Rafael Benitez has told Sam Allardyce his attempt at mind games will not have any impact on Newcastle United or Sunderland’s fight for Premier League survival.
Black Cats boss Allardyce claimed the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester United will mean Crystal Palace are “not mentally ready” to perform at St James’ Park on Saturday, adding that he would bet on Newcastle winning the match if he could.
But Benitez dismissed the influence his managerial rival can have on the game and advised Allardyce the players will hold more sway than him at this stage of the campaign.
“In my experience it is the players who make the difference, not the managers,” said the former Real Madrid head coach.
“During the game I can talk with my players and prepare the game before. Talking about mind games and press conferences won’t change too much.
“I don’t bet, but obviously I agree that we have to win. We want to win, but Crystal Palace are doing well and I know they will try their best.
“At this stage of the season every team wants to win, they know how important it is for everyone. We have tough games until the end of the season and so do Sunderland and Norwich too.”
While he does not feel that Allardyce’s words matter in the grand scheme of things, Benitez does agree Palace’s Wembley date is a factor.
He continued: “Everybody knows what it means to be in a final. When you are there, obviously you have to be careful.
“I don’t see any players thinking: ‘Oh I don’t care about the final’. I am sure they will be thinking about it.
“But we have to think about ourselves and having to win. We have our fans behind us and we have to give everything.”
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