Jones left hugely impressed by Rafa's humility

Hatters boss Nathan Jones and Newcastle chief Rafa Benitez patrol the touch-line
Hatters boss Nathan Jones and Newcastle chief Rafa Benitez patrol the touch-line

Hatters boss Nathan Jones praised the ‘humility’ shown by Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez both before and after the FA Cup tie at the weekend.

Benitez, who has won the Champions League in his career, along with a host of other trophies including La Liga (twice), the FA Cup and Europa League at clubs such as Real Madrid, Liverpool, Valencia and Chelsea, ensured he and his coaches spent time with Jones and the Luton backroom staff ahead of the contest and after the final whistle too.

The Hatters chief said: “We had a wonderful chat, it was great humility from Rafa, he made a beeline for me before the game, which was a nice gesture, because he hasn’t got to do that.

“He’s a Champions League winner, with years and years of experience and I’m two years in.

“So it was brilliant, he had a real good humility about him.”

Jones revealed that the former Reds chief admitted he had been forced to alter his tactics to avoid a cup upset at the hands of the high-flying visitors too.

He continued: “I spoke to him and his staff after, got a real good insight about what they thought about us and so on.

“They paid us massive respect, they went full strength, and they said they had to do that and go against their principles, how they play in the Premier League, against us, because they knew that it would have been a difficult afternoon if they didn’t.

“So they pressed us high, they played a full strength side, because they knew we’re a good side and that’s an ultimate compliment.

"If someone like Rafa says, 'look, we knew you could cause us massive problems, so that’s why we did it.'”

In their meeting after Newcastle had been given an almighty scare before triumphing 3-1, when asked if Town's second half display had earned any extra acclaim from the 57-year-old, Jones added: “He didn’t over enthuse about things like that because they won the game.

“I think they were relieved to have got through the game, at half time the game looks dead and dusted, once you’ve scored three it generally is, it’s an 82 per cent chance you win the game.

“I just think the manner of the game, they knew they’d been in a game, they weren’t making easy changes late on to try and rest people.

“They were making defensive ones to make sure that they didn’t concede and that just shows what an impact we made second half.

"We went toe to toe with them, we didn’t duck away, and it proves that we’re not a million miles away, but they were the better side.”