Date:Tuesday May 8 2007
After the euphoria of being saved from the John Gurney regime, followed by great surprise that Mike Newell turned into a half decent manager and brought promotion to the Championship against the odds, last season (2005/6) was a good one of consolidation.
Having finished tenth after holding our own for the best part of the season before our small squad suffered from injuries and suspension and the play-offs hopes faded away, we all looked forward to this season with the hope that improvement in depth and quality of the squad would follow, and that it would not take too much more than that to improve by four positions and take a play-off spot.
Little happened until July and then things moved quickly. Luton began with a 4-0 humbling of Hitchin Town and a creditable performance in a 1-2 home defeat by Premiership Fulham, amidst speculation that Leeds United wanted Howard and Nicholls for £700K the pair. Newell deemed the offer derisory and Carlos foolishly commented on speculation that Watford wanted his services, when he stated that he would be happy to go there. However, Watford did not fancy paying more than a million for him and the matter died down.
Luton signed Richard Langley, who had fallen from grace since his heady days at QPR when he looked like a future England player, and had had a very poor season at Cardiff City. It was hoped that he would work hard and recapture his full potential, but it was not to happen.
Luton embarked on a quick trip to Sweden for two matches, but not before Kevin Blackwell had parted with 700,000 sovs for want-away skipper Kevin Nicholls, who had been miffed by the offer of a mere 1 year extension to his contract. Ironically, Newell said at the time that he could not offer more for a player of his age, something he apparently forgot when handing a three-year extension to Marlon Beresford later in the season!
Next Steve Howard was off-loaded to Derby County for £1 million, which at the time seemed good business for the Town, until a properly trained, slimmer and fit Howard looked a different player within two months of joining them.
After an extended trial period, Lewis Emanuel was signed from Bradford as cover for left back and left midfield. Still a youngster with good pace and a good tackler, he looked to be a good signing and was to give a reasonable season to the Town.
Luton won their first Swedish friendly 4-0 and Newell stated that he had targets for players coming in and he would be doing business very soon.
Luton won their final friendly 9-0 in Sweden and returned home.
Speculation abounded that Luton were giving trials to Colchester skipper Sam Stockley and were chasing Wycombe`s Danny Senda, but although the rumours were very strong at the time neither came to fruition.
Newell also stated that he was awaiting Chris Shuker`s decision over a new contract at Barnsley before making a move for him. He refused the offer and walked out on the club and signed for ……. Tranmere Rovers, with Newell nowhere to be seen.
Meanwhile Mike Newell agreed a fee for Adam Boyd with Hartlepool, and we awaited the player`s decision on the move.
Boyd signed next day for £500K and Barnet gave the Town a wake up call beating them by 2-1.
Luton were linked with Kevin Kyle, but nothing came of it as July became August and there were 31 days to finalise permanent transfers before the window closed.
Luton`s Youngsters lifted the Beds Premier Cup after a convincing 5-1 win over SSML Premier Division Biggleswade United, with Ricky Hill`s son Shane playing a big role in the victory but he disappeared from the radar without comment from the club.
On the eve of the season, Mike Newell said, several months after Bill Tomlins had announced it as a fait accompli, that he was ready to sign a new contract with Luton.
The bookmakers had Luton 33/1 14th favourites for the Championship title with Leeds fourth favourites at 8/1 and Southend (150/1) Colchester and Barnsley both 250/1 as favourites for relegation.
Luton began the season on a high with a fairly comprehensive 2-0 defeat of Leicester.
Leon Barnett opened the scoring with a powerful header from a Lewis Emanuel corner from the right, and then went on to give an excellent performance to show why several Premiership clubs, including Portsmouth and Everton were keeping him under observation. Edwards struck a sweet volley to add a second.
New signings Emanuel and Richard Langley were in the starting line up, but Adam Boyd was deemed short of match fitness, and began on the bench.
Chris Coyne and Sol Davis signed contract extensions until July 2009, and Luton went to Sheffield Wednesday on the first Tuesday to secure a 1-0 victory with Lewis Emanuel striking the winning goal, and the future looked rosy.
Luton bid for Dean Leacock but the defender opted for Derby in a £375K deal.
Luton`s next game was to begin well with the Town taking a 2-0 lead at Norwich with goals from Rowan Vine and Dean Morgan but with Carlos Edwards, Lewis Emanuel and Markus Heikkinen all going off injured, Luton, for the first of what was to be many times this season, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with 13 minutes of madness seeing the home side score three times to win 3-2.
Luton had bid for Ipswich Town`s long term injured striker Sam Parkin, who had scored for fun while in League 1 with Swindon, and the player was taking his time in coming to a decision and a 2-2 home draw with Stoke followed with Luton coming from a goal down to lead 2-1 then concede an equaliser. This was to become a pattern during the season.
A poor performance at Bristol Rovers in the 'who cares` cup saw a 1-1 draw converted into victory 5-3 on penalties, while Sam Parkin chose to come to Luton for £340K rather than Preston, as he wanted to stay in the South.
Wolves became the first team to stop the Town scoring with a 1-0 victory in a match that Luton deserved to take something from. Sam Parkin made his debut as substitute and was unlucky not to score with several efforts well saved by the Wolves keeper.
Parkin starred for the reserves the following week in an 8-0 victory over MK Dons reserves with goals from Stevens, Morgan 3, O'Leary, Boyd, Brkovic, Holmes.
As the transfer window closure loomed, Newell stated that he was in for two players, who were reputed to have been Leeds Defender/midfielder Sean Gregan and Derby midfielder Morten Bisgaard. However, Luton announced that bids for Rotherham`s star central defender Lee Williamson were fended off by his club and with Luton making increased offers in an effort to secure his transfer at the 11th hour, the window closed with Carlos still a Luton player but no new additions. (An initial bid of £100K was turned down flat, then a second bid of £125K with a further £200K in add-ons was under discussion, but eventually, Rotherham manager Alan Knill, felt the player was worth more than that and the deal fell through with insufficient time to negotiate further.)
This was the first of Newell`s big mistakes as, traditionally, November is a time when teams with small squads suffer when injuries and suspensions bite. Meanwhile, Roy Keane spent £2 million on six, (count them) six new players.
Newell vowed to bring in a central defender on loan very soon. Did he do so? 'Fraid not!
Luton were 10th in the table on 31st August with 7 points from 5 matches; Sunderland were 23rd with 3 points.
Scotty`s state of play article followed showing guarded optimism! See article:
Luton next beat Palace 2-1 with Sam Parkin laying on both goals, one for Edwards after 1 minute and 15 seconds and another for Vine. Parkin was looking awesome and far better value than Palace`s deadline day signing Kuqi.
Luton`s next game saw Colchester keeper Aidan Davison almost single-handedly keep Luton from securing a big victory as the home side had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Davison is one of those keepers who can be brilliant or a clown and he was brilliant in this match.
This was followed by a heavy defeat which owed as much to poor refereeing as it did to poor performance by the Town.
An unfortunate decision by a referee who had a poor day all round, ruined this match as a spectacle, as early as the ninth minute. Lewis Emanuel was adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball on the goal line preventing a goal and was sent off following a flag from the assistant referee. As a powerful goal-bound header came in after a corner kick, its direction was straight at Emanuel`s face. He instinctively raised his elbow in front of his face, the ball cannoned off his elbow and the referee saw nothing wrong although he had a very good view, and play continued for several seconds, before the Assistant flagged.
Luton battled but were always fighting against the odds and went down 4-1 trying to win the match against the odds. The score line was flattering to their hosts but another three points went out of the window.
Next, Morgan Feeney and Vine scored to defeat Brentford in the Carling Cup, with Moore`s cynical lunge on Vine earning him a red card along with Manager Rosenior being sent to the stands. Unfortunately, it appeared that the referee decided to even things up when Leon Barnett was sent off for an innocuous foul on Willock, deeming it to have been a professional foul. The players merely tripped over each other and Luton`s appeal against the red card was rightly upheld by the FA.
The in form West Bromwich Albion were the next opponents and Luton conceded a late equaliser after leading 2-1 at half time.
A visit to Barnsley, usually a good hunting ground for Luton, yielded a 2-1 victory, before Vital Football`s server crashed and we were 'off the air` for 2 weeks.
Luton had ended September still in tenth place with 15 points from 10 games.
Victories at home 3-2 over Birmingham and 5-1 over Leeds with a 0-0 draw away at Hull sandwiched between them continued the optimism, and even a 4-0 defeat at Everton in the Carling Cup did not lower morale and Luton were in the play-off zone in 5th place.
This was to be a major turning point for the Town, as Sam Parkin who sustained a swollen ankle in training for the Leeds match, struggled to shake the injury off and was later diagnosed with a serious ankle injury which required surgery and pinning and he was not to kick a ball in anger for the rest of the season, then as Luton travelled to Ipswich for their televised match, Sol Davis suffered a stroke which was to keep him out for several weeks. To put a cap on a very unlucky period for the Town, as the players rallied to play the match, the most outrageously incorrect decision I have seen by an official at professional level, cost Luton a real chance of a result.
At 1-0 down, the ball was played to Edwards wide right, just inside the Ipswich half, with Vine wide left in an offside position, not interfering with play. The decision made and Edwards allowed continuing all the way down to the bye line allows Vine to take part in the secondary move when Carlos crossed for Vine to head home. The assistant incorrectly to law flagged him offside at that point, and the referee should have overruled him but did not. This was on the stroke of half time and would have made the score 1-1. History shows that we lost the match 5-0 and it was one of the turning points of the season. As the fourth official that day is a friend of mine, I can report that the assistant received an absolute verbal mauling by the FA assessor for the match but that doesn`t help our points total!
This was the first of 7 successive defeats, two of which were in October leaving us in 9th position on 31st October and 20th by the end of November, during which time Mike Newell was in total denial of the fact that Luton were in danger of relegation and declared himself to be unfavourable towards loan signings and stated that he did not believe that loans were the answer to strengthening a side.
On that point I need a stiff drink and a lie down! Part 2 and player reports will follow over the next couple of weeks.
Date:Tuesday May 8 2007
All Is Revealed! (Wednesday June 19 2013)
French Defender Linked (Wednesday June 19 2013)
Can You Guess Who? (Wednesday June 19 2013)
Ex-Luton Manager Lands Top Job (Monday June 17 2013)
Just Plain Bored! (Sunday June 16 2013)
Just a Reminder (Sunday June 16 2013)
Four Thousand! (Thursday June 13 2013)
Spiller`s Future? (Wednesday June 12 2013)
Disappointed or Expected? (Tuesday June 11 2013)
Martin Signs New Deal (Tuesday June 11 2013)
|All Is Revealed!
» Luton : 19/06/2013 17:56:00
|French Defender Linked
» Luton : 19/06/2013 16:45:00
|Can You Guess Who?
» Luton : 19/06/2013 16:44:00
|Whitehead off. Nominal Fee.
» Stockport : 19/06/2013 08:05:00
|Family Tickets (2013/14 Season)
» Lincoln : 18/06/2013 19:02:00
|2013/14 Match Day Prices
» Lincoln : 17/06/2013 16:53:00
|Ex-Luton Manager Lands Top Job
» Luton : 17/06/2013 13:21:00