Maturing Mpanzu reaping his rewards with Luton
Hatters midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is determined to keep displaying his new-found maturity in a bid to keep his first team spot this season.
The 23-year-old had been in and out of the side recently, until the Checkatrade Trophy clash against Chesterfield, where he began in the holding midfield role.
A fine performance that evening has seen Mpanzu keep his place for the last two league matches, with boss Nathan Jones confirming the former West Ham man had been rewarded for showing a more mature attitude in training.
Mpanzu himself agreed it was something that needed to be done, as he said: “Yes, I’ve twinkled little things here and there just to get my mentality and he (Jones) has said I’ve matured so hopefully I have.
“It was more focusing, cutting little bits and bobs out, refocusing in training and match days and it’s all coming to the front now.
“I had a word with him the other week, so everything’s put into place.
“It’s just full concentration as sometimes he says about my lifestyle, that I can’t transfer that on to the pitch.
“I’ve got to wipe that out and be disciplined on the pitch, so I’m just more looking at my game, how I’m playing and just concentrating more.”
On the new approach shown by Mpanzu, who has now made 94 appearances for Luton since signing in December 2013, Jones said: “I think he’s done excellent, I really do.
“I spoke to him in terms of where he sees himself and he gave me his opinion, and I said, ‘well, look, this is where I see you.’
“He’s taken that on board and been excellent in the games he’s played.
“He’s had a calm assurance about him. He’s strong, he’s very physical, he’s mobile and I thought he was excellent in the three games he’s played, so fair play to him.
“We’ve seen him in a number of roles and his decision making and elements of his concentration, if that gets up to where his ability levels are, then you could have a real specimen there.
“Because his physicality is outstanding. He’s very calm in possession anyway, and he accepts the ball in tight areas because of his strength, so it’s something we’re hopeful we can really, really cultivate.”
Mpanzu admitted it was tough being left out of the side, but is glad to be back in now and relishing his new role.
He added: “It was frustrating, but the team was winning, so you can’t really complain.
“You’ve got to keep working hard in training and get a position in the starting 11, I’ve taken that and hopefully I can stay in there.
“You’ve got to get the gritty side done first of all, check your runners, before starting playing, but I’m enjoying it and hopefully I can confirm my place in that holding midfield role.
“I’ve played everywhere, if the gaffer wants me to play somewhere, I’ll play, so I’m not going to complain.
“To nail down a position would be nice, but wherever the gaffer needs me I’ll play.
“Obviously, I’m an attacking midfielder but when asked to do a disciplined job, I’ll do that.”