The Brentford circus will go down in folklore but Nathan Jones was at it well before then. The former Southampton manager has ‘nothing against Welsh women’.
We will miss our part Brendan, part Sherwood and these are just a few examples as to why…
Nathan Jones on… the one thing missing from his start at Southampton
“It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve been up and down the country, my own [Luton] game Tuesday, Southampton game [on Wednesday], meeting everyone, the World Cup and every little thing that could possibly happen. Just praise the Lord my wife is not pregnant as literally that would be the most manic week you could ever imagine.”
Nathan Jones on… improving forwards
“Every striker I’ve worked with has scored goals at whatever level. When I worked at Brighton I did the same and strikers got moves. The ones I had at Luton have all scored goals and have either gone on to different stuff or are still there scoring goals. I want us to be a real fluent attacking side. I want us to be an aggressive side and I want to score goals and Che is going to be key to that. I know I can make him better” – on November 14, after which Southampton’s five Premier League goals have been shared between midfielders James Ward-Prowse (four) and Carlos Alcaraz (one), and absolutely not Che Adams (zero).
Nathan Jones on… his first game
“It would have been easy for me not to take the game today because I’ve come in with one day to work with them. But that’s not my character, that’s not my style, I wanted to get in amongst it regardless of opposition” – about why he decided to take charge of the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on November 12, having only been appointed Southampton manager on November 10.
“We have been in the job four or five weeks and that’s the only competitive game that we have had” – discussing the 3-1 Carabao Cup victory over Lincoln on December 20, discounting the Liverpool game prior to the World Cup.
“Take the Liverpool game out of it because I’d had one day, I’m at a 50 per cent win ratio at the minute. I’ve lost three Premier League games, won all the cup games” – speaking on January 12 about his record, no longer eager “to get in amongst it regardless of opposition”, but all too happy to crow about beating League One Lincoln City at home with a 74th-minute winner.
Nathan Jones on… letting teams “sit in”
“We just didn’t show enough quality but you had a side out there tonight that worked hard and grafted, that had more situations than Forest and we just didn’t show enough quality and then gifted them a goal. When you give them a goal they can sit in for 20 minutes because they haven’t got to chase anything” – explaining how Southampton lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest in January.
A reminder that Saints had eight shots to 11, despite having “more situations”. And in the 20 minutes immediately after Taiwo Awoniyi scored after half an hour or so, Forest were able to “sit in” so effectively that they had four shots to Southampton’s zero.
The Premier League table since Southampton appointed Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones on… the injustice of conceding goals
“The other day we were excellent, excellent structure performance. But we gifted two goals from set-pieces” – lamenting the New Year’s Eve defeat to Fulham, in which the Cottagers scored both their goals from perfectly legitimate set-pieces over which Southampton did have some degree of agency. Plus Saints score a few set-pieces themselves. Like their eventually futile equaliser against Fulham, from a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.
“Against Brighton we had loads of possession, gifted them two goals and then there was a strike from distance” – not content with suggesting set-pieces are out of his and his team’s control, Jones then sought to describe perfectly ordinary goals as mere “gifts”, with efforts from outside the box also completely unfair.
Nathan Jones on… his vast experience
“People have said I don’t know what I’m doing and stuff after my 33-year career. That is tough to take because I think I actually do and I’ve had to work to get to this level” – raging against the critics who don’t realise his one season as a player at Maesteg Park in 1990 contributed to his preparation for Premier League management.
Nathan Jones on… his unlikely enemy
“The non-league manager criticised me the other day. It baffled me. I don’t speak about Havant & Waterlooville. I don’t speak about levels I don’t know about. I have ignored everything really and I don’t want it to be a big issue because some of it’s justified, some of it’s not. I took umbrage to one thing really. When you’re in the public eye and when you do a job like managers do, you’re going to get criticism regardless of what you do at every level. I don’t hear it. I was informed about one incident, that’s it. I don’t read social media, I don’t read press much. I block everything out” – stressing how unbothered he was about Havant & Waterlooville manager Paul Doswell claiming Jones was “out of his depth”.
My favourite Nathan Jones Southampton quote and he’s had a few.
“With the greatest respect they’ve been losing games for a long, long time”pic.twitter.com/GzeklhIpgR
— We Are Luton Town (@wearelutontown) February 12, 2023
Nathan Jones on… Nathan Jones
“I think I’ve held myself with real dignity in terms of recent weeks and hopefully now we’re coming through.”
Nathan Jones on… the secret to football management
“They’re young players and the Premier League can be very unforgiving. So we have to learn quickly while developing young talent. That’s it: winning games while developing talent, that’s basically what we have to do.”
Nailed it. It’s a wonder only seven managers have ever had shorter Premier League tenures.
Nathan Jones on… mysterious compromises
“I’ve compromised in terms of certain principles because of, one, personnel but, two, the way that people want to play and I’ve compromised because of fans and so on, compromised on a few little things but no more. Maybe it’s the Premier League because of how things look, because of certain players and internationals and stuff like that, but I’ve compromised certain things and I won’t do it again. Not just because of fans, I’ve compromised because of certain things. The chants have come after my decisions so it’s nothing to do with fans. Certain things like fans and outside noise have come in afterwards. I’ve not compromised or gone away from that, I’ve gone away from what brought me to this football club and that’s the disappointing thing” – admitting he had “gone away from what brought me to this football club” because of “certain things”, although Jones could not elaborate on why he had randomly abandoned his principles, nor what said “certain things” were.
Nathan Jones on… the village
“There are certain people in the village and players in the building that we have to work with.”
When asked in a subsequent press conference quite what he meant by those comments, Jones said: “That was a slip of the tongue, I don’t know what I meant by ‘the village’.”
Nathan Jones on… his own brilliance
“Statistically, there weren’t many better than me around Europe in terms of aggression, clean sheets, defending your box, balls in the box, expected goals – all those things.”
Nathan Jones on… Southampton fans chanting for his sacking
“The fans saw a performance today that justified those sayings and that’s fine. All I can say to them as I understand, I totally understand. To be fair, they’ve sung that at any point I’ve made a substitution. Now, if we keep Romeo Lavia on the pitch with a booking, they were a counter-attacking side so we were at risk. Was Romeo Latvia running the football game? Was he was out-battling and dominating everything, so was it justified? If it was, they were watching a different game to me” – chucking Romeo Lavia under the bus was one of the many reasons that Brentford press conference went down like a lead balloon in the St Mary’s dressing room and boardroom.
Nathan Jones on… his life’s alternative timeline
“I enjoy a challenge, I want to be the best version of me. I could have stayed in a mining community, been a PE teacher and had a nice life, married a nice Welsh girl – beautiful. But I didn’t. I want to test myself on every level – and that’s nothing against Welsh women.”
Nathan Jones on… his conditioning
“I wanted to test myself [to] be a player. I knew I wasn’t brilliant as a player but I was the fittest human being in history. I thought, ‘I’m going to cling on to this dream and get as high as I can.'”
Nathan Jones on… curing homesickness
“When I went to Luton as a player I was homesick. The manager left and my next move was to go to Spain. No logic in that as I was homesick in Luton and I decided to go to Spain.”
Nathan Jones on… Wolves having a man sent off when Southampton were leading 1-0 in his last match
“For me, the ten men was to our detriment because it made it a free hit for them and added pressure on us.”
Nathan Jones on… the penny dropping
“Every situation is unique, I should probably keep my mouth shut…”