Next Luton Town Manager: Who will be in charge at Kenilworth Road next season?
Following an unsuccessful spell with Stoke City at the end of which he was sacked, former Hatters boss Nathan Jones has returned to Kenilworth Road to take the reins as Luton Town manager once again.
As with all other sports, football is on hold right now and fans up and down the country are eagerly awaiting it’s return, however in the midst the coronavirus pandemic, Luton Town have dispensed with the services of Graeme Jones with the Hatters boss having been in charge at Kenilworth Road for under a year. The Bedfordshire club find themselves staring relegation back to League One squarely in the face, assuming of course that the season isn’t declared void as might well prove the case.
The Hatters have endured a thoroughly dismal campaign with just 35 points collected from their 37 league outings and at the end of play they were six points adrift of safety, however when the Championship campaign was prematurely ended due to the current pandemic, Jones’ men had strengthened their case with three wins and two draws from their last six matches. They have hauled themselves off the foot of the league table and clearly whoever takes the reins at Kenilworth Road will have some solid ground on which to build.
Jones was dismissed from his position due to the financial hit that the club have taken from the coronavirus crisis and the official statement is that no applications for the position will be considered at the current time. In the meantime, Mick Harford will once again be installed as interim boss for the second time in 15 months although the bookies have been busy pricing up a possible permanent replacement for Jones.
Current favourite in the race to succeed Jones in the hot-seat is former Hatters boss Nathan Jones. Jones left Kenilworth Road to manage Stoke City in January 2019, however he left the Bet365 Stadium in November 2019 and many believe that he will make a timely return to Luton, BetVictor Bookmakers going odds-on at 4/9 that this will be the case.
Current caretaker boss Mick Harford is amongst the favourites to be given the gig on a permanent basis. Harford took the reins following the departure of Nathan Jones in January 2019 and he remained in the hot-seat until the end of the 2018/19 campaign, whereupon he gave way to Graeme Jones. He built on the success of his predecessor and lifted the Hatters up to the Championship, therefore he too would likely prove a popular appointment amongst fans, BetVictor Bookies going 10/1 that he is next in the hot seat.
Current Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson is another name in the frame, the long-term Steelmen boss having been at Fir Park for over three years. At the premature end of the 2019/20 campaign, Motherwell sat third in the Scottish Premiership table behind both halves of the Old Firm and he is currently an 8/1 punt to take over the vacant hot-seat at Kenilworth Road.
Luton Town Manager Next Manager Odds from BetVictor Bookmakers
4/9 – Nathan Jones
8/1 – Stephen Robinson
10/1 – Mick Harford
12/1 – Steve Rutter
14/1 – Michael Flynn
16/1 – Paul Heckingbottom
20/1 – Michael Duff
20/1 – Paul Hurst
20/1 – Micky Mellon
As expected, Luton Town finished the season in pole position in the League One table despite a slump in form during the closing few weeks of the campaign and as such they will head up to the Championship for the start of next season, no mean achievement for a side which were plying their trade in the non-league wilderness just a few seasons ago. Nathan Jones received many plaudits for this success while he was in charge at Kenilworth Road although following his departure to Stoke City earlier in the campaign, it was left to Mick Harford to continue the good work done by his predecessor.
Having been handed the reins on a temporary basis until the end of the season, Harford succeeded in guiding the Hatters to their second successive promotion and while many names were being bandied about regarding his probable successor, the likelihood of him being in charge at Kenilworth Road at the start of next season remains very high indeed. To this end, the bookmakers have closed the book with regard to the next Luton Town manager betting market and as such we can only assume that Harford will be in the hot-seat at the start of 2018/19. He has certainly proven himself to be an excellent manager although it remains to be seen how his side settle into life at the higher level.
At one point there was a real danger that the Hatters might surrender the League One title to main rivals Barnsley following a poor run during which Harford’s men managed just a single win from their five outings throughout April, however a 3-1 victory over Oxford United on the final day of the campaign was enough to secure the trophy and they will be looking forward to having a crack at the whip in the Championship.
Either way, the fans will almost certainly be happy for Harford to continue in his present role and should Luton Town get their Championship campaign off to a solid start, then the likelihood of him being handed a permanent contact would seem very strong indeed.
Mick Harford remains in the hot-seat as Luton Town close in on the League One title. The Hatters are three points clear at the summit of the division with just two games left to play and they could conceivably win promotion should they win at Burton Albion on Saturday and other results go their way. While Harford himself is looking to downplay the impact that he has made at the club since he took the reins from Nathan Jones earlier in the season, there can surely be no denying that the interim manager’s fingerprints are all over the side’s success. Indeed prior to the departure of Jones to Stoke City, Harford had helped identify and secure the signatures of many of Luton’s key players as head of recruitment.
With regard to Luton Town’s next permanent manager, things have gone pretty quiet on this particular market and it is almost certain that the fans would be more than happy for Harford to take them forward in the Championship. The board will certainly be taking his record into account when searching for a permanent replacement for Nathan Jones and it remains to be seen whether the current interim boss fits the bill. His record over the past few months will certainly be hard for the club bosses to ignore and while his current contract expires at the end of 2018/19, it is conceivable that he may well be in the hot-seat at the start of the next campaign.
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Mick Harford has been holding the reins at Kenilworth Road since the departure of Nathan Jones to Stoke City earlier this season and he has continued to steer the Hatters towards what is now looking to be an inevitable promotion to the Championship. Luton Town’s amazing unbeaten league run continued when they held Plymouth Argyle to a goal-less draw at the weekend, a disappointing result for Harford’s men perhaps but one which keeps them firmly at the top of the League One table.
Harford is due to remain in charge until the end of the season, however it has become known that recently-sacked West Bromwich Albion assistant Graeme Jones had already been pencilled in to take over at Kenilworth Road during the summer. Jones was shown the door alongside Baggies manager Darren Moore following a hugely disappointing 1-1 draw with Championship strugglers Ipswich Town last time out and it has been reported that Albion have put a compensation package in place which would see Jones take the reins at Luton Town on 1st June, by which point they will likely be looking forward to a season of Championship football at Kenilworth Road.
48-year-old Jones had a major part to play in tactics at the Hawthorns although with just a single home win from their last nine outings at the Hawthorns, it was clear that the West Brom board were going to make a few changes. Albion are hoping to have a new man at the helm within the next couple of days and Luton may look to move forward Jones’ appointment.
Luton Town really need to get this right. Nathan Jones will be a big miss at Kenilworth Road and he leaves the Hatters in a very strong position to make it into the Championship at the end of the campaign. Whoever takes charge will be placed into a ‘no-win’ situation – Luton fail to gain promotion and he will get the blame; Luton gain promotion and Nathan Jones will get most of the credit. That’s just the way things are.
Indeed things remain tight at the top end of the League One table and the Hatters have very stiff opposition in their battle for promotion in the form of table-topping Portsmouth, Sunderland and Charlton Athletic. Promotion is by no means a certainty and while Luton have been putting in some impressive performances of late, so too have the sides around them in the table. The Hatters have avoided defeat in their last fourteen league outings but they have been forced to share the spoils in the last three and in the meantime it has been left to caretaker boss Mick Harford to steer the side back to winning ways.
Harford isn’t one of the leading contenders to be handed the reins on a permanent basis at odds of 20/1, however former captain Stephen Robinson is an early frontrunner in that regard at Evens, the 44-year-old currently in charge of Scottish Premiership side Motherwell and certain to be a popular appointment with the fans having made almost 200 appearances for the Hatters.
Former Portsmouth and Oxford manager Michael Appleton appears to be his main rival at the moment at 6/1 while former Ipswich Town boss Paul Hurst is another name in the frame at 8/1.
The Hatters currently sit second in the League One table with recently departed Jones having spent three years at Kenilworth Road and leaving Luton Town on the back of an excellent unbeaten league run stretching back to October.