Jones won't 'chastise' his Luton players for defeat against a Canaries side he labels the 'Man City' of the Championship

Hatters boss backs Norwich to be playing Premier League football next season

Monday, 8th March 2021, 11:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th March 2021, 4:16 pm
Action from Luton's 3-0 defeat at Norwich City on Saturday
Action from Luton's 3-0 defeat at Norwich City on Saturday

Luton boss Nathan Jones wasn’t going to 'chastise' his players too much after they were beaten 3-0 by Norwich City on Saturday, a team he labelled as the ‘Manchester City’ of the Championship.

The Canaries, who were 10 points clear at the top of the division ahead of kick-off, and with six straight wins to their name, had little trouble in securing a seventh, with a slick display throughout, as Daniel Farke's side appear destined to be a top flight team again next term, having been relegated last season.

Although Jones' had masterminded two 3-1 wins against Norwich this campaign, one in the Carabao Cup, and then in the league encounter at Kenilworth Road, he knew it would be an incredibly difficult proposition to complete an unlikely hat-trick.

A first half brace from Teemu Pukki saw the Canaries 2-0 in front at the break, before Todd Cantwell added a third with 18 minutes to go, as the Luton chief said: “We knew that we would need everyone at it, everyone to be on the front foot, everyone really to put in a shift as these are a very, very good side, at this level, these are Man City, so they’re very, very difficult to play against.

“Since we last beat them in the league, they’ve conceded 11 goals in the league, so they’re a very, very tough side to play against.

“These are a Premier League side, they’ve been Premier League, Championship, Premier League, Championship, Premier League again they will be, so they’re recruiting and they’re preparing for a different level than what we’re at.

"At times that shows and we have to take that on the chin, as we’re not quite at this level and that's not me being negative, it’s me being realistic.

"So if I actually go in and really chastise my players for this defeat after the week we’ve had, when we’ve beaten Sheffield Wednesday, beaten Nottingham Forest to come to Norwich and do that was maybe just a little bit of a bridge too far.

"I’m proud of the group and the week we’ve had and we have to realise this is the level we want to get to but we’re not there yet."

Before Pukki opened the scoring on 12 minutes, a much-changed Town could have been ahead themselves, the returning James Collins' diverting George Moncur's cross wide and then seeing his close range attempt from Tom Ince's cross-shot rebound back off the post.

Jones, who admitted after the game, he made the five alterations before Tuesday night's scheduled home match with Rotherham was called off due to the Millers players contracting coronavirus, continued: "I’ll have to look at it back to see if it was a miss or see if he did everything he could.

"James has come back into the team, he hasn’t played the last couple, so maybe he was a little bit rusty and we had a few there today that haven't played lately, (Luke) Berry, George Moncur, (Martin) Cranie, that needed the minutes, needed to get that freshness.

“Since we last beat them in the league, they’ve conceded 11 goals in the league, so they’re a very, very tough side to play against.

"They score plenty, don’t concede many, so you know you’ve got to be at your best.

“We said to them before, we need to do the basics right, we need to outwork Norwich and when we get opportunities, we need to be clinical, because you don’t get bags and bags of opportunities.

"We didn’t take those chances early and them it gives them a little bit of a lift, they score a wonderful goal, second is a little bit fortuitous, so is the third, but I’m not saying that was a reflection on the fairness of the scoreline.

"We probably could have defended the goals better and we did have the best chances first half and we needed to take those, when we didn’t, it’s a difficult game then.

"We knew we had to freshen stuff up as we’ve not gone three (wins) on the spin before, we've done two on the spin, that third game we lose.

"So we thought we’ve got to freshen it up, it’s just a very difficult game to freshen it up, but realistically, are we closer to Norwich, or are we closer to Rotherham?

"Probably the true answer is we’re closer to Rotherham, so that was slightly the more important game out of the two."

Jones was a touch frustrated with the timing of Norwich's second goal though, coming just a few minutes before the interval, giving Luton an even bigger mountain to climb in the second period.

He added: “It’s happened twice now with the Sheffield Wednesday game, it’s just they are a different proposition to Sheffield Wednesday and we couldn’t get it back.

"If we go in at 1-0 you’re thinking, 'okay, keep it tight and so on,' but 2-0 is very difficult to get back against Norwich.

"Their defensive record i excellent and they’re so difficult to play against, so if you do actually go gung ho against them then can rip you apart.

"I’ve seen them do it in the games that I’ve watched, I’ve seen teams go after them, not get it right and really suffer, and that’s what we didn’t want to happen."