We have to do our job, says Rafa
Written by Tom Easterby
Rafa Benítez says his side must be “professional” as Newcastle United look for the win which could derail Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge on Saturday night (7.45pm kick-off).
Jürgen Klopp’s men arrive at St. James’ Park three days on from their Champions League semi-final first leg defeat in Barcelona, but just one point behind Manchester City at the top of the table.
Benítez’s side secured their safety last month but welcome a potent Reds team who still have a first league trophy for 29 years in their sights and the Magpies boss – who spent six years at Liverpool, winning the Champions League, FA Cup, Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup – insists he and his team will be fully focussed on making sure they mark their last home game of the season with a seventh win in eight games in front of their own supporters.
“We are professional, and we have to do our job,” he said. “My relationship with the city of Liverpool or the club or the fans is there – I was there six years, we won some trophies and I have very good memories. But at the same time, we have to do our jobs like they will do it – I’m sure Jürgen Klopp is in the same position. He will try to do his best for his fans.
“We have 52,000 in our stadium, it’s the last home game of the season – I think everybody understands that we are professionals, and we will try to do our best.”
Benítez revealed that full back DeAndre Yedlin has joined Miguel Almirón and Sean Longstaff on the sidelines, but confirmed that leading goalscorer Ayoze Pérez and captain Jamaal Lascelles are both available after injury and illness respectively.
The United manager knows what to expect from a Liverpool side who have not been beaten in their last 15 league outings, but says his players will be doing their utmost to bring that run to an end this weekend.
“I cannot forget that I had six years at Liverpool, so I will not say ‘no I don’t feel anything’," he said. "I have very good relationship with a lot of people there.
“But at the same time what I say is that we are professional, we have the fans behind the team and we play at home. The players are professionals, they have bonuses, so for us and everyone here, we want to win and we want to do what we have to do.
“We know that still, even with everybody behind the team, everybody together and trying to do our best, still will be very difficult because Liverpool are a great team and they are doing really well.”