Former Wigan star McManaman quickly won over by Luton boss Jones

New Town signing Callum McManaman revealed there was nowhere else he would have joined after seeing first hand the attention to detail from Hatters boss Graeme Jones.

Wednesday, 12th June 2019, 10:13 am
New Luton signing Callum McManaman
New Luton signing Callum McManaman

McManaman became the Luton chief’s first addition of the summer last week, a move which reunited the pair who had been at Wigan between 2009-13, when Jones was assistant to Roberto Martinez.

He is now number one in his own right with the Hatters and was quick to bring in McManaman after he was released by the Latics.

The new boy admitted he was swiftly won over by Jones’ knowledge about his career since the pair parted company over five years ago.

He said: “As soon as I spoke to the gaffer, he knows me inside out, he was like, ‘this is how I want to play,’ and it excited me straight away.

“So it was near enough done in a few days to be honest.

"At Wigan, Roberto as a manager, Graeme was the assistant, but both of them realised what type of player I am.

“For most of my career, I’ve been maybe tracking back too far and wasting all my energy in the defensive half.

"Obviously you’ve got to work hard for the team, but they found a way somehow to fit me into the team and get my best work at the top end of the pitch and not defending.

“That’s what he said when he was talking to me as well.

“He said ‘I’ve watched you the last few years and you’ve kind of gone backwards from when they had me.’

“He was basically saying, this is why he thinks it was, he said he watched me in this game for this team and knew everything about me.

“So that was basically what sold it for me as well as he realised this is why I’ve not done too well the last few years.

“I’ve not played as much as maybe I’ve been wasting all my energy defending, instead of his job which is to get me the ball high up the pitch.

“I wouldn’t say it surprised me, but it took me back, because he was naming games from other clubs that he’d watched and said, ‘in this game, three or four years ago, you should have been doing this.’

“He must have named four or five games, and I was like ‘wow, he’s so far ahead, so switched on.’

McManaman admitted it had been tough getting released for the first time in his career, but that an exit from the DW Stadium was always on his mind.

After signing last summer for a second spell with Wigan, he played 22 games in the Championship, but was restricted to just one start under boss Paul Cook, that coming back at Aston Villa in August.

The 28-year-old continued: “I went there thinking I was going to play every game and kick on as I’d done well there before, but I knew from quite early on that I wasn’t going to get the chances that I deserved.

“I actually did well last season off the bench, and I merited a start on a lot of occasions and didn’t get it, but that’s football, there’s no hard feelings.

“I want to play every game, I think the gaffer now is definitely the man for that.

“To be honest, even if I got offered a new contract at Wigan I wouldn’t have stayed.

“I don’t think I would have played under that manager, so I was going to go anyway.

“Having never been in that position, I’m 28 now, I was more thinking about another club even if I got offered one at Wigan.

“There was a little bit of interest (from elsewhere), nothing concrete, but as soon as I met the gaffer, I made my mind up.

“It wasn’t about anything to do with money, I just wanted to play as he just knows me, he knows exactly how to get the best out of me.

“I was delighted to get it done so early to be honest, as I’ve never been out of contract, so I was a little bit worried.

“But I’d only been released a few days and the gaffer had rung me and spoken to me and then I met up with him and as soon as I spoke to him that was it, I was desperate to join."

Jones has already spoken of having a role in mind for McManaman at Kenilworth Road this term.

With Luton deploying a diamond formation for the last two seasons, and Jones a fan of that system too, it’s a way of playing that excites McManaman.

He added: “We’ve spoke about that as I knew that they played the diamond.

“He knows I can play in a number 10, he likes me in that position, and then if not up front, it will be high.

“So he’s confident he can get me involved in that formation.”