Pellegrino denies Liverpool link is Man United motivation

Date published: Friday 22nd September 2017 2:52

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino insists his Liverpool connections do not serve as an added incentive to beat their bitter rivals Manchester United.

The 45-year-old former central defender made 13 appearances for the Anfield club under Rafael Benitez in 2005 before returning to Merseyside as first-team coach in the summer of 2008.

His Saints side take on Jose Mourinho’s United in the Premier League on Saturday but Pellegrino is focused on gaining a positive result for his current employers, rather than settling any old scores.

“This is part of my history as a player and as a first coach with Rafa Benitez in Liverpool,” he said. “For me they (Liverpool and United) are two of the biggest teams in England, in the world.

“But for me my challenge is to try to prepare my team as best as possible to try to win the game.

“I don’t have any relationship with Liverpool.”

Pellegrino, appointed Saints boss in June, was in the twilight of his playing career during his short spell in English football.

He became the first Argentinian to represent Liverpool after arriving on a free transfer from LaLiga side Valencia at the age of 33 in January 2005.

His debut in England’s top-flight came against United and, despite losing at home to a solitary goal from Wayne Rooney, Pellegrino remembers the occasion fondly.

“It was a nice moment in my life, it was my first Premier League game,” added Pellegrino, who was ineligible for the Reds’ successful Champions League campaign that season.

“We lost 1-0 but obviously I remember this game.

“I did my best for this club in this moment but this is part of my past, the present is different. Now I am outside the pitch but I will try to improve my squad to try to have possibilities on Saturday.”

Free-scoring United arrive at St Mary’s second in the table following a strong start to the season which has seen them register 13 points and 16 goals from their opening five league games.

Pellegrino admits the match with Mourinho’s men will provide the toughest test of his short tenure on the south coast and believes United have the quality to end their five-season wait for a league title.

“Sure, because they work as a team, they’ve got players with quality, in one second they can change the game,” Pellegrino said.

“They are really strong and they showed last season, winning two titles (the League Cup and Europa League).

“Obviously after five games it’s too early to draw some conclusions, but they are showing this quality.”

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