The 53-year-old spent six years at the Anfield outfit, winning the Champions League, but insists he will put former allegiances aside when the two teams meet on SundayChelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez insists he will remain focused when he faces Liverpool, though admits he is hoping for a positive reception on his return to Merseyside.
The former Liverpool manager takes his side to Anfield for what will be his first return to the club since his departure three years ago as he searches for points to secure a top-four finish in the league.
Whilst he hopes for a positive reaction from the Liverpool fans, he is determined to remain focused on achieving his targets with his current club and not let the reunion distract him.
"I have a lot of friends and memories from my time at Liverpool but I'll try to concentrate on the game," Benitez told reporters.
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"Obviously, I was at Liverpool for six years and we won a lot of trophies, so I hope the fans appreciate that. However, they will also understand that I am their opponent on Sunday and they will support their own team."
Benitez claimed Champions League and FA Cup victories in back-to-back seasons during his six-year stay at Anfield in run-ins which included victories over Jose Mourinho’s then Chelsea.
The rivalry between the two clubs developed as a result, and Benitez, who saw his appointment at Chelsea met with fierce hostility, hopes the passion will produce a good game.
"It's good if the rivalry between the two clubs remains on the pitch because it means both are successful,” said Benitez.
"It will be a tough game. Liverpool create a lot of chances and we will need to be strong in defence. We need to carry on winning because that will keep us in the driving seat to finish third."
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