Rafa Benitez urges Newcastle fans to lay off Alan Pardew ahead of crucial clash

He added: “As a player or as a manager, how many times might you experience a Cup final? Not too many and for some, it will just be once.

“So it is the opportunity of your life and you cannot change that. In the back of their heads has to be the final.

“I remember at Liverpool before the Champions League final, we lost against Birmingham and even though I was pushing the players, you lose something.

“You are just so focussed on the final, not the league games.”

Meanwhile, Benitez has ruled skipper Fabricio Coloccini out for the rest of the season which could spell the end of his seven-year Toon career.

He picked up a calf injury at a training camp in Spain two months ago and has not played for the new manager.

“Colo is working hard with the physio and will be training next week but we don’t have that much time,” said the former Real Madrid coach. “It is difficult to see him in the next games.”

Though he still has 12 months left on his contract, the Argentine is expected to leave this summer.

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