Hatters assistant always thought Jones would make it

Steve Rutter watches on from the dugout
Steve Rutter watches on from the dugout

New Luton assistant manager Steve Rutter always felt that Town boss Nathan Jones had it in him to become a top coach.

The experienced Hatters number two, who was appointed last week, had been Jones’ coach educator when he worked for the Football Association earlier in his career.

He worked very hard, like a lot of lads that do their coaching badges and he’s taken his time to build his career as a coach and a manager.

Steve Rutter

When asked what he had thought of Jones’ chances in management during those early days, he said: “I thought he could be a good coach, because on the coaching badges, they tend to focus more on the work you do on the pitch.

“The management side of it is completely different, I think that comes down to your personal qualities, but the sort of person he is, he’s very passionate about stuff, he’s very detailed about things.

“He obviously engages very well with people, so a lot of those qualities are things you don’t really deal with on football courses, they come through you as a person.

“But he’s set his stall out, he’s worked very hard for his coaching badges, then into coaching roles, where he’s gradually taken on more and more responsibility, until he felt ready to take the step into being a first team manager.

“So far it has gone really well for him and he’s in a good place.”

On just how he was when taking the coaching courses, Rutter, who tried to sign Jones from Merthyr Tydfil when in charge of Yeovil Town during their Conference days, the Town chief actually opting to head to Kenilworth Road instead, said: “I think he was 18,19 and I was managing Yeovil in the Conference.

“He came on the radar as a young player, but we couldn’t compete to be honest, we couldn’t entice him across, obviously he didn’t do too bad going somewhere else.

“e was always someone who was really attentive, really hard working on his courses though and you could see it meant something to him.

“He did it with a bit of passion and I like that.

“It sort of draws you to people that they’ve got the same sort of work ethic that you’ve got, the same sort of mentality.

“He worked very hard, like a lot of lads that do their coaching badges and he’s taken his time to build his career as a coach and a manager.

“I’m from Northampton, so Luton is one of the clubs that was close to me. I watched then a bit when I was younger, it’s a traditional football club and a good place to work.

“He’s come in, its been his first chance to be the manager and the two have gelled really well.

“It’s been the right opportunity for him and the right time and hopefully that will continue long into the future.

Rutter had almost got the job at Kenilworth Road when Jones took over back in January 2016, although the role eventually went to Paul Hart.

The 55-year-old said: “At that point, Nathan thought he needed somebody with a lot more experience of League Two really, and that was right, as it’s proved.

“My experiences of an assistant manager in professional football have been mainly abroad, so I think it was important in that moment in time, he got something he felt he needed and he was more comfortable with.

“There was no issues with that, we were very open about it and gladly it worked out really well.”When discussing he can bring to his new role, Rutter added: “I’ve worked in Trinidad, worked in America and from the coach education point of view, in every confederation in the word.

“So hopefully some of the experience I’ve got will come in useful here, if it’s to help the coaches, if it’s to add something to the tactics or whatever. Joaquin (Gomez) and Nathan are very good field coaches, so sometimes it’s just a different perspective, or because you come from outside, you look at it in a slightly different way.

“Sometimes it’s just to be a sounding board. With all due respect, when I go home, my wife starts to let off steam, she doesn’t really want me to offer a solution, she just wants me to listen.

“So they just want someone to listen who’s a little bit detached from it, that’s why I’m here, to be a steady influence in the background.

“There’s always more you want to do and to have an extra member of staff who’s on the training ground with you, splits the work a little bit more.

“If you want to, you can maybe work in smaller groups at times and be a little bit more focused, so I’m not here to hopefully replace anything, I’m here to hopefully add something and help out where I can.”

Getting back out with the players was one of the major reasons why Rutter took the job at Luton though, adding: “I had nine years at the FA as coach education manager and that didn’t allow me to do front line coaching, which is why I left in 2013.

“The opportunity I got, it was a very similar sort of role was supporting a younger coach who was in his first managerial job, but that was in Pana (Panathinaikos) in Greece, so that was a massive step to go away and do that.

“Since then I’ve had three different spells in club sides in Europe and most recently as a head of coaching at the academy back in Yeovil.

“I have been back in club environment, but not in a first team level in England, so this is my first real stab at this role in an English Football League side.”