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Benitez plays down talk of weakened Man Utd

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By Reuters
Benitez plays down talk of weakened Man Utd
FILE PHOTO - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Sky Bet Championship - Molineux - 11/2/17 Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Ed Sykes Livepic   -   Copyright  Ed Sykes(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez dismissed suggestions that Manchester United’s problems on and off the pitch had left them weakened ahead of Saturday’s Premier League meeting between the teams at Old Trafford.

United have made their worst start to a season since 1989-90 to sit 10th in the league with 10 points. Their poor form has heaped the pressure on manager Jose Mourinho amid media reports of a rift between himself and midfielder Paul Pogba.

“In all my time in England, I have never come up against a fragile United team. They have always been strong,” Benitez told reporters on Friday.

Benitez, whose side are also struggling in the league with five defeats from seven games to drop into the relegation zone, said it was a matter of time before both teams find rhythm.

“I see a team that could be higher but, like us, it’s a question of time,” the Spaniard added.

“Teams who spend money are at the top, teams who didn’t spend much are at the bottom.”

Benitez denied British media reports of a crisis meeting with his squad to address their poor form.

“We didn’t have any special meeting. It is a normal thing, we are training well. We are a team that talks all the time and that is in groups and between players,” Benitez added.

“This team, this group of players, train really well. You have good days and bad days like everyone, but overall, it’s positive.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Martyn Herman)