The penny has finally dropped for Moncur as he reveals why he turned down a move away from Luton
Recalled midfielder George Moncur admits the penny has finally started to drop regarding just what he needs to improve on to have a successful career at Luton, after choosing to stay and fight for his place this season.
The ex-West Ham starlet started a second successive league game for only the second time since joining Town on Saturday in the 1-1 draw at Huddersfield Town, the last time he did so coming way back in February 2019, beginning fixtures against Fleetwood and Coventry.
Boss Nathan Jones revealed at the weekend that Moncur, along with Ryan Tunnicliffe, had turned down a chance to move away from Kenilworth Road during the recent transfer window, preferring to fight for their place with the Hatters.
Moncur, who came through the ranks at Upton Park and had spells at AFC Wimbledon, Partick Thistle, Colchester, Barnsley and Peterborough ahead of his move to Luton in January 2019, explained why he wanted to stay, even after being restricted to just seven league starts over the past 18 months.
He attributed an increased desire to put in the work off the ball to his greater inclusion so far this term too, with eight outings in all competitions thus far, saying: "It’s hard, because I really want to be here.
“All my career, it’s not worked out consistently anywhere, but I can’t really do anything about that apart from now.
“So I’m just going to try and effect what I can in terms of defensively and see where it gets me as years have gone by where I haven’t really knuckled down on that, and it’s cost me.
“Now the penny’s dropped, maybe it's a bit late, but I’ll just keep going and see if I can improve.
“I love it here, I’ve always said that and I really enjoy the boys, we’ve got great characters in the dressing room.
“I know deep down I’ve got good ability, but it’s just working out now where I’ve really knuckled that side down, I’ve just got to keep improving on that.”
Boss Nathan Jones has clearly highlighted the extra responsibilities out of possession the midfielder has to take on, and pointed to the improvements of a current and former team-mate as the hallmark, saying: "All the coaching staff work with him, Chris Cohen works a lot with him out of possession and we reiterate stuff to him because he has real, real talent.
"Elliot Lee did it, Elliot Lee’s been magnificent for us.
"When he first came, I thought 'I'm not sure he can do it,' and he’s changed his mentality, changed my mentality towards him and he’s been magnificent.
"That’s what you have to do, as now we are competing at a wonderful, wonderful level and that’s what I really want to emphasis.”
Moncur has always been known for his talents at the other end of the field, scoring some sensational free kicks during his time with Town, efforts against Portsmouth and Fleetwood in particular sticking out.
He doesn't want to lose any of that goal threat, with the coolly-taken volley on Saturday, his eighth for the club, and fourth in seven matches when included from the start, but is now getting as much joy when his extra efforts on the defensive side in training are reaping their rewards on a match day.
Moncur continued: “Do you know what, I didn’t think I would, but the last couple of games, when I get a tackle in, you get a better feeling than maybe passing it off.
"It’s getting into my game more and more and hopefully I can continue it.
“With me, I can physically do it, it’s just probably my mind.
"I’ve always gone into games maybe thinking 'can I score? Can I do this?'
"When now I don’t really think about on the ball because that’s quite natural, so it’s more about my positioning, how I can affect the play.
"It’s just changing my mindset and always being switched on, so as long as I do that I should be all right.”
With no fans at games due to the coronavirus pandemic, then manager Nathan Jones can be heard, crystal clear at times, bellowing out his instructions for the full 90 minutes.
Moncur is one of the players who is often yelled at more than most, but the midfielder wants it to be like that, saying: “He’s always on my case and I said that to him, for me, I need someone always on me as otherwise I probably will switch off.
"That's an instruction that I told him to do that and he’s doing that all the time."
Despite the constant screaming of 'George!' to ensure that his defensive duties aren't neglected, Moncur was quick to praise the returning manager for his efforts in giving him a chance of finally making it as a consistent Championship operator.
He said: "He’s got a very difficult job as there's 25 real good players in there and he can only pick 11 plus the subs, but I want to thank him for what he’s done, how he’s tried to improve my mindset.
"He's the first manager who’s tried to knuckle down off the ball with me, so I think it’s really working and hopefully I can carry on.
“He’s working on it with me as he knows what I can do going that way (forward), it’s just more defensively.
"Chris Cohen (first team coach) has helped me a lot, showed me some clips, so I think both of them together, it's really good, focusing on that with me and hopefully I can just keep getting better at it."
Moncur is also glad to finally get the chance to play under Jones too, as although the deal to bring him in from Barnsley had been done when he was originally in charge back in January 2019, the manager then left for Stoke City before it was all completed.
He was a regular in the squad when Mick Harford was in charge, before being used sparingly by Graeme Jones, with just one league start, as he added: "With the squad, he rates everyone or they wouldn’t be here, so that was the case with me.
"I knew that he wanted to sign me and it didn't work out first time as he went, then we met and we’ve come back.
"So I’m just thankful to be able to have the chance to work with him every day.”