Play-off defeat cut deep but Luton were quickly planning for new season

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet admitted that planning for the 2017-18 campaign began instantly during the aftermath of Luton’s play-off exit to Blackpool last season.

Town suffered a gut-wrenching 6-5 defeat on aggregate to the Tangerines, letting a 3-1 lead slip with just 15 minutes to go at Kenilworth Road.

We weren’t joking in that meeting, we weren’t having a laugh, it was nowhere special, was a bit solemn, but brought us back to a bit of reality.

Gary Sweet

However, rather than wallow in self pity, Sweet revealed that he met with both manager Nathan Jones and chief recruitment officer Mick Harford to sort out their strategy for the following season.

He said: “It was a real, real shock and it cut deep, it really did cut deep, but for about 24 hours, maybe less.

“Because we were absolutely intent that we would really hurt that night, but it was so important the next day we got back on the horse.

“Nathan, Mick, myself had a meeting at 11 o’clock the next day and the subject of that was recruitment for the season coming up and we literally started 2017-18 the day after that game.

“We weren’t joking in that meeting, we weren’t having a laugh, it was nowhere special, was a bit solemn, but brought us back to a bit of reality.

“What that meeting did was give us a fresh focus, something to look forward to, something to be positive about.

“Because actually if you look at it, there are so many stats about last season that suggest we should have got automatic promotion, barring a couple of things that happened during the season.

“So it’s getting back to the reality of saying we know we were short in certain areas, self analyse that, admit those shortfallings, recognise where you’ve got to improve.

“But actually we’re not far short and let’s do a proper job this summer to make sure we don’t worry about the play-offs next year.”

Hatters boss Nathan Jones has strengthened his squad immeasurably over the summer, making seven new signings, strengthening the core with the likes of Alan McCormack, James Collins and Andrew Shinnie all on board.

Sweet believes those additions, plus the added experience of Town’s talented youngsters, should stand them in good stead going forward. He added: “One of things we felt where we fell a little bit short on was just experience, so those younger players particularly through that experience of last year and through the play-offs will learn a lot from that.

“They will grow not just a few months, but years going through that experience, so it’s a good thing for us, we’ve got to look at those positives.