Mpanzu admits his game has benefited from spell on the bench

Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu admitted his game has benefited from a spell out of the team in the early stages of the season.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 8:03 am
Hatters midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu after scoring against Bristol City on Saturday

The 25-year-old had started the first three league games of the campaign before he was dropped to the bench for the midweek trip to Sheffield Wednesday back in August.

Mpanzu was restricted to substitute appearances in the next five Championship encounters, not even featuring at QPR, before being restored to the starting line-up for the 2-1 triumph at Blackburn Rovers last month.

Since then his performance level has reached new heights, capped off by a starring role in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Bristol City, where he bagged his first goal of the season too.

Mpanzu said of his stint on the sidelines: “Looking at the game and playing in the game is so much different.

“You can see tactically where people are, what positions people pick up, so watching from the bench, it’s a lot to gather information.

“Then once you go back in, you can pick up those points and say ‘this is what they were doing, this is the position I need to be.’

“Half turning and threading the balls into whoever was playing number 10, Izzy Brown, Collo (James Collins), Elliot Lee, so it’s good to have that viewpoint.

“I’m trying to play the best I can and hopefully I can continue the form I’m in.”

Boss Graeme Jones revealed he didn’t expect anything less from Mpanzu, who had barely missed a minute last year when Town won the League One title.

He said: “I don’t think it’s any fluke, we’ve got some incredible characters here.

“I can think about James Shea in the same category, I can think about Andrew Shinnie, same category, that’s my definition of being professional.

“Their job is to not always agree but accept what the manager does, the decision he makes and be ready when called upon.

“There’s been too many at this club who have got that attitude for that to happen by coincidence, so Pelly sat back and he definitely watched and learned and by his actions, he’s put them into practice.”

Mpanzu is the only player who is still at Kenilworth Road since the club was in the Conference, as he was signed by then manager John Still from West Ham United on loan initially, making the move permanent back in January 2014.

The weekend saw him make appearance number 219 for the club, scoring his 15th goal as well.

On just how high he can go in the game, Jones said: “There’s no limits to what Pelly can achieve.

“If you assessed him physically, he’s Premier League, if you assessed him mentally he’s Premier League, if you assessed him technically, he’s capable of being Premier League.

“If you assessed him tactically, he’s very, very aware, that’s the surprising aspect I’ve had with Pelly, his intelligence.

“If you look at him from a duels point of view, he’s just got this uncanny habit of coming out with the ball .

“He’s had to adapt to the league like we all have and he’s doing great, but you can never drop your standards.

“He’s got to keep pushing, but at the weekend was a sense of pride and Pelly was a great representation of that, because he’s been on the full journey with Luton.

“There’s not many on any journey that manage to start the process and continue to a level we’re at today and he played a huge part in the victory.”

Meanwhile, when asked if he felt like had adapted to the step-up in level this term, Mpanzu added: “Everyone’s got to adapt, there’s people who have played in this league and people who haven’t.

“I haven’t, so I think right now I’ve adapted, before it was a bit, there’s not a lot of time on the ball so you’ve got to learn on the job.

“I think I’ve finally adapted and hopefully I can put in the performances I’ve been putting in for the next couple of weeks.

"I’m always a confident player, regardless if I’m playing well or not.

“You’ve got to have that faith in your own ability that you’re playing well, your confidence is high and you can perform on the pitch.

“Obviously you can have bad days, everyone has bad day.

"But if you have that bad day, you jut put it to the side and keep training, keep going and there’s always a next game where you’ve got to put a performance in.

Summer signing Martin Cranie, who was back in the side at the weekend, added: “Pelly’s been brilliant recently.

"Obviously he came out for a few games, a few weeks ago, but think since he’s been in he brings a lot of energy to our midfield, he’s powerful, good on the ball, so it was nice for him to get his goal."