Rafa Benitez has admitted that his history with Liverpool means he will be criticised for Newcastle's performance against the Reds, whether the Magpies win or lose.
The Saturday night game at St James' Park could have a huge bearing on the title race if Manchester City drop points between now and the end of the season (if they don't, of course, anything Liverpool do is academic), and Benitez told talkSPORT (via HITC) that he was trying to ignore what would be said about him after the match.
“That is a game that I can't win. If we win they will say 'Oh, [he should be helping us]' and if you lose 'Oh, he was not giving everything'. I will not talk too much about this game until it comes around. I was in Liverpool winning trophies. Why? Because I was professional and I was fighting against anyone.
“Some people will criticise me because I was fighting against Manchester United. It's my job to do the best for my team and I will try to do the best for my team [against Liverpool] that's it.”
Benitez's Magpies were tonked 4-0 by the Reds at Anfield earlier in the season, their heaviest defeat of the season, but did knock back City's title challenge with a shock 2-1 win at St James' at the end of January.
City have won ten consecutive league games since that stunning result to go back to the summit of the table though, and will become the first team to defend the Premier League title in a decade if they secure wins over Man Utd, Burnley, Leicester and Brighton.
Liverpool, meanwhile, did the Geordies a small favour on Sunday afternoon by beating Cardiff – mathematically making Newcastle safe in the top flight for another season.