Cohen believes Luton boss Jones is 'ahead of the curve' once more

Town coach has been hugely impressed by watching his former team-mate in action

Friday, 5th March 2021, 10:43 am
Updated Friday, 5th March 2021, 10:44 am
Town first team coach Chris Cohen
Town first team coach Chris Cohen

Luton boss Nathan Jones has proven to be 'ahead of the curve' as a player and now a manager according to first team coach Chris Cohen.

The 33-year-old joined up with Jones at Yeovil Town when he was just 22, on loan from West Ham United at first and then permanently.

Then 32, Jones was one of the senior players at Huish Park and according to Cohen, taught the midfielder just what it took to be a pro, as he eventually earned a move to Nottingham Forest.

Jones stayed on at Yeovil for another seven years, then going into coaching at Charlton and Brighton before making the switch into first team management five years ago with the Hatters.

Cohen retired from playing himself in 2018 and spent two years at Nottingham Forest in charge of the U23s before moving to Luton as first team coach in September.

On how he has found working with Jones, Cohen said: “He’s great, you learn lots as I had 15, 16 managers (at Forest) over the 11 years or something stupid like that, if you include the caretakers.

“So you learn a lot about what you would do as a coach or manager and learn a lot about what you wouldn’t do.

“But since the moment I walked in, Nathan’s been brilliant.

“I knew he would be as a player, as the way he looked after the younger players, the way he guided them in terms of doing the right thing at the right time, he was way ahead of his time then and he’s still ahead of the curve now in terms of the way that he manages people and the way he sets up every week.

“So I’ve not been surprised by how good he’s been, but it’s been lovely to watch and be a part of.

“We stayed in touch, we were really, really close there, room-mates and he was an older player and I was a young loanee from West Ham and he really looked after me.

“He was the first person who taught me what it was like to be a professional footballer.

“I had the title of professional footballer, but I didn’t really understand what that was until I met Nathan and he guided me and a few of the other young lads there.

“We had a real successful year and a half, so he was brilliant for me then and in a way he’s doing the same thing for me now.

“I’m hopefully repaying the favour by doing as much as I can to help him and help Luton get as many positive results as possible.”

Since taking up his position at Kenilworth Road, Cohen has been given the freedom to implement his own ideas when possible too, something he is thriving on.

He continued: “The manager has been fantastic, he lets me have a lot of free rein within reason with the philosophy that he wants us to implement.

“Everything gets checked by him but he gives me real licence to go out there and try things, especially at the start of the week.

“Towards the end of the week, the tactical stuff, it is more Nathan doing it but I’m very fortunate.

“A lot of first-team coaches don’t have anywhere near as much autonomy over things like I do.

“I have been really lucky to get this sort of role at the starting point of my career.”

After having to retire earlier than most due to a succession of injuries, Cohen is relishing his new career and making the switch back to first team football after his spell with the Forest U23s.

He said: “It’s always been an ambition of mine as soon as I stopped playing and the best thing that ever happened to me was Aitor Karanka (then Forest boss) saying to me rather than just pick up bibs, balls and cones for him, ‘go and learn your trade with the U23s.’

“So I did that for two and a half years and now I get to pick up bibs, balls and cones for Nathan instead, so it was the right time to go.

“It’s what I want to be part of, first team football, it’s been a great decision for me personally and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Meanwhile, Cohen is confident there is still room for development within the Hatters squad, no matter what age the players are, adding: "I still think development is very much possible at first team level no matter how old you are.

"I’m a massive advocate of 29, 30-year-olds being able to get better, as I felt like, even though I had a lot of injuries, I got better as I got older in terms of understanding the game and the decisions that I made.

"So you can still get better, but inevitably you have to gets results on a Saturday, that’s the difference to youth football where you have time and you have a year, year and a half with each individual to help them grow and help them get better.

"A bad performance doesn’t matter when we used to play our games, now we have to be at it and we have to be right every Saturday.

"So getting that balance means the workload’s gone up, but I still think there’s a huge place for development, but it’s not at the expense of results.

"In youth football it's different, development at the expense of results is absolutely fine but it’s about trying to get three points every Saturday and Tuesday night which has been great for me as it’s the bit you miss after you stop playing football."