Hun­gry Nathan is the right man for Hat­ters

The Football League Paper - - ADAM VIRGO -

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.

Bet­ter

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.

Qual­ity

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.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BIG HIT: Adam Arm­strong has sparkled on loan at Coven­try

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