Rafa Benitez tells Sam Allardyce why his mind games will NOT work as Newcastle and Sunderland battle to stay up

Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benitez feels Sam Allardyce is wasting his time trying to play mind games in the relegation run-in, writes Miles Starforth.

Second-bottom Newcastle United take on Crystal Palace this afternoon knowing a win could lift them out of the bottom zone.

I don’t think (Allardyce’s comments) will make a lot of difference especially when you have a lot of foreign players.

Rafa Benitez

Sunderland manager Allardyce – whose 17th-placed side have a point more than Newcastle – claimed that Palace would lose as they had “been on the pop” since beating Watford in a FA Cup semi-final last weekend.

Allardyce was attempting to get a reaction from Alan Pardew’s side at St James’s Park.

But United manager Benitez said: “I don’t think (Allardyce’s comments) will make a lot of difference especially when you have a lot of foreign players.

“When I was in Italy, the Spanish players did not read the Press.

“They watch the TV sometimes, but the foreign players are not following the news so do not care what someone might be saying.

“Sometimes it is the way of some managers. I can read it. If it is something I am interested in, I will say ‘fine’, but it does not change too much the way I approach the game.”

Asked if Allardyce’s comments were disrespectful to Palace, Benitez added: “My job is to concentrate on my team. The Palace players and manager have to decide what they want to do and I have to concentrate on my team.”

Benitez, however, conceded that next month’s FA Cup final against Manchester United would be the back of the minds of Palace’s players.

“Yes, it is there,” he said. “As a player or as a manager, how many times might you experience a Cup final?

“Not too many and for some players, it will be just once.

“So it is the opportunity of your life, and you cannot change that. In the back of their heads, (there) has to be the final.”

Sunderland take on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium tomorrow, while 18th-placed Norwich City face Arsenal in the late kick-off.