Today it was announced that Nathan Jones has been appointed as Gary Rowett’s successor at Stoke City. Since his appointment in 2016, Jones has guided Luton from the depths of League Two to the summit of League One. It was recently his three year anniversary at the club but, to the horror of Luton Town supporters, Stoke have successfully secured his services.
What Now for Luton Town?
His departure has been met with a plethora of responses. On one hand, the timing is incredibly unfortunate, as Luton sit second in League One and are currently enjoying a 13-game unbeaten streak in the league. That said, Jones has earned his position at Stoke and enabled a rapid ascendancy that Luton fans could never have thought possible. After all, turning down a side like Stoke City would have been foolish. With Jones’ raw determination and talent, he can harness the resources of a club like Stoke and guide them to a return to Premier League football.
Nevertheless, this will be a huge blow for Luton and a hard pill to swallow for their fans. It is difficult to predict what life after Jones will be like, but his departure needn’t spell disaster necessarily. Ultimately, Luton aren’t flirting with promotion by accident and their squad is incredibly experienced, compact and tight-knit. Moreover, the majority of this side have played together for some time and know how to succeed. The collective experience in this side should reassure the fans, although Jones’ abrupt departure might interrupt their momentum.
A Big Blow
Looking forward, Jones has certainly left the club at a convenient time. Luton’s next fixture is Sunderland away which, if they lose, would see the Mackems leapfrog them into the automatic promotion places with a game in hand. Following that, an FA Cup replay against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, then a tough game against high-flying Peterborough. Sunderland will be an extremely difficult encounter as no side have managed to beat them at home this season in the league. A heavy loss, you would imagine, would more than likely take the wind out of their sails.
It would be easy to forecast doom and gloom, given their upcoming fixture list. Despite Jones’ departure, however, the players will be determined not to let their hard work this season go to waste. It is now a brilliant opportunity for the players to show their togetherness and team spirit, as they may not get another shot at Championship football for some time. Additionally, Luton have acquired the services of George Thorne from Derby County, which will strengthen their midfield.
Though many Luton fans feel resentful, they can not underestimate the legacy of Nathan Jones. During his time at the club, he managed the best win ratio and points per game record in their history. Whilst this might be an experimental move by Stoke, they need wholesale change and an injection of passion, which Jones will certainly offer.
No Need To Panic
As for Luton, the impact of Jones’ departure remains to be seen. On Saturday it might be business as usual for The Hatters, or they may crumble and capitulate going forward. Looking at the squad and their outstanding run of form of late, you would be inclined to assume the former. Luton’s performance this season has been nothing short of remarkable and that is a testament to the character of their squad.
The fans, ultimately, need not panic. Whilst Luton may be shaky in the direct aftermath of Jones’ departure, their squad knows how to succeed. Although it is unlikely they will preserve their unbeaten streak against The Black Cats, it cannot be put past them. Jones was an excellent manager, but it is time for the players to rise to the challenge.