Hatters boss Still looks to instil winning mentality into his youngsters at Staines

Developing a winning mentality throughout the club remains key to Town manager John Still’s ambitions ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy tie against Staines.
AFC Dunstable v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 47.AFC Dunstable v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 47.
AFC Dunstable v Luton Town. Photos by Liam Smith. wk 47.

Luton are set to name an extremely youthful side against the Swans, but Still is adamant it will be strong enough to triumph.

He said: “Someone said the other day, would be be playing our youth team? Why would we play our youth team, because I don’t think our youth team would win. And I think as a manager you’ve got to pick a team that you think can win. You understand it might not be the greatest chance of winning, because it’s going to be a changed team, but the attitude has got to be that we’ve got to go there and try and win and that’s what I want to do, I want to try and win.

“I don’t worry about what might happen after that in terms of fixtures, I can’t.”

And he’s keen that all those involved will develop a ‘winning mentality’, as he continued: “We need whoever plays for this club, part of the criteria is they have to have a winning mentality.

“Without that winning mentality you’re not going to win many of anything. It’s important that people have that winning mentality, and we have it I think.

“The group that I have that regularly play have that, so I would like to think that the ones that haven’t quite started as often as they would like have also got that mentality because they’ve been on the bench for me and some of them have played in the first team.

“To me it’s something you bring with you. You bring your boots, you bring your shinpads, you bring your winning mentality and I think we have to have that.”

The Town boss admitted he would prefer to be playing a league game at the weekend, but is looking forward to seeing how some of the club’s talented youngsters are progressing.

He said: “I would sooner play a league game. But I like cup games, I’m not knocking the cup games and that.

“I like to watch them. I look forward to the group of them playing together. I’ve seen probably every single one of our development games at the expense sometimes of me going to watch other games that might be of interest to me.

“I love to see how the young ones are progressing and what we need to give them to take them from that.”

And while the youth team players involved may be forgiven for not 100 per cent knowing their job, Still was adamant that would not apply to any of the pros involved.

He said: “A youth maybe because they don’t work with me all of the time, but all the pros will know exactly what their job is, exactly what we need them from them and exactly what they should be asking for from their team-mates. The one or two youth team players, maybe not as much.

“Some of their teaching which is coaching, might not be exactly the same as first team. The only team that needs to win at a football club is the first team.

“No-one else needs to win, it’s nice if they do. But you’ve got to teach them. But where I think I’m a little bit different to managers is where I talk about teaching kids. They say winning’s not important, it’s rubbish, it is.

“It’s rubbish, winning is important at all levels. I’m not saying it’s necessarily the priority for the youngest ones, but you’ve got to teach people to have a winning mentality. Don’t teach them how to lose, teach them how to win, so they have to learn to deal with the disappointment of losing rather than the acceptance of losing.

“I think a winning mentality is something you should teach people at all levels. This is what we want to do, this is how we want to do it, but we also want to win.

“And sometimes that’s the right way of doing it, but let’s learn how to win games as well, learn how to pass, let’s learn how to mark, let’s learn how to communicate and let’s learn how to win as well, so I think it’s an important thing I do, I think it’s a vital thing to teach people to have a winning mentality.”

Still also clearly laid out there are several levels denoted to Luton’s development team players and he is hoping that games, like the one against Staines, will help players to move themselves up the progression ladder.

He said: “There are three levels, they’re a development players, they’re a good development player, they’re now a first team player that sometimes plays in a development game, because they are not established first team players.

“So I love to see them grow. I love to push them, I love to give them an incentive for doing that.

“I’m going to enjoy watching them on Saturday, and I want them to do well for Luton, but I want them to do well for themselves, to go through the compartments to become a first team player, he might have to play a few development games but he’s a first team player.

“And if you look at the level of those at the moment, Zane Banton is a development player, Mark Cullen is a very unfortunate first team player that’s having to play some development games.

“Matt Robinson is a development player, he’s played in the first team, but he is a development player.

“David Viana is a development player, although he hasn’t been here that long. These players have to go to the next level. Robbo’s played first team, Jim Stevenson’s played first team, David hasn’t yet.”

And Still pointed to those that have already reached the top rung and challenged others to join them there.

Hel added: “Andy Parry’s made the transition, Mark Cullen has made that transition, they’ve made it. Mark Cullen could play in the first team last week, next week, this week, we’ve got no problems with it. As Parry has, as (Alex) Lacey and so it is that transition that I’m really keen to see and to push. Hopefully there’s a few of them to do that.”

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