Manuel Pellegrini gives respect to Rafa Benitez – and Newcastle

Marko Aarnautovic.
Marko Aarnautovic.

Manuel Pellegrini isn’t surprised at Newcastle United’s improved form – as he felt the club was in a false position.

The club is 13th in the Premier League, and level on points with Pellegrini’s West Ham United side, after three successive wins.

They have a good team. Maybe their position now in the table is more realistic for the squad they have.

Manuel Pellegrini gives respect to Rafa Benitez – and Newcastle

Newcastle had been propping up the division at the start of the month.

“Momentum is always important,” said West Ham manager Pellegrini.

“Newcastle have trust in this moment, because they’re winning. The result is important. You know that maybe you win that game and do not deserve it. Sometimes, you don’t deserve to lose either.

“I think that every game is different, and football changes so quickly, you’re never really sure what you are going to do.”

Newcastle failed to win any of their first 10 games.

“I think that Newcastle started the season very bad, but they were all tight games they lost,” said Pellegrini.

“They have a good team. Maybe their position now in the table is more realistic for the squad they have.”

West Ham have only won one league game at St James’s Park over the past two decades.

“I don’t believe in previous records – if you hadn’t told me that I wouldn’t have known it,” said Pellegrini.

“This is not something that worries me too much – the statistics are there to change.

“My mentality is to win every game, and we’ll go to Newcastle to win, and not just to draw.”

On Rafa Benitez, Pellegrini added: “I know Rafa. We worked in Spain, and before that he was here in England. I think he’s had a great career.

“He’s managed important teams in different countries – in England, Spain and Italy – so I think he’s a very good manager.”

Meanwhile, West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic (pictured), who was forced off against Manchester City last weekend with a hip problem, is fit after training all week.

Ex-Newcastle striker Andy Carroll could also feature, though midfielder Jack Wilshere won’t be involved.