Role reversal has been hugely beneficial to Luton’s new chief

Hatters boss Graeme Jones believes he has made the most of his role reversal while waiting to take over at Kenilworth Road.

Sunday, 19th May 2019, 7:30 am
Luton boss Graeme Jones
Luton boss Graeme Jones

The former West Bromwich Albion assistant had accepted the offer to take over back in February while he was still with the Baggies, with the agreement he would be in charge this summer.

However, Jones and manager Darren Moore were then shown the door at the Hawthorns during March, but the number two wanted to honour his original decision and not derail Town’s successful push for promotion under Mick Harford.

While waiting in the background, Jones took over Harford’s role as head of recruitment, out and about watching games and potential new signings with his own eyes.

On how beneficial the time was, Jones said: “I’ve been everywhere, seen as many games as I possibly can, at any level.

“Watching players, but also watching styles of play, of other teams, so it’s been an interesting period.

“As a manager you don’t really get a dress rehearsal for the job, so I’ve had a little bit of time to have a good look at lots of different leagues, lots of different players.

“But I think the most important one was the last two games that I saw our own players for Luton Town.

“It has been an unusual situation, but a privileged situation as well.

“Things were agreed back in February, so I’ve been watching from a distance since then.

“Irrespective of results, I was always going to go the last away game and last home game of the season just to get a look at the boys live and on a big pitch.”

On just what he learned from the 2-1 defeat at Burton Albion and title-clinching 3-1 success over Oxford United, Jones continued: “I think the most powerful thing is their strength in unity.

“Obviously we’ve got some very, very good individuals, but the strength in unity.

“When I see James Collins and (Kazenga) LuaLua working back at Burton, I actually took a picture and we had 11 players defending our own third.

“That strength in unity is very, very powerful, you don’t see that at every football club.”

Jones was also grateful for having his first break away from the game in 12 years, after starting his stint as assistant boss to Roberto Martinez at Wigan in 2007.

He then went to Swansea, Everton and Belgium with the Spaniard, before his role with West Brom this season.

It means Town’s new boss is fully refreshed for the challenge ahead, while he has used his time to give him an understanding of the club’s recruitment process too.

He added: “When you’re in the mix of it, it’s intense and sometimes it’s good to come out and have some time to reflect.

“In football you really don’t, you move from one season to the next, so I think that’s been the most beneficial part.

“But I’ve seen games at every level, my first game was Walsall, Barnsley in League One, I’ve seen Man City, Spurs in the quarter-final of the Champions League.

“I’ve been in Spain, I’ve looked at games at every level, so I’ve got an understanding of the market and how difficult recruitment is as well.

“I was part of that process with Roberto back in 2008 and then once you get in the Premier League it’s busy.

“You’re lucky if you get a three or four-week break, you want to spend that time with your family, so it’s been hugely beneficial.

“Remember, I didn’t have a break last summer, I went straight into the West Brom job from the World Cup, so it’s been refreshing on many fronts.”