'Honest' Jones praises Town's aggression levels against Walsall
Hatters boss Nathan Jones hailed the much-improved aggression levels on display from his side during their 2-0 win over Walsall on Saturday.
After watching his team go down to a 3-2 reverse at Barnsley the previous weekend, giving a performance that neither he or the players were happy with, Jones revealed he had demanded a far more combative display this time.
He certainly got that, with an added bite from the Hatters all afternoon, personified by a superb challenge from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu in the closing stages, where he stopped a visiting counter with a brilliant full-blooded intervention, taking man and ball to stop a Saddlers counter attack.
It was everything Jones had been asking for in the build-up too, as he said: “It was something we debriefed and said we needed more aggression.
“Every 50/50 last week they won, they had Cameron McGeehan winning 50/50s against people here that when he was here people questioned his defensive play, but he was dominating the midfield.
“We lost every 50/50, people were coming inside, it was too easy for them to score a goal against us last week, so I asked for bit more aggression from them, but not anymore than I normally do.
“I asked for the aggression we normally show, because we are an aggressive, physical, potent side, but we didn’t show that last week and we let ourselves down a little bit.
“So I asked for a reaction and I got it, I thought we were excellent.
“It was a shame we couldn’t have played like that last week as I think it might have been a different result, but sometimes you can’t do it.
“Barnsley have gone to Charlton and not been able to recreate that, because it’s difficult to keep doing what they do.”
Striker Danny Hylton, who was back in the side, admitted that the players had taken on board just what Jones had said in training, saying: “The most disappointing thing was we probably could have nicked something out of the Barnsley game but that would have only sugar-coated the performance.
“It wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t us, we didn’t do the things we work on every single day in training, that’s what the gaffer said.
“So it was important to get back to doing what we do and I think we did that.”
After expressing his disappointment with the players for their efforts at Oakwell, Jones was determined to heap praise on them after they dispatched a side who had been unbeaten away from home in the league this term with minimum fuss.
He added: “Lets take all the positives, because last week I focused on the negatives from my side, and I was very honest, probably too honest, as I don’t think many managers are like that.
“A lot of people would have said, ‘we should have scored three,’ because we did actually score three, ‘we could have had a penalty late on’, which we should have, so I could have said a lot, but I didn’t, I was brutally honest, how I felt.
“So this week I’m going to be brutally honest again, I thought we were excellent, I thought it was a complete performance against a tough side.
“They were above us in the league, had an excellent away record, they came here and they did exactly what we thought they would.
“So I knew it would be difficult, but I thought we were brilliant, excellent from start to finish and that’s a credit to us.
“They come out here and they play a system, if we don’t show the quality and we don’t move and pass the ball with a tempo and don’t show the desire to do the right things and cause them problems, then their system works, but we caused their system problems.
“I don’t think they were bad, I thought we were very good.
“Now last week, I didn’t think we were really bad, I thought Barnsley were very good, they pressed us, they did a job on us, and to be fair to them, I gave them credit.
“Today we played well, so give us credit, I’m going to give us credit this week.
“We were at it, there was a real determination about us, we moved the ball very, very well and we like teams to come out.
“We would love teams to come out and be gung ho against us, we really, really do, but they didn’t so we had to find a way to break them down, and we did.
“We got the goal, it could have been one or of two more first half, second half, it could have been a lot more.
“So I thought it was a complete performances, regardless of Walsall, I thought we were excellent.”