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Mauricio Pochettino responds to questions about Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United

2 years ago
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Mauricio Pochettino says that it was ‘complicated’ the last time Tottenham visited St James Park.

Newcastle led 2-1 only for Mitrovic to get a brain dead red card that led him to miss the start of the Championship.

However, a 10 man United team somehow went on to dominate the rest of that May 2016 match and ended 5-1 victors over a side who had competed for the title all season.

Mauricio Pochettino thinks it is a case of ‘full credit’ to Rafa Benitez for sticking around after relegation and getting Newcastle back to the top tier.

The Spurs boss says Rafa is ‘a great manager’ and Newcastle United ‘a very good team’.

The Magpies have a very good record overall against Spurs at St James Park and won five and drew two Premier League matches in the seven games before ending up 4-0 losers at home in 2013/14 and then went down 3-1 in 2014/15, before that final day of the relegation season win.

Newcastle will be fired up by Rafa Benitez for this opener but will it be enough to make up for the signings he has been blocked in bringing in?

Maybe no better time to play Tottenham than this first day of the season and just maybe we could start with an ideal result.

Mauricio Pochettino ahead of the Newcastle match:

What are your thoughts on facing Newcastle?

“Newcastle is a promoted team, they will be excited to play back in the Premier League.

They have a great manager, a very good team and it will be very tough, like always in the Premier League. Every game is tough.”

Does Rafa Benitez deserve credit for sticking with Newcastle in the Championship and bringing them straight back up?

“Yes, of course. Full credit to him. He’s a great manager.

“It wasn’t easy to bring the team back to the Premier League.

“The Championship is so complicated and I think he deserves full credit for that season and now to be back in the Premier League.”

We lost 5-1 at St James Park on the last day of 2015-16. Will that be in the players’ minds on Sunday?

“It’s true, it was a long time ago but it’s always important to try to give your best.

“It’s important for us to forget that because it’s a completely different season and different situation but in your mind, of course, the last time we visited St James Park was complicated for us.

“That’s why it is positive for us to be motivated to play there again.”

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