EVERY word from Rob Edwards' first interview!

Rob Edwards was unveiled as the new Luton Town manager this afternoon and he sat down at Kenilworth Road to deliver his first interview!


Welcome to Kenilworth Road, Rob! You’re the new manager of Luton Town, how does it feel to be here and back in management?

“It feels amazing. It’s incredible, it’s a great feeling. It’s a wonderful football club and I want to first of all say thank you to Gary, Mick and to the board for giving me this opportunity. I don’t take it lightly, this is an amazing opportunity for me and it’s one I’m really looking forward to.”

You’ve had many conversations with Gary Sweet and the board in recent days. What has attracted you to Luton Town in that time?

“I think first of all from the outside looking in, you can see a club that is moving in the right direction and I want to straight away say, Nathan, Chris and Alan have obviously done a fantastic job. With everyone, the board, the wider staff and the players, it’s a club that is on the up, it’s looking up, they finished in the play-offs last season and they’re competing again at the right end of the table.

“It’s a club that is in a fantastic position. It’s not one where you’re coming in and fighting fires, I’ve said that before and it reminds me a little bit of Forest Green 18 months ago or so, there are similarities to that.

“It's a club that gives managers time and supports them. The conversations I have had with Gary and Mick and all of the board, I sensed a real feel of belonging straight away.”

It’s not always the case that you come into a new job with a team in such a good position in the table. How exciting a proposition is that, one point off the play-offs and 25 games to play?

“It’s a brilliant opportunity. The lads are playing well, they compete so well, you can see the honesty, you can see the talent in the group as well and again, Nathan and everyone have done a brilliant, brilliant job. Our job now is to try and continue that, continue to build on it, to recognise and keep doing the things that the lads do really well and that the club does really well. Hopefully as we go, we build, we evolve and try to add to it as well.”

No doubt the opportunity to be the manager to lead the Hatters into a new era at Power Court was also a big appeal…

“Well hopefully that will be the case because it will be incredible. To see how excited everyone is about that. First of all, being here [Kenilworth Road] is great for me because this stadium is brilliant. It’s obviously different to a lot of grounds now and you get that feeling of proper football when you come here.

“You can smell it now in the dressing room, so I’m really looking forward to being here first and getting to know the fans and building that connection really quickly. Hopefully winning football matches here but obviously long-term, the plans for the new stadium are incredible and obviously the area as well to try and help parts of the town is really, really exciting.”

You’ve just been out there on the pitch, it’ll probably be nice for you to not be an opposition player…

“I was many moons ago and I certainly felt the heat from the fans! I think it was the first year Luton were in the Championship – going back a while now when I was at Wolves! I think it was a nil-nil draw and it was a really tough game but you felt that atmosphere and whenever I have come back, as a coach or coming to watch a game, the supporters make the atmosphere here and they make it really intimidating and they get behind the lads which is what we’re going to need.”

Tell us a bit about your coaching journey, because you’ve had varied experiences at different levels…

“I’ve had an interesting nine or 10 years since I retired from playing. First of all I worked at Man City and Wolves’ academy the first year I retired so I was getting a lot of work experience there. My first proper job was the Under 18s role at Wolves which I did for around nine months or so and then moved up quite quickly with the first team.

“I did about two-and-a-half years with the first team at Wolves in the Championship, moved on and managed Telford in the National League North for a year. It was an incredible season, a lot of learning done there and it was a real tough challenge but one I can reflect on now and I learned a hell of a lot. I still lean on a lot of those experiences from that time now.

“Then I was back in at Wolves to take the Under 23s for around 18 months then I moved on to the FA. Brilliant experiences at both of those places, some brilliant people, top players, both with the Under 20s and 16s. I wouldn’t have left the FA, which was a great role, for anything, but it was a fantastic opportunity at Forest Green. A club much like this, great values and Mark Cooper before me had around five years in charge, you could see the players were used to winning and it was about trying to build something. We took that opportunity and things went well, and then we had the chance to move to a club who had just been in the Premier League, just been relegated and probably going to be competing at the top end of the Championship.

“We felt, myself and Richie Kyle that it was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. Obviously it was quite short lived but I find myself here now and I feel really excited to be Luton Town manager.”

You had the opportunity to step up to the Championship. Sadly it was short lived but what did you learn in that time?

“When you come out of the Championship and you coach at different levels, you get your teeth stuck into that. It was good to get back into the Championship and work at that level. To work with some very good players, it was a really interesting time. The transfer window was obviously quite wild as well, so there was lots of learning in that four months or so that we were there. It was too short but that is done now and I’m here and I’m really looking forward to this next challenge.”

Do you feel you have anything to prove because of the nature of that departure?

“I think we all do. When I say we, I think managers and head coaches in general always have something to prove, whether that is to yourself, your own pride and wanting to do well but we’re all competitive and we all want to win.

“You’re continuously trying to improve, trying to get better and move forward, so I think that is always the case. It doesn’t matter whether you have just won a league title and you’re going into a new league, it’s always something else. You’re always trying to prove yourself. 10 games in the league is a short period of time, it hurts your pride and you want to get back out there and you want to show people.”

What does it take to get out of this division because this club came very close to doing so last season…

“The club, again, from the outside looks like it shares a lot of those things. In the times I was involved in successful dressing rooms at this level, there was a great spirit and a real togetherness. Blackpool and Norwich both had that. Good players obviously but everyone aiming for that same common goal and they weren’t afraid to tell people but it’s because people cared and they wanted to achieve something.

“There was an inner belief as well, almost without people saying it but there was a belief there. We had good managers – Ian Holloway and Paul Lambert. Two respected managers who had really good leadership, a clear direction, clear plan and they had the whole club on board. I can see a lot of these things are already in place at this football club and that is why it’s exciting. You can never guarantee that you are going to win football matches or get promoted but you can do all of those things I have spoken about. You can have a clear plan, you can have a togetherness, a spirit, you can work hard every single day and I think it’s important to have those aims and I think it’s important to strive as high as possible because this year, above any other, it’s very tight and I would say anything is possible.”

You are big on people, aren’t you. You have met several here today, and for you it’s that whole collective feel that is so important…

“I think if you’re going to achieve things, it needs to be everyone together. Again, that is what Nathan did very well and I think you can see when you watch Luton Town play, you can see the players give everything for each other. You can see that gives the connection to the supporters as well but of course it’s not just about the players and it’s not just about the football staff. It’s everyone. The supporters are the most important people at any football club. They were here before us and they will be here after us. The community as well, it’s about everyone coming together to achieve something and that is really important to keep progressing a football club. I think that is the beauty of it, this time now the club has been doing well and that is why Nathan has moved on. His great work has been recognised and he’s gone to a higher level and that is brilliant.

“It’s not a case now of having to change loads of things, it’s recognising this football club does loads of things brilliantly and I have to make sure we continue all of that stuff and then hopefully in time add to it.”

You’ve worked with some of the top young talent in the country with Wolves and England, development of young players will no doubt be high on your priority list but the squad already here must excite you…

“It does! We have to wait a little while but the lads need their break as well. It has been a really hectic programme and I think everyone needs a bit of a breathier before we go again. I can see a really talented squad, a really well-balanced squad and like I said, a team that knows each other very well and it includes players who have been here a number of years.

“They know the club well, they know what it means to the supporters and of course they came really close [to promotion] last year. In my experience of that before when I took over at Forest Green, it was when the club came really close and missed out in the semi-finals and they wanted to go further again, they were hungry to do that and I’m sure a lot of the lads are.”

You earned a reputation for your teams being front-footed but in terms of style of play, what can Luton Town fans expect from a Rob Edwards team?

“What we have to recognise is the brilliant stuff that is happening here now. We need to keep the grit, determination and hard work, the compactness, the organisation the players are already doing extremely well. Then going forward, of course we want to be able to evolve, I want to keep all those things and in many instances you will be. We want to be able to attack fast, we want to excite people and play attacking football. You also have to have a balance and be able to defend well, but we want to play an exciting brand of football and we want people to enjoy watching the team.”

Finally, if you had one message for the Luton Town fans, what would it be?

“First of all it would be continue to get behind the lads. I know they do that really well. I understand there might be a one or two people who are unsure because of our history, I get that, and it’s down to us to prove how much this club already means to us and how much we’re going to fight to get success here. I can’t wait to see them in a few weeks’ time.”

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