Town boss backs 'phenomenal' Mpanzu to come through his dip in form for the Hatters

Jones on how he is managing his long-serving midfielder

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 1:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 3:10 pm
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is held back during the 2-1 defeat to Cardiff on Saturday

Luton boss Nathan Jones has backed midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu to come through the dip in form he has been going through recently.

The long-serving 27-year-old has been on the receiving end of some criticism from supporters in recent weeks for a number of below par performances which have coincided with Town’s worst run of the season, currently four games without a win, which has seen them drop out of the play-off places, falling to 15th in the table.

Although Jones has altered his midfield during those matches, dropping both Henri Lansbury and Allan Campbell to the bench for 2-1 defeat to Cardiff City on Saturday, Mpanzu has remained a mainstay of the side, starting the last six fixtures, not missing a single minute either.

The Hatters knowns his displays haven’t quite been at the level they could and should be, but on why he has kept the former West Ham United youngster in the side, he said: “Pelly never lets me down.

"If he has a tough time in games, that’s to be expected because a consistency is what we want to add to him, and we’ve asked him to do a number of things.

"He gives us good energy, big outputs, we've asked him to play defensive and an attacking one and he gives us things.

“There’s certain stuff he can be better at, and I understand that.

"Sometimes he has a dip, but let’s not forget where Pelly’s come from, what Pelly’s done for us, and how he’s joined along the journey.

"Sometimes he’ll have a dip in form, it’s up to me then to manage him.

"What I tend to do with Pelly is play him through things and he comes through the other end.

"So I understand he may be getting a little bit at the minute because of certain performances, but they’re probably the same people that were desperate for him to sign and when he did sign he was a big player.

"He is going to have a dip, so will Henri Lansbury, so will Allan Campbell, so will Jordan Clark, so will Luke Berry, so will Elijah Adebayo, it's how we manage them from there.

"Now I trust my players, I trust Pelly phenomenally, because he doesn’t often let me down.”

After moving to Kenilworth Road from the Hammers back in November 2013, making his debut eight years ago this week, in a 0-0 FA Trophy draw at Staines, Mpanzu has gone on to register 315 appearances, to sit 19th in the club’s all-time list of appearance makers, overtaking John G Ryan recently.

Jones has often spoken about just what the midfielder brings to the club off the pitch, although admitted they have had a chat this week in a bid to concentrate the DR Congo international's mind on his own efforts first and foremost.

He added: “We’ve had a talk to him this week because he does (have an influence off the field), but I want him to concentrate on being better, not just on lifting everyone.

"Because he does that and that doesn’t change, he’s a phenomenal human being and that’s a big part of what we do and why he’s at the club.

"The Fulham’s and Bournemouth's don’t tend to have real big dips, and if they do, it tends to be catastrophic because of what their expectations are.

"But with us, we know we’re going to have that, so it’s important we have characters to keep us moving forward, to keep everyone bubbly, keep everyone in a good frame of mind because we know we’re going to bounce back.

"So in that interim period, we need people like that and it’s important and he is, but he works hard at his game.

"I want him to be more diligent as I want him to fulfill every bit of potential he has, because he has raw attributes which are Premier League.

"He has other attributes which aren’t, so it’s about brushing up on those, but he’s a big, big part of what we do here."