Newcastle United briefing: Jose Mourinho explains Rafa Benitez rivalry, Mike Ashley visit

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez will renew their acquaintance at Old Trafford this weekend.

And Manchester United manager Mouriho has spoken about their longstanding rivalry.

Newcastle United take on Mourinho's second-placed side on Saturday evening.

READ MORE: ‘Frustrated’ Karl Darlow reacts to speculation about his Newcastle future

Mourinho, according to a report today, could have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba available for the televised game.

Meanwhile, Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie has spoken about the club's first 11 games.

Jose Mourinho

Jose Mourinho

Here's your daily briefing:

Huge respect

The rivalry between Mourinho and Benitez goes back more than a decade.

The pair have had several public spats since arriving in England in the 2004-05 season.

Rafa Benitez and Simon Smith

Rafa Benitez and Simon Smith

Mourinho told Sky Sports: "I don't think the rivalry was with Rafael – it was more between our clubs than between us.

"We are managers from the same generation. We came to England in the same season, 2004-05. We were both successful in European competitions – not many have won Champions League and Europa League and we are some of the few managers who did it.

"Of course, between Liverpool and Chelsea we had matches and rivalry, and it happens, but I have huge respect for him, for his talent, for his career and I want to believe he feels the same."

Bench duty?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Mourinho and his team are looking to close the eight-point gap that Premier League leaders Manchester City have opened on them.

And their cause would be helped by the return from injury of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been sidelined since April.

Ibrahimovic – who scored 17 league goals last season – could be on the bench against Newcastle, according to one report.

Keep striving

Matt Ritchie says he’ll always want more at Newcastle – and will NEVER be content to make up the numbers in the Premier League.

The club is 11th in the table ahead of the Man United game.

Matt Ritchie

Matt Ritchie

Newcastle – who had been as high as sixth last month – go into the fixture on the back of successive defeats.

“It’s a tough question to say whether we’d have taken this at the start of the season or not,” said the winger. “It’s football, and you always want more, both personally and for the team.

“Everyone wants more, everyone wants to keep striving, and everyone wants to get better.

“If we were sitting in third in the league, we’d still want to get better and we’d still want to improve."

Read our full interview with Ritchie here.


Dwight Gayle returned to Newcastle's starting XI before the international break.

The striker, now fully fit after overcoming the injury problems which held him back earlier in the season, has spoken about his "frustrating" spell on the bench.

"Of course, it’s frustrating not playing, and the team had been playing well, so I understood it,” said Gayle, signed from Crystal Palace last year.

“I just need to try to work harder and prove to the gaffer I can be in the starting XI.”

Gayle also revealed that he was a boyhood Man United fan.

And finally...

Mike Ashley was in the North East yesterday – but not to visit Newcastle.

The club's billionaire owner was instead visiting new Sports Direct and Flannels stores in Middlesbrough.

Ashley put Newcastle up for sale last month.

And talks are ongoing with a number of interested parties, including a consortium led by financier Amanda Staveley.

Dwight Gayle and Mohamed Diame

Dwight Gayle and Mohamed Diame