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Club News


1 February 2013

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The swarms of attention and recognition surrounding the football club was put to one side this week as the Hatters prepare for Blue Square Bet Premier action away at Barrow.

In recent weeks all eyes have been on the club's continued giant-killing and fairytale story in the FA Cup but after a brief spell away from league action manager Paul Buckle has his sights set firmly on the more pressing matter, three points.

“I'm sure since we have been in this league we have been expected to win every game but that hasn't happened,” said Buckle when addressing the media on Thursday.

“My job is to get us out the Blue Square Bet Premier and it's no good tip-toeing around it any longer. We are going to need a mixture of skill, grit, determination and ruggedness. We can't just think we are going to do it with skill.

“All of our strikers are in double figures which is tremendous, but we have not had enough clean sheets, I have not had enough leaders and hopefully now we have sorted that out.”

The Hatters started off the home calendar year with a 6-1 win over the Bluebirds but Buckle will not be caught up on past performances and remains cautious that this game remains in the balance.

“There is nothing wrong with Barrow from what I have seen recently,” he said. “They have been to Newport and beat them, we don't need any bigger reminder that this is not an easy game. Luton don't get an easy game. If you go into a game light-hearted or thinking it owes you something you will come unstuck.”

The Hatters will look to put their journey to domestic success back on the rails this weekend at Holker Street after the FA Cup champagne was put on ice after a midweek defeat to Grimsby.

“Footballers are all human beings,” he said. “If you look at the MK Dons result after a magnificent win at a Premier League club they come unstuck against Yeovil. Millwall got beat after winning against Villa and we've been beaten by Grimsby - the one difference about us is that we have changed the team.”

Despite the defeat at Blundell Park Buckle reiterated that going out of the FA Trophy could help their progress rather than hinder the development of the season.

“In many ways, I think all Luton fans will agree with me, we will sacrifice the FA Trophy,” said the Town boss.

“I know there is a medal at the end of it but we've been to Wembley. We've been there and had the nice feeling of playing there but we've also had the feeling of losing, so the biggest thing for us is the league and the FA Cup. 

“Your not going to sniff at trying to get into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup but ultimately now every game is taken like a cup final, and that starts Saturday.”

Buckle added defender Steve McNulty to the Hatters ranks on deadline day to put grit back into his defensive mix up, a quality he insists will prove vital in the coming months.

He said: “We have to get some real nastiness into our game, we have to be up for it. You can't afford to be in a wall, if you look at the second goal the wall just collapses a bit and people in that wall have been told in no uncertain terms if they do that they won't put a Luton shirt on again. 

“It's definitely  a time to stand up and be counted, forget all the nice football we've just got to win now.”

Buckle used the versatility and strength in the squad to rotate the side against Grimsby on Tuesday, a gamble that prior to the cup exit had worked. Buckle insists that changing personnel to distinguish the problems that cost them so dear is of vital importance.

“The team has changed quite a bit, we've had players that are cup tied, players that are trophy tied, we've then got to the situation where we're competing on all three fronts,” said the manager.

“We came unstuck the other night but the most pleasing thing to come out of that was that we have to improve. We have to improve with balls up and balls into the 18-yard-box. You probably get about 15 to 20 seconds before a free-kick comes in to organise for a ball coming in or the goalkeeper kicking the ball up. 

“What I want is someone in the back four, to turn around and say 'this is how we are going to do it, you come here, you go there and let's clear this ball'.

“The ball that came into us at Grimsby wasn't a well-worked goal is it, it was a poor goal that put us on the back foot and we need to eradicate that from our game and the only way to do that is change personnel.”

This week the Hatters' FA Cup fifth round tie with Millwall was announced as one of the televised fixtures generating more excitement and interest around the football club. 

The Hatters boss was also presented with the F& C Investments performance of the week accolade to recognise the Hatters fourth round triumph against Norwich City and Buckle spoke of his delight and caution about a frantic week at Kenilworth Road.

“I'm absolutely thrilled with it,” said Buckle upon news of the Hatter tie being televised.

“It's what the FA Cup is all about, its created a lot of money, a lot of interest and made a lot of supporters happy. We've been inundated with well dones but even after the Norwich game I wasn't jumping up and down. Obviously I was delighted when the goal went in of course, but I wasn't in the face of anybody.
“I was told to smile after but that is because I so dearly want to get the football club back to the Football League but I keep saying we wont do that if there's weakness in the team and its my job over the last 20 games or so that every player that goes out and puts the Luton Town shirt on is as strong as a lion.” 

The Town squad will make the long journey to Barrow in somewhat different surroundings to last Saturday at Carrow Road. Buckle wants his side to replicate that mentality that saw the world take notice in the FA Cup and push onto success this campaign.

He said: “Everybody is serving a purpose at the moment, I'm really really pleased at where we are at this moment in time but our focus now is on Barrow. We've all got to try and re-create that buzz and atmosphere and that will to win we have shown in the cup. If we do that and win our games in hand we are right up there.”

Accolades, well wishers and praise has been heaped upon the manager's shoulders this week culminating in him landing the Blue Square Bet Premier manager of the month award for January but ever the team player Buckle shifted the praise to equal surroundings.

“Anything I get put my way with my name on it may as well have all the staff's name on it, all the players and supporters,” said the modest manager.

“There is no way we could have done the FA Cup run, we've had a lot of cup games, one thing I really hope now is that we can concentrate on the league because its been split up and that's not been easy. 

“Anything I get in terms of manager of the month, or anything at all, should have all the staff's name on it, all the players name on it and all the supporters and I sincerely mean that because there is no way we could have gone to Norwich, there's no way I could have gone to Norwich on my own, this is what I've tried to cultivate since I have been at the club, togetherness.”

The victory at Norwich on Saturday was the first Hatters away win since the turn of the year but the last Hatters away triumph in the league came against Forest Green Rovers back in October. The Town boss has his sights set firmly on rectifying their away form to match their peerless home performances in order to accomplish their seasons ambition of promotion.

“I think our away form was excellent,” said the boss. “Our away form was a bit patchy and we've sort of role reversed really, if we can marry the two together we will be okay. 

“We need to show grit and determination away from home, I think now with Steve McNulty we can now really get the balance right. In fairness to the players, its not an excuse, it's a different game to Woking where you couldn't play football, touch and go weather the game should have been on at Newport, it's not excuses it's a fact. 

“Everything before has gone, its history, I'm not interested in that, what I am interested in is Barrow on Saturday and we've got to go out there and mean business.”

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