Rafa Benitez 'excited' for Anfield trip, but warns Liverpool he's returning to win
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Rafa Benitez 'excited' for Anfield trip, but warns Liverpool he's returning to win

Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez wishes his old club every success but will leave the sentiments for another day when Newcastle United visit Anfield on Saturday.

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Joshua Kerr

Rafael Benitez, who took charge of the Liverpool from 2004 to 2010, returns to Anfield with his Magpies side desperately looking for points in their fight for Premier League survival.

Benitez retains a good relationship with the club and fans, and is looking forward to another reunion, but insists he is more focused on getting a result for his current team rather than focus on past achievements with his old supporters.

The 57-year-old manager holds a special relationship with Reds supporters after leading Liverpool to the 2005 Champions League as well as the FA Cup in 2006.

The former Reds boss was involved in arguably the greatest European cup final of all time as Liverpool were famously 3-0 down to AC Milan at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul before turning it around with three goals in six second-half minutes and a penalty shoot-out win to achieve the greatest comeback of all time in a Champions League final

Benitez is also the Reds most successful Premier League manager of all time leading them to a record 86 point finish as they finished runners-up to Manchester United back in the 2008/09 season.

The Newcastle manager's family still live on Merseyside and he didn't hide his love of Liverpool when asked in his Friday press conference.

The main things is to win

However, the Spaniard still insists he has come to his old ground to win above anything else:

"The main thing is to win the game. It will be ‘all the best’ after the game," he said.

"We won so many things there and I enjoyed every minute. My family are still there and the connection is still there.

"Liverpool is a great team and they are scoring a lot of goals. We have to be strong enough mentally and physically to compete with them.

"We will fly across this evening and it will hopefully be OK. It will be different to the Manchester United home game, but we played well against Liverpool here [at St James' Park].

"They can play in lots of ways, on the counter or dominating possession. We have to go with confidence and replicate our positives from the last few games."

Klopp still yet to beat the former Reds boss

Liverpool's current German manager has failed to beat the 2005 Champions League winner in the two previous meetings between them in the Premier League.

The Reds surrendered a 2-0 lead when they drew 2-2 with Newcastle at Anfield back in April of the 2015/16 campaign and earlier this season Klopp saw a stunning Philippe Coutinho's goal cancelled out by Joselu as the points were shared.

Benitez is yet to be defeated by his former side with his other encounter occurring when he was in temporary charge of Chelsea back in 2013. The game finished 2-2 but was overshadowed by the events that occurred between former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Serbian international Branislav Ivanović.

Despite yet to taste victory against the Spaniard, Klopp is confident that his sides can secure all three points as they know a win will ensure they leapfrog Manchester United in second place until they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday night.

"We know who is coming," Klopp said. "Rafa Benitez is a Liverpool legend - one of the best managers in the world.

"We know how he works, how he can organise a team and how he can make your life really difficult", Klopp added.

"I like him as a person but I actually think we have given him enough presents since I've been here! We were 2-0 up at home when we played them and drew. At Newcastle, it was a little bit lucky for them. We need to be really focused and concentrated on this game.

"It's always difficult against a team fighting to stay in the league. They have been on a good run. They should have won their last game at Bournemouth. They are really well organised and they make it difficult for the other team to create chances.

"We need to make sure we cause them problems when we have the ball."

Liverpool will kickoff against the Magpies tomorrow evening at 17:30 at Anfield in their Premier League clash.

 

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