Rafa Benitez on Jose Mourinho, Manchester United and Newcastle's start to the season

Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho.
Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho.

Rafa Benitez has played down his rivalry with Jose Mourinho and is expecting a tough test when Newcastle face Manchester United at Old Trafford.

United have slipped to tenth in the Premier League following their 3-1 defeat by West Ham last weekend.

It is the club's worst start to a season in the competition's history, and has left Mourinho in a precarious position ahead of tomorrow's fixture.

But Benitez, whose Newcastle side remain winless this campaign, is still expecting a difficult game against his old foe.

“I know my time in England I don’t remember any fragile Manchester United team," said Benitez.

"They always have a good manager, good teams, they are really strong every year. I can see a team that people can expect to be higher. It’s a question of time, we will see.

“It’s like us. If you remember last year for example we were in the bottom three, and people were saying oh you are in the bottom three. But if you look at the teams at the top, who spent the most money. Who were in the bottom three? Those who didn’t didn’t spend that much money. That’s a normal situation.

“We are in a position where we could expect to be. The fixtures were difficult. I have to be realistic and optimistic. It’s a long running race and we have to carry on, we finished tenth last year and we will look to carry on like we did last year. We will do our best to try to win the game and to score first."

Mourinho and Benitez have had their differences in the past, dating back to their days at Chelsea and Liverpool, when the two clubs were involved in a series of high-profile Champions League fixtures.

The pair have made a series of critical remarks at one another ever since, but Benitez refused to be drawn on the Manchester United boss.

“It’s not my team. I am busy trying to improve my team," said Benitez.

“I am not here to talk about him. He is a good manager. A good team and we will try to get three points.

“Everyone has their own ideas, sometimes you have to praise players. It is important the team understand your way to manage and these players understand how I try to manage. Each manager is different, each team is different. I will just focus on what I have to do here."