West Ham United manager David Moyes is looking forward to reigniting his rivalry with Rafa Benitez when his side take on Newcastle United.
Moyes, in charge of Everton, would regularly play Benitez’s Liverpool in the Merseyside derby a number of years ago, sparking a healthy competition between the two managers.
The two met 14 times while in charge of Everton and Liverpool respectively – between 2004 and 2010 – with Moyes’s Toffees on the winning side on just three occasions in those contests.
And the West Ham boss is ready to welcome his former Merseyside rival – and hopefully get one over on him – when Newcastle visit the London Stadium on Saturday.
Moyes revealed his respect for Benitez, saying: “I think Rafa is a very good manager. I think you don’t manage Liverpool, Inter Milan and Real Madrid if you’re not a good manager. You don’t get the big job unless you’re a top manager. That’s my opinion.
Rafa is a very good manager. I think you don't manage Liverpool, Inter Milan and Real Madrid if you're not a good manager.
“I will welcome him for a glass of wine after the game if he wants one.”
The Newcastle test is West Ham’s third match in a week, at the start of a busy festive period, after the Hammers played Arsenal in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Moyes admits he would have loved to have guided West Ham into the last four but is eager to continue his side’s recent good form in the Premier League, having collected seven points from the last nine games.
He added: “We put out a really strong team in the Carabao Cup. We’ve prepared ourselves to win the Premier League games, although I would have loved to have got to the semi-finals of the Cup.
“I think my job, when I came here, was to make sure West Ham was a Premier League club. If you asked any West Ham supporter, being in the Premier League is where you want to be.”
An aspect of recent good form has been the energy Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic have provided up front, something Moyes was only too happy to praise.
The manager indicated that he is looking to use all of his available striking options in the coming games however, hailing what Chicharito, Andy Carroll and DIafra Sakho bring to the team.
“The way we’re playing right now, I don’t think anybody would have thought Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic would end up being the two forward players here. At the moment though it’s given us pace, power and speed.
“There’s other games where I want to try other things, and we might need another formation in weeks to come. If I want to get more balls into the box for more opportunities I would say Chichartio would be ideal for that. For good crosses into the box, Andy Carroll is good for that. Diafra Sakho offers energy down the sides and a bit of unpredictability in his play, which is a little similar to the two boys in the team at the moment.”