As the international break slowly draws to a close, Manchester United will be turning their focus back to Premier League football, for their Saturday afternoon clash with Newcastle United. The newly promoted side currently lie, respectively, in eleventh place and the visitors will certainly arrive at Old Trafford full of optimism at the weekend, a stadium that their current manager is certainly familiar with.
Rafa Benitez has enjoyed some fiery affairs with both Jose Mourinho and United down the years, having previously managed rivals Liverpool and Chelsea, so a hostile reception will inevitably be expected from the Old Trafford faithful. The Spanish manager is of course also no stranger to current United midfielder, Juan Mata, in which the two shared a special relationship during their time at Chelsea together.
Speaking in his weekly blog, Juan Mata picked up on the forthcoming clash with his previous manager and is remaining thoroughly focused with the task at hand:
“Returning now to our game against Newcastle on Saturday, everyone knows they are newly-promoted but they are still a big club with several Spanish players.
“Among them Rafa Benitez, a manager with whom I was lucky to work with in the past. It will be nice to see him again. We hope to play a good game that allows us to get all three points, and continue showing that strength in Old Trafford.”
With United currently residing in second position, eight points behind their neighbours Manchester City, this Saturday’s game is already a must win, as the Red Devils simply cannot afford to lose any more ground in the title race. Speaking with much anticipation prior to the game, some fans will be hoping to see Mata himself in the starting eleven, particularly after not featuring against Chelsea.
Perhaps the Spaniard can be the one to rejuvenate United’s current form, as he will certainly want something to prove against his ex-boss.