Cohen praises 'elite level' coaching from Hatters boss Jones during half time of Owls comeback

Ex-Forest midfielder first hails cool methods of Luton chief at the break

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:32 pm
Kal Naismith gets Luton's comeback underway by pulling one back for the Hatters on Saturday

Luton first team coach Chris Cohen felt he saw some real ‘elite’ level coaching from manager Nathan Jones during the half time interval of Saturday’s magnificent 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Kenilworth Road.

Trailing 2-0 at the break and looking dead and buried, rather than rant and rave at his players, Jones opted to spend most of the interval in the manager’s office with his staff discussing just how his side could somehow turn things around.

He then went into the changing room, made three substitutions and calmly sent his players out with a new formation and instructions to try and salvage something from the game.

They did just that, in some style too, Kal Naismith, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Elijah Adebayo all scoring, as Cohen, who was privy to what went on behind close doors, said: “Everyone has their say, that’s where the manager is great.

“It’s obviously me, Kev (Dearden), Mick (Harford) and Harty (Paul Hart) as the coaches and then you’ve got Pete (Booker) and Bondy (Dan Bond) who are the analysts.

“Everyone has a say if they want to, the manager will ask questions, different people will answer them and then ultimately he makes the final decision on what he’s decided to do, and we try and then help him whichever way he wants to go.

“I haven’t been in loads of those situations, we were really bad in the first half, I don't think anyone’s going to kind of deny that, so we had to come up with a great plan.

“But you can have a great plan and the players not implement it, at the end of the day the players were able to take the message on board, go out second half and they were fantastic.

“It was great what we were able to do at half time, but it only matters if the players are able to go and implement it and everyone of them to a man played incredibly well in the second half and gave us a platform to go and get a brilliant result.

“I’ve only been doing it (coaching) at first team level for five months, so it was the first time it was that much of a swing both ways, but it was lovely to be part of, and from a personal point of view to see real elite kind of behaviour in terms of coaching staff and then the players too.

“It’s not an easy thing as it’s all right saying it, for the players to take that first half performance and turn it into the second half performance that we did is a right credit to how they conduct themselves every day and all the work they put in.

“They’re able to come on at half time even when they've been dropped and to go and play the way they did, Glen (Rea), Pelly (Mpanzu) and Harry Cornick second half, shows you the environment that the manager and players have created here so it was great to watch and be a part of.”

Jones himself was particularly elated when celebrating the third goal, sprinting down the touchline, as he spoke of a tough week afterwards following Town’s 3-0 defeat against Stoke City and conceding a late equaliser when held 1-1 by Millwall on Tuesday night.

Cohen however thought that the manager should have his head held high following the last seven days, as he continued: “I think everyone reads little bits and bobs but it never stops him from making the right decision.

“People will look at it and think potentially team selection was wrong (on Saturday) because we ended up changing three players at half time, but the boys that started the game, 100 per cent deserved to start because of the performance they put in in midweek.

“Bar one throw-in and a second phase going into our box, we were excellent against Millwall for 95 and a half minutes, so the team selection was right and then the right thing to do at half time was to change it.

“So I think he’s had a great week if I’m being completely honest.

“At half time on Saturday for me was the best bit of managing I’ve seen since I’ve been involved in the first team here in terms of how cool and calculated he was in making the right decisions for the team and for us to get back in it.

“He was proved right by the result at the end, but even if we had got to two each or even if we hadn’t have scored the second goal, the way that we started the second half and the way that we played throughout the half, for me I look at the performance and it meant the decisions were right.

"So a tough week for him most definitely, but in terms of him growing and getting better and the decisions that he eventually came to, I think he had a great week as a manager as well as us having a great week as a football club in the end.”

Although Jones can cut a hugely animated figure in the dug-outs during games, yelling at his players and slamming the hoardings when chances are missed or goals are conceded, Cohen revealed he is very different in the confines of the dressing room when the situation requires it.

He added: “I think he does it the right way round.

"At times he can look emotional on the touchline, but then he gets into the office and we were all reasonably calm anyway in terms of the coaching staff, there was no arguments or people getting at each either, but he was the one who made a real conscious decision to a, sort out the formation to start with to try and hurt them in the second half, b, sort out the personnel without forgetting it was about winning more second balls.

"It was about playing forward more, was about the real basic stuff that you have to do in any football match that we didn’t do well enough in the first half to get any kind of foothold.

"You saw the evidence in the second half where we started by passing forward, by having people run forward, making tackles, running to the ball to take throw-ins, stuff like that.

"The energy we created proved too much for Sheffield Wednesday in the end.”