Hungry Nathan is the right man for Hatters
LUTON could easily have delved into the old school box and fished out an old favourite to steady the ship until the end of the season. So well done for taking a punt on Nathan Jones, a young coach with an incredible knowledge of the game.
I was a young kid at Brighton when I first met Nathan. He’d joined us from Southend in 2000 and the first thing that struck me was his clobber.
There were a few flamboyant hairstyles and some of the gear he turned up in was, in the kindest possible sense, a bit eccentric. He wasn’t afraid of being different, even though he used to take a load of stick.
In those days, Brighton had people like Danny Cullip, Kerry Mayo and Guy Butters.They were big characters, literally and metaphorically. Nathan was 5ft 6ins and ten stone wet but his wit and personality meant he more than held his own.
He was very quick, very sharp and observant.You’d go for a pint with him and end up laughing every single time. He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in football.
Yet he’s also one of the most dedicated.When I was 20-21, I probably played my best football because of Nathan. At that age, I’d finish training and instantly want to get changed and go home.
But Nathan would scream my name, shove me outside and I’d be back out there for 25 minutes practising passing or heading. Other days he’d drag me to the gym and he’d spend an hour doing weights with me.
He did it with me, then Dan Harding and Charlie Oatway. All of a sudden, others starting joining in and that great spirit was formed.
Nathan didn’t have to do that. He was still a player at the time. But he was the type of person who just wanted to make people better.
Years later, he was the one who got me down to Yeovil. I was out of contract at Brighton, waiting for a deal. Nathan called me and asked if I fancied a look at Huish Park.
That was 2010 and he’d already got a good way into his badges.That pre-season,he’d taken ten days holiday to go and watch Barcelona train. Later, he went away with England for a few days to shadow Gary Neville and Roy Hodgson. He’s always desperate to improve and he’s taken money out of his own pocket to learn about the game.
No offence to then-Yeovil boss Terry Skiverton, who had his hands full with management, but you could see the difference in the quality of coaching when Nathan was involved.
Management was always his aim.What hardened his resolve was the two games he spent in charge of Brighton last season after Sami Hyypia left.
If you ask any fan, the 2-0 win over Fulham was the performance of the year. Tactically, he was spot-on. The team he picked was dead right. I think that positive experience made him think ‘Yeah, I want more of of this’. Ever since, he’s had one eye open for an opportunity.
He’ll be a different type of manager to John Still. He’s more of a coach, less of a manager. Nor is he a Teddy Sheringham, who went in at Stevenage with a reputation that commanded instant respect.
But the way he addresses players and the way he coaches will earn that.Like I said, he’ll make players laugh but he’s also a really nice guy to talk to, a family man who is very caring and considerate.
He will be tested. He will have bad spells. As much as I’m praising him, Luton are a club with big crowds who demand instant success.
They are short on confidence. The defence could be better. He’ll be judged on everything, not just the quality of his coaching.
It’ll be a lot harder than anything he’s done before but I’d back him to improve Luton’s players just as he did with us lot all those years ago. ADAM Armstrong will play in the Premier
But right now, it League for Newcastle.
his loan spell at would be madness to end Coventry.
the season, the 18-yearold Unknown at the start of
on the in 22 games. He plays has scored 16 goals from
18-yard box. He can score shoulder, he’s alive in the anywhere. Newcastle,
fix it? If he goes back to So if it ain’t broke, why ready to
but he’s no Wayne Rooney, will he play? He’s good He still needs
a ready-made superstar. burst onto the scene as to develop. of
to start him until the end If Steve McClaren is prepared
to sit on go back. If he’s just going the season, by all means
it’s a complete waste. the bench and get 15 minutes, can do
tempting to see what he And while I’m sure it is
would that benefit him on loan in the Championship,
– happy and he’s scoring now? He’s settled, he’s
than that. nothing is more important
get 25 goals this If Armstrong can stay and
win promotion. season, that’ll probably
again next Then you send him back year and it works for everybody.
BIG HIT: Adam Armstrong has sparkled on loan at Coventry