Rafa Benitez is relying on “small club” Everton to do Newcastle United a big favour on Wearside.
Newcastle need out-of-form Everton to beat – or draw against – Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night.
If Sam Allardyce’s side win, it will be all over for United.
Benitez’s 18th-placed side are a point behind their Wearside rivals, who have a game in hand and a better goal difference.
While Liverpool manager, Benitez infamously labelled Everton, then managed by David Moyes, as a “small club” after a Merseyside derby at Anfield in 2007, though he has since claimed that the quote referred to the way they were playing, and not the club.
Benitez was asked about the reference after Newcastle’s goalless draw against relegated Aston Villa on Saturday.
“I don’t think that is relevant,” said United’s manager.
“Everton is a team that have very good professionals and they will try to win.”
Everton, beaten 3-1 by Premier League champions Leicester City on Saturday, have been in poor form in recent months, and fans have called for manager Roberto Martinez to be sacked.
“I won’t be thinking too much about my history (as Liverpool manager),” said Benitez.
“Everton have been doing well in their away games, so we just have to wait and believe that they can get a result.
“If they do, then the most important thing is that we are ready to take advantage of that.
“We need them to do their job, but then we have to do our job as well in the final game.”