Harford: Pressure is on the chasing pack

Hatters boss Mick Harford
Hatters boss Mick Harford

Hatter boss Mick Harford believes the pressure is firmly on the chasing pack as Luton start to enter the business end of the season.

Town’s stunning unbeaten 19-game unbeaten run has propelled them to the top of League One, as they have a six point lead over nearest rivals Barnsley.

Both Sunderland and Portsmouth have slipped up in recent weeks, the Black Cats held to two draws at home in the last four days, to remain nine points adrift of the Hatters in third place.

Rather than feel tense about being the side everyone is chasing, Harford preferred to relish the attention, saying: “The pressure is on especially when you’re top of the league, but we are six points clear, we are in good form and I believe the pressure is on everyone else, they’re the ones playing catch up.

“There is a pressure on to win games and there’s a tough game at the weekend, as we well know.

“So I think there’s pressure from everywhere and I’d rather have this pressure than when I was here 10 years ago in terms of the last time I was here as manager (when Luton were relegated into the Conference).

“It’s a good pressure and I’ll try and transfer that to the players.

“You’re there to be shot at, you are at the moment, the best team in the league, so lets enjoy it, lets embrace how far you’ve come and how far we’ve got this season.”

On the test that today’s opponents Fleetwood, under the management of ex-Newcastle and Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton will possess, Harford continued: “They are in good form, they’ve had back to back wins, it’s a tough place to go, Joey gets them playing a certain way.

“They’ve got a structure now which I think the players have bought into, so it will be difficult for us.

“They’re a lively front three and a well balanced team.”

When asked whether he had crossed paths with Barton before, Harford said: “Not really, I have spoken to him in the past, but I wouldn’t say we’re personal friends.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for him, he had a great career and he’s doing well at management in his first job.

"His team, if it matches the way Joey was, they’ll be aggressive, they’ll try and play football a certain way.

"We’ll make our players aware of their strengths and weaknesses and be ready for the challenge."

Meanwhile, midfielder Alan McCormack believe there will be plenty of mutual admiration in the dugouts during the 90 minutes, adding: "Joey, I’m sure he can handle himself, but Mick on the other hand has got the experience, he’s been in a few wars, a lot more than Joey has.

"But there’ll be a massive amount of respect for each other.

"Joey’s had an incredible career, he’s having a great start to his managerial life and Mick’s had a fabulous career and is having a great managerial time at the moment.

"There’ll be huge respect and there’s always respect between coaches and management staff and players.

"During the game it gets feisty, you have arguments, but generally off the pitch you don’t see players falling out and after the game they’re quite nice to each other, people leave their arguments on the pitch."