Luton chief impressed by Blackpool's transition to the Championship

Tangerines have dipped slightly after seven wins from 10

Saturday, 4th December 2021, 8:31 am
Updated Saturday, 4th December 2021, 8:34 am
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Hatters boss Nathan Jones was full of praise for the manner in which today's opponents Blackpool have adapted to life back in the Championship following a six year absence.

The Tangerines came up via the play-offs last season, with manager Neil Critchley, in his first full campaign at the helm, having been in charge of Liverpool's U18s and U23s previously, leading his side back to the second tier.

After a difficult start, with one victory in seven, Blackpool then went on a barnstorming run of seven wins from 10 to climb into the play-offs positions.

A winless November with just two goals scored, has dropped them down to 11th though, but that was always on the cards according to Jones, who said: "West Brom have dipped recently, but they were a Premier League club last year, so of course it’s to be expected, because the Championship is relentless, it's constant.

"You can do amazing things and not get a result and that is the way the league is.

"It’s a tough, tough league, no-one gives up, no-one gives in, it’s a frightening league, it’s an intense league, it’s a quality league, and that’s what happens.

"But Blackpool are a good side, they’re a good club, I know first hand they’re an excellent club.

"They're really well run, good structure, good manager, with a good way of playing.

“He’s done fantastically well there, to get promoted in his first year, they've got a great owner, good CEO, they’re very humble there to sort of say about our model as one that they would love to emulate, so it’s a good club.

"They have a group of players that want to achieve something, probably only one with real Championship experience in terms of Gary Madine, but all the rest are hungry and want to do well, and that’s a dangerous team to come up against.

"We’ve been that team, we still are that team, so we know it will be a good game, but a tough game.

"Blackpool’s always a tough place to go, we’ve gone up there and had a comfortable game, we’ve gone up there and lost in the play-offs, we’ve gone up there and had a really difficult game.

"So it’s a tough place to go, but an enjoyable one and we’re looking forward to it.”

When Luton made their move into the second tier, they had to contend with losing both full backs James Justin and Jack Stacey to the Premier League, while also a change of manager, as Graeme Jones took over from Mick Harford.

The Tangerines haven't had such problems at Bloomfield Road which has stood them in good stead, as Jones added: "They’ve got good good structure, they’re coached well, they’ve got players that are energetic and want to play, so it’s a tough team to come up against.

"Plus, they’ve got continuity, so that’s a good thing.

"They’ll have momentum, as when you come through the play-offs, you continue on to May, probably only get a month off and then you’re back into it.

"So, they’ve really had that push from getting promoted, but they’re a good side, they really are.

“In terms of Luton, Luton would’ve found it very difficult to hold on to James Justin.

"Any League One side would’ve found it difficult to keep hold of James Justin and Jack Stacey, because they both went to the Premier League, it’s not like they were snapped up by other Championship clubs.

“That sometimes happens and that’s the position we’re in at the minute.

"Until we get the new stadium and until we get our Category Two status then, when we produce players, we’re always at risk for doing that.

"It’s imperative that we get both of those and then when we produce the next James Justin, they’ll be more likely that we can keep them for a year, so they can reach their potential with us."