Doncaster Rovers: ‘The key has been a real sense of unity’ – the opposition view from Luton Town
The tests do not get any easier for Doncaster Rovers as they prepare to visit runaway League One leaders Luton Town this weekend.
The Hatters have survived the unexpected departure of a manager to power on with a 25 game unbeaten run and close in on a return to the second tier for the first time in 12 years.
We spoke to Luton News sports editor Mike Simmonds to get the lowdown on a remarkable success story.
Q: A new stadium approved, Championship football on the horizon - things seem to be going pretty well for Luton?
MS: It’s been an excellent season so far for Town both on and off the pitch.
They won the two biggest decisions in their history, with both Power Court and Newlands Park given approval by the council and are now just waiting to see whether the latter is either called in by the secretary of state, or the subject of a judicial review, before moving ahead.
They have also played some superb football this year and deservedly top the table going into the final eight games, inching ever closer to a second successive promotion.
Q: Most on the outside expected a drop off following Nathan Jones' departure. How has that been avoided and how much has that been down to Mick Harford?
MS: Harford deserves great credit in ensuring that the departure of Jones hasn’t affected the Hatters at all.
The key was that he didn’t really change anything once the manager moved on, keeping the same side, formation and as he said, ‘it's not broken, so why fix it?’
All the players clearly have a great deal of respect for the manager too which is there for all to see.
They deserve just as much praise for the manner in which they reacted to the change in leadership too, as if anything, their performances have got even better at times.
Q: What has been the key to on-pitch success this season?
MS: The key has been a real sense of unity from everyone at Kenilworth Road.
Fans had been hoping for a play-off challenge at the start of the season, but that has soon become a push for promotion.
Consistency is another big reason, with Luton now unbeaten since mid-October in the league, a club record 25 games.
The defence has been rock solid, keeping a large amount of clean sheets, while up front, striker James Collins has 20 goals to his name which is vital for a team challenging at the top.
Q: Will Harford stay on as manager beyond the summer?
MS: I can’t see it happening myself. Harford has already spoken of his intention to do the job until the end of the season and then go back to his role as head of recruitment and allow a new man to come in, hopefully with the club in the Championship.
Q: What style of play and system does Harford favour?
MS: Harford hasn’t really changed anything since Nathan Jones’ departed, as there was just no need.
The Hatters line up in a diamond formation and favour a passing style of play, using their full backs to good effect. They are also devastating at times on the counter attack too.
Q: Who are the danger men for Luton?
MS: Midfielder Andrew Shinnie has been quite brilliant of late, with some excellent performances, and plenty of assists, so he is one to watch out for.
Both full backs Jack Stacey and James Justin love to attack, while without James Collins on international duty, then Danny Hylton will be the main focal point of Town’s attack.