By David Williams
Nathan Jones has been backed to perform a great escape at Luton after the Welshman returned over the border to dent Swansea City’s play-off hopes.
Jones – the Rhondda-born manager who was sacked by Stoke City earlier this year – has now won twice at the Liberty Stadium this season.
In October, Jones masterminded a 2-1 victory, although it was not enough for him to be sacked by Stoke the following month.
On Saturday, he lifted his current club Luton off the foot of the Championship table with a 1-0 win, making it four points in two matches since he returned to the club who talked about “betrayal” when he first left them for Stoke last season.
Had Swansea not given up those six home points to Jones, then they would now be sitting in the play-off places, instead of back in 10th place.
Luton striker Elliot Lee, son of former Newcastle star Rob Lee, believes his Welsh manager can lead the club away from the relegation zone.
Renowned for self-confidence that has sometimes led to accusations of arrogance and a brash manner, the 47-year-old Jones has returned to Luton as a wiser more humble man, according to Lee.
“I think he’s a different person. He went through a lot at his previous club,” said Lee.
“But he’s learnt a lot and the thing with the gaffer is he always brings a positive atmosphere and drives people every day. As long as you’re training and working hard you’ll always have a chance.
“The boys were so happy he came back and it’s been a real positive for the club. His team talks are full of energy and motivation. That all starts from him.
“We’re going to need as much energy and positivity as possible and that comes from the gaffer. He believes we are good enough to be in this league.”
When Jones left, the Luton job was passed to former Swansea City assistant manager Graeme Jones, but the man who followed Roberto Martinez to Wigan, Everton and then the Belgian national side was unable to stop the club from plunging to the bottom of the table.
Graeme Jones was shown the door last month and replaced by his namesake, the former Merthyr, Southend, Brighton and Yeovil defender.
Lee believes the manager who guided them from League Two to the Championship can now keep them there.
“We didn’t deserve to be where we are,” added Lee.
“If Nathan Jones hadn’t left we’d be in a much better position. We sort of lost our way. The dressing room wasn’t the same.
“You can say I might be bitter because I wasn’t playing, but I think a lot of the players would say the same.”
“It’s not just on the pitch as the reason why you’re seeing positive results. It’s a better atmosphere in there now and you might think I’m being bitter because the previous manager didn’t pick me, but it’s not at all.
“I care about this club and it wasn’t going in the right direction under the previous manager and it’s great to have Nathan back because he brings a positive atmosphere. Now you’re seeing the results on the pitch.”