Town midfielder Mpanzu insists staying 'mentally strong' has helped him get back to his best for Luton

Long-serving Pelly believes his recent displays had been a bit 'here and there'

By Mike Simmonds
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 12:28 pm
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is congratulated by manager Nathan Jones following Last night's 2-0 win at Reading - pic: Gareth Owen
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is congratulated by manager Nathan Jones following Last night's 2-0 win at Reading - pic: Gareth Owen

Town midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu believes that staying strong mentally means he is beginning to perform to the best of his capabilities again after going through a difficult period on the pitch ahead of the Christmas break.

The 27-year-old had been, by his own admission, below bar for the Hatters, not quite able to hit the heights that he previously shown during his lengthy association with the club, which led to a few supporters beginning to question his place in the side.

However, after a brief cameo in the recent 4-0 FA Cup success over Harrogate, Mpanzu impressed in the 3-2 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, before producing an excellent display during Wednesday night's 2-0 success at Reading.

When asked if he was happy with his recent outings, the former West Ham youngster said: “I think they’ve risen, I was a bit here and there, but now this run of games, I’ve performed arguably to the best of my capabilities.

“I can't sit off now, the games are coming thick and fast.

"So I’ve got to keep my head level headed, keep churning out these performances and hopefully that will show on the pitch.

"It's football, you’re human you can make mistakes, you've just got to battle through it, be mentally strong.

"I think that's what I've done and here we are getting six points out of a couple of days and hopefully by the end of the week (against Sheffield United) we can complete that.”

Although Mpanzu was struggling for his best form, he still kept his place in the starting XI, except for the 3-0 win at Blackpool, where he came on at half time for Henri Lansbury anyway.

Boss Nathan Jones stated in December, that he will often play the midfielder through any dips in form, to ensure he comes out the other side of it.

Mpanzu, who recently moved to 18th in the club's all-time appearance list and has now turned out 320 times for the club, was pleased to know the manager is in his corner.

He said: “It’s football, sometimes it happens, regardless of what's going on you’ve got to keep trying to perform better.

"Hopefully that’s the end of the little barren run that I had and hopefully I keep putting in performance for the fans, for the club, the manager believes in me, hopefully everyone’s backing me.

"I know they do and the performances I'm putting out on the pitch, so hopefully I can keep going in the forthcoming games.

“That’s all I need really, everyone's going to have their opinions, whether it’s fans whether it’s players, whether it's managers.

"But the manager is the main person who’s going to play you week in week out or leave you on the bench, so when selected you’ve got to be ready."

Mpanzu, who could have moved on from Kenilworth Road in the summer as a free agent, only opting pen to paper in July just before the season started, was one of Town's stand-out performers at the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Wednesday night as a woeful Royals side were comfortably beaten.

Eager to get the ball from his defenders, he kept play moving well, with the odd trademark driving run forward that drew a foul from his opponents.

He also had a big hand in Luton's crucial second goal, as his threaded pass was perfect for Elijah Adebayo to pick out the run of Allan Campbell who slid home a second in as many games.

Mpanzu added: "Elijah's been telling me, 'put them balls in, I’m going to make the runs.'

"So today it finally clicked, finally works and Al was on the end of it.

"Al also could have scored again when Elijah’s turned in the box, while I don’t know how offside Elijah is when Fred’s (Onyedinma) shanked the ball.

"He said he had a shot, it is a shot, he hasn't crossed it, I don’t know how far he’s off, but we’ll take a 2-0.

"We'll take a clean sheet too, we need to keep our clean sheets, more, more more, so we’ll take a 2-0 today."