Huge thank you to everyone who has agreed to take part in our Fan Opinion feature. Today, Alfie Mayfield is up with a thorough and in depth analysis of Luton Town.
You’ll be able to catch Part Two over the weekend and we’re hoping to have more from Alfie over the coming weeks, in the meantime you can find him on Twitter @_alfiemayfield
How has the season gone for you so far?
During pre-season every Luton fan seemed to have contrasting expectations for the year ahead. Many claimed they would be happy with just consolidation after so many years in the depths of Non-League and League 2, but on the other hand there was certainly no shortage of fans who expected Luton to be genuine contenders for automatic promotion or the play-offs at least. It was quite well documented that we had a tough start with Portsmouth away followed by Sunderland at home, concluded by a trip to Peterborough.
Performance wise, bar the first 45 minutes against Posh, we started well and the team showed glimpses of real promise at this level. Over the next month results started to pick up and the performances remained impressive but the general consensus between the majority of the fans seemed to suggest that mid-table and play-off challengers was the height of their expectations which for some was underwhelming and for others brilliant. Since the start of October however the form has been unbelievable, despite a solitary defeat to Barnsley at Oakwell, Luton have risen seven places from 10th to 3rd winning six of the seven league games. In that time we’ve scored 20 goals and now look like putting pressure on Sunderland and league leaders Portsmouth.
Jones has got Luton playing some of their finest football for a long time and there’s a real sense of expectation around the club at the moment. This season is starting to take a similar shape to the 2017/18 promotion winning season and an interesting fact on Twitter from @LutonTownExile showed that Luton are in fact only one win behind where they were at this stage last season and we all know how that ended up.
Away from the league we’ve had varying success in other competitions, getting out of our Checkatrade Trophy group before losing on penalties to Southend, putting in a wonderful performance at West Brom in the Carabao cup back in August and getting a great away tie at Sheffield Wednesday in the FA cup which will be a real good tester to see if the current squad could cut it at the level above. All in all this season has been a real success so far with some wonderful performances and real competition for places.
Who has been your key player and why?
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, without a shadow of a doubt! Ask any Luton fan and they’ll reply with the same. This time last year he was out of the starting XI and putting in some fairly underwhelming performances in the Checkatrade Trophy. Many Luton fans would have been happy to see the back of him and would probably have been willing to drive Pelly to any club offering to take him.
However, he’s been a revelation since returning to the starting 11 following Luke Berry’s horror injury at the back end of last season. Jones claimed he was told that he’d never be able to keep Pelly fit but he’s managed that since taking the reigns at the club. Keeping Pelly in form was a completely different matter but this season every Luton fan has been singing his praises as well as opposition fans praising his performances in their respective forums.
It was stated on a recent D3D4 podcast that everything good that Luton did went through him, and despite him not contributing as many goals as fellow midfielders Shinnie, Lee and Grant, he keeps all the attacking moves ticking over. The games against Plymouth and Bradford are prime examples of this, and it will be one hell of a struggle to keep him this summer.
Honourable mentions must go to Matty Pearson, who has become a fan favourite in his short time at the club so far, putting in many solid performances and popping up with two important goals, Andrew Shinnie who has added goals to his game and been a catalyst for Luton’s form as his reintroduction has coincided with the current run, as well as top goalscorer Elliot Lee who has taken to League One like a duck to water and despite playing in a deeper position looks set to better his goalscoring return from last season.
Which player has disappointed you the most this season and why?
So far this season no player has been a disappointment. Everyone has picked up where they left off last season and the fierce competition for places has meant that injuries and suspensions are now no longer as significant as they had been in previous years as the performances don’t seem to be impacted by players missing. Shown most prominently by the fact that the majority of Luton’s current run was achieved without talisman Danny Hylton.
Although every player has an off day and makes mistakes none have been significant and it hasn’t been a consistent problem. James Collins didn’t score for the first ten games until he netted against Charlton in a 2-2 draw but he was by no means a disappointment as his work rate and hold up play compensated for his lack of goals. Collins is now firing on all cylinders and has scored seven league goals so far this season. James Shea dropped a clanger against Shrewsbury, dropping the ball thinking that Luton had a free kick only for the alert Lee Angol to take it off his toes and put Shrewsbury 2-1 up. This game ended 3-2 to Luton so no harm was done, and although Shea’s kicking hasn’t been great this year he’s kept seven clean sheets to this point and has made some very important stops.
The only real disappointment so far this season was Eunan O’Kane. In his brief tenure at the club O’Kane showed glimpses of real quality and ability that was above League One level, but unfortunately this was cut short by an awful leg break in the dying minutes of the 1-0 home victory over Bristol Rovers. O’Kane had been the best of a bad bunch in a poor Leeds side during the 2017/18 season and seeing as he wasn’t part of Marcelo Bielsa’s plans a loan to a lower division was an opportunity to get his confidence back.
Many fans of other clubs thought O’Kane was an absolute coup for Luton. Given how well Luton have played without him around has softened the blow, but I’m sure I won’t be the only Luton fan left disappointed by what could have been had he not been injured and how he would’ve contributed to the team at this moment in time.