The announcement this week of the appointment of Nathan Jones as manager (not head coach) of Charlton Athletic gave a big boost to the morale of supporters who have been enduring months of dismay as the team slipped down the League One table.
Most success in recent years has come under the leadership of managers with a previous connection to the club. Even though Jones can't offer links as strong as those of Chris Powell, Lee Bowyer and Johnnie Jackson, he was at the club as Professional Development Coach from June 2012 to July 2013 when he established a good reputation and won the Championship working with the under 21s.
That was his first coaching job following a seventeen year playing career spent mostly at Brighton (183 appearances) and Yeovil (211 appearances). He left Charlton to return to Brighton in July 2013 and was to fulfil a number of different coaching roles there under Oscar Garcia, Sami Hyypia, Chris Hughton and Colin Calderwood.
He was appointed manager of Luton in January 2016 and guided them to League Two safety. The following season he took them to fourth place and a play-off semi final defeat to Blackpool. He began the 2017/18 season saying "This year we can't have excuses, can't have that naivety about us, can't allow teams to nick draws and cost us our ultimate goal." Sure enough, on April 21st 2018, his team gained promotion to League One at Carlisle (sounds familiar).
They took League One by storm and were in second place in January 2019 when he was offered the post of manager of newly relegated Stoke City. Luton subsequently won League One while Jones oversaw a sixteenth place in The Championship at Stoke. He brought in eight new signings in the summer of 2019 but was sacked in November with his team bottom of the table.
When he returned to Luton in May 2020 they had been in The Championship bottom four for six months but four wins and four draws saw them escape to 19th on the last day of the covid-prolonged season while Charlton were relegated at Leeds.
Two more seasons at Luton were to follow. A mid table finish in 20/21 was followed by reaching The Championship play-offs in May 2022. Despite his team losing to Huddersfield in the semi final Jones was awarded Championship Manager of the Season. They were in ninth place when he was tempted away by the opportunity to manage Premier League Southampton. Three months later, after five wins and nine defeats, he was sacked with his team bottom of the table. Southampton were subsequently relegated while Luton were promoted under Rob Edwards.
In his interview below Jones talks about the need for players to "buy in". One theory about his lack of success at Stoke and Southampton was that he was unable to persuade top-level players to buy in to his approach whereas he had achieved this at Luton with players of more modest talent.
Jones will have at his disposal two players who joined the club on transfer deadline day:
Kayne Ramsay made a brief appearance for the last few minutes of the Derby game. He is a 23 year old London-born defender who joined Southampton from Chelsea as a youth player and made one appearance for Southampton against Manchester City in The Premier League. He has spent the last two seasons at Harrogate in League Two.
Thierry Small is a 19 year old left back who in January 2021 became the youngest player in Everton history at 16 years 176 days. He subsequently joined Southampton and spent the last two seasons on loan at St Mirren.
Southampton, you say ?
You can see Jones's first press conference at Charlton here:
And, if you fancy a bit of Bananarama, here you go: