Having sent his thundering header crashing against the Old Trafford crossbar at the weekend, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s efforts rediscovered an aerial command not seen in a black and white shirt since Andy Carroll.
The dominance he found against Manchester United’s centre backs hopefully marks the start of a repeat of his twenty goals for Anderlecht last season.
Alongside Papiss Cisse and Ayoze Perez, the arrival of Mitrovic finally gives Newcastle a favourable selection dilemma up front.
If McClaren continues to stick with his current five in midfield formation, that leaves only one of the club’s striking trio with a starting place in their favoured position.
Although Cisse’s goals carried us for large parts of last season, the potential of our Serbian summer signing for improved build up play must surely make him first choice.
From what fans have already seen of Florian Thauvin, it looks like he would benefit from a target man to exchange passes with, rather than the Senegalese’s more limited poacher style of play.
On the other hand, it would be a shame if Perez is forced to spend the season out on the wing because his best performances arguably came from a central role last season. A big man-little man partnership between the jinky Spaniard and Mitrovic would be interesting to see working together.
That would leave Cisse on the bench, either way. Possibly relegating a player with 35 Premier League goals by his name to a late impact role, is not something that a club like Everton, West Ham or Aston Villa can afford. But Newcastle can.
Any type of selection difficulty is a welcome change for Newcastle from past years. Ashley’s tenure has seen the squad spread so thin that we have only had two recognisable senior strikers at certain periods and occasionally injuries have forced that number down to one.
Emmanuel Riviere, of course, counts as an extra forward but having an additional proven goalscorer in the squad this season, compared to the last, should benefit our results when the inevitable injury crisis or a long suspension for the excitable Mitrovic kicks in.
If anything, this collection of four senior strikers has been amassed a season too late. The usual fitness worries and January’s African Cup of Nations depleted the teamsheet to perilous levels and was certainly one factor in our atrocious form that year.
And if you are still unsure about the great leap forward in squad depth, ask yourself this question:
Would you rather have a subs bench with Papiss Cisse or Shola Ameobi sitting on it?
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