Luton Town manager Nathan Jones suggested that comments made by Blackburn Rovers midfielder Joe Rothwell ahead of their meeting on Saturday proved to motivate his side ahead of their 1-1 draw.
Blackburn went into the contest looking to build on their 3-1 win against Queens Park Rangers before the international break and close the gap on the top six, and Rothwell before the contest, suggested that Luton are a team that Rovers expect to be beating this season as they target a top-six push.
Luton, though, have got off to a strong start to the campaign themselves, with the Hatters having lost just one of their previous six matches now following on from the 1-1 draw against Blackburn on Saturday. That point keeps the Hatters three points above Rovers and establishes them amongst the teams chasing the top six at this stage in the season.
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Speaking to the media after the 1-1 draw against Blackburn, Jones suggested that Rothwell’s controversial pre-match comments served to motivate his side to deliver another strong performance and he also stated it was not something he would have tolerated from one of his own players.
He said: “There’s probably a lot with that mentality, it’s an idiotic comment.
“If he was my player there would’ve been a lot I would’ve done because you don’t give teams motivation like that. He might expect to beat us, but expecting and doing it is two different things.
“We’ve got a humble group here and back in the day he might’ve had a different treatment, but you can’t do that any more. If I’m honest, if people want to comment about us then good, because it just means they underestimate us.”
Blackburn are a side with growing confidence in their abilities and there is a real belief that they could be challenging for a play-off place this season, especially now that they have started to score goals and have found a reliable scorer in the shape of Adam Armstrong.
However, Luton have proved that they are ready to challenge any team in the league this term under Jones, and the Hatters are a side that will always give teams a tough battle throughout the ninety minutes. They came close to upsetting Rovers and securing all three points, but for Sam Gallagher’s second-half leveller.
Rothwell will likely refrain from making such comments in the future, and Jones was right to use them as fuel to motivate his players ahead of their encounter. The Hatters will continue to be content to be going under the radar and put teams in and around them under pressure as the season progresses.