Stopping Watford going up is not Jones' main goal ahead of derby clash but Luton boss wants a repeat showing next season

Town chief would love to take on Watford in front of a full Kenilworth Road

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:26 pm
Luton boss Nathan Jones
Luton boss Nathan Jones

Although Luton boss Nathan Jones is desperate for another derby against Watford next season, stopping the Hornets seemingly certain rise back to the Premier League isn’t the first thing on his agenda ahead of Saturday's meeting at Kenilworth Road.

The Hatters go into the game safe in the knowledge they will be a Championship club again next term, but that isn’t something their visitors are looking for, sitting second in the table, seven points above third with five games left.

With Town’s first season in the same division as their main rivals for 15 years tempered massively by the fact that no supporters will be in attendance this weekend, as was the case at Vicarage Road back in September, then Jones would love another crack at the Hertfordshire side next term.

However, when asked if stopping their bid for the top flight was factored into his plans, he said: “Inadvertently yes, but my motivation isn’t stopping Watford, it’s that we continue and continue to rise.

“But we also like playing against Watford, we like the derbies, so if Watford don’t go up and we get two derbies next year, we’d love that.

“I’m not here to say, I want to just stop Watford going up and that’s the be-all and end-all, no, I want to take Luton forward, that’s my paramount thing.

“Then secondly, we would love to have these games on a regular basis, so that’s probably our motivation without being spiteful and thinking 'we want to stop you doing something'.

“No, we want to progress and concentrate on us at Luton Town and then whatever happens elsewhere, we can’t affect.”

The fact that there won’t be a full house for the first home derby since January 2006 is a real disappointment for Jones, who would have loved to savour the atmosphere of a packed Kenilworth Road.

He continued: “I remember when I was here, Watford v Luton, the game at the Kenny, and what an atmosphere.

“Mick (Harford) got a hat-trick in a win too (April 1986), but it is a massive game and a game that the fans can get behind.

“The board love these games, we love these games and it’s a real shame there’s no fans as it’s a game the fans really love.

“I know they would be talking about it, but imagine the atmosphere around the place, around the town, and that’s the shame that they can’t be here.

“But it’s still a massive, massive game, it’s a local derby, we’re proud we’re coming up against them.

“Four or five years ago we were three or four leagues apart, so to be on the same stage as them is wonderful.

"There’s great history, great rivalry and we’re looking forward to the game.”

It certainly won’t be easy for the Hatters as Watford under boss Xisco Munez, who was appointed in December, the Hornets have been flying in recent weeks.

Replacing Vladimir Ivic, after he lasted just four months, the former Dinamo Tbilisi head coach has won an impressive 15 from 22 fixtures, as on his opposite number, Jones said: ““He’s done very well, I've watched them live a few times and you can see the intensity they play at.

"They’ve got some wonderful top end talent for the division, it’s a squad full of Premier League players, so it’s a tough task for us, but we can’t wait.

"We love challenges like this, we love hitting them head on.

"When we’ve come up against higher league opposition before, we’ve relished the opportunity but this isn’t higher league opposition, it’s just good opposition in our league, so we’re going to relish it, we really."

Watford's lofty position in the table shouldn't really come as a surprise as they have a squad containing a number of players who were in the top flight last term, with Jones adding: "It’s a side with big finances, they’ve got Premier League pedigree, Premier League players, Premier League experience.

"But sometimes the bigger they are the harder they fall, so we’re looking forward to the game.

"We know we’re going to have to be right at it, there’s no lethargy for us, no complacency, no flippancy, we’re not preparing for it like it’s our cup final, or their cup final, or a cup final, it's a big game we know that, but it’s the next Championship game.

"So let’s not get carried away with too much because it’s a league game.

"We’ve come to earn the right to be against these kind of teams because of how we’ve been in recent years.”