By 90Min
October 13, 2017

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez has claimed he isn't surprised by former player Mauricio Pellegrino's managerial achievements, as his side face Southampton this weekend. 

The Magpies travel to the south coast on Sunday in a game that will see Benitez face up against Pellegrino for the first time as managers. 

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The Saints boss played under Benitez at both Liverpool and Valencia and also working with him in a coaching role at Anfield and later with Inter. 

Pellegrino has since gone on to start his own managerial career, where he enjoyed a cup run with Deportivo Alaves, taking them to the final of the Copa del Rey last season. 

Southampton hired the Argentine following the dismissal of former boss Claude Puel, and the apprentice is set to face his master for the first time. 

Ahead of the game, Benitez spoke highly of Pellegrino in his press conference, claiming that from the beginning, you could see he would be a good coach. 

"He was my player at Valencia for two years, when we won the league and the UEFA Cup. After he came to England, I needed someone to manage the defence a little bit, and I brought him (to Liverpool).

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"Last year, he was at Alavés and he was doing well. He is someone who has always been focused, working very hard. When I was at Valencia, we had a group of Argentinian players who, after every lunch, were talking about football for half an hour to an hour. He was one of them.

"He was one of these players, they enjoy football, they know about players, they talk about everything in relation to football. From the beginning, you could see that he could be a good coach."

Newcastle sit two points ahead of Southampton going into the game following a positive start, and with a number of winnable fixtures coming up, Benitez will be hoping his side can continue their good form. 

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