Harford: Nathan Jones is a great fit for Luton Town
Town assistant was thrilled to see the former manager return last season
Hatters assistant manager Mick Harford has labelled manager Nathan Jones as a 'great fit' for the club.
The 47-year-old has overseen a fantastic start to the season, masterminding Town to four straight wins, before a fine performance went unrewarded, losing 3-0 to Premier League giants Manchester United in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
That comes on the back a superb achievement in keeping the club up against all the odds last term, Town six points adrift of safety when Jones took over yet again, escaping the drop on the final day.
Harford has been with Jones in the dug out for all of his 14 games, Hatters winning eight, drawing four and losing just two, as on his second stint at the helm, the Town legend said: “Nathan’s a great fit for the club.
“The first spell, he did magnificent, he brought some structure into the football club, a vision to what he wanted the club to be, into the Championship in the next three or four years and we got there quicker.
“We all know the story behind Nathan leaving and that’s history now, it’s gone and we move on.
“He came back, myself personally, I was delighted to have him back as our manager.
"He’s a great fit for the club, knows the club, he has a structure and a vision, the way we want to play, in terms of style and the attractiveness, but obviously the hard work, and it works, it’s a good fit for Luton.
“The players are buying into what Nathan’s doing and at the moment everything’s going well.
"We will keep our foot on the gas, we will not keep driving, we will not get complacent and we will keep on working hard to strive to what we can achieve.”
When asked about why the partnership between himself and the club works so well, Jones said: "It’s a wonderful environment, a wonderful culture, a wonderful group of people, from the top right through, so I put it down to that, I’m just a cog in a wheel, really.
"We embarked on a journey in 2016 and Luton had been on an earlier one, leading up to that.
"I was the next phase of that, if you like, and it’s been a successful one.
"I’m very grateful to work with this club, I’m very privileged and honoured and I thoroughly enjoy it.
"In fact, I love my job here, I’ve got a group of people that respond to how I am and what I do and that’s been the key thing, results come from that.
"Whether it’s seamless, it’s taken a lot of hard work to get to the level where we did things religiously.
"So that’s what we do and we’re very pleased and proud of our environment and culture here."
When Jones came in during lockdown after Graeme Jones had left the club, Town's hopes of avoiding the drop appeared bleak, having to make up six points in just nine games, seven if you include their goal difference.
They managed it with a 3-2 victory against Blackburn on the final day, as Harford continued: "It was bad, we were in a bad situation.
"We were on a decent little run before Graeme left, we had picked up a little bit of form, but Nathan came in and I think the momentum helped us.
"He came in and he brought in a different kind of structure and the way his philosophy and his philosophy 100 per cent works for Luton Town.
"It worked in those nine games and for me, it will continue working.
"So you’ve got to give Nathan a hell of a lot of credit, for doing that and the momentum has started this season.
"But we'll keep pushing, keep prodding the players and we’ll keep working hard, everyone at the football club will, all the staff, to achieve as much as we can for the club."
Jones had been a revelation when he first took over in January 2016, leading to the club to promotion out of League Two and challenging for a top two place in the third tier.
He then dramatically and controversially quit the club, moving to a Stoke City side who were then a league higher than the Hatters, only lasting nine months, departing the bet365 Stadium in November 2019 after a just six wins from 38 games.
On whether it had altered his managerial style, Jones said: "I haven’t changed a hell of a lot, I just learned a lot.
"I believe I’m a better manager than when I left here, because I learned a lot from my previous job.
"There were a lot of different things that I had to solve or go through that I hadn’t faced before and it was all a learning curve.
"As a manager, you do that on a regular occurrence.
"If you want to learn and glean certain things out of every situation, then you do.
"I’m a better manager for it and that’s what you have to take out of it.
"I could’ve bemoaned the fact that I went, but I didn’t, I was very grateful of the opportunity.
"Certain things could’ve been done differently, I’ve learned so much more, but I don’t coach any differently.
"We have certain systems that we utilise and we use one more than the other at the minute, but in terms of how I coach and how I handle people, it’s exactly the same.
"I’m better but the biggest thing is I’m delighted to be back and working with a group that I really care about, and that responds to me.]
"That’s the main thing."
Jones strengthened his backroom staff this week by adding Nottingham Forest's U23 coach Chris Cohen as first team coach.
He joins a group also containing Paul Hart, as Harford added: "Harty's a legend, he’s a top man, I've got a lot and lot of respect for Paul.
"He’s a real good man, he’s been with Nathan for a long time, he’s a mentor for Nathan and is a top guy, he comes with a lot of experience.
“Chris has been coaching to Nottingham Forest and Nathan played with Chris at Yeovil, so another connection.
"He’s done really well with the U23s and Nathan wanted to bring a young coach in.
"He's got loads of energy, loads of good ideas, I worked with him over the last couple of days, and he's a real top guy, very inventive and forward thinking.
"So it’s a good place at the moment, but we want to keep our foot on the gas and keep going."
“It’s a good start, we’re not stupid, we know there’s going to be ups and downs and it’s not going to be an easy road against all these good teams in the Championship.
"I'm not going to mention any budgets as that’s not the way we work, we believe in the players we bring in that can do a job and can fit into the way we want to play.
"It’s a great start and we just want that to continue, we’ll keep pushing and working hard to get ourselves cemented in the Championship."