Bradley admits he was surprised to see Nathan Jones back as Luton manager

Town skipper didn't think it would ever happen after acrimonious departure

By Mike Simmonds
Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 8:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 8:36 am
Nathan Jones is back as manager of Luton
Nathan Jones is back as manager of Luton

Hatters skipper Sonny Bradley admitted there was an element of surprise to learn about the return of manager Nathan Jones last week.

The Town players found out via a Zoom call with chief executive Gary Sweet that Jones, who had walked out on the club to join Stoke City back in January 2019, would be Graeme Jones’ replacement on a long term contract.

The manner of Jones’ departure, days before a crunch promotion clash at Sunderland was a bitter disappointment to the players, leaving Bradley unsure over whether a reconciliation could be ever be reached between Jones and the club’s board.

On discovering it had been, he said: “I am a little bit surprised because I felt like the club and Gary and Nathan possibly had a falling out and parted ways and I thought it would be the end of that one.

“When I actually really think about it, it makes sense and for me as a player I speak for myself, I don’t think there is another coach in the country right now who is suited better to this squad.

“Like I said, Nathan brought the majority of this squad all together so we know what he wants, and it shouldn’t take too much time to get into the swing of things.

“I am a little bit surprised in the way they did it but I’m happy.”

When speaking to the press last week, Jones stated he would need to build bridges with the players at Kenilworth Road after leaving them in the lurch around 18 months ago.

Asked if such an apology had been forthcoming, Bradley continued: “He did touch on it briefly but to be honest he did say he will speak to individuals when the time is right and if that’s what he wants to do then that is fair enough.

“I’ll happy speak to him about how I felt at the time but like I said, what’s more important now is finishing this season off and staying in the division.

“I don’t think anybody really wants to focus on that too much and put any more energy in to that because we need all the energy for training and for the games.

“We need to stay in the division so we’ll possibly have a talk with him but I think that will be when the season is over.

“There’s 15, 16 boys that Nathan brought to this football club who he knows very well, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

“I think there will be a time and a place to speak to individuals possibly about why he left and the time when he did leave.

“But I don’t think we’ve got time for it now, with the games fast approaching, there’s so many games in a short period of time.

“I just think we’ve got to put 100 per cent of our focus and our energy into the remaining games, and get this season done and hopefully we can remain in the Championship.

“Come the end of the season, if Nathan still feels like he owes people that conversation, I’m sure it will happen.”

Although fans are still split by the decision to bring back Jones, Bradley did agree it slightly it different for the players, who can be more detached from the emotional side of events.

He added: “Probably we are because at the end of the day, football doesn’t stop, the fixtures are still going to be there and we still needed a manager.

“At the time when Nathan left, we as a group of players had something really good going on and we knew that potentially we could go on and win a league title.

“We reminded ourselves that every day despite Nathan leaving, all the players were still there, we knew all the drills to do and we knew how to prepare for games.

“Luckily we had Mick Harford, it has been spoken about a lot but I think it should be.

“He was outstanding, he came in and to be honest we still did a lot of the sessions Nathan did but Mick gave us that lift which was exactly what we needed at the time and we went on an amazing and luckily we won the league title.

“Maybe if we didn’t promoted and win a league title the conversation might not have gone like this but we did and this is the conversation we’re having.”