Boss on Arsenal victory
John Still witnessed his Luton side take apart Arsenal’s youngsters on Saturday afternoon, but it was the young blood in the home dressing room that the manager was purring about in his post-match press conference.
Braces from the youthful trio of Mark Cullen, Jake Howells and Andre Gray, along with a cooly dispatched penalty from Shaun Whalley, made light work of the inexperienced Gunners, but the boss was not so dismissive of the opposition.
“Obviously we played well today, I know they’re quite young, but having said that they’re quite young, they’ve got four or five very good players, very highly rated players, and whoever you play against you’ve got to do the job,” said Still.
“We knew we were going to play against a passing team, that were going to move the ball and we knew we were going to have to work hard. Regardless of the score it wasn’t going to be a stroll in the park. You’ve got to work hard. We spoke about teams having a lot of possession, about winning the ball and attacking quickly and it couldn’t have worked better for us.”
With plus points for the Hatters all over the pitch – notably a clean sheet complementing the seven-goal haul – Still emphasised the importance of youth to his own plans, as he looks to mould Luton into promotion challengers.
“I like young players, I want to push young players.
“I see something in young Elliot (Justham) in goal and I’m going to push him. Alex Wall came on and looked a threat, he’s got pace and power for such a big man and he’s missed quite a bit of pre-season, so he’s still catching up. He’s another who I feel can become an exceptional player here.
“Now it’s up for Stevenson and Parry and those people to push on, I want them to push on in their position. And because they’re pushing on, they should be pushing the people in front of them and if the people in front of them start to falter, that’s a gap for the young ones.”
Reflecting on Luton’s pre-season preparations as a whole, Still said: “I’ve been pleased with everything, everything’s been very good from day one when we came back to now, no complaints at all. Everyone’s worked their absolute socks off, which is what you’d expect, everyone’s worked, they’ve listened, they’ve taken in what we talk about.
“I’m hoping it can keep growing, all we’ve done is planted seeds early on and there is a few shoots coming up now, but that’s got to continue, we’ve got to keep on improving.”
Luton came through the game against Arsenal relatively unscathed, with Jon Shaw being withdrawn as a precaution with a slight groin strain. The manager also provided an update on Alex Lawless, who has been forced to sit out most of the pre-season action.
“He’s just started training again. I’m hoping end of next week, he’ll certainly be good enough the following week. He’s not as far behind as some people may think because he’s done quite a bit of training.”
Meanwhile, the Town boss confirmed that the side which faces Thurrock in midweek will be “very young”, meaning that the next time the first team take to the field, it will be at Haig Avenue, Southport in the first game of the new Conference season.
So what can Town fans expect from their new look side once the action begins in earnest? Certainly, the manager, tells us, not a carbon copy of his former club Dagenham and Redbridge.
“This is an entertainment business. If you’ve got, and this is no disrespect to what I’m going to say, if you’ve got park players, you can’t play like Barcelona, because you’ll get beat every week. You’ve got to find a way of winning with what you’ve got.
“We have some very good players here, some good talent here, I think it’s the right way for them to play, which is a little bit different to the way we played at Dagenham. But I had Dagenham players then. That’s no disrespect to them because they were fantastic, got two promotions there, but they had to play in a way that was right for Dagenham, and we have to play in a way that’s right for us. I think we’re playing fast, very fast, good attacking football.
“People say about the Premier League’s a really tough league to win, Championship really hard league to win. Whatever league you’re in I don’t care, it’s tough and we have to be tough.”