Opposition View: Newcastle United

By SFC Media time Fri 13 Oct Saints v Newcastle
Photo by Getty Images: Rafa Benítez

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benítez had no doubts his former player Mauricio Pellegrino would flourish in management.

Benítez managed Pellegrino at Valencia, where the pair won the La Liga title and UEFA Cup, and later at Liverpool.

Pellegrino returned to Anfield as a coach following his retirement, before Benítez took him to Inter Milan as his assistant.

“When I was at Valencia we had a group of Argentina players, and after lunch they would talk about football for hours,” said Benitez.

“He was one of them. Normally, if you are like that, you will finish as a coach or a pundit. You could see from the beginning that he would be a coach.

"He's someone who has always been focused and worked hard. He likes football and likes to study and learn.”

The Spaniard believes their close ties could give Saints an advantage when the pair meet at St Mary’s on Sunday.

"He knows everything about me,” Benítez continued. “He has an advantage, but at the same time we know him really well too.

"It's a special situation. If you wanted to say something or change something, he would know already.

"Players don’t analyse the game, but when you are a coach you know tactics and how people prepare for a game.

“We were talking a couple of weeks ago, but not this week."