Ex-Hatter Beresford believes Sluga needs to be taken out of the firing line

Former Luton goalkeeper Marlon Beresford believes manager Graeme Jones has no option but to take Simon Sluga out of the firing line for the time being.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 8:19 am
Simon Sluga applauds the Town fans after a 2-0 defeat at Derby on Saturday

The Croatian international was responsible for Hatters’ 2-0 defeat at Derby County on Saturday, firstly allowing Matty Pearson’s backpass to role under his foot and into the net on 11 minutes.

Then, with 20 still to play, Sluga was beaten by Tom Lawrence’s cross at his near post.

Beresford, who made 132 appearances for the Hatters during two spells at Kenilworth Road, was at Pride Park for the match on Saturday, summarising for BBC Three Counties Radio.

Marlon Beresford saves a penalty from Djibril Ciss during Luton's 5-3 FA Cup defeat to Liverpool in 2006

Speaking exclusively to the Luton News afterwards though, when asked if Sluga needed to be rested for the home game against Bristol City after the international break, he said: “Yes, the manager has said himself, he can’t defend it, so if you can’t defend it, then I think you have to take him out of the firing line as you can’t be in that position again as a manager.

“He’s almost said himself, if it’s affected the team, the confidence of the team, then he has to change it.

On the first goal, Bereford said: “It’s just a basic technical error, added with a lack of concentration, that’s all it is. The ball’s coming back at pace from Matty Pearson, and you’re concentration levels have got to be so high.

“Unfortunately it’s just rolled under his foot, it is a howler and it looks a howler, but that’s the modern game, which tells us that we must go back to the goalkeeper.

“It’s a percentage isn’t it? The more you go back to the goalkeeper, there’s more potential of him making mistakes, so it’s a high risk game that people play nowadays but unfortunately it’s cost Luton on this occasion.

“With the two goalkeeping coaches they’ve got, I’m sure there’ll be working continuously on ball to your feet and basic passing and basic touch from the goalkeeper.

"They’ll be doing it day in day out, but today it’s cost them unfortunately."

Beresford wished that the new style of involving the goalkeeper more was something that was around during his time as a player.

He continued: "I'd have loved to, loved to have played in that system, absolutely.

"I was always an outfield player anyway, always growing up.

"I remember a time at Luton, thinking why aren't we being encouraged to pass more to players like our full backs or to pick a pass rather than just go long?

"So I’d have loved to have played like that.

The second saw Sluga fail to react in time, as Lawrence’s delivery from the right ended up in the net to quash Town’s hopes of a comeback.

Beresford continued: “He’s gone to cross and he’s hit it sweet, off the outside of his foot with a bit of dip and swerve, but as you can see it’s come into his near post and he should have dealt with that.

“Again, it’s probably taken him by surprise because of the pace of it, but that’s your concentration levels again that have let him down and that’s cost the team again.”

The ex-Hatter did feel for Luton’s current number one though, saying: “It’s dreadful, you just want the ground to open up and eat you, just take you away from the situation, but it’s the nature of the job and life as a goalkeeper means you’ve got to be mentally strong.

“You’ve got to have broad shoulders and you’ve got to deal with those situations, hopefully further down the line he’ll be better for it as the club have bought him, hopefully he get better and better.”

On the fact that Sluga was been parachuted straight into the Championship having never played in English football prior to this season, Beresford said: “Its a big thing to do in any aspect.

"I’ve done it as a coach, in the last few years I've been overseas and thoroughly loved it.

"As a player, it is different as you've got to get used to the culture, most importantly you've got to get used to Championship football, which is a bit faster.

"It’s a difficult league to come to from where he has been playing, so it must have been a big shock.

"The pace and the tempo and the intensity and the power and strength you're up against, week in week out.

"You've got to be mentally strong to deal with that, not just ability-wise, but mentally strong as well, at the moment it's just a tough time for him."

When asked if thought Sluga had showed signs he can be a top keeper for Luton, Beresford said: “I think there’s got to be, they paid one and a half million, it’s been a real tough start for him, but I’ll always stick up for the goalkeeper.

“He’s an international goalkeeper, bought for a lot of money, they’ve done their due diligence so there must be a good goalkeeper there, hopefully time will tell and time will show that.”

Finally, giving his thoughts on how Town had adapted to the Championship again after over a decade away, Beresford, who was between the posts the last time Luton were in the second tier, added: "They're doing okay.

"In the main today (Saturday) I thought they looked quite solid.

"They had a game-plan, they were going to a four, a five and a one, to defend early on.

"Derby had a lot of possession, I thought they did well, then got better as the game grew and had a lot of possession, created opportunities and could have got something but for the errors."