Luton Town’s ascent to the Championship has been remarkable but manager Graeme Jones cannot let his squad dwell on their past successes as they head for their first season back in the Championship after a 12-year absence.
The Hatters won League One last season to secure back-to-back promotions and seal their return to the second division of English football.
The title-winning campaign was made even more impressive by the adversity shown by the squad to ride out the emotional exit of manager Nathan Jones, who left the club for Stoke City in January.
Luton were 18th in League Two when Nathan Jones took charge in January 2016 and their rise up the lower leagues has been based around the success of his signature 4-4-2 diamond formation.
Mick Harford did a great job as Nathan Jones’ successor but the real task will fall with Graeme Jones this season.
With that in mind, we look at three things that could affect whether Luton can extend their stay in the Championship…
How the players deal with a change in fortunes.
Luton have won more than 25 league games per season for the past two seasons, and unless they really exceed expectations next season, they are unlikely to win anywhere near that in the 2019/20 season.
Momentum is a huge thing in football and Luton’s season could be hugely impacted by how the squad are able to deal with a change in fortunes.
The Hatters are likely to lose a lot more games in this campaign than they have over the past two seasons and the way the squad is able to get passed regular losses could be key.
Losing too many players this summer.
As with any lower league team that sees success, bigger clubs have been circling around some of the Hatters’ key talents.
Full-back James Justin appears on the verge of joining Leicester City, while his full-back partner Jack Stacey has attracted interest from Celtic and Stoke, and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu has also been linked with a reunion with Nathan Jones at the Bet365 Stadium.
Mpanzu has been an integral part of Luton’s team for a while now, playing more than 30 games for the past three seasons, while Stacey and Justin were a vital to the Hatters success last season and both earned a place in the EFL League One Team of the Year.
Whether Luton are able to ward off the interest of bigger clubs and keep their key players this summer could play a big role in whether they are able to survive in the upcoming season.
A move away from what has been successful.
Even once Nathan Jones had left the club, Luton stayed faithful to his 4-4-2 diamond formation last season, and the tactic has been key to their success over the past three seasons.
Even so, Graeme Jones might be tempted to move away from what has been successful for the Hatters and change to a more defensive approach, given the step up in quality of the teams his side will be facing.
This could be lethal for Luton’s chances of survival.