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Newcastle's Benitez: 'Pochettino is a great manager - that is obvious'

12 August 2017|Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino hailed Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez as a 'great manager' on Friday – and now the Magpies' chief has returned the compliment with interest.

Former Liverpool, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss Benitez took over at St James' Park in March, 2016, with the north-east club in real danger of getting relegated from the top flight.

By the time he masterminded Newcastle's 5-1 win against us on the last day of 2015-16, their fate was already sealed and they dropped down to the Championship for the following campaign.

But the 57-year-old stuck with his club and guided them to an immediate return to the Premier League, and is now looking forward to locking horns with Mauricio once again in Sunday's season opener.

“I think that Pochettino is a great manager – that is obvious – and they have the same team that was finishing second and third in the last two seasons, so they have a very good team,” he said when asked his thoughts about us ahead of the 1.30pm kick-off.

“Everybody was praising the talent of this squad and the understanding between players and their young players too, and when you have young players with a good understanding and another year of experience, they have to be better.

“They have the same manager, the same staff, the same players and more experience in the Premier League, so they will be even more dangerous.”

Speaking generally about Newcastle's start to the new campaign, Benitez went on: “I’m really pleased (to be back in the Premier League). When I decided to stay, it was because I wanted to go back to the Premier League with this massive club. We are here, so we’ll try to stay.

“We have an important game on Sunday. The first objective is to get three points against Tottenham, and after that every week see where we are."