Still bemused that summer signings haven’t worked out

Hatters' summer signing Scott Cuthbert
Hatters' summer signing Scott Cuthbert

Hatters boss John Still admitted he has been disappointing by the way his summer signings in defensive areas just haven’t worked out so far this year.

In the close season, Still opted to let Fraser Franks and Alex Lacey move on, while bringing in Magnus Okuonghae, Mark O’Brien and Scott Cuthbert in a bid to strengthen his options the back.

“We’re filling the bath up but we’re taking the plug out and we’ve got to make sure the plug’s left in.”

John Still

However, Luton have conceded 25 goals in 19 games already this term, keeping just five clean sheets, while at this stage last season, they had been breached a mere 12 times, with nine shut outs.

Stil said: “I made a conscious effort this year which was to make us strong in both areas, strong attack wise and stronger defensively.

“We’re in the top three or four scorers and think we look like scoring goals, we’ve got more people that can score goals this year.

“We made an effort defensively to bring in a touch more experience, a touch more knowledge and we haven’t defended well enough, we haven’t.

“The facts are, this time last year we’d conceded 12 goals, but we’ve conceded 25 this year and I don’t think as a manager I have to look anywhere else.

“I’m disappointed as you do your recruitment and the lads are such hard working, conscientious and have enough knowledge.

“Everything about the changes we’ve made have been right for me.

“We brought Magnus in, brought Cuthbert in, Scott Cuthbert was top man at Orient. We brought Mark O’Brien in, who’s had Championship experience.

“So we looked at that group and thought maybe we need to work on combinations of people, but everyone there has got the ingredients that we need, everyone, but we’ve conceded too many goals.

“We’ve had little spells where we’ve looked as solid as we’ve ever looked, but the other spells has shown us that’s not quite the case.

“We’ve spread those goals around and it’s like filling up the bath. We’re filling the bath up but we’re taking the plug out and we’ve got to make sure the plug’s left in.”

Still had to pick another new centre half pairing against Carlisle on Tuesday night, with O’Brien alongside Cuthbert.

The boss was annoyed it hadn’t worked as Hatters conceded three times in 14 minutes to let a 3-1 lead turn into a 4-3 defeat.

He continued: “We actually thought Luke Wilkinson and Scott Cuthbert were working a combination, and it’s not good enough that if someone can’t play, someone can’t come in and play with them.

“We made changes this year to eradicate that and for Mark O’Brien, I suppose it’s a bit disappointing as I made a case of strengthening in the case of someone not being fit and someone not being fit.

“It’s about combinations, I really believe that. Sometimes they take a little bit of time and I understand that.

“Although Mark hasn’t played and it was his first centre half start, we’ve done work in training, two or three times a week on a change in combinations. But that didn’t work on the day.

“We’d gone three league games without conceding, then this game out of nowhere. No-one, be it me, the staff, or the players, ever saw it coming.”

The boss didn’t think it was through a lack of preparation on the training ground either as he added: “If you do a defensive session, you’ve got to stop them scoring, and you do different things to cater for different attacks.

“We’ll do a defending session where you play one up and one off, two wide, do a session where they play two up and one off as though they’re going to play a diamond or 3-5-2 and two wing backs pushing on.

“We sometimes do a little bit where both forwards play a bit wider and they call it a false nine.

“The work that we do I’ve been quite happy, but the proof of the pudding is in the games. You don’t win points in training and we were that poor.”