Luton chief ready to go up against former Barcelona and Dutch star Cocu
Hatters boss Graeme Jones is looking forward to coming up against one of the stars of his generation when takes on Derby County boss Philip Cocu this afternoon.
The Rams chief had a stellar playing career, spending eight years with Spanish giants Barcelona, while also representing PSV Eindhoven as well, winning a host of club honours.
He also won over 100 caps for Holland, featuring in World Cup Finals and European Championships, before going into management and leading former club PSV to two league titles.
Jones said: “He’s a renowned world-wide name, I’ve looked at some of the performances and I think it reflects tactically that knowledge he had as a player.
“He’s obviously taken that into management and is somebody that I grew up watching.
"I played in the same kind of era, so I’m looking forward to saying hello, but once the whistle goes at 3 o’clock, I’m afraid we’ll be as competitive as ever, looking to win.”
The fact that Derby could appoint some of Cocu’s standing in the game during the summer, once Frank Lampard left to take over at Chelsea, just shows how big the Championship is as a league, and the Rams are as an opponent.
Jones continued: “It is a Premier League Two, I don’t know, what was it, 28,000 there against Birmingham?
“We’re talking about an awfully big football club and we need to relish that.
“That was the excitement that I felt and the club and the players felt when we got promoted, certainly not to go there with any type of fear.
“We need to go there knowing we’ve earned the right to be here, and make sure that we’re ready for the game, that’s all the matters to me.”
There is no disguising the gulf in wealth between the two sides though, with Derby having players like Tom Huddlestone in their ranks as they flexed their financial once more in the summer, to bolster their playing squad.
Jones added: “You’re signing (Krystian) Bielik for £10m (from Arsenal), so it tells you everything.
“These are the financial facts, we’re not in that position, so there’s a big difference in terms of financial power which dictates the quality of the players you can sign.
“But one thing you can’t dictate is the team ethic we’ve got at this club.
“You can’t buy that, you have to work hard for it, you have to work hard to keep it.
“I think our performance on Wednesday night was another reflection of the strength in unity that we’ve got at the football club.
“We played really well, I was really satisfied with us, but we had to react again, and we did, everybody.
“We changed things up, the subs came on, players that stayed on were ready for the fight, reacted and got something out from the game.
"We got a positive result, so that's what we’re going to look to do this weekend.”