Town chief's work ethic when unemployed following Stoke exit is paying off for Luton with loan signings of Dewsbury-Hall and Norrington-Davies

Jones didn't ever stop his quest for player knowledge after Potters departure

Friday, 1st January 2021, 4:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 4:21 pm
Nathan Jones gives midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall a hug after Tuesday night's 2-1 win over Bristol City

Luton boss Nathan Jones is extremely satisfied that his non-stop research into player recruitment when out of work is paying off handsomely for the Hatters this season.

The Town chief had over six months of unemployment when he was sacked by Stoke City in November 2019, but made certain he made the most of it.

Watching countless games live, or on his laptop, Jones set about increasing his knowledge of some of the best young talents out there, so he could hit the ground running at wherever his next port of call was.

Nathan Jones with on-loan defender Rhys Norrington-Davies

It was in fact Kenilworth Road once more, the Welshman appointed to replace Graeme Jones during lockdown to start a second spell as manager of the Hatters.

Once he had masterminded Championship survival, and the transfer window opened, Jones wasted no time in persuading both Rhys Norrington-Davies and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall to swap the Premier League for the second tier, and join on season-long loan deals from Sheffield United and Leicester City respectively.

It has paid off handsomely too, Norrington-Davies going on to win a maiden senior cap for Wales, while Dewsbury-Hall has been a star in midfield, showing just why the Foxes were keen to tie him down to a long-term deal.

He also bagged a first goal for the club in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Bristol City, as discussing the duo's signings, Jones said: “We believe he’s (Dewsbury-Hall) a wonderful player, that’s why we brought him here.

“We take our recruitment seriously at this club and we’ve done that.

“From when I left my previous club, I believed I would get another job.

"So I went and looked at a lot of players in key positions for the way I want to play, and Kiernan and Rhys were two of those players that I really flagged up that whatever level or whatever club I went into I would have liked to have signed.

“To get them both was very good, so we are pleased, but we take our recruitment very seriously here and we don’t tend to make a hell of a lot mistakes.”

On just how he spent his time gathering knowledge on players and keeping on top of things when he was out of work, Jones continued: “I can’t tell you how many games I must have watched, 100 or something, not just the live ones as I lived in a place that was pretty central, so I went to a lot of games, Championship, League One, to look at players.

"I watched footage, downloads of games, then we had lockdown, so I was able to watch two, three games a day, so it was pretty relentless.

"But we've always done that, we’ve had a good record here of recruiting and that’s just part and parcel of it.

“I got up, tried to keep my routines every day, even when I was out of work.

"I probably got up at eight, nine o’clock, worked until about four and then I had a glass of wine.

"I would do that every day and then I would go and watch a game at night, if I didn’t have a glass of wine.

"I’ve always worked long hours, but you have to watch smart ones as well.

"I watched a lot of games and I was able to, because of where I lived, so that was key.

"I remember when I was at Charlton as a development manager, I took a year out from first team football, went and worked with the development squad to really got my player knowledge up by travelling all round London.

"By the time that year was up and I went to Brighton as assistant manager, my knowledge of players was massive and being out of work actually helped me to reinvest time in that.

“I did see plenty of games, I’ve never worked to anyone else’s timetable, I’ve always done my own thing and at times that’s costly to me and my family, but I believe you get out what you put in.

"You have to do that as when you’re a manager, especially a manager of a Championship club, as the demands on you are relentless.

"To then get out and watch games is very, very difficult, so I made sure I took that opportunity when I had less demands on my time to do that.

“We believed we were going to get a job and I wanted to be ready as I knew that the next one was going to be important after this (Luton) job firstly, then my previous one, I knew I had to be ready when I went back in.”

Meanwhile, when learning about the amount of effort that had gone into finding out about him as a player, Dewsbury-Hall added: "That’s good to hear.

"I knew that the gaffer knew about me before and watched me a lot, so that was a big factor coming here, knowing that the gaffer liked me as a player as that’s what you want when you come to a new team.

"He’s shown the trust in me and hopefully now I’m repaying that for him on the pitch."