Players first for new Luton boss Jones who won't be the centre of attention

New Luton boss Graeme Jones will not be the centre of attention when he begins his first managerial reign at Kenilworth Road next week.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 2:39 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 2:43 pm
Graeme Jones with Roberto Martinez and Thierry Henry during his time as Belgium assistant manager

The former West Bromwich Albion, Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Belgium assistant manager was appointed to replace Mick Harford on Tuesday, after the interim chief led Town to the Championship.

However, speaking to the FA’s Boot Room about his coaching approach while with the Baggies, Jones revealed his methods were all about the players and not those in charge.

He said: “Everything we do is about the player, 100 per cent from the word go.

“It is not about the coach, it is about the player.

“You have to do anything it takes to get the best out of the players and to maximise the players' ability.

“That is all that matters. It is not about the coach being centre of attention."

When discussing what kind of a person he is on the training ground, Jones continued: “I have always believed that the power is in the organisation and the progression of the session, rather than the coach trying to push and push the players.

“There is a time to be demanding and I can do that no problem, but I think using different coaching styles is vitally important in order to get the best out of your players.

“You can’t be on top of the players all the time.

“On reflection, I probably used to be 50/50 between a more considered approach and shouting.

“Now it is 90/10. You have to be demanding of players but ultimately you need to draw on every coaching skill, rather than just shouting, to get the best out of them."

On what kind of sessions the Luton players can expect from Jones when they return to pre-season training ahead of stepping out in the second tier of English football. Jones, who has worked closely with Roberto Martinez during his career, said: “I always try to make the sessions competitive, always.

“Keeping the score and timing different parts of the practice adds to the competitive element.

"We will time how long players retain the ball and reward them with additional turns at keeping the ball.

“In games we will give the players targets. For example: six balls to try and score a goal and six balls to keep a clean sheet.

"Players are competitive by nature, but these things help keep them competitive.

“When I played the style of coaching was “stop, stand still”. That was accepted back then.

“Our approach is to never stop a session.

“We will coach in between parts of the practice from the side of the pitch, or when the session is going on or during a drinks break, but we never ever stop sessions whilst they’re in flow.

“Top players are just like everyone else and just want to play and it has to be match tempo as well.

“It needs to be realistic otherwise you are not going to improve the player.

"Everything we have ever done is with the ball. Generally all the players we have worked with at different clubs have always enjoyed our style of training, and I think working with the ball helps.

"Our whole concept of work is about educating players.

"Our philosophy is to give the player the intelligence to pick the right thing to do at the right moment.

"That could be a run into space, that could be dribbling the ball, that could be a 40-yard pass,It could be a forward pass, it could be keeping the ball with three minutes to go and you are 1-0 up."

Jones also confirmed that the Town players will be constantly spoken to about their progress in a bid to get the best out of them.

He said: "We open up a dialogue and tell the players what we’ve been thinking, what we think we can improve, what we’ve seen.

“We ask them what they think about it all and then tell them that we will put them in certain situations where it enhances their strengths.

“In the past all we’ve ever done is talk about players’ weaknesses, the game is about their strengths.

"Sometimes you need to balance people’s weaknesses with other people’s strengths in order to get the best out of them.”

Having worked with some of the world's top players in Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne during his time with Belgium, Jones believes that even the best need help from the sidelines.

He added: "I have seen top players train and play without direction and they don’t look like top players.

"You have to give players direction, you need to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

"You need to put them in a position where their ability, the talents they have been given, can come to fruition.

"Improvement is an addiction. The top player wants to improve individually and as a team.

"That is your job and you have to stimulate them.

"Education is all the game is about.

"Sometimes you get the coach that wants the results and sometimes you get the coach that wants to educate.

"Long-term it is all about escaping from the results and educating them, that is what is going to take you further."