Rob Edwards discusses Watford sacking, happiness at Luton and how the club compares to Forest Green | Soccer News
Just 19 miles separate historic rivals Luton Town and Watford, but in Rob Edwards’ eyes there are stark differences between the clubs.
Edwards was sacked by Watford in September after suffering just two defeats in 10 league appearances, the latest in a long string of short-term appointments – their eighth manager since 2020.
In June – shortly after being appointed after guiding Forest Green to promotion to the third tier of English football for the first time – Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury promised they would stick with the Welshman “against winds and tides. But the reality was quite different.
By contrast, Luton has been a picture of stability of late. Nathan Jones took charge of over 300 games over two spells before leaving to join Southampton in the Premier League just before the World Cup break, giving Edwards the opportunity to step in and replace him at Kenilworth Road.
He is convinced that his second experience as a championship manager will be very different from the first.
“I don’t think we’ve even had the chance to fail in 10 league games,” Edwards said of his time at Watford, ahead of Sunday’s game against Millwall, live on Sky Sports Football and Main event.
“We were one point away from the play-offs or whatever and we were starting to get the players back into shape, but look, it’s done and I’m comfortable with that. I’m fully focused on Luton Town now. and if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here, and I’m so glad I am.
“My eyes were wide open. I knew it could happen, it’s the nature of first-team football. It could have happened at Forest Green, there’s always an element of risk when you take a job on both sides – the club gives you the chance and obviously you go, but because it was such a short period of time it was hard to fail in that amount of time.
“I will have learned things and thought about it. I will be better thanks to it, but without it I wouldn’t be here now. After a few weeks, I feel at home here.
“Of course it frustrates you because I didn’t want to lose my job and I thought we could be successful there, but I think anyone who is a head coach or a manager feels they have to support themselves and they can succeed wherever it is.
“But it happened and I dealt with it quite quickly. It was during this international break, I won’t go into details but I didn’t feel it coming. However, it happened and it is soccer.”
Edwards inherited a side that surprised many when they reached the Championship play-offs last season before losing to Huddersfield in two hard-fought matches. Once again they are aiming to be “in the shake up”, in the words of their new manager.
He was linked with a number of vacancies after leaving Vicarage Road, including Middlesbrough – who beat Luton with a stoppage-time winner in Edwards’ first game in charge last weekend.
But the former centre-back was convinced Luton was the right opportunity to return after initial conversations with chief executive Gary Sweet and club legend and chief recruiting officer Mick Harford.
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Edwards said: “It fills me with confidence that they historically give managers a lot of time here.
“The conversations I’ve had with the football club, they want to try to help us as much as they can and help us build something to move forward and move the club forward. It looks like there are some similarities to Forest Green and that first one we took where Mark Cooper was five years before me.
“That’s why coming here was the right thing. What was important in the next one was that I chose the club and the owners that I’m going to work for and with as much as they chose me.
“They put people first. Of course we are all competitive, we want to win football games and build and everyone wants to get into the Premier League, but there is also a realism. There is a human side in them and I really like it.
“We talked about a lot of things, families and home, not just the pitch and football, and I liked that.
“They did a good job, they did some brilliant things last season and they continued to do so this season. I think it would be stupid to come in and say ‘forget it, we’re going to go down this road now’. We do lots of things, let’s keep doing it and get better.
“So let’s build and evolve and improve and grow as we go. Nathan would have wanted to do that too if he had stayed here; improve and keep improving every week, every month and every game.”
Edwards spoke to his predecessor Jones shortly after his appointment – a text message from Edwards was answered almost instantly with a phone call and a stellar reference about the club he had arrived at.
Now the challenge for Edwards is to be embraced by supporters in the same way that Jones and Harford – a popular and successful interim – have been in recent years.
“I’m never gonna compete with Mick, I can’t compete with Mick,” Edwards joked.
“I can only be me. I am not Nathan, I am certainly not Mick. We will do our best for this football club and that is what we said when we met supporters. We cannot never guarantee a win, I wish you could, but you can guarantee that we will give absolutely everything and the players will drop everything.
“Our fans are really smart and they understand that. They want that fighting spirit, they want us to give it our all for the badge and if we do they’ll appreciate it.
“He [Nathan] spoke in such glowing terms about the football club – the players, the staff, the people, the supporters and it was really refreshing and nice for me to hear those things really.
“If I wanted any advice I know he would be happy to give it, but it was more of a conversation about the people and the football club. He was so positive about it.”