According to Steve McClaren, Aleksandar Mitrovic is walking the line.
The good news is that recently he has stayed on it, or at least on the right side of it, rather than falling to the temptations of indiscipline.
Maybe in the long-term, the Arsenal red card will be seen as a blessing in disguise. The early kick in the nether reasons that made Aleksandar Mitrovic understand that in the Premier League he was going to suffer if he didn’t rein in his darker side.
McClaren says that it is a fine line, as you want your players as competitive as possible, but not ending up with somebody like Mitrovic watching from the sidelines once again.
The Head Coach has admitted that their plan this season is all based on having Aleksandar Mitrovic at the top end of the team, allowing the rest of the players to function.
Early games this season suggested there is a total absence of a Plan B if the Serbian striker is missing.
Steve McClaren admits that Mitrovic has a bit of the ‘devil’ in him and that is part of his attraction.
Here’s hoping he stays on the line and does the business against Sunderland on Sunday.
“There is always a fine dividing line, always fine.
“Mitrovic has played smart. I would say he has been playing smart, and that is what we have been telling him, be smart. That is what he has done.
“Smart and effective. You can play smart and be ineffective, but play on the line and play smart.
“He got sent off against Arsenal and could have been against Southampton, and they were not derbies, but that was a willingness to win and playing on the edge, on that line.”
“He has shown a level of maturity in the last three games, but again, we are not getting carried away.
“We knew there was a bit of the devil (in Mitrovic) to be perfectly honest and that has added to our game. We need that but we also need control and that is the key on Sunday.”