Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino says he his honoured to face Newcastle United's Rafael Benitez in Sunday's Premier League clash at St. Mary's Stadium, but he emphasised that winning is a priority.
Benitez was previously in charge of Valencia in Spain's La Liga and Pellegrino used to work under the decorated Spaniard as his assistant at the Mestalla Stadium. However, despite his admiration for his former colleague, the 46-year-old says he wants the Saints to get back to winning ways.
Southampton have suffered narrow back-to-back losses to Manchester United and Stoke City, and the Argentinian is eager for a change in fortunes. He told reporters, "He gave me the opportunity to work in professional football as his assistant and to be in contact with the Premier League and with this wonderful team.
"I will always be grateful with Rafa, not just on the professional side, but he is a good example to me as a person, too. I am now in a situation where I play against him. We need to get a result because we deserved more from the last two matches."
Meanwhile, Benitez says team spirit in United's camp is fine after a training ground altercation in the week between Jamaal Lascelles and Mo Diame. He said, "I have seen worse than that over the years. When you are in the middle of a game, and you are losing or winning, players can react in different ways.
"It is nothing. Later on they were fine, and they have been training fine without anything special since."
In team news, striker Shane Long is is expected to be fit after recovering from a hip injury while on international duty with Republic of Ireland. For the visitors, Jonjo Shelvey, who broke a finger in breaking up the Lascelles and Diame fight, could feature while wearing a special cast.