t Sunderland and Manchester City, whats one

Rafael Benitez returns to Anfield on Saturday, but can he ensure Newcastle United will be back to face Liverpool next season too? Adam Bate looks at the challenge he faces... Liverpool midfielder James Milner revealed that the spirit of Istanbul had been invoked by manager Jurgen Klopp during half-time of the clubs Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund last week. So perhaps its appropriate that the architect of that famous night in Liverpools history should return to Anfield with Newcastle United this weekend.Reds supporters will surely welcome the opportunity to fete one of their favourites in Rafa Benitez, and the feeling is likely to be mutual. I think Rafa will want to show great respect for Liverpool and the fans, former captain Phil Thompson told Sky Sports. Benitez was pleased with how his side came from a goal down against Man City I hope Newcastle fans understand that and not take it personally as I remember when Gerard Houllier came back and had Aston Villa fans screaming at him because he waved at the Liverpool fans. Rafa is a very professional man and hell want to do the best for Newcastle and keep them up, but Liverpool are naturally still very close to his heart. Benitez calls for Anfield win Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has told his players to believe they can beat his great former side Benitezs place in Liverpool history is indeed secure. Aside from the Champions League triumph of 2005, he simply got it. Cast as a cold figure - Im not sure hes interested in players as people, Steven Gerrard famously suggested - he nevertheless appreciated the importance of the relationship between manager and fans in a way that others have not. Steven Gerrard and Benitez of Spain with the European Cup in Istanbul in 2005 In 2010, Benitez donated £96,000 to the Hillsborough Family Support Group in the immediate aftermath of his Liverpool exit. The following year, he returned to attend the memorial and in 2013 left a single rose in memory of justice campaigner Anne Williams. They are gestures that will not be forgotten. Nor will his achievements on the pitch.Newcastle fans are a similarly passionate bunch and Benitez will doubtlessly be hoping to forge a similar bond on Tyneside. However, such is the hand that has been dealt him, its tempting to think that keeping this Newcastle team up will require a turnaround almost as unlikely as what happened that night in Turkey 11 years ago. There arent enough good players and thats why they are in this situation. Jamie Carragher I dont think its just an attitude problem, said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher last month when discussing their plight. I think theres a lack of quality. There arent enough good players and thats why they are in this situation. Its a daunting prospect and the initial signs were not good.Although the Spaniard was able to end a six-game losing streak in the derby against Sunderland, the other three of his first four games as manager were all lost. But there has now been an upturn in fortunes, and the Benitez effect will feel familiar to those at Anfield. Norwich, Sunderland and Newcastles remaining games in the Premier League Firstly, there was the surprisingly convincing 3-0 win over Swansea. The gaffer gave the game plan and we implemented that, said midfielder Jonjo Shelvey. Then came a 1-1 draw against Manchester City, ending a miserable sequence of 12 consecutive defeats in the fixture. One goal conceded in two games - and even that effort was clearly offside.Its not a surprise to see Benitez has sorted their defence out, said Thompson. Newcastle arent quite the compact unit just yet but while the current team might not have inspired too much confidence on paper, in practice, they are at least listening. And with Benitez, theres reason to believe thats both a prerequisite for - and a prelude to - improvement. Its not a surprise to see Benitez has sorted their defence out. Phil Thompson Consider the comments. As a young player, it is absolutely fantastic to work with Rafa Benitez, said Chancel Mbemba. His centre-back partner Jamaal Lascelles is learning too. The gaffer has got us doing some excellent training sessions, he explained. He does a lot of tactical stuff which is brilliant. Shelvey has admitted that its like going back to school.At the school of Benitez, hard work is non-negotiable - particularly when hes not in a position to bolster the squad, having only arrived in March. Upping the work rate has been key and Moussa Sissoko embodies the change. Handed the captaincy, he made 72 sprints and covered 11.8 kilometres in the win over Swansea - his best efforts of the season so far. Moussa Sissoko has noticeably improved his work rate since Benitez took over The work rate has improved, said Niall Quinn on co-commentary for Sky Sports on Tuesday night. Everything now looks better. As Carragher alluded to in his remarks last month, whether thats enough to retain Newcastles Premier League status remains to be seen. But it seems that Benitez is part of the solution not the problem.Of course, that shouldnt come as too much of a surprise. Indeed, it has always felt a curious criticism of Benitezs credentials that he lacks the experience of a relegation battle possessed by Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce - as though 15 years of coaching winning teams does not qualify him for the task of trying to win football matches. Newcastles Vurnon Anita says Benitez has organised the team since his arrival He may have won European trophies at both Valencia and Liverpool, but some of Benitezs best nights as a manager in both Spain and England have come with his team in the role of underdog. His enemy is time not tactics. So while games against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa loom, such is Newcastles predicament, they may need something at Anfield too.History is not on his side. Everyone remembers that 4-3 game between the sides 20 years ago this week. Whats less well known is that Newcastle havent won there since. But with Benitez having already ended similar streaks against Sunderland and Manchester City, whats one more upset between friends? That spirit of Istanbul may be needed yet again. Also See: Benitez: We have found belief Anita: Benitez very clear Tim McCarver Jersey . 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