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Friday, July 3, 2020

Jones relishing the chance to go up against ‘unique’ Marcelo Bielsa

Town boss promised trips to Elland Road during his first stint in charge
Continue reading on Luton Today

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa

Luton boss Nathan Jones is readying himself to come up against the ‘unique’ challenge posed by Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa this evening.

The Whites boss is one of the most respected and experienced managers in the second tier, having been in charge of Argentina, Chile, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lazio during his 30-year career.

Bielsa has led Leeds to the verge of the Premier League too, United eight points clear of third place Brentford with seven games to go.

Jones said: “That’s why we firstly wanted to get to this level, to challenge ourselves against those things.

“The Championship is a wonderful league because tactically you have to be right.

“Even if you’re well drilled and well organised and talented, you can get punished at Championship level, I found that out.

“Coming up against Marcelo, he’s very unique, his sides play totally different to anyone else and they’re for me, the most difficult side to play against in the Championship.

“So we will have to be on our game tomorrow and with God’s will, we will be.”

When Jones first took over at Kenilworth Road back in January 2016, Town were languishing in the lower reaches of League Two.

He got them to League One in his second full season and although left before promotion to the Champion was secured, it was these kinds of encounters he promised Town’s board would become the norm when taking the job.

He continued: “Leeds is the most difficult place to go in the Championship, for me they are the most difficult side to play against, so it’s going to be a great test but what a wonderful test.

“This is why I came here and when we were in League Two, with everyone getting on board, we said we would be a Championship side and it was to go up against European champions Leeds United and that’s brilliant for us.”

The test is easily Town’s hardest since the Championship resumed after the coronavirus this month and is the final of three matches with sides who are all in the top 10, having drawn with Preston and beaten Swansea to take an impressive four points.

On the baptism of fire after returning to the club, Jones said: “It’s the toughest start, apart from Brentford, we’ve probably for the toughest of starts, but we’ve embraced it, we haven’t cried about it, we haven’t been scared about it, so it’s moving in the right direction.

“Four points from two games, I would have taken that all day long, and now we go to Leeds to try to add to that.

“It’s far better when you’ve had a win to go to Elland Road.

“You go to Elland Road on the back of two negatives results and suddenly the tiredness creeps in, suddenly the ball becomes a little less round, suddenly Leeds become stronger, but that’s not the case now, we’re in a good position, good shape.”

The confidence is also back among the players that Town can stay up too, especially after a superb away performance at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

Jones added: “I think that belief is a big thing, belief that they can win games, belief they are going to places with an opportunity to win games from a strong platform and that’s all we can do with them.

“We’ve been here effectively three games if you’re talking about the Brentford friendly so we’re gathering a little bit of momentum, we’re gathering sharpness and a rhythm, that’s only going to get more as we get to work with them.

“We have a game plan, we want to play aggressively and we want to play on the front foot, wherever we start that aggression from, that’s what we want to be.

“We’re gathering a little bit of rhythm at the minute.

“Against Preston you could see that we lacked game time, we lacked that fluency but we have a little bit more of that now.

“I would imagine we’re only going to get better the more time we get to work with them, the more rhythm we get, so I’m hoping the best is yet to come.”

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