Rob Edwards discusses Watford sacking, happiness at Luton and how the club compares with Forest Green | Football News
Just 19 miles separate Luton Town and Watford, two historic rivals, but there are some stark differences between the clubs in the eyes of Rob Edwards.
Edwards was sacked by Watford in September after suffering just two defeats in 10 league games, the latest in a long string of short-term appointments – their eighth manager since 2020.
In June – shortly after he first guided Forest Green to promotion to the third tier of English football – Watford chief executive Scott Duxbury promised they would remain loyal to the Welshman. But the reality was very different.
In contrast, Luton has been a picture of stability lately. Nathan Jones officiated more than 300 games in two spells before joining Premier League side Southampton just before the World Cup break, giving Edwards the opportunity to step in and replace him at Kenilworth Road.
He is confident his second experience as championship manager will be very different from his first.
“I don’t think we’ve had a chance to fail in 10 league games,” said Edwards of his time at Watford. ahead of Sunday’s game against Millwall, live on Sky Sports Football and main event.
“We were a point outside of the playoffs or whatever and started getting the players fit again but look it’s done and I’m comfortable with that. I’m totally focused on Luton Town now and if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be here and I’m really very glad I am.
“My eyes were wide open. I knew that could happen, that’s the nature of first-team football. That could have happened at Forest Green, there’s always some risk when you take a job from either side – the Club gives you chance and of course you go there but because it was such a short time it was hard to fail in that time.
“I will have learned and reflected on things. I’ll be better, but without that I wouldn’t be here now. After a few weeks I feel at home here.
“Obviously it frustrates you because I didn’t want to lose my job and felt like we could be successful there, but I think anyone who’s a head coach or manager feels like they have to stand on their own anywhere can be successful I’m in.
“But it happened and I dealt with it pretty quickly. It was during that international break, I won’t go into the details but I didn’t feel it coming. But it happened and that’s football.”
Edwards has inherited a team that surprised many by making the Championship play-offs last season before losing to Huddersfield in two hard-fought legs. Once again they want to be “in the shake up”, as their new manager says.
He has been linked with a number of vacancies after leaving Vicarage Road, including Middlesbrough, who beat Luton in Edward’s first game in charge with an injury-time winner last weekend.
But the former centre-back was convinced Luton was the right opportunity to return to him after initial talks with chief executive Gary Sweet and club legend and recruiting chief Mick Harford.
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Edwards said: “It gives me great confidence that historically they are giving the managers a lot of time here.
“The talks I have had with the football club are trying to help us as much as possible and to help us move things forward and move the club forward. It feels like there are similarities to Forest Green and the first one we took where Mark Cooper had five years before me.
“So coming here was the right thing to do. What was important in the next one was that I chose the club and the owners that I will work for and as much as they chose me.
“They put the people first. Of course we’re all competitive, we want to win and build football games and everyone wants to get into the Premier League, but there’s also a realism. They have a human side and I really like that.” .
“We talked about a lot of things, families and home, not just turf and football and I liked that.
“They did great things, they did brilliant things last season and they’ve continued to do that this season. I think it would be foolish to come in and say, ‘Forget that, we’re going down that path now’. We do a lot of things well, let’s keep doing it and get better.
“Then let’s build and evolve and get better and grow as we move on. Nathan would have wanted to do the same if he had stayed; improve and get better every week, every month and every game.”
Edwards spoke to his predecessor Jones shortly after his appointment – a text message from Edwards was almost immediately returned with a phone call and a stellar reference about the club he had arrived at.
Now the challenge for Edwards must be embraced by fans in the same way both Jones and Harford – a popular and successful interim – have done in recent years.
“I’ll never compete with Mick, I can’t compete with Mick,” Edwards joked.
“I can only be me. I’m not Nathan, I’m certainly not Mick. We will do our best for this football club and we said that when we met any fans. We can never guarantee a win, I wish you could, but you can guarantee that we will give absolutely everything and the players will leave everything out there.
“Our fans are really intelligent and they understand that. They want that fighting spirit, they want us to give our all for the badge and if we do that they will appreciate it.
“He [Nathan] spoke in such enthusiastic terms about the football club – the players, the staff, the people, the fans and it was really refreshing and nice for me to actually hear those things.
“If I wanted 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.”