close
close

What to expect from Rob Edwards’ Luton Town?

What to expect from Rob Edwards’ Luton Town?

We continue our series on the newly-promoted Premier League sides with this look at Luton Town’s manager, Rob Edwards.

We will assess his management style, preferred tactics, tendency to rotate and openness with the press ahead of the Hatters’ Fantasy Premier League (FPL) debut, as well as looking at areas of his squad he might strengthen in.

To provide a fan’s view, we’ve asked Luton fan FPL Brickie for some input. Articles on Luton’s defence and attack will follow.

WHAT TACTICS DO LUTON TOWN PLAY UNDER EDWARDS?

Since taking over from Southampton-bound Nathan Jones last November, Edwards has embraced the already-established 3-5-2 formation that took them to sixth place and a play-off defeat in 2021/22.

In fairness, he similarly deployed a wing-back system during the promotion season at Forest Green Rovers and used it during his short, ill-fated spell at Luton’s arch-rivals Watford.

The Hatters are a classic case of the sum being greater than its parts, with very little Premier League experience in the current squad and even less once loanee Marvelous Nakamba returns to Aston Villa. What’s left is a handful of top-flight appearances from back-up players such as Reece Burke, Henri Lansbury, Luke Freeman and Cauley Woodrow.

“It’s a 3-5-2/5-3-2 when deep. He very rarely moves away from that formation, although in stages and at the right times he will push one of the midfielders further up and almost play a front three.” – FPL Brickie

WHAT STYLE OF FOOTBALL DOES EDWARDS FAVOUR?

Luton are a strong, powerful, well-organised team that do well at set pieces. Not afraid to be direct, Edwards has also made his squad more versatile by adding a passing style for when opponents think they’ve figured them out.

See also  Rick Astley 'wins' Glastonbury as he performs 'awesome' collaboration with Blossoms

Generally, the attitude is to always have the ball in attacking areas, so he encourages high pressing to constantly hound opponents, alongside a direct style of long passing that hits their tall forwards as soon as possible. Over the 2022/23 Championship season, Luton completed the fifth-fewest passes and had the third-worst pass completion rate (66.6%).

“It’s mostly a direct style of play, he likes to get the attackers in the game. ‘You are allowed to kick the ball in the air’, he says. Long accurate passes (not long balls) to the powerful forwards Carlton Morris and Elijah Adebayo, who hold it up and then bring the wing-backs into play to get crosses into the box.

“It’ll be energetic and high press, although I think with the right players he would like to play a little more on the floor. He has only had 30 games with us and no transfer window to stamp his style on the team, after continuing from Nathan Jones.” – FPL Brickie

During the initial 46-game campaign, their 57 goals ranked lowest of all the top six, coming 11th for attempts and shots on target. On the other hand, Edwards himself was a centre-back and only Burnley conceded fewer than Luton’s 39 goals.

Above: WhoScored’s summary of Luton’s strength and weaknesses

A special mention should also go to their set-piece threat. According to WhoScored, 16 goals arrived from these and it ranks fourth throughout the division, also being third for most crosses. This is ideal with giants like 6ft 4in Elijah Adebayo, 6ft 2in Burke and 6ft 1in Carlton Morris hanging around.

“Alfie Doughty is on most set pieces and is very attacking-minded. He should go down in FPL as a defender and could be gold if priced at £4.0m.

“Morris took the last penalty and scored, with Cauley Woodrow and Adebayo missing the two previously” – FPL Brickie

DOES EDWARDS LIKE A SETTLED SIDE OR WILL HE ROTATE?

A preferred starting line-up solidified during the intense final weeks, with his main decision often being whether to start Allan Campbell or Jordan Clark in midfield.

See also  Will bigger mean better at Sheffield Steelers?

Once wing-back James Bree departed in January, joining Jones at Southampton, in came Leeds United’s Cody Drameh on loan. Meanwhile, Tom Lockyer plays in the central role of three defenders and there’s the formidable strikeforce of Morris and Adebayo.

To illustrate this club’s remarkable progress over the last decade, midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu‘s first appearance of next season will see him become the only player to go all the way from the National League to the Premier League with the same club.

“He does like to play the same XI but he is good at knowing when players need a rest and will use the squad. We will have eight fewer matches next season, so I see him trying to keep the same line-up once he has worked out what it will be with the new arrivals.” – FPL Brickie

HOW DOES EDWARDS HANDLE THE PRESS – AND WILL HE GIVE US HONEST TEAM NEWS?

We Fantasy managers love our Premier League head coaches to be open and honest about injury news but there is a growing abundance of bosses who prefer to give little away.

Sheffield United’s Paul Heckingbottom sounds very much of this ilk, with Edwards also of the “tight-lipped” nature:

“He has been very crafty on two occasions this season – with Morris’ shoulder injury away at Birmingham City and Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu’s injury sustained away at Sheffield United. The latter seemed to be a season-ending knee injury, yet was back three games later to face our local rivals, Watford.

“They both played when everyone thought they’d be out for some time. He’s very tight-lipped and won’t give anything away.” – FPL Brickie

WHERE MIGHT EDWARDS STRENGTHEN IN THE SUMMER AND WHICH PLAYERS ARE IN DANGER OF LOSING THEIR PLACE?

Looking at Luton’s list of record purchases is a surreal experience that’s far away from Championship level, never mind the Premier League.

See also  Burnley, Sheffield United, Luton Town go up!

Only twice have they ever spent over £1 million on a player, doing so for Morris and former goalkeeper Simon Sluga. It’s a top ten list that contains several names from the 1990s and even the 1980s.

Therefore, Edwards has a difficult task in balancing this winning formula with a huge, Nottingham Forest-like overhaul that upgrades both quality and quantity.

“All areas, I would say. There was a limited budget in the Championship and, although we won’t break the bank, we will look to strengthen all positions. We have already said goodbye to centre-back Sonny Bradley so he will be replaced, as well as being short of pace when Doughty and Cody Dramah weren’t fit. So we need to strengthen the wing-backs.

“Definitely another striker too, either starting from the first game or being the backup. I would like to see all three loanees sign from this season if possible.

“What Edwards will do is give most of this season’s Championship squad a chance in the Premier League. I think around 20 will stay, plus six or seven signings alongside a couple of loans. He won’t change it drastically. Right wing-back will be his main focus if the ever-reliable Drameh is assured minutes back at Leeds United.” – FPL Brickie

Having last departed the top flight in 1992, narrowly missing out on Premier League riches, this is Luton’s chance to finally spend money and attempt against-the-odds survival – they’re already as short as 4/11 with some bookies to drop straight back down in 2023/24.


Our huge thanks go to FPL Brickie for the time and insight.


  • June 3, 2023