Rob Edwards: Who is Luton Town's new boss and why is his appointment dividing fans?

Rob Edwards is the new manager of Luton Town.
Rob Edwards is the new manager of Luton Town. Credit: PA/ITV News Anglia

Luton Town have confirmed the appointment of former Watford head coach Rob Edwards as their new manager on a minimum three-and-a-half-year contract- and it's fair to say that the move is dividing opinion among both sets of fans.

Not since Neil McBain way back in the 1930s has someone managed both clubs, such is the intensity of the rivalry between the Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire neighbours.

McBain, who played for both Manchester United and Liverpool, started his managerial career at Watford in 1929, before switching to the Hatters for a year-long spell in 1938.

He later returned to Watford in 1956.

Edwards will now follow in his footsteps and will have a point to prove having lasted just 11 games in charge of Watford before he was sacked in September.

He replaces Nathan Jones at Kenilworth Road who recently took the job at Premier League strugglers Southampton.

But even before his appointment had been made official, supporters were divided, with some on social media pointing out that the new boss would have to work even harder to win over the fanbase.

  • Who is Rob Edwards?

Edwards won promotion to the Premier League with Blackpool in 2010. Credit: PA

As a player, Rob Edwards started his playing career at Aston Villa after coming through their academy.

He made his debut in the Premier League against Middlesbrough in 2002, but struggled to hold down a first team place.

After loan spells at Crystal Palace and Derby County, he joined Midlands rivals Wolves for a fee of £150,000 in 2004.

The defender racked up more than a century of appearances at Molineux before he headed north to sign for Blackpool.

  • ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward reflects on Edwards' appointment

During his time at Bloomfield Road he was made captain and played for the club in the Premier League, ironically against Aston Villa, in 2003.

However, he then fell out of favour and was loaned out to Championship side Norwich City for whom he made three appearances as they won promotion.

Edwards' last permanent club was Barnsley, and he retired from playing at the age of 30 in 2013. He also won 15 caps for Wales between 2003 and 2006.

  • Who has he managed?

Edwards guided Forest Green to promotion last season. Credit: PA

After taking charge of Wolves for two games as interim manager in 2016, Edwards' first full-time managerial job was at his hometown club AFC Telford in 2017.

He then returned to Wolves as head coach of their under-23s side before becoming the boss of England's under-16s team in 2020.

His work with England led to him being appointed head coach of League Two side Forest Green Rovers the following year, and the club went on to seal promotion as champions in his first season - winning half of their 46 league games.

That record attracted the attention of Watford this summer, who had just been relegated from the Premier League, and he was appointed as the new head coach at Vicarage Road in May.

His appointment didn't go down well with Forest Green owner Dale Vince who accused him of negotiating with Watford behind the club's back.

In the end, Edwards only lasted 138 days, and was sacked in September having won three of his 11 games in the hotseat.

  • Why is this controversial?

Watford won the most recent meeting between the two clubs, 4-0. Credit: PA

Simply put, Luton Town and Watford don't like each other.

The two clubs are separated by just 19 miles and their rivalry has grown since they first faced each other in a league match in 1921.

The fact that Edwards will become only the second man to manage both clubs tells you everything you need to know about the strength of ill-feeling between both sets of fans.

Watford currently have the bragging rights, having won 4-0 at Vicarage Road in the first meeting earlier this season, but Edwards will have his eye on revenge, for more reasons than one, when the Hornets comes to Kenilworth Road for the return fixture on 1 April next year.

  • What has Edwards had to say?

Speaking to the press for the first time on Thursday, Edwards played down his Watford connections and said that he was up for the challenge of winning fans over.

"It's not like I'm a Watford legend," he joked.

"It feels right. The conversations I've had with Mick (Harford) and Gary (Sweet), and some of the staff and obviously the board - I think we all feel that we're on the same page, there's a real plan here at this football club.

"I'm really thankful to them for giving me this chance and for actually looking beyond where I have just been as well, because I know as fans of the club, that would have been a difficult decision - so I'm really thankful for that chance.

"This is always the case, you go into a new place, you've got to win supporters over and results and performances will do that. That's got to be our aim now."

  • When will Edwards take charge of his first game?

Edwards' first game will be at Middlesbrough next month. Credit: PA

Due to the World Cup break, Edwards will have to wait a while for his first game in charge of the Hatters.

Luton are next in action away at Middlesbrough on 10 December.

The Hatters are currently 10th in the Championship, but are just one point outside the play-off spots.

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