. Amongst all the talk of tying Adebayo down to a new contract, or whether Sluga will stay beyond the summer, the contract situation of our gaffer wasn’t really being thought about.
Ever since leaving his coaching role at, then Championship, Brighton & Hove Albion to take the reins at Kenilworth Road, Luton have finished every season in a higher league position than the previous one. That’s quite some feat. All of that has been made possible because of an impressive win ratio of 47.4%. But Nathan is so much more than a manager that gets results. He does it with an entertaining style of play, especially now with a squad full of power and pace following last summer’s overhaul. A style of play that represents exactly what Luton Town Football Club is about, with performances full of belief that we can hold our own amongst the “big boys”.
The journey to now though hasn’t always been plain sailing, with the move to Stoke in January 2019 being by far the biggest down on the NJ rollercoaster. Whilst it wouldn’t be right to forget that interval, you’d have to be an extremely narrow-minded person to have not forgiven him by now. For those few that might have not, I doubt you will ever change your mind. But all I can say to try and convince you is to think about why we were all distraught in the first place. It was because we thought that anything was possible with Nathan at the helm. Despite the Premier League feeling so far away whilst we were in the midst of a League One promotion chase prior to his departure, it always felt that maybe one day it was possible.
I’ve also said for some time that Nathan has come back better for it. He’s a much more tactically aware manager now, both in the way he sets his team up and the way he reacts to situations in games. His return also showed a lot about his character. Fortunately, we’ll never know what that reception would’ve been like for his first game back with a full Kenilworth Road crowd, with Nathan definitely benefitting from it being behind closed doors, but it still wasn’t a straightforward decision to return to the club.
A lot of praise, as always, has to go to Gary Sweet and the board. I can only imagine how much pride had to be swallowed to bring Nathan back. One thing’s for sure - I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that first “relationship rebuild” chat. In hindsight, it wasn’t a gamble at all to appoint Nathan for his second spell, but at the time it certainly felt that way. The Great Escape, as it played out, was probably the best way to repair that relationship with the fans. Oh, how it would’ve felt if fans were there.
Almost 18 months on from that night, with a new long-term deal signed, comfortably sat as a competitive mid-table Championship side with an outside shot at the playoffs, it’s an extremely exciting time being a Luton fan. We’re probably the closest we’ve ever been to a top-flight return ever since we left in 1992.
With a new contract through to the end of the 2026/27 season, attention can now be turned to what can Nathan truly achieve in that spell. Should the contract be fulfilled in its entirety, it really isn’t farfetched to say we could be sat amongst the English elite in the Premier League with a new shiny stadium in the heart of the town. Whether the former part of that vision comes before or after Power Court, we’ll just have to wait to find out.
But, for now at least, as we enter the January transfer window with the club sitting just ten points off the playoffs (and some games in hand on almost everyone above us), it’s exciting to see what we can achieve this season too. We often leave windows stronger than when we enter them, so if we can pull that off again then that Nathan Jones rollercoaster may just see a few more highs in the coming months.