Proud Jones discusses reaching his hundred for the Hatters
Hatters boss Nathan Jones will be hugely proud when he leads his side out on to the Kenilworth Road surface for his 100th game in charge at the weekend.
The 43-year-old, who was appointed manager in January 2016 following the sacking of John Still, began with a 0-0 draw at home to Cambridge United, before then winning 2-0 at Mansfield Town.
Since then, Jones has enjoyed an impressive record of 48 victories, 27 draws and 24 defeats from his 99 matches, as his time in charge of one year and 292 days sees him sit 31st in the list of longest serving managers in England too.
Speaking about his milestone, Jones said: “I’m very proud of that.
“The shelf life for managers for this level or any level is shorter than my reign so far, so I’ve managed to up the average slightly.
“I’m delighted to get to 100 games at a fantastic football club.
“That is one milestone but the bigger thing for me is the work we’ve done between my first and my 100th game.
“We’ve made great strides on and off the pitch, we’ve implemented a lot, I’ve had great backing from the board from my staff, my chief exec and the players, and especially the fans.
“It’s been a wonderful time and I’m very proud of that and I’d like to thank everyone for helping me get to this level.”
On just how he has improved things on and off the field since taking charge of the club, Jones continued: “We’re in a good position in terms of now, this year as we haven’t lost many games, which has been one thing.
“First of all we had to implement that we were hard to beat, which meant we had to implement certain things to make us hard to beat.
“Then we had to improve ourselves in possession going forward so that we won more games and I think we’ve made that progression.
“The first year I was here we had some good away wins, although we struggled a little bit at home, but we stopped the rot, we weren’t losing consecutive games and we got ourselves out of the little bit of the slump we were win.
“Then the second year, we really did establish ourselves as a top side in the league I think, though we drew with quite a lot of sides.
“We lost less than any other team in the league, only nine games, which is fantastic over a 46 game season, but we drew too many and I think that cost us automatic (promotion).
“Now this year we’ve improved slightly because again we haven’t lost many and we’re drawing less and winning more, so there’s been a constant progression which is very nice.
“While improving results we’ve lowered the average age of the squad, we’ve improved the quality of the player we’ve had here and the surroundings have been fantastic as well.”
Jones also boasts an impressive points per game ratio of 1.75 during his time at the helm, a record for any manager’s completing a century of matches in charge of the club.
The Luton chief was quick to praise everyone at the club, particularly the fans for helping him on his way to achieving such a stat, as he said: “I’m very proud of that.
“I’m very conscious some managers would have been in higher divisions, but all I can do is affect what I can affect.
“I’ve got fantastic backing here and I know it’s a cliche and managers, I think are blase at times, big the fans up, but they’ve been immense to me, absolutely immense.
“They’re a difficult crowd at times, but they’ve given me patience, they’ve backed me, they’ve trusted me.
“Yes, there’s been certain ones who sometimes get impatient, but on the whole I’ve been backed and been backed my board and backed my chief exec and I don’t just mean financially.
“They’ve given me the autonomy to make the right decisions I think and then with the players we’ve recruited too.
“The players we had here bought into what I did and worked hard, but the players I have here now, these are like sponges.
“They want to learn, want to get better, they have quality as well and I’m very, very pleased and in a very privileged position.”
Although in his first managerial role, Jones believes he had given himself a good grounding before opting to dip his toe in the water of the top job.
He said: “I had a good education. This is my first job, but bare in mind I was assistant manager at Yeovil, where it’s a fantastic club with really good people, but it’s a bit more rustic there.
“At times I was shopping in Asda for the players, we’d do the scouting, do the filming, do all the recruitment, watching games until ridiculous hours.
“I was doing the coaching, doing the warm ups, I was playing, I had a massive, massive learning curve there with Terry Skiverton as the manager, we really learnt on the job.
“Then I went and took an U21s side and learnt there under Paul (Hart) and people who were at Charlton, Chris Powell and then I had a great education (at Brighton), learning under Chris Hughton, Sammy Hyypia and Oscar Garcia.
“I’ve learned on the job here, but I felt I was ready for this job and god willing I’ve proved that.”
When asked what sort of things he has learned, both good and bad, during his stint at Kenilworth Road too, Jones, who admitted there is very little time to actually reflect on the job he is doing, added: “Every day you learn about the league, learn about players, learn about decision making, learn how to cope with certain things.
“Results dictate quite a lot, and obviously I’ve learned a lot about myself handling pressure.
“I’ve learned that I don’t sleep well after defeats, so it’s been a massive, massive learning curve, but I think life’s a learning curve.
“I think a managerial position within life is one and don’t think you ever stop learning.”
“There’s (players) moods, certain things like injuries, recoveries, loss of form and like we have at the minute, a big, big number in form, chomping at the bit.
“You have to manage that, and managing your staff and delegating.
“Then I’m very ambitious, hands on and controlling and I’ve had to relinquish a lot of that.
“So there’s so many things in a managerial position to learn, but it’s wonderful, it really is.
“There’s no better feeling than when you win as I would say from 10 to five to midnight, because that relief and you can breathe out and then you wake up Sunday morning and you’re immediately back into something.
“So there’s usually about six, seven hours of the week where it’s the real enjoyable but then the rest is just relentless and you’re back on to it.
“How long you can keep that up is one thing, but it’s a wonderful, wonderful job.
“When you’re at a wonderful club with good people right throughout the club and I don’t say this flippantly, good people throughout the club, I work with good people, I’ve got great players, players that want to learn, players that want to get better and it’s fantastic, it’s a great club to be at.”