Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rafa Will Get Fantastic Reception, but Focus on Three Crucial Points

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rafa Will Get Fantastic Reception, but Focus on Three Crucial Points

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief Sports Writer lee.ryder@trinitymirror.com @lee_ryder

RAFA Benitez admits he knows Liverpool Football Club inside out. But rather than worry about what Jurgen Klopp's team could do at Anfield, he insists the emphasis is on his current crop of players.

The Spaniard's name will be chanted by all four sides of Anfield on his emotional return to the club he led to Champions League glory.

There are still banners of him on the terraces and huge colour photographs of him within the pristine executive areas at one of football's most famous stadiums.

However, Benitez is firmly focused on his work with the Magpies ahead of the game.

It's getting close to judgement day at St James' Park and the results in the Premier League this weekend could go a long way to deciding who stays up and who goes down.

But despite the high stakes, Benitez breezed into yesterday's Press conference with a big smile on his face.

A relaxed United boss said: "Everything you could tell me about Liverpool I already know at first hand. But we have to go there and try to get three points.

"We know we can do it. I always look to get three points before every game, it doesn't matter what the name of the rival is.

"Our record against Man City the other night going into the game was quite negative but we fought with the belief we could get three points.

"Liverpool will be exactly the same. I know they are doing well, they are a great team and they have a great manager.

"The atmosphere will be fantastic."

Benitez has wielded the axe in recent games by dropping Jonjo Shelvey and Gini Wijnaldum - although he has told his players they could all still have a big part to play in the battle for survival.

And he used an old tale from his time with Liverpool to demonstrate how quickly things can change.

He said: "Vladimir Smicer was a player that wasn't playing too many games and I said to my squad you have to be ready and fit, then you never know when you will be needed.

"Smicer was massive for us in the Champions League final. It's the same here now.

"Gini was not playing but in the last five minutes he could have won the game. …

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