Over 60 applicants already for 'amazing opportunity' to manage Luton

Luton Town have already have well over 60 applications for what is an 'amazing opportunity' to manage the club according to chief executive Gary Sweet.

Thursday, 10th January 2019, 3:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 4:09 pm
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

With Nathan Jones departing for Stoke City on Wednesday afternoon, interest has been huge to take over a club who are second in League One and with a real chance of going up into the Championship next term.

Former Hatters player and current Motherwell boss Steve Robinson is currently the favourite with league sponsors SkyBet, from ex-Shrewsbury and Ipswich manager Paul Hurst (7/2) and Charlton assistant Johnnie Jackson (5/1).

Speaking to the press this afternoon about the vacancy at Kenilworth Road, Sweet said: “Just yesterday it was over 60 applications, we had probably nearly 50 before it was announced, it’s the way football works, so there’s not a shortage of people interested in the job.

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

“If you go back, when Nathan was appointed, we were something like 80th in the football pyramid, we were in Portakabins in Ely Way on a training pitch and we were anchored to Kenilworth Road.

“Today we are 46th in the pyramid, we’ve got a fantastic facility at the Brache here, a brand spanking new training facility that is going to be the manager’s environment and I’ve just heard that we’re going to get a recommendation for Power Court planning.

“It’s a completely different prospect to the one we had three years ago, so what does that mean? That means we’re going to get a higher calibre of manager apply for this position.

“This is a very, very attractive club to come to and managers know that we as a board, we don’t interfere with the transfer activity, other than negotiate getting the best deal.

"Also we don’t interfere in team selection, managers like that, they want that autonomy, so we are an attractive proposition to people coming in.

“That’s the reason why we’ve had so many so quickly. We won’t be doing 60 interviews, we will very, very quickly filter that down and see where we are.

“There might be in that list, one candidate that stands out, inevitably there might be a couple of targets that we’re keeping tabs on, that we’re thinking nobody’s really touched that, lets go and headhunt.

“So that’s where we are at the moment, decisions are being made.

“We don’t necessarily just want to get a manager that’s going to get us promoted this year, we’re not looking for a six month appointment, that’s not even entered our mind.

“We want someone for a permanent position, for the long term, so that’s the first thing, but what manager doesn’t want a promotion on his CV?

“What better opportunity do we have here, that a manager can come here and do half a job and get a full credit?

"This is an amazing opportunity, absolutely amazing opportunity for someone.”

With the club facing a crucial trip to third placed Sunderland on Saturday, and an FA Cup third round replay with Sheffield Wednesday the following Tuesday, with the winners heading to Premier League Chelsea, Town legend Mick Harford was quickly appointed interim manager.

On the timeframe that there is in making a permanent appointment, Sweet continued: “There isn’t a specific one. I can say, if we had the right name, right now, it would be a day, if we don’t have the right name in three months time, then we won’t appoint.

“It’s all about finding that right individual, and at the moment, we’ve got the right person here who’s going to take us forward in the interim and I think we’ll all agree we’ve all got complete faith in Mick’s ability to do that.

“We can’t be rushed into making a decision just purely based upon time, the right criteria here is the characteristics of the man himself.

“It’s the right type of appropriateness that we’re looking in those quality to take Luton forward to the next step.

“We’re not looking for another Nathan Jones per se, we’re looking for someone who has the right footballing philosophies, the right ambition, the right stage in his career that cay buy into everything we do, buy into our culture.

“There’s a really strong culture from the foundations up, right up to the boardroom, right down to every single office, right down every corridor at Kenilworth Road to every blade of grass at the Brache.

“The culture runs through and to have someone who nestles into that is the most important thing.”

Sweet admitted that such is the way football works, he and Town’s board did already have some ideas about who could replace Jones while the manager was still in charge of the club.

He said: “We’ve got a very, very finely tuned process, we know, it’s quite a slick operation when all these things happen.

“Given the fact that I said earlier it didn’t come as a surprise, we have clearly been doing quite discreet homework in the background.

"Not necessarily consciously, I think that would be disrespectful to Nathan, but for any football club, or chief exec at a football club, not to keep an eye on potential future candidates for manager and coaches and other members of staff going forward, it would be quite unprofessional.

“So we’ve been doing that, and we know an awful lot of people in the game.

“We have been monitoring certain individuals, just in the same way that we monitored Nathan, back then, so we are down the line, not necessarily down the line with any individual, but we also do things in the right way.

“We create a waiting list of criteria, so we have a set list of characteristics which is agreed between a small steering group that we’ve created, and apart from managing the football team, it's all we’re doing that at the moment.

“I won’t go through the specific criteria, but we won’t put an age what type of guy, or woman, we’re looking for.

“They could be 30 or 75, we don’t necessarily narrow our focus down, when we meet someone we’ll know, we know how to find that.

“January is like this because we’re successful at the moment, in terms of timing, we will appoint the right person the second we see him.”