The gaffer looks forward to family time and festive football
Soon after holding his weekly Press conference in his office at the Town’s training ground this afternoon, Hatters boss Nathan Jones discovered that Father Christmas had forgotten him in his staff’s Secret Santa session.
And while head of sports science Jared Roberts-Smith was the butt of the other coaches’ jokes for missing the gaffer out in the Ely Way grotto, Jones had his mind on other things.
The Hatters boss had praised the way Roberts-Smith had looked after his squad in the first half of the season to ensure that by and large, they had been fighting fit – and are so, apart from the long-term casualties from last season, for the first of the festive games against Colchester on Boxing Day.
Jones is looking forward to his first Christmas in charge of the Town, having joined in January last year and steered his team to fifth spot, ready for a New Year push for automatic promotion to Sky Bet League One.
“We’ll do our normal preparation for a game,” said Jones. “Christmas is a most wonderful family time. We want people to enjoy it and be together, because that’s why you work and that’s why you do all these things.
“But for a footballer it’s an important time and we are asking them for a level of professionalism, that they’ll give us because they are a great group and I’ve got a group I know I can trust. We’ll have our usual preparation and we’ll be ready.”
Asked whether the players will be in for training on Christmas Day, Jones said: “They may do. It’s a different thing that we do with them on Christmas Day, but all that’s important is that we are ready and we are focussed for the Colchester game, which I know we will be.”
The Welshman often refers to his faith in interviews, and he will be going to church ahead of the Colchester game as usual on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a good family time,” said the 43-year-old. “Your religion is day to day, it’s not just Christmas time that you do anything extra. My family are up today from Wales and we’ll go to a service tomorrow evening and then we’ll have a nice Christmas Day together, and we’ll enjoy that. It’s an important time.
“It’s the day your saviour was born, and it’s what we do. I’m a real good Christmas person because I love Christmas, I love having the big family together, the food. It’s a festive time and I want our fans to have all that, and our players – within reason – can do that, because it’s what we do day in, day out and one day at Christmas won’t ruin all that.”
What Jones wants most of all from the Christmas is not his fitness guru’s present, but the perfect gift of six hard-earned points from two home games, with Barnet to follow on New Year’s Eve, to head into 2017 dragging on the coattails of the top three.
“We want six points – we make no bones about it,” said Jones, whose side have lost just one of their last 13 league matches and just two in 18 in all competitions.
“Realistically we want to win every game. That’s probably not possible, but these are two games we want to win and they are winnable because we are at home. Any game for us is winnable, because we are a good squad. But anything can happen in this league.
“Colchester are in a good vein of form. They’ve changed their system, they have good players and they came down last year so they have enough experience in their ranks to do well.
“But as I keep saying, it’s all about what we do. If we are right at it and we are all about how we can play, then it’ll take some team to beat us.
“We always look at how we can impose our shape on other teams. That’s what we do. We have to find ways. We have a number of ways that we can do that and we are looking to evolve into a more rounded team. We are doing that.
“If we do not move forward and evolve as a squad and as a team, then I’m not doing my job because I’ve been here now almost a year and we are a good side, and we are getting better week in, week out.
“We are better than when I first came in. We are better than we were after the first month. And as months go by, I envisage us being a better team.”
*Kick-off is 3pm on Boxing Day and although cash turnstiles may be available on the day, it is best to pre-book tickets as detailed here
The ticket office is open from 9am until midday tomorrow, Christmas Eve, and from 9am on Boxing Day ahead of the game. Club shop and ticket office opening times are here