A heart-warming evening for Luton’s ‘maybes and kona-beens’

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When Luton Town won the play-off final at Wembley last season to win promotion to the Premier League, they were immediately installed as big favorites and went straight back down. The plucky Hatters had not played at the top level since 1992, when they were relegated just a few months before Sky Sports invented football in England and the records officially began, but on that fateful day at Wembley they became the first team in history which returned to the top flight of English football after multiple relegations to what is today known as the National League. On Football Daily’s only ever trip to Kenilworth Road just over thirteen years ago, we saw them play Forest Green on a freezing night in a match accompanied in part by the chattering of our own teeth and the defiant chants of 14 (yes, we counted them) traveling fans.

After witnessing Luton at rock bottom in the non-league wilderness, it was heart-warming to see them at one of their highest levels, producing their standout performance of the season as they scored four goals without reply past a side from Brighton with no answers for the ferocious The hosts’ intensity seemed inspired by the pre-match appearance of tearful captain Tom Lockyer, who made his first visit to the ground since suffering cardiac arrest during a match at Bournemouth six weeks ago. “It was a really great night and I think we’ve been building this momentum for a long time,” purred Luton’s ridiculously handsome manager, Rob Edwards. “We know we will still have difficult moments and difficult periods, but we will give ourselves a chance.”

Being outside the relegation zone and having a reasonable chance of staying is more than many Luton fans would have settled for before the season started, when much of the outside noise focused on traveling fans having to enter Kenilworth Road . at the end by climbing through the bathroom window of a neighboring house, and several experts predicted they would struggle to get close to Derby County’s record number of 11 in 2007-08. With 19 games under their belt already and still the same number of games to play, this steadily improving assortment of might-be-and-could-have-been players looks on course to hit the magical 40-point mark, not least place if you consider some of their best performances this season came in games against elite teams, which they took nothing away from. Although Brighton doesn’t quite fit that bill, their manager Roberto De Zerbi has been mentioned in recent days as a potential successor to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool or Xavi at Barcelona. Given his team’s performance here, he will struggle to make Luton’s shortlist if Edwards takes charge at Anfield or Camp Nou.

And finally, a word for Elijah Adebayo, who last night became the first Luton Town player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League – and the first since their Danish cult hero Lars Elstrup filled his boots against Norwich City in 1990. so in a top game. In what could be a harbinger of things to come, Luton finished one place above the relegation zone that particular season, while Arsenal finished at the top of the league further down the table.


Join Sarah Rendell at 5.45pm GMT for Women’s Big Cup MBM coverage of Lyon 3-1 Slavia Prague, followed by exciting Premier League action from 7.30pm: Niall McVeigh will be on deck for Manchester City 5-clock updates 0 Burnley and Tottenham 2 -2 Brentford, while Scott Murray is in charge for Liverpool 2-1 Chelsea at 8.15pm.


“The coach’s departure is completely unacceptable and we will discuss with him why this happened. He has the right to explain his position, and then we will decide what the appropriate action is.” – it was an early exit from the Asia Cup for Saudi coach Roberto Mancini in more ways than one, prompting this less-than-delighted response from Football Federation chief Yasser al-Misehal.


Your feature story on the Conti Cup farce (yesterday’s Football Daily) put me in a cold sweat as the previously buried memory of this Aston Villa-West Ham debacle came to mind. After enduring the icy and incredibly tense quarter-final at Upton Park and eventually winning on penalties after extra time, you can imagine the little bit of nausea that involuntarily filled my mouth the next day when I read that the youth player had scored in the 113th minute he had already been loaned out to Gillingham in the league. Obviously I don’t need to tell you the outcome of the replayed tie” – Michael Johns.

Re: players find a safe way to pay tribute (yesterday’s Football Daily letters). When my cousin, Sean (Clare) scored for Hearts, he made an A/W sign with his hands in tribute to his Aunt Wendy (my mother). She took him to training with Charlton every week when he was eight and long after. Without fail. I readily admit that I burst into tears when he did that. Football can be, and often is, brilliant” – David Johnson.

Since your News, Bits and Bobs section (full email edition) alerted me to the rebranding of the Yeovil club badge, I thought I’d see what it replaced before passing judgment on the graphic designer’s handiwork . And what a sour trip of a badge they lose. John the Baptist, a medallion symbolizing his martyrdom, the crown of Empress Matilda, pastoral staffs of 15th and 16th century religious institutions, and the rampant lions that appear to be doing daddy/point dancing to my uneducated eye. All scrapped in favor of a ball and some gloves, and some whining about a ‘consistent brand identity’. I know I’m getting old, but is this really progress?” –Colin Reed.

While he agrees with Steve Allen that the structure of the Football League doesn’t resemble a pyramid, it’s not a ladder, nor is it really a pole… greasy or otherwise (yesterday’s letters). The top five divisions may resemble a ladder, but below that it flares regionally. I would say that the Eiffel Tower would be the most suitable shape, except that it has large semi-circular holes at the bottom. Perhaps a better analogy would be bell-bottom pants (this season’s most wearable jeans, according to the fashion gurus at Big Website)” – John Caley.

Pyramids do not have to physically resemble a pyramid. A pyramid is also something that decreases in number or number as you move up the levels. Like a pyramid scheme, or like common sense in the Manchester United hierarchy” – Jimmy O’Brien.

Re: Yesterday’s Memory Lane (full email edition). Having turned up in the Marshes on a Sunday morning after a tough Saturday evening in my youth, I will say that the position of the center circle lines was the least of the worries and just another flashing white light to be avoided. Groundstaff, you can sign your name, no one will notice, but thanks for doing the important things” – Jeremy Foxon.

A member of the Hackney Marshes grounds staff walks into a pub and the barman says…why the long face? – Declan Houton.

Send letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. Today’s winner of our Prizeless Letter of the Day is… Michael Johns.


Luton, Arsenal, Afcon, the Asian Cup, steaks and players in nightclubs: it’s all in the latest edition of Football Weekly Extra.


January 30: “The fans applauded when I came and some of them will sing songs like this, and that’s okay. I accept that and applied for the job. All I can concentrate on is coming in tomorrow and trying to make us better and trying to win the next game” – Aberdeen boss Barry Robson remains optimistic after a 1-1 Scottish Premier League draw against Dundee in which home fans chanted “we want Robson out,” along with other less teatime email-friendly tunes.

January 31st: “Barry earned the right to be Aberdeen manager and knew the high expectations we had when he took on the role. We gave Barry as much time and support as possible in the hope and expectation that he could return us to the competitive form we witnessed in the spring of last year. There is a talented squad of players at the club which makes our current position in the league unacceptable” – chairman Dave Cormack meets the demands of the Pittodrie fans.


European promoter A22 has tightened its claws and sent a cease and desist order to UEFA, accusing UEFA of “anti-competitive behaviour”. Ooh!

Blackburn’s teenage midfielder Adam Wharton coughs in front of the Crystal Palace doctor before making a planned £22million move south.

Japan easily reached the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup with a 3-1 cruise past Bahrain, with goals from Ritsu Doan, Takefusa Kubo and Ayase Ueda.

Erik ten Hag insists his Manchester United players have no disrespect for him, despite Marcus Rashford missing training last Friday after reportedly partying until the early hours in Belfast beforehand. “There is a line between them [right and wrong]; every player, every professional knows this, what it takes,” he ranted.

Gabriel Jesus has defended his Premier League scoring record, arguing it is not “all about statistics” but has vowed to be more ruthless, as he was in Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest. “Sometimes I’m not focused on it [scoring goals] and that’s my fault,’ he fumed. “So now I change my mentality and I’m in the box [like a fox?] more.”

England will play two friendlies against Austria and Italy – in Spain – in February in preparation for qualifying for the 2025 Women’s European Championship.

And Port Vale have poured cold water on reports that Robbie Williams is set to buy the club. “We are aware of the ‘exclusive’ news that has emerged… and would like to clarify the following: Robbie Williams has not made an offer… the Shanahan family remains fully committed to Port Vale,” a statement honked. Presumably he still has a lot of love and affection for the club, whether they are right or not.


If you don’t find Knowledge’s deep dive into the shortest road trips to stadiums across multiple divisions interesting, then you and Football Daily can never really be friends.

Ben McAleer on the development of Darwin Núñez from cult hero to real hero at Liverpool.

“Just an ordinary guy.” Ryan Baldi chooses David Beckham’s legacy in MLS.


Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip watch a gymnastics display at Edgeley Park in Stockport County in 1977. Of course. And to think that it would take another fourteen years before club king Kevin Francis would enter the same field.


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