Rafa Benitez ‘loves’ Newcastle – and hopes to stay ‘for years’

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez is hoping his love affair with Newcastle United will be a lasting one.

Benitez takes his side to former club Liverpool this afternoon.

The 56-year-old spent six years at Anfield and guided them to a Champions League triumph in 2005.

And Benitez – whose family still live on Merseyside – will be given a warm reception by Liverpool fans.

But the Spaniard – who will stay on at St James’s Park if the relegation-threatened club stays in the Premier League – is already feeling at home on Tyneside.

“Yes, I love Liveprool, but I love Newcastle at the moment and I have to get three points.

“Hopefully, it’ll be the same with Newcastle for years.”

On his welcome to the city, he added: “Even the fans in the street, everyone around the club – we have nice people. We have a good relationship.”

Benitez started the season as Real Madrid manager, but his final few months at the club where he started his playing career and later coached at youth level turned sour.

“I was at Real Madrid academy as a coach, the Real Madrid I was at earlier this season was not the same,” said Benitez.

“It’s another kind of club to what I was used to. But I was also at Extremadura, who were a small team, and I was pleased with that.

“A lot of fans and players over the years, I’ve not had too many problems.

“Now with the social media it’s easy for people to criticise and be more vocal because you have social media everywhere.

“I have been quite happy, even at Chelsea with the staff, the people and some fans, the majority of them.”