Sheehan: Players were disappointed but can understand Jones’ decision to leave for Stoke

Hatters captain Alan Sheehan
Hatters captain Alan Sheehan

Hatters club captain Alan Sheehan admitted the players had been left ‘disappointed’ by manager Nathan Jones’ shock exit from Kenilworth Road last week, but they understood the reasons behind his decision to leave.

The 45-year-old Welshman opted to take over at Championship side Stoke City on Wednesday, with Luton in the middle of their biggest month of their campaign to date and just days away from a trip to Sunderland.

I know there’s a lot of people upset that he left, but that’s football. I think people have to remember how good of a job he has done here, he’s gone and that is football.

Alan Sheehan

Speaking on Monday afternoon about the announcement, Sheehan said: “I think we were disappointed that he left. We understand why it happened and he’s gone on to manage Stoke.

“It was a great group of lads that he assembled, him and Mick (Harford) and the coaching staff assembled and I suppose he’s done that.

“We all know our jobs, so instead of looking at the negative side, I just say, look at the position he’s left us in and the opportunity that we have.

“We’re in a really good place right now, it was great to get the first game out of the way, see how we’ve reacted and then bang, it’s just back to normal business.”

The Irishman was Jones’ first signing when he took over the club in January 2015, and revealed he had spoken to his old manager about the move to the Championship.

Sheehan continued: “He rang me the night that he left, we had a chat.

“I was with him for three years, I know there’s a lot of people upset that he left, but that’s football. I think people have to remember how good of a job he has done here, he’s gone and that is football.

“People move on, people come and go, but after he left, we really do just have to focus on our jobs, and that’s exactly what we did.

“We had a meeting in the dressing room and we’ve got an unbelievable bunch of players here that want to work for each other.

“The relationship with us and the fans, it comes out. We brought over 3,000 to Sunderland, over 4,000 to Sheffield Wednesday, full houses at home every week, there’s just a great thing happening at the moment.”

The Luton fans have been quick to voice their displeasure at a manager who had been incredibly popular during his time in charge.

However, Sheehan said: “We’ve got unbelievable fans that travel in their numbers and we all felt like it was part of the journey and then we’re halfway through it when the manager goes.

“Anyone who speaks to him you have to understand why he moved on, and Luton Town still goes on.

“We’re in an unbelievable position, I think we just have to look and focus on ourselves now. Good luck to Nathan at Stoke, I’m sure he’ll do a brilliant job, but it’s all about us now.”

Although Sheehan hasn’t been used as readily in recent weeks, as the club’s skipper, he felt he had a vital role to play in the aftermath of Jones’ departure.

He said: “Definitely, I think your job is just as important right now as a captain, especially when things like this happen. We’ve got a number of leaders in the dressing room, and the one thing about the old manager that he did, he let the dressing room manage itself.

“We’ve got literally no bad eggs in there, which I think is one of the keys to success, because anything that’s ever happened, it’s squashed and we move on.

“It’s a brilliant group of lads and I think that showed when we went and played the way we play, 56 per cent possession, away to Sunderland, their goalkeeper gets man of the match with our manager leaving after being with us for three years.

“I think that says everything you need to know about the group.”

Sheehan also admitted that the exit could even work in Town’s favour, saying: “We’ve got this siege mentality now in the dressing room that we’ve got this, everything around the club, it’s all about us.

“We went up to the fans before the game on Saturday and that was just incredible.

“It was kind of like, ‘look we’re all in this together now,’ that was an unbelievable moment, and I think that showed on the pitch, as we could have been three or four nil up after 15 minutes and it was just a brilliant performance.

“Sometimes things like this bring you even closer if that was possible.

“We all have an unbelievable relationship with the fans, they literally have been unbelievable. I reckon if we had a bigger stadium right now, we’d be filling it.

“They’re getting entertained every week, we’ve got no clowns in the dressing room and I think they see a team of hard workers.

“Everybody is grounded and we’re in a really good place still. We’re second pace in the division after coming up, it’s very good.”