Rafa Benitez sees problems at Newcastle – but NONE that he can't solve

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

It ain't over 'til it's over.

But a defeat at Anfield today would hasten the end of Newcastle United's six-year spell in the Premier League.

A win, by contrast, could be the start of something special under Rafa Benitez.

If any manager is to end the club's 22-year wait for an away league win over Liverpool, why can't it be Benitez?

Benitez, speaking to the media yesterday on Tyneside before he and his players boarded their flight to Merseyside, said he knows "everything" about Jurgen Klopp's team.

But he won't know just which team Klopp, mindful of next week's Europa League semi-final against Villarreal, will play.

Benitez – who will be given a warm welcome at Anfield, where he spent six years earlier in his managerial career – has been encouraged by Newcastle's performances against Manchester City and Swansea City.

But the 56-year-old is not getting carried away.

He can't. Not with a team which has lost its last 10 away games in all competitions.

That said, United have been more compact and more competitive over the past 180 minutes, though that was at St James's Park.

Benitez feels his players, seemingly down AND out after the defeat to Southampton a fortnight ago, now believe the club can stay in the Premier League.

And if Newcastle can get a point, or more, at Anfield, maybe the supporters will too.

Benitez, having got his feet under the table at his office overlooking the first-team training pitch, sees problems behind the scenes at Newcastle, but none he can't fix given time.

Rebuilding work is well underway at Anfield, which will accommodate 54,000 fans next season.

A new tier is being added to the Main Stand.

But will Benitez still be at St James's Park next season to start an equally challenging rebuild?