Luton Town lined up Graeme Jones before West Brom axe

Graeme Jones agreed to become Luton Town’s manager this summer before he was sacked by Albion, it has been revealed.

Graeme Jones
Graeme Jones

The relationship between Darren Moore’s No.2 and the decision makers at The Hawthorns had become increasingly tetchy towards the end of Moore’s tenure.

Jones fell out with the Baggies board on deadline day of the January transfer window when technical director Luke Dowling and chief executive Mark Jenkins vetoed a proposed loan deal for Sunderland left-back Bryan Oviedo.

Jones had previously coached Oviedo at Everton with Roberto Martinez, but Albion’s board did not believe signing a seventh loanee was a wise idea when EFL clubs can only field five in a matchday squad.

The board also thought Albion were adequately covered at left-back with Kieran Gibbs, Conor Townsend and Chris Brunt all capable of playing there.

There were wider concerns Jones was having too much influence over Moore’s tactics, which deviated away from the pragmatic style he employed in the Premier League towards the end of last season.

When Luton approached Albion about appointing Jones as their head coach earlier this year, Moore was keen to keep his No.2.

Moore waited all of last summer to appoint Jones, who started just before the season had begun after helping Martinez lead Belgium to third in the World Cup.

When he arrived, Jones revealed he had desires to be a manager in his own right and said Moore was the only person he would now be an assistant to.

He is now expected to be named Luton’s boss in the summer – and with the Hatters currently top of League One, his first managerial job could be in the Championship.

Jones was sacked alongside Moore and fellow assistant Wayne Jacobs roughly an hour after Saturday’s game.

In a statement, Jenkins said: “This has been an enormously difficult decision for a club which will always hold Darren in such high regard.

“He took over at a very difficult time last season and reunited the club, a contribution that will never be forgotten.

“But we have made it clear from the outset that everything this season was geared to making as swift a return to the Premier League as possible.

“Unfortunately, Darren has not been able to engineer the consistency of form and results to convince the board that this objective would be met.

“After discussions with our owners, the difficult decision to make a change was taken.

“Darren’s dedication over the last 12 months is not underestimated and there will always be a welcome for him at The Hawthorns.

“But we have to place the club’s best interests at the forefront of our thinking and we must do everything we can to try to deliver the promotion we have targeted.”

The news that Moore had been sacked with Albion in fourth place was greeted with shock by former players and pundits.

Former Albion goalkeeper Alan Miller tweeted: “What the hell is going on up there?

“This is a ridiculous decision... just doesn’t make any sense and will send shock waves through the dressing room just at a time when you need to stick together for the final push for promotion.”

Former Baggies defender Daryl Burgess described it as an ‘absolute disgrace’ and ‘total nonsense’.

In his final post-match press conference before he was sacked, Moore disputed that his players were crumbling under pressure.

“The pressure’s been there from the start of the season,” he said. “The expectation has been there from day one.

“We are 10 games until the end of the season and the club finds itself competing in this part of the season.”

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