Stan Collymore has been quizzed on various issues regarding Newcastle United.
He says that this isn’t just a normal fixture, instead ‘It’s Liverpool versus the man who took them to their fifth European title in Rafa Benitez.’
Due to that Champions League victory, Stan Collymore believes that it elevates Rafa to a position where only Shankly and Paisley are above the Spaniard in the Liverpool managerial pecking order.
As for Newcastle, Collymore believes that they will lose this weekend but survive in the Premier League.
He thinks Liverpool are ‘irresistible’ at Anfield but that ignores the fact that they have won only eight of their fourteen PL home matches, drawing with the likes of West Brom, Burnley and Everton.
Stan Collymore is also correct when he says Newcastle don’t score a lot of goals but it is also the case that only one side (Brighton) outside the top seven have conceded fewer than Newcastle, plus only Man City had scored more than one goal against NUFC in the two months leading up to Bournemouth last weekend.
He does acknowledge how difficult it as been for Rafa to operate under Mike Ashley but still confidently predicts there will be at least three worse sides than Newcastle when the final table comes around in May.
Stan Collymore talking to BetStars:
Will Newcastle United stay in the Premier League?
“Rafa Benitez will keep Newcastle up.
“I think the performance against Manchester United showed that he now has them fighting as a team, as individuals and as a group.
“The players that have come in have done quite well, he’s been working on a tight budget and we still don’t know whether Mike Ashley will sell the club to another consortium, it’s looking unlikely but Mike Ashley himself doesn’t really want to stay at the football club.
“Rafa has had to wheel and deal in that kind of environment but there are three worse sides than Newcastle in the Premier League, and I think they (Newcastle) will take their place alongside the other 19 clubs in the Premier League this time next year.”
What is your score prediction for the Liverpool vs Newcastle game?
“It’s not just a normal Liverpool vs Newcastle game, it’s Liverpool versus the man who took them to their fifth European title in Rafa Benitez.
“Looking at when Newcastle beat Manchester United, it’s clear that Rafa gets his teams up for the biggest games, and Rafa will not want to go back to Anfield, see the banner with his name on and just be there as a bit-part player. He will want to win.
“Having said that, I think Liverpool are irresistible at home, if they get the first goal then it could be a case of pick a number as Newcastle tend not to score a lot of goals. I’m going to go for Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle.”
Where does Rafa Benitez rank amongst Liverpool’s best managers?
“Rafa will be up there with the likes of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, Kenny Dalglish and Joe Fagan by virtue of the fact that even though he didn’t win the league, he won the European Cup and that put a nice bit of distance between Liverpool and Manchester United.
“Even though Manchester United started to claw back those domestic top-level titles, Rafa Benitez winning Liverpool’s fifth European Cup put a nice two-trophy gap between them and their rivals.
“That’s why he will go down in folklore, though I think he will have been very disappointed not to have won the league with the quality of players he had at his disposal at the club.
“But if he’s not quite Shankly and Paisley, he’s in that group underneath that who have their own banner at the Kop and you don’t get one of those unless you’ve been absolutely top quality.“