Hatters boss doesn't believe new leniency rules has led to greater aggression shown by players

Town manager supports efforts to let the game flow more

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 9:08 am
Hatters boss Nathan Jones

Luton boss Nathan Jones doesn’t believe that the new leniency rules in place this season have led to a greater aggression shown by players when taking the field.

The Town chief saw midfielder Allan Campbell limp off during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers after being on the end of a horrible challenge from home skipper Darragh Lenihan, who escaped with just a booking.

In the Premier League, Liverpool midfielder Harvey Elliot suffered a dislocation to his ankle after a tackle from Leeds United's Pascal Struijk on Sunday, while the Hatters have also seen Jordan Clark injured after a sickening collision with West Bromwich Albion keeper Sam Johnstone recently.

Referees have been told this term to take a more tolerant approach during matches, not blowing up for every minimal contact, with the aim of letting games flow more.

Rovers boss Tony Mowbray didn’t think they had got it right just yet, but Jones doesn't think it was changing the mentality among players on just how physical they can be, as he said: “On the weekend, Harvey Elliot’s was innocuous because the boy came from behind and it wasn’t a malicious challenge, I don’t think.

"I’ve been in a game where Darren Wrack, who’s a good friend of mine, had his career ended by a tackle from behind that wasn’t malicious, but his ankle got caught and then gave way.

“At the weekend (against Blackburn), I don’t think there was any malice, but he’s a committed player, Darragh Lenihan.

“He was over zealous in his challenge, that then should just go, bang, straight red, because it’s over the top, studs up and it can really hurt the player.

“Luckily enough, and honestly he’s (Campbell) really fortunate, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with the refereeing.

“I think we have to get back to the contact because it was just becoming a farce with time-wasting and people delaying things and going down for a free-kick, then it takes a minute.

“I’d ban long throws because they take a minute to do.

“And if you are wanting to take a long throw, or if you are wanting to delay in the 90th minute, you get booked.

“There’s so much ambiguity with it, but I don’t think the new refereeing has led to more aggression.

"I don’t think it’s that conscious, really, with players.”

In fact if anything, Jones was happy to see the new leniency rules in play after like many, getting frustrated with the amount of cheap fouls that were constantly interrupting the game previously.

He added: "As long as things stay under control you’re fine, but there’s got to be a balance.

“Last year some of the challenges were ridiculous and a player has got to be running out with the ball or running into the corner, he can literally fall over of his own accord and he gets a free kick.

"Now hopefully that can be eradicated, tackles like the weekend, you want to take out of the game.

"Saturday’s game was a real niggly game, every time we had a foul and a free kick, one of their players picked the ball up and delayed the retake.

"(Ben) Brereton did it, so did the boy that came on, (Tyler) Magloire and that contributed to adding little niggle to it.

"Now if anyone’s complaining about little things, if your team are pure in what they do then fine, if they’re not, then I suggest bite your tongue a little bit.

"If we’d have had VAR at the weekend then it would have been a different game.

"I’m all for their being a proper game, but as long as you stay within the rules and it has to go away from what it was last year, the year before as some of the things that people get free kicks for was a disgrace.

"Some of the players that go down and buy fouls, that was getting too much.

"So something needs to change, but until there’s a shift in the players as well, then it won’t be.”