In conversation with János Kovács

With the season under way, Luton Town find themselves living up to expectations so far in the Blue Square Premier Division. Friday’s win at Hyde was their second away win in a week after a season opening draw at home to Gateshead. I caught up with the big Hungarian centre half today for a chat about the new season.


Luton have strengthened significantly this season, has the level of player coming in surprised you?

No, because we have massive hopes for the season and needed to get the best signings possible to get out of this league. It proves how big a club we are that we can get these types of player in. Our signings match our ambitions.


Do you think the pressure is on Luton more this season than previous campaigns?

Maybe yes, but in other people’s eyes Luton became a non league team a few years ago so the pressure lessens a little bit as we have been here for three years now. The pressure to go up was bigger in the first season as we were expected to win the league, but now we have good experience of this league and the play off finals too have helped to give us strength. We have not hit form yet and have gained points by hard work rather than quality. If we keep winning then we will be in great form against the big teams in this division. We need to just keep going and break away from the pack as soon as we can.


Manager Paul Buckle comes across as a man who will take no nonsense from players, has that made everybody work doubly hard?

Yes, the gaffer  likes to take control of everything and his biggest belief is attitude. If a player shows the right attitude, the rest will come good. Everybody is working twice as hard in training and on the pitch.


How is the squad bonding with the new additions?

We have a smaller squad now and in my opinion it has been very helpful for our togetherness. We are more like a family now because last season with 30 odd players, not everybody could play which meant there was sometimes negativity in the changing room as players were moaning about that fact. Now there are people fighting for places yet everyone is friends too.


How does the future look for the youngsters at the club?

We have fantastic young players. JJ O’Donnell in particular is superb. He worked hard all pre season and in friendlies to earn his shirt and has done well to keep his place. He is not the only one who is shining though as Wooley, Watkins and Lacey are great to have in and around the squad. Having a good batch of youngsters means we don’t have to go and spend big money on bringing players into the club. I pass my knowledge on to the young defenders and the manager asks us to help them through the youth system and make them better players and people. Every day is different in football and we help them with problems on and off the pitch.


Were you disappointed not to be named captain?

Not at all. Firstly I am a foreigner to England, but I believe I can be more useful to the team and club if I just stick to what I am good at, being a big strong defender. Ronnie Henry is the perfect captain. He is a great talker on and off the pitch and motivates us all in the changing room. He is like the gaffers right hand man, and a great go between for the players and manager, which is an important role as a captain.


Who do you see as the main challengers to Luton this season?

Newport have started brilliantly and Gateshead look like they could be there or thereabouts. When we get to ten games played I think we will know more but you can’t rule out the likes of Mansfield, Wrexham and Lincoln etc.


Is there extra incentive against the teams like Mansfield who now have you’re ex team mates playing for them?

Yes of course, but I think more so for the players who left us. It will give them an energy boost and you can almost guarantee they will try their hardest against us more than against any other team. Aaron O’Connor can’t play against us as he is on loan to Newport from Luton, which is a good thing as he is on fire at the moment! We need to just concentrate on our own games and stick to our plans.


How do you feel about facing Hereford again?

I am looking forward to those two games. They have a good manager who is showing he knows what this league is all about and has built a good squad capable of doing well. I have never had a problem with the fans there and still don’t. Whatever reception they give me, I just hope for three points and maybe a goal!


With a huge amount of season tickets sold, the fans will be out in force again to support you. Just how important are they and do you have a message for them?

The fans at Luton are incredible. The crowds we get in this league are unbelievable. I always say to people that we need to show heart on the pitch to them. If we do that, every single fan will be behind us. Hopefully they will continue to keep coming and enjoy our games. I really believe this is our season but we can’t do it without the fans home and away. We need them to be our 12th man.


Who will the top three clubs be in Hungary this season?

I will go for Debrecen, Videoton and Budapest Honvéd


Have you told Paul Buckle about some possible Hungarian signings?

No, but former Ferencváros forward Péter Pölöskey was in England recently having trials at some clubs and he would be great for us. The manager does not need a scout like János Kovács though, he knows exactly what he is doing.


If you could pick one Hungarian player to join you at Luton , who would it be?

Zoltan Gera. He is the best Hungarian player in the last ten years and would be great to have around as a person too. He is an outstanding playmaker and everybody saw what he is capable of after his goal against Liverpool this weekend.


Thanks as always to János for taking the time to talk to me and for his constant support of

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