I can unlock talent from Wigan Athletic's Wembley hero, says new Luton Town boss

Callum McManaman
Callum McManaman

Graeme Jones says his understanding of fellow Wigan Athletic legend Callum McManaman will enable Luton Town to 'reap the rewards' next term.

McManaman was released by Latics last month, and was quickly snapped up by the Championship new-boys.

And Jones - who recently took over the Kenilworth Park hotseat - is well aware of McManaman's capabilities, having helped him reach career-best form culminating in Wigan's famous Wembley win of 2013.

"Callum's got a mixture of natural talent – he's incredible in one-v-ones and he's a tough boy, he's somebody that plays on the edge," enthused Jones.

"He can look after himself, he works for the team, I think playing in the position that I've got in mind for him, we'll all reap the rewards.

"He can play anywhere across the front – the 10, any of the two striker positions, I like his flexibility within a game as he can play out wide as he's definitely an attacking player.

"It's natural talent with him. He needs to understand he's 28 now, and he needs to look after himself in terms of preparation, working in the gym, and we need to train smart to get him through pre-season.

"He's got no bio-mechanical issues, so I'm really, really hopeful for Callum."

No-one else has come remotely close to getting as good a tune out of McManaman as Jones and Roberto Martinez.

And Jones has given an insight into the way the forward has to be managed in order to realise his undoubted talent.

"Callum used to get wound up for games, used to care too much," Jones told the Luton website.

"And I was saying to Roberto Martinez one night: ‘You want to speak to him and tell him he’s not playing tomorrow’.

"It was against Huddersfield in the sixth round of the FA Cup, and Roberto had a word with him, and said to him: ‘Look Callum you’re not going to start tomorrow’.

"And of course, he was going to start, we put him in the team, he scored two goals, and never really looked back.

“Everyone remembers – and I certainly remember – his man-of-the-match performance against Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final when we won, and his trickery that day caused Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta massive problems.

"He was a huge part in us winning the FA Cup, and you need to understand this player.

"I've had the privilege of working with him, but Callum knows clearly mine and his human agreement of how things are going forward - he has to reproduce that day.

"That’s his challenge, and I think we've signed a player at the perfect moment in his career."